I've just returned from Texas, a state that blends old-school American values and high tech industries into a strange hybrid culture of digital cowboys. Is Texas the most futuristic state?
Let's consider a few other candidates for most futuristic state, and then do the American thing and take an easily-gamed vote on it, shall we? If you aren't from the US and therefore don't give a crap about our states, feel free to tell us in comments about the most futuristic state, province, canton, or region from your own country.
Though it has a reputation for rural industries like ranching and oil, Texas has always been at the forefront of cutting-edge technology industries. A NASA home base, Texas is a hotbed of aerospace research. It has a strong university system, as well as a consumer electronics industry (Texas Instruments and Dell Computers are located here) and today has a growing web industry in Austin as well.
Like Texas, California has a reputation as a frontier state, which means a history of lawlessness, rapid development, and brutal disregard for groups (like the original natives) without money or power. While this freewheeling spirit can be destructive, it's also an economic engine for California's three greatest industries: Entertainment, agriculture, and computer technologies. One of those industries feeds the bellies of the world, and two feed their brains.
Can the software, biotechnology, and aerospace companies that inhabit one region of a state – in this case, the Seattle area – turn a whole state futuristic? Let's just say that when Microsoft and Boeing are two of the companies involved, yes it can.
Like Washington, New York's tomorrow-looking side comes from one urban region: New York City. Home to old money and new, New York combines the culture of a vast content industry with the mega-cash of a vast financial sector. Does that make it futuristic, or just powerful?
It may be one of the oldest states in the Union, but Massachusetts is also one that's poised to rebuild the country if we go apocalypse. With a high concentration of research universities like MIT, U Mass, and Harvard that have incredibly strong science and technology programs, Massachusetts is where new inventions are born and developed. If the AI takeover of humanity doesn't start at Google in California, it will probably start in a lab somewhere in Massachusetts.
Home to the Research Triangle region, packed with biotech and computer companies, North Carolina could be the place where time travel is perfected.
It may be a tiny place with very little in the way of high tech or science industries, but Vermont could be the most futuristic state simply because of its dedication to environmentally-friendly development and politics. This state has one of the nation's lowest carbon footprints, a high number of LEED-certified green buildings, and lots of incentives for environmentally sound businesses.
Like Vermont, Nevada could be called futuristic because of how its citizens live. In some ways Las Vegas is the first domed city, with its vast, climate-controlled malls and bizarro architecture that swallows up city blocks. Plus it will be the perfect place to live after the apocalypse, since Burning Man's Black Rock City is packed with survivalists and people who know how to do things like build a city with a working power grid in just a few weeks.
Now, take a vote!