Star Trek – A Look To The Future As We Enter A New Year

Sure, sure, everyone who has seen even one episode of any Star Trek knows that Gene Roddenberry foresaw a future not only of space travel, but highly evolved human ethics, unlimited free resources, and, of course, beautiful women in short skirts (at least in ST if not STNG).

Utopia? Yes for many, but where Utopia lies can Dystopia be far removed? Is the difference just a matter of a few simple choices?

More important than the technology of Star Trek itself is the way it fits into and influences society but, unlike today’s world where all technology is instantly adopted by anyone who can obtain it, have future Federation Citizens firmly rejected some of today’s technology?

Take Second Generation, which was written and produced much closer to our present time.

ST and STNG both had powerful talking computers, non-lethal weapons, and wireless communicators/cell phones.

But have you ever noticed what is missing?

For example, although people do keep personal logs, there is no indication that average people do so, just the scientists and military personnel. And even those who keep logs don’t blog them to everyone they know, nor is there any evidence of any of the future federation members being “twits” (you can’t spell Twitter without Twit).

Is this an indication that in the near future our descendants have come to terms with technology well enough to realize that privacy is one of the most important freedoms and virtually all technology is anti-privacy at its core? Not necessarily by any intention, it just happens. Travel by boat or car reduces privacy just as does credit card use monitoring and surveillance cameras.

But have they rejected useful technology? Perhaps. Consider that it was only in one later episode of STNG that we see L.C. Geordie La Forge equipped with a way to transmit images of what he sees back to The Enterprise.

Come to think of it, considering how easy it is to share images and even live video today, isn’t it strange that away teams on dangerous missions have to rely on touching their communicator button (STNG) or opening a communicator (ST) to even have voice contact?

Why aren’t Away Teams being constantly monitored? These are volunteer military explorers, not private citizens. For that matter, why don’t they all have streaming video feeds back to The Captain or at least the scientific and security teams?

Is this simply an oversight on the show’s creative team or a necessary requirement to keep the plot advancing?

Probably both, but what if, as some seem to believe, Roddenberry was actually a being from our future and his created society was merely reflecting the reaction of citizens in a free society (even the military) to the constant and ever-increasing monitoring of every activity in the present day?

And, why aren’t the super computers of several centuries from now doing a lot more predicting as opposed to simply reacting and analyzing what has already occurred?

Has this branch of computer science been completely abandoned on purpose because it also violates basic freedom? See Minority Report (Philip K. Dick if you can read more than 140 characters without your thumbs twitching, or Spielberg/Cruise if you can’t) for an example of this sort of society where the future guilty are punished for what they are predicted to do.

And what strange gaps appear in some of the officers’ education.

Captain Picard is thoroughly familiar with Moby Dick, yet when transported back to the beginning of warp travel he takes an amazingly long time to realize that the area being bombarded is exactly where the first warp flight began.

That would be like me forgetting what happened at Kitty Hawk or the importance of Cape Canaveral.

La Forge shows that the location certainly hasn’t been forgotten because he describes exactly where a statue to Zefram Cochrane is placed.

Does this indicate that future leaders come to rely too heavily on the ability to locate data electronically and only really learn what interests them (such as old novels).

And, when we learn that the entire Picard male line is wiped out in a house fire (Star Date 2371.19), does that indicate that smoke detectors and sprinkler systems are not going to be standard in future homes where resources have already been shown to be unlimited?

Or perhaps it is another revolt against the relentless advance of technology in personal space, such as the incredible fact that the entire world of Star Trek will completely discard the concept of seat belts?

OK, all more than a bit speculative of course, but that’s the point of science fiction, to get people to look at real reality and speculate about what present trends may lead to.

There being nothing new under the sun, someone has probably already published all this analysis but I haven’t seen it, so make all the complaints you want EXCEPT that I copied these ideas.

Also, of course, you should never be prevented from thinking for yourself, even if someone else may have thought of something before.

That is one bad aspect of Twitter, TV news, etc. it tends to stop people from thinking by presenting them with “facts” and “analysis” from people who probably know no more than you do – often a lot less.

If you agree or disagree or have additional ideas to put forward, why not enter a comment?