Which is why I am proposing these 20 Grand Technical Challenges.  
The Technical Accomplishments of the Previous Centuries
Think about what that says: we routinely make groups of people smarter than any one person. It's all about organizations, how they organize information and how they process it. It's all about groups of people, companies, countries, and how they can increase their use of knowledge in a timely way. That's what progress is: the ability to have more people do more things. And it only comes about by collecting, transmitting and transforming large amounts of data, more data than could fit into any one human mind. Even into any number of human minds. The 20th Century is all about organizing data and transforming that knowledge into portable intelligence, more intelligent that any one person ever was or will be. For instance, we learned how to make nuclear power , airplanes , jets , rockets ships , Global Positioning Satellites , chess grand masters, go masters , the Internet , etc... Not bad.
Here's my proposals:
The Twenty Grand Technical Challenges of the 21st Century:
- Settle Space, Mars, moon, asteroids, the solar system.
- Visit a star and report back
- Solar gravity radio/light telescope with the highest resolution possible or the equivalent Planetary system size synthetic aperture telescope. 
- Cheap and plentiful clean water and food for all.
- Renewable power and storage and an interconnected world wide electric grid so all our power can be generated without burning fossil fuels. 
- Quantum computing
- Human eye equivalent camera over 180 degrees that can store a lifetime's worth of video, sound recording at a higher fidelity than humans can hear 
- Planet sized computing - agents available practically for free, data storage and feed, bandwidth in the THz+, latency the speed of light
- Brain-computer interface in THz+
- Brain state recording, machine replay, and re-implanting and editing of memories.
- Artificial consciousness (copyable and editable)
- Planet wide transportation within one hour to anywhere on earth, automated rocket, drone, self-driving cars, self-driving flying quad-copters, hyperloops, jet planes, bullet trains, infinite subways, no traffic backups ever!
- Babel fish hearing aid: communication between people who speak different languages (a universal translator.)
- Faster Than Light travel
- Planetary defense system detection and deflection system 
- Replacement of religion, including modern emotional liberal humanism with scientific dataism; the tenets of which are that nothing is to be taken on faith: rational logic thought based on first principles that maximize human flourishing is the reigning human belief .
- Repair and replacement of every human body part (is plastic surgery it? No, heart replacements, hip replacements, pancreas replacements, even lasik; ..., hmm, when do we tip the scales to make things even better?)
- Manipulation of DNA using Crispr and other techniques to end disease.
- Robots that can produce any economical good, such as food or entertainment, faster and cheaper than anyone can imagine, actually essentially free.
- Virtual reality holodeck
Want to add some?
I am particularly interested in #14. Faster Than Light Travel: this is the only one, the only one, that requires new physics. That's why it needs some extra help.
Without FTL travel, settlement of anything but the nearest stars become's a separate entity from us because it takes so long and galaxies are beyond the pale.
The first person to describe the theory behind the Warp drive is Miguel Alcubierre , currently a professor of physics at UNAM. It seems like there is very slow progress on advancing his original theory. I'd like to give some incentive to people to actually work on improving the theory and trying to make real measurements in a laboratory and build a real starship.
1) fund a new graduate student to work with Professor Alcubierre every year,
2) use the graduate students to evaluate papers that advance the theory or practice of FTL travel and
3) to run the contest that would give out small awards: $20 k first prize and two $10 k runner up prizes every 3 years that improve on the theory or implementation of FTL travel.
We propose the Miguel Alcubierre foundation to promote the study and implementation of Faster than Light travel of human beings.
[1a] 'Einstein and Hilbert: The Creation of General Relativity', https://arxiv.org/abs/physics/0504179
 Several others have proposed Grand Technical Challenges: The Great Engineering Technical challenges: http://www.engineeringchallenges.org/challenges.aspx
 And this one: The Grand Challenges in Space (NASA): https://www.nasa.gov/pdf/503466main_space_tech_grand_challenges_12_02_10.pdf
 The Grand Challenges in Health (Gates foundation): https://grandchallenges.org/#/map
nuclear power  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_power
airplanes  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airplane
jets  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jet_aircraft
rockets ships  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spacecraft
Global Positioning Satellites  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_Positioning_System
chess grand masters https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_Blue_(chess_computer)
go masters  https://deepmind.com/research/alphago/
Internet  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Internet which happened October 29th, 1969 when the first bits on the Internet went from UCLA to SRI (and prompotly crashed the reciever. The first bits ended up being a cyber attack...
 http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm Just passed the 50% penetration, doubling every 2 years and six months.
 Note, this 'scope needs to look into the solar system to detect killer robots.
 It's not that fossil fuels are inherently bad if they are used correctly, it's just that the Sun contains about a trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion times more energy. Constructing these Grand Challenges will require way more energy than exists in fossil fuels, even including fracking every cubic mile of the earth's crust and mining the ocean's deposits. We want more, drilling is just a sideline, it's not big enough.
 This is about making better, more compact portable sensors that improve human sensing.
 Don't let human kind suffer the fate of the dinosaurs and die a horrible death by asteroid. Contribute to https://b612foundation.org/
 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcubierre_drive and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miguel_Alcubierre