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The human adventure is just beginning: How the optimistic future of Star Trek is more likely than we may think

“We are locally optimistic, and globally pessimistic.”

The creator of Star Trek Gene Roddenberry did not share this “globally pessimistic” point of view. Instead, he was incredibly optimistic about our future, about the human potential. “We’re just beginning,” he said in an interview shortly before his death. “We have wonders ahead of us. I don’t see how it can be any other way, with the way the future is going. We now have got a telescope up there, photographing the universe. We’re inventing the next life form, the computer. We’re in the midst of it. And it will happen.” According to Roddenberry, the future we see in Star Trek is not just possible but probable. How so? Read on…

The statement, “We are locally optimistic, and globally pessimistic” is a key point in the recent book Abundance: the Future is Better than you think by Pete Diamandis and Steven Kotler. The quote is from one of the many people the authors interviewed, a psychologist who then explains how our brains have developed to be mostly optimistic about our personal lives while we have a mostly negative view on events beyond our immediate control at the same time. This is why so many people think that things are “getting worse” in the world.

The authors of Abundance instead agree with Roddenberry’s outlook, and throughout the book they detail advances in technology and society over the past two centuries, and predict that future advancements will lead to “a world of nine billion people with clean water, nutritious food, affordable housing, personalized education, top-tier medical care, and non-polluting, ubiquitous energy.”


This clip from Star Trek: The Next Generation discusses how humanity “grew out of its infancy.”

Technology: The cause of, and cure for, all of life’s problems
In a previous article I covered many of the technological advances that are bringing us closer to the future tech envisioned in Star Trek. But technology is a double-edged sword – it can be used to produce weapons of mass destruction and it can also be used to save lives and better mankind. The authors of Abundance, like Gene Roddenberry, focus on the latter more “hopeful” application of tech.

The authors recount specific examples of how advancements in science, medicine and computing are (gradually) making people’s lives better. New and cheap technology to help supply the base needs of all people – food, water, and power – is being applied throughout the world. Water desalination tools, genetically enhanced crops that grow in harsh conditions, portable solar-powered generators and power plants – the stuff of science fiction just a few years ago are being rolled out to developing nations. And the computer chips that power these tools are cheaper than they have ever been, and getting cheaper by the day. We can now mass-produce a computer for the same cost as it takes to manufacture a Lego playset!


The Raspberry Pi is a mass-produced, credit-card-sized single-board computer

The world’s problems are not going to be solved overnight, but as economies of scale take place the cost of building and distributing such advanced tools will reduce significantly, improving the quality of life everywhere. More important, many of these world-changing innovations are not being done by large companies who are slow to execute and implement them, but by entrepreneurs and small companies. This “DIY Innovation”, powered by cheap computer power and open-source technology, is making a rapid impact in fields from biotechnology to space travel.


This TED talk discusses how things have gotten markedly better in the developing world over the past fifty years.

A base living standard… and the end of money?

Advances in technology are all well and good, but how can we have the utopian future shown in Star Trek? A future where “there will be no hunger, there will be no greed, and all the children will know how to read” (as Gene Roddenberry once told Trek actor Jonathan Frakes). A future that also had no need of that thing we call “money?”

Gene Roddenberry frequently stated that money would not exist in the future, that instead people work to “better themselves” and to “enhance humanity.” This was one of the “rules” of Star Trek, a rule several of the creative people who worked on the show (notably Ron Moore) disagreed with. While it is unlikely society will ever “do away” with money, the authors of Abundance claim at some point a base standard of living will exist for everyone, whether they have money or not. And this base will be better than the base standard from just two generations ago.

The authors of Abundance point out that the poor and starving in the world have, slowly, become healthier and had improved standards of living over the past fifty years. There are still problems, but organizations and those aforementioned “tech-philanthropists” are working hard to overcome them. They also note that the poorest in developed countries like the United States have more than many families that would have been considered “rich” just two generations ago (heating, air, gas, plumbing, vehicles, cellular phones).

“This generation of human beings has access to more calories, watts, lumen-hours, square-feet, gigabytes, megahertz, light-years, nano-meters, bushels per acre, miles per gallon, food miles, air miles, and, of course, dollars than any that went before.”

The standards of living in developing countries are still nowhere near that of developed nations. but more and more people are living lives of comfort where just one generation before they struggled to survive. The necessities of life (thanks to technology, capitalism, philanthropy, and innovation) are becoming cheap and accessible to all. We may never see the “end” of money, but with an increasing base standard of living that can be available to all, eventually we may lose the need to work to just “pay our bills” and instead apply our time to have opportunities to grow and “better ourselves”… just like on Star Trek.

Government, free enterprise, and “tech-philanthropists”
One of the primary philosophical arguments of our times is about the role and size of government. Some feel the role of government should be limited, and others feel that government should actively intervene in the lives of individuals to help people in need. The writers of Abundance argues that it isn’t one way or the other… there are things that free enterprise is better at and other things that is more appropriate for government to handle. They also point out a third group, a group that is impacting the world in remarkable ways. They are the “tech-philanthropists,” people like Bill and Melinda Gates, Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos and George Lucas.

Instead of spending their billions and purchasing luxury yachts (and islands to dock them at), these individuals created foundations to help people in the developing world and to fund innovations that will make a difference in people’s lives. Thanks to these tech-philanthropists, we are on the verge of a new era of privately funded space flight, the end of malaria, and a “laptop for every child”. They, along with “social entrepreneurs” using tools like Kickstarter and Kiva (www.kiva.org), will “fill the gap” that government and free enterprise can’t (or won’t) in an attempt to make the world a better place.


The X-Prize Foundation is another “tech philanthropist” that is offering incentives to innovators around the world

Gene’s dream
As the authors of Abundance remind us, while there are many groups actively working at solving the world’s problems, we can help too. Individual action and innovation is available to us all, and there is an “abundance” of knowledge and information at our fingertips through the wonderful thing you’re using right now called the Internet – which in and of itself is an amazing indicator of how things have changed from just two generations ago. We now have instant access to information that we can use to make informed decision of how to spend our money and time… and, if we are so inclined, how and where we can make a difference.


The authors of “Abundance: The future is better than you think” take the Roddenberry view of the future

If this all sounds somewhat “Pollyanna”… well, that’s because it is. A catastrophic disaster, a massive global financial crisis or another world war could occur and make much of these efforts for naught. There are still conflicts and strife in the world, and you’d have to be blind to not acknowledge that there are challenges ahead of us as a society.

But we all have a choice. We can be, like the quote at the beginning of this article. “globally pessimistic.” Or we can be hopeful, and make a difference by our choices and actions.

What would Gene do? It isn’t much of a stretch to state that if he was still around he would be a big proponent of the optimistic viewpoint Abundance details, as well one of those “tech philanthropists” donating his time and money to make things better…

To make sure the human adventure IS just beginning.

Joseph Dickerson will be speaking about this topic and Treknology at the upcoming official Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas. He writes about technology design and pop culture at http://www.josephdickerson.com


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TerranGuy93
July 1, 2013 6:23 am

I love the idea of Trek, because its a fun escape from reality.

However, it is just that, an escape from reality. My observation of people is that they are inherently selfish. A world of inherently selfish people will never reach utopia status.

Pensive's Wetness
July 1, 2013 6:24 am

sadly im still of the mind that its morely likely to be (the future) like Battle Angel Alita (Gunmn) than start trek…

CmdrR
July 1, 2013 6:36 am

I think selfishness is still the rule.

I do believe technology is advancing, but with it ocmes the by-products of energy consumption. Namely, the poisons we’re pumping into every possible place on Earth. Even advances in medicine mean our water supply in Atlanta contains traces of gerontological pharmaceuticals from London. 7 billion of anything produces a dangerous amount of poisons. The goal cannot be Abundance, but must be 101. Creat 1% more than you use. Clean 1% more than you make dirty.

I recommend the book 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson on this topic. It’s a trip.

Roddenberry’s philosophy became more the focus of Star Trek after other people defined what he’s already put in place. OTHERS read into a professional military of TOS to say it means we conquered our base instincts. Only by TNG did you get the Brady Bunch in space. I’ve heard people say it’s just not likely that human nature itself will change and I agree.

Again, selfishness is the enemy. We need to find a motive that is self-serving but helps all.

Here’s to hoping.

BobZ
July 1, 2013 6:52 am

Maturity is the key.

Newdivide1701
July 1, 2013 8:22 am

Even though money, despite what The Voyage Home and First Contact claim, still exists in the future, people still buy things and still have possessions. But their value is not driven by wealth. Take books for example, yes the older ones carry a very hefty price, but it’s more than an old book, it’s a book that was made centuries ago.

Treasure wasn’t gold, it was knowledge.

utterlee
July 1, 2013 9:02 am

I don’t believe humans are fundamentally either selfish or selfless, more that our environment inform the development of our personalities. There is certainly a survival instinct built into us, but that can be harnessed in the fashion that working cooperatively is more likely to further survival in our complex society rather than working against each other.

What we need are more inspirational leaders and a narrative from our governments and cultural leaders that there is a future to be had that revolves around more than simple and ultimately self destructive consumerism.

I am not Herbert
July 1, 2013 9:16 am

yes, our so-called society IS SOCIOPATHIC. =(

…but we don’t have to accept it! change it!!

I BELIEVE in Gene Roddenberry’s humanistic VISION of Star Trek! <3

WE have the POWER to CREATE what we ENVISION! Make it so!!

Red Dead Ryan
July 1, 2013 9:22 am

“Gene’s Vision” sounds good on paper, but it just isn’t realistic. People are selfish by nature, and egotistical to boot. There is the issue of capitalism as well. Most of the world’s wealth is controlled by a tiny percentage of folks, while poverty is on the rise, and cheap labour is becoming common practice not just in poor Asian countries, but also in the U.S and Canada, where companies are now allowed to hire people to work long hours for $5.00 an hour. These companies have bought out the politicians, ensuring that normal folks like us don’t have a leg to stand on when it comes to pushing forward environmental, social, and economic change.

But then again, a lot of peope keep re-electing corrupt politicians who cheat and buy their way into office. And others are willing to give up their individual and Constitutional rights in the name of “national security”.

I would argue that the future depicted in “Wall-E” is probably closer to what we will face in a couple of centuries. We’ll be in outer space, but only because we have ruined the planet, and that humans will only be able to move around in a weightless environment since we’d be too fat and heavy to get off our couches on Earth.

July 1, 2013 9:31 am

Nothing wrong with being a humanist. I am one myself but I don’t see that becoming a world wide thing anytime soon.

Perhaps the discovery of life other than our own might be a building block to change perceptions but at the end of the day Utopia is impossible because it implies perfection and we are not perfect creatures.

dmduncan
July 1, 2013 9:38 am

I would LIKE to be able to agree with all this, but equating new and better stuff for more people with the outcome being universal happiness is tragicomically simpleminded.

No, this is where I think Star Wars actually beats out Star Trek. A republic collapsing under its own unmanageable inertia into a technocratic empire is what we’re turning into.

The Jedi represent that OTHER path and potentiality that the technocrats scoff at and try to obscure, and it is Star Trek’s great failure that there is apparently no room in its universe for real magic.

Let me make this clear: I am no Hermetist and I would argue, and I think wiin the argument, that following Giordano Bruno ultimately leads to the Sith rather than the Jedi, but he was right about one very important thing that the current evolution of science—not following him—does not believe in the existence of.

ME!!
July 1, 2013 9:40 am

Unlikely. Mankind will destroy itself.

It is in our nature.

Discovering life out there somewhere isn’t going to “bring us together”. It’s more likely to make us panicky and paranoid.

There will be NO man made “utopia”. It’s a nice sounding dream, but it’s not based on reality in any way, shape or form.

If anyone thinks the Hitlers, Saddams, Pol Pots, etc of the world really just want to be friends and are misunderstood, you’re delusional. Men like that are paranoid, fearful & power mad. They want control over society and don’t care how they get it even if it means killing everyone in their way (which they all often do). And there will ALWAYS be those kind of men. THAT is reality.

The only thing that could change any of that is God himself.

Wake up and smell the java.

utterlee
July 1, 2013 9:48 am

It always surprises me when Star Trek fans are pessimistic and down about the potential of people. It’s like you’ve missed what Star Trek is actually all about. Though I don’t really believe we can create a 100% perfect society, I do think we can do better for ourselves than what we have now, even though we may have a bloody tough time getting there.

Call me cynically optimistic.

CaptainDonovin
July 1, 2013 9:55 am

@ CmdrR – I actually started 2312, good one.

As for us getting our world to a Trek-like place where we (apparently) all get along & there is no hunger etc, if I can quote a great Klingon leader ‘it appears we have a long way to go’.

Disinvited
July 1, 2013 10:19 am

#9. Anthony Lewis – July 1, 2013

Precisely, and our concepts about perfection are as flawed as we are.

To Trek’s credit, this was explored in the characters of Khan and Nomad.

To paraphrase, “I am the creator of the concept and I am flawed and imperfect? How could I create such a perfect concept as perfection?”

We can approximate it. Get as close as is possible for us, but ultimately we have to remain cognizant of the fact that we could be wrong. Which is why it is sensible to remain vigilant against our tendency to obliterate alternative perspectives in our certainty, i.e. the Prime Directive.

CAPT KRUNCH
July 1, 2013 10:28 am

I like to believe that we indeed will survive and I beleive in humans. TREK does represent a future with the greatness of people in it, but only after WW3 that nearly wiped us out and the intervention of First Contact to help us on our way. I not sure that if left to our devises we will go on to end war disease and hunger, as our TREK brethern will do.
I’m not a negative thinker, but as Red Dead said: people are selfish by nature and egotistical, andas long as the mighty dollar is there so goes human nature. When humans actually become more important, then we may see growth toward a great society free from those horrible things.

cecil kain
July 1, 2013 10:32 am

Actually I think you’re all wrong. We’re evolving into the Borg. Technology has become a crutch for the mind an body –and it becomes ever moreso every single year. World powers already monitor our ever move, and soon our every thought –then will come control…

spock
July 1, 2013 10:34 am

#11 I have to agree. Man made utopias never work out, Star Trek even preached against them – Return of the Archons, The Apple, The Cage, etc.

Also in reality the Federation would never work, since the council is set up like the United Nations / Confederation of states, and not a federal system like The United States where the planets would equal the states, and the Federation Council acts like the Federal government.

Then of course there is Section 31 that can be corrupted like the NSA

Disinvited
July 1, 2013 10:47 am

FWIW Bloomberg had an interesting perspective on the current shape of the Trek ideal:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-05-23/why-star-trek-into-darkness-is-smaller-than-life.html

”While the movie delivers a Michael Bay-style amusement park ride, it lacks the mind and heart that made Star Trek an enduring franchise. The deeper forms of escapism are hard to pull off. They require greater artistic coherence and empathy. They demand a willingness to let the imaginary seem real, and to acknowledge that the real often feels inadequate. They can be executed with humor and knowing winks — as both Quentin Tarantino and the much-beloved Star Trek parody “Galaxy Quest” demonstrate. But they can’t be achieved without conviction.

“I would love to live and work in that universe,” wrote a Phoenix fan in the survey. It’s hard to imagine anyone saying that about the latest version of Star Trek. ” – Virginia Postrel, “Why STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS Is Smaller Than Life”, Bloomberg View, BLOOMBERG

#16. spock – July 1, 2013

What I found odd is with the Vulcans involved from the git go that its structure wasn’t more logic-based?

dmduncan
July 1, 2013 10:51 am

12. utterlee – July 1, 2013

How? Through laws? Politics? Coercing through places like Washington DC and their media apparatus how and what people think?

The things people do to create U-topia are actually creating DYS-topia.

That’s what happens when the problem tries to solve itself.

The only answers those in power have are MORE FORCE and MORE PUNISHMENT!

Disinvited
July 1, 2013 11:44 am

#15. CAPT KRUNCH – July 1, 2013

But the dollar was just a concept that was adopted and could just as easily be discarded for another. Once, it was allowed to change value through inflation and later no longer being backed by something tangible some would argue the current usefulness of it is just as pie in the sky.

Colin
July 1, 2013 11:45 am

Cracked.com had an article called “5 Insane Theories About Why We Haven’t Discovered Alien Life”. One of these theories is that intelligent species have an finite lifespan. According to the Doomsday Argument, there is a 95% chance that humans will go extinct in 9,000 years.

http://www.cracked.com/article_20216_5-insane-theories-about-why-we-havent-discovered-alien-life_p2.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doomsday_argument

Our extinction is guaranteed. The question is, when will we become extinct?

Buzz Cagney
July 1, 2013 1:17 pm

If we are to make a better world then it falls to us all, as individuals, to be better people. Personally I try to take the lessons that Trek has taught me and to act on them each day. Namely, to be honest, loyal, inquisitive and interested in the World and people around me. As much as possible to have a positive outlook too.
Its not always easy when we have so many people around us that don’t give a hoot for any of those things but I do feel my life is the richer and better for living that way.

Disinvited
July 1, 2013 1:47 pm

#20. Colin – July 1, 2013

Actuarial tables show that even if some reading this have their DNA expiration dates eliminated – and research indicates this may indeed come to pass – that the average life spans such organisms can attain before some accident or cataclysm makes that life cease is 500 years.

The biggest threat to the human race could be an unlimited lifespan because we likely would lose the skill of maximizing successful reproduction with a minimum of resources by the time such a planet-wide cataclysm would occur. However if we spread to other heavenly bodies and star systems this will minimize the effects of such as there will always be humans living on the edge somewhere who will have the ability to take up the slack.

Vultan
July 1, 2013 1:56 pm

#21

Well put, Mr. Cagney.

As for extinction, how about those dinosaurs? The big dumb animals ruled the Earth for millions of years and then were all wiped out. Except… they weren’t.

What, you mean you haven’t seen a real life dinosaur? Oh, they’re around. Everywhere, in fact. And usually aiming for your windshield or the shoulder of your new blazer. *Chirp*

Time changes everything.

Weekes
July 1, 2013 3:17 pm

We are predators and we will strip mine this planet and eradicate any life we don’t care about and the only life we care about is us – and that not very much.
There is a reason we do not hear much from aliens. It is because, like us, they are either on the path to self-destruction or have already destroyed themselves.
There is no life in the universe. Just death and ashes. Soon we will be ghosts on a dead planet – bones for the archaeologists of a future Earth – based lifeform to dig up and wonder about – before they too destroy themselves.

July 1, 2013 5:06 pm

Raspberry Pi’s are fantastic! I have one set up as my home theater PC. Works like a charm and easy to use. It is literally small enough to fit in an original Nintendo Game Boy and is pretty easy to set up with a battery power source. I can see it being the guts of many items used on Trek. The applications are really only limited to your imagination.

Kev
July 1, 2013 8:22 pm
No Communism/Socalismn and I’ll keep my money thank you very much. those dont and will never work and I always thought that was one of the DUMBEST changes between TOS and TNG, how the hell do you buy things for your appartment if your Kirk, a Kudos Credit card showing what you’ve done for the world? PURE BS and there was actual Pay involved in the Doomsday Machine, Mr Scott you’ve earned your pay for the day and people will act accordingly to there gifts/abilites, and well some people will just always be bad guys and others always good guys and they must be treated accordingly, sometimes severely and the goverment should be heavily regulated and forced to abide by the statement Innocent until proven guilt and not to penalise the majority because of the minority. basically, stay grey/neutral and OUT of our daily lives and leave it up to the invidiuals about how they want to live, not force everyone to live one way just because they dont like you having a nice car, boat or home or the ability to defend yourself and your property. a very current problem all over the world thanks to the EU and Our Goverment that is trying to police the world out of fear and ignorance. and blatenlty ignore almost all of the amendments in the constitution. and to think that this is all going to go away when its been this way for centuries is ignorant and stupid frankly, we work… Read more »
Vultan
July 1, 2013 9:00 pm

The no money thing was established just before TNG in The Voyage Home. Kirk mentions it in passing at the restaurant.

Chain of Command
July 1, 2013 9:38 pm

“Star Trek” (1966-1991) represents an escapist and optimistic vision of what might happen in the future if we put aside our pettiness and stupidity as a race for more than five minutes.

Granted, we may never meet Klingons, Vulcans, or Andorians, but we have the potential to be so much more than we are now and we could achieve more if we could get past our own inhibitions, fears and self-imposed political and religious limitations.

Disinvited
July 1, 2013 11:31 pm

#26. Vultan – July 1, 2013

Actually he mentions it before that when decides to hock his birthday present: “They’re still using money.”

Dom
July 1, 2013 11:41 pm
‘Gene’s Vision’ is a myth perpetuated by the likes of Rick Berman, who never really understood Star Trek. It was simply a way for him to force ‘Rick’s Vision’ onto an audience by claiming to speak for a man who is no longer with us. I also dislike the way some people seem to canonise Roddenberry as some sort of prophet: he was a canny TV producer who only had one successful show and managed to make a living off it. Most of what the audience embraced with Star Trek was built by other people from that foundation. The future seen in Star Trek (the 60s show) isn’t a utopia: it’s one where people have made an effort to get along, but it’s still imperfect and the likes of Kodos, Roger Corby and Doctor Adams can still exist. But, humans (always a very adaptable – often ruthlessly so – race) are trying to learn and assist rather than conquer in that era, even though they make foolish mistakes like almost killing the Horta race. TNG and its successor series turn the positivity into a repressive Soviet-esque nightmare, where arrogant humans travel through space telling other races how much better they are than them. At the same time, the characters (forced by Rick Berman to be underplayed) have become robotic and dehumanised to the extent that they’ll stand by and let a civilisation die rather than save lives, abusing the point of the Prime Directive, in Homeward. Also, until JJ’s Trek,… Read more »
Dom
July 1, 2013 11:47 pm

28. Disinvited

That was a joke made in a comedy culture clash movie. Typical of Trek to turn comedic banter into the basis of TNG’s Soviet federation. It would have made more sense to talk about cash, since we’re already trialling Contactless payments and buying on the Internet. Indeed, how many of us carry cash at all these days? I pay for almost everything by card!

Disinvited
July 2, 2013 12:03 am

#25. Kev – July 1, 2013

But that’s just it. If you try such a foolish thing as just holding on to your money, i.e. keeping it, then it loses value through no fault of your own. When I was a child a fresh baked loaf of bread could had for a mere 25 cents. Now, I’m lucky if I can find a machine made loaf with some real nutritional value for $2.50!

This is the problem when you have no control over how much is printed. Benjamin Franklin discovered printing more as a way to practically eliminate the debt incurred in forming and funding the new government.

This is a factor that leads many US citizens not to save: may as well spend it now because next week it won’t buy as much.

utterlee
July 2, 2013 12:45 am

I wonder if it’s more the government and socialism mistrusting US fans which don’t like the TNG representation of the future the most?

To me the 24th century Federation looks like a paradise, where you can do pretty much what you want, in terms of career and personal growth. Whilst I don’t think that level of “perfection” is likely to be possible, I don’t think that should stop us working towards it and trying to do better.

Vader_the_White
July 2, 2013 3:00 am

I keep reading here that “humans are in nature selfish.” I would like to point out that humans are so by their nature compassionate. Humans are not good or evil. True, some have done great evil, but what about the many who have done good.
While we won’t become perfect, I do believe that as a whole, humanity will be better and try to live in peace with each other and, maybe, what ever else is out there.
To quote Back to the Future Part III, “The future is whatever you make of it.”
Or in my own words, “Stop complaining about how humanity sucks and start trying to disprove your hypothesis!”

I am not Herbert
July 2, 2013 9:56 am

…sad to see so much entrenched cynicism on a so-called Trek site… =(

…but then people here also like JJ-trek… (eyesroll)

…”first contact” will be the first step in awakening from “the illusion”… ;-)

Marja
July 2, 2013 12:43 pm
Vader the white is right, and thank you so much for your post! Until I read hir post I was getting a bit depressed! My goodness we can be compassionate and live in harmony. Sure, human disputes arise, but can be settled, either by mediation or violence [it’s up to us to choose, and we should choose wisely]. We always need to be ready to defend ourselves against unreasoning hatred, fear [Admiral Marcus], or violence [MirrorVerse], or total selfishness and greed [the Ferengi]. Also against technology [the Borg]. But we have “better angels [in] our nature,” to paraphrase Lincoln. I feel personally that many corporations exist purely to achieve profits and self-perpetuate without consideration for the needs of the planet [BP, EXXON, Massey Energy] and thus her people. Some of us try to stem this tide by defending Earth’s environment, or by opposing the perception of corporations as “people” with inherent rights. Once we get the money and the stink of corruption out of politics worldwide, we may achieve the ends of defending the ecosphere, the helpless, and “the least of these,” as a great philosopher once said, against cynics and users. In the words of Oscar Hammerstein, “You’ve got to be carefully taught to hate and fear” what you do not know. But we can advance by uplifting each other and humanity past those things. Fear and greed and selfishness will always be human impulses but they need not determine our future. The difference between a sociopathic human and… Read more »
Vultan
July 2, 2013 12:54 pm

I don’t think you can apply socialism or communism to Trek. In a world where matter and energy have been mastered, where transportation, food, water, and healthcare are secondary issues controlled with the press of a button, the “old” economic models are rendered obsolete.

Like comparing our current economy to the feudal system of the Middle Ages—different eras, different ideas.

Weyoun_9
July 2, 2013 1:08 pm

I find some of what’s on here really fascinating and here’s why. While by no means an expert in economics, capitalism (to me) includes a concept of supply and demand. However, if we were able to develop technology such as replicators, then that would do away with this concept. When food, clothing, and material things are available in limitless supply…meaning everyone can have anything…then you don’t have a situation where one party sells and profits from supply and the other buys and loses from demand.

It’s not communism. As I understand basic communism, it’s a government-run philosophy where limited resources are “evenly” distributed among the population.

But the Star Trek future isn’t communism because there are NO limited resources. Technology has provided a solution to that. When energy is sustainable and hunger doesn’t exist…the rules of society would change. Not to communism, or socialism…but to something new.

“The Neutral Zone” gets part of it right. Offenhouse states that it’s not about collecting material things, but “It’s about power.” When there are limited resources, the people who control those resources have power over those that don’t. When resources are limitless, the rules change and the resulting society is one we don’t necessarily have a term for.

But we will when it happens.

Marja
July 2, 2013 1:19 pm

I am not Herbert – July 1, 2013

yes, our so-called society IS SOCIOPATHIC. =(

…but we don’t have to accept it! change it!!

I BELIEVE in Gene Roddenberry’s humanistic VISION of Star Trek! <3

WE have the POWER to CREATE what we ENVISION! Make it so!!

————————————

You also posted something inspiring, Herbert. I appreciated reading it, too! And I agree on our society – at least certain aspects of it :)

Marja, optimistic but sometimes forgetful
July 2, 2013 1:21 pm

Oops, Cmdr R, I didn’t credit your post either, early in the thread. One of the few posters with a positive vision, thanks for sharing it :)

dmduncan
July 2, 2013 1:25 pm
All I’m saying is you can’t pass a law instituting peace on earth, and yet politics is the secular religion of many people here. Which is to say that you have no road map to get from here to there. You are in the business of creating problems not solutions. You think that by changing the external world, you will change yourselves, when it’s actually the opposite that is true. Until you understand that to all things there is a season, that things have a place that is possible to get out of, then you won’t have any future wonderful world. You may have a more technologically advanced world, but it will still be a variegated mess of oppression and blowback. That is where Gene Roddenberry got it wrong with Star Trek, and where Star Wars has the core of something more profound which I think helps to explain it’s much greater popularity. Many of us have an instinctive appreciation, if nothing more, that there is a balance that our world must have for us to describe it as a harmonious or wonderful place. We don’t have that. Instead, we have overcompensation after overcompensation to perceived injustice after perceived injustice. We are stuck, in other words, in a negative feedback loop where each response we make to “fix” something else puts us more, not less, out of balance. If you think that makes me a pessimist, think again. I’m actually optimistic for the world we will have AFTER the transhumanist… Read more »
dmduncan
July 2, 2013 1:50 pm

Hey, 3D printing is great. The question is, are people now on the whole too stupid or intellectually lazy to exploit the technology? Hard to see how that revolution happens if 3D printing/CNC machining remains the hobby of a fringe economic group.

And then if it DOES happen there’s the possibility that our militaristic police state may declare 3D printers terrorists and national security threats who have to be stopped.

louisb
July 2, 2013 3:06 pm

@36

Hey I loved jj’s trek and I’m not a cynic. I don’t think gene’s utopia (or any utopia) is possible, but it can definitely be a lot better than what we have now.

Keachick - rose pinenut
July 2, 2013 3:17 pm
Many of the more positive technologies have to do with trying to undo the environmental harm that past technologies have produced. I’m not sure if humans are taking two steps forward and one step backwards or one step forward and two steps backwards or simply running fast on the same spot. Then again, I suspect that most people are probably in a state of “future shock” right now, as described by the author, Alvin Tofler, in his book “Future Shock”. I read it way, way back when, so I cannot recall a lot, but I think that many people are now so overwhelmed by the sheer pace of everything. The number of people who cannot go without a cell phone for even an hour or so while watching a movie or those who window shop while talking into a cellphone or texting is amazing and scary. Perhaps this may be one of the reasons why so many action movies have so much that is repetitive, especially violence and can go at such a pace, is because many of the audience are distracted by the ubiquitous cellphone and so do not give their full attention to the movie and therefore do not find them as fast paced, monotonous and boring. I do not own a cell phone. There are times when I have considered getting one and learning to use, just as a matter of personal security and convenience. However, that passes fairly quickly. I try to take all reasonable precautions… Read more »
Vultan
July 2, 2013 4:58 pm

#41

I’ve been rewatching DS9 lately. The series dealt with a lot of real world issues concerning government, war, religion, the balance between freedom and security, etc. Many of the episodes are more resonant today than when they first aired, often times challenging Roddenberry’s utopian ideals.

Disinvited
July 2, 2013 5:24 pm
Marja
July 2, 2013 5:52 pm
dmduncan, I cannot say I look to politics for the “cure” to humanity’s ills. I believe we are each part of an interdependent web of all existence, and that to serve our own needs, we must serve the needs of others in a spirit of Unity. Using the Force, if you will, not force, to be in harmony with one another. Being humane while being human and forgiving ourselves and moving ahead when we stumble. It may sound airy-fairy but I do believe in it :) Keachick, The Rush-rush technopeople give me pause as well. I have seen people out eating dinner together (supposedly a chance to socialize and converse with and focus attention on each other) each busy texting in isolation, ignoring each other. It makes me very sad. Technocracy seems like a way to isolate people from one another, and that people give in so easily to it is disappointing. I have a cellphone but it is what I like to call a DumbPhone; it’s my only telephone and I generally use it only to make and receive calls. As you say, though, I can remember the days when, if your car stalled out, you either walked somewhere to use a phone, or you waited for someone to stop to help. Nowadays help is closer (I once had a kind-hearted person stop and offer their cellphone so I could call a friend for help with my car, so this helpful human capacity is still there, even with the… Read more »
Marja
July 2, 2013 5:54 pm

we are each part of an interdependent web of all existence, and that to serve our own needs, we must serve the needs of others in a spirit of Unity.

*addendum,

and sometimes we can employ government to do this when individuals are too selfish to share.

VulcanFilmCritic
July 2, 2013 6:56 pm
Does Star Trek (TOS) really portray a future utopia? As Dom #31 and others have pointed out, the Star Trek universe is not really a happy one. Why is there such a need for escape, as in Rigley’s Pleasure Planet? Why do so many starship captains go completely bananas? Why is the body count so high? ( About 20% of all of the crewmen aboard the Enterprise died during the run of the series, most from conflict rather than from the rigors of space travel.) The majority of the inhabited galaxy outside of the Federation is under the whip of the slavery and imperialism of the Klingon and Romulan Empires. Racism (or I guess species-ism) is alive and well in Starfleet. How many times has Dr. McCoy called Mr. Spock names that would make even Paula Deen cringe? Why do mining officials have so much power over Starfleet? It seems the major purpose of the fleet is to control commerce and the supply of dilithium. Peacekeeping is necessary to ensure the orderly flow of trade, with exploration being secondary. Sure, they’ve cured many diseases, but they’ve encountered even more. Sure hunger and illiteracy is a thing of the past, but at what cost? It seems that civilians that appear on the show are often quite unhappy. Tight-lipped and cranky, we hardly even meet anyone who’s truly joyful. The criminals, con men and swindlers are the only people with smiles on their faces. Or maybe it only seems that way because… Read more »
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