Many of today's leading intellectuals tell us the days of discovery are over and the best we can hope for are incremental improvements.
Here is just a small sample of what the world is offering that may make them think twice:
In vitro meat
In 2013, stem cells were taken from a cow and grown into strips of muscle and combined to make a beef burger. Some have claimed that with the right conditions just 10 pork cells could produce up to 50,000 tons of meat.
In vitro meat could lead to an agricultural revolution that would dwarf those of the past. If meat can be grown in labs rather than farms, vast areas of the planet's surface would be liberated for conservation, construction and crop farming. As well as slashing global greenhouse gas emissions the new areas of agricultural land available for crop growing could see food prices plummet.
One of the most exciting developments in biology has been the mapping of the human genome. Soon consumers may be able to take relatively inexpensive genome tests, giving an indication of individualised health risks. Healthcare could be transformed through earlier diagnosis as well as prevention and treatment of disease.
Tests have already been done for Warfarin sensitivity, allowing patients to find out whether they can safely take the anti-coagulent therapy.
Autonomous cars are vehicles are run by computer software without the need for human direction.
Driverless cars have the potential to reduce accidents by up to 90 per cent by eliminating human error. Travellers will be liberated from the most gruelling aspects of commuting. They'll be able to work, sleep or enjoy entertainment during their travel to work. This should allow people to travel form further afield.
Unmanned aerial vehicles controlled either by computers or remote control by an operator on the ground - they have the potential to change the landscape of delivery to consumers.
One day in the near future the sky may be filled with drones delivering goods to businesses in record time and with close to zero human error. Drones have the potential to save lives in search and rescue situations, providing round the clock service to some of the most desolate and dangerous places.
You might be surprised to see the iPhone here. But the iPhone is a testament to the changes wrought by innovation we fail to predict.
No government planner or private sector whizz kid predicted the iPhone would achieve the impact it has. But it has transformed telecommunications, giving birth to a wave of smart phones, iPads and tablets.
There is a tendency among some to believe that the best has been achieved, that we stand in the shadows of the great innovators of the past. Steve Jobs gave the lie to this way of thinking. He is not the first to confound the pessimists and he certainly won't be the last.