There’s a helicopter on Mars.

It’s still pretty amazing to be able to type those words. It gets even more amazing when you consider that 118 years ago, the Wright Brothers were trying to prove that airplanes were a possibility, much less helicopters on another planet.

I posted something about that progression in technology on Facebook, and a friend of mine posed a question I haven’t been able to stop thinking about: Will the next 118 years see such amazing inventions, or will we just improve on what we currently have?

It’s a really fun question to consider, and it applies to just about every aspect of our lives. Even in my lifetime, we’ve gone from home computers being a luxury to basically everyone carrying one in their pocket. The pace of change has been blistering, and it does raise the question of whether there’s really anything new to invent, or if we can only improve on what we have.

I would bet a lot of you ask yourselves some variation of that question on a regular basis as you try to figure out where technology will take you in the future. For those of you who have been in this industry for a long time, the tools you have at your disposal now compared to when you started are amazing. For those of you who are newer (and, let’s be honest, younger), walking around with a tablet that has access to controls systems, production data and inventory levels is nothing out of the ordinary. But 20 years from now, will we look back and think “I can’t believe we thought that was a big technological advancement”?

We don’t know whether the future will bring entirely new inventions or “merely” advancements in the technologies we have available to us now. But the good thing is that, either way, the tools we will have available to us in every aspect of our lives will continue to improve—and that’s something we should take a moment to appreciate every now and again.

It doesn’t have to be a helicopter on Mars to be a big deal. But a helicopter on Mars is a nice reminder that we’re still capable of producing those big deals.