Star Trek: The Post Gorbachev-ian Prequel

I started commenting on this Prometheus Unbound post with a bit of humor. I’d really like to meet one of my doppelgangers. Anyway, I joked that if you were to write a Star Trek prequel in a post Gorbachev world, it would start out looking like the next 25 years or so should turn out looking. That, on its own, is a fairly big statement. I thought I’d try to explain why I think that and why it gives me hope for the future of humanity.

Ready?

We will have to start with the basic premise that where we are now is heading toward somewhere so that we can contrast and compare how things might change to get to somewhere that looks mildly like the universe that the Star Trek series resides in. If you carefully read the post I linked to above, the possibility that the universe already contains a Star Trek existence is so close to 100% that it’s not worth mentioning the difference. We can simply assume that somewhere in the vast expanse of existence is a group of galaxies which contain life forms like we see in Star Trek. If that is troublesome to you, read the post again.

In other words, in an infinitely dynamic monoverse or multiverse every logically possible configuration of atoms will find expression sooner or later, and then do so again and again. And the news here is that many contemporary physicists and cosmologists believe the monoverse or multiverse really is this: both dynamic and infinite.

This means that a Star Trek ‘universe’ is not only possible, it’s nearly 100% probable somewhere in the vastness of existence. Wait, wut?

Not only is it probable, but it is likely to occur here in the part we know about. Why that should be is simple enough: We know what that future looks like and it will shape how we think of the future and what we would like to see.  Star Trek showed us universal communicators and now everyone on the planet (almost) has a cell phone. It’s not just a cell phone, it’s a smart phone – half way to being a tri-corder if it is not already there in some development lab. What else have we done lately that leads us toward a Star Trek existence?

  • We are building electric and low impact modes of transportation and developing all the technology that it requires, including high density electrical storage, quantum computing, and lots of other things that lead to the technology of Star Trek
  • Medical Technologies: We have fMRI and other non-invasive scanning technologies, we are exploring our genetic lego blocks, creating gene therapies, we can grow new body parts in the lab, and we’re making huge headway into fighting cancer and other long term diseases.
  • LHC: we are still exploring the smallest parts of the known universe in hopes of discovering ways to use those parts even better than we do now. Sub-space communications may only be a few years distant.
  • We already have energy weapons of a crude sort.
  • We are seeing religion decline – the most divisive  mechanism ever constructed by humans. As it declines and humans look toward each other and true cooperation we move further toward a Star Trek existence. The journey will be long and hard, but we can get to equality when the haves and have-nots are set equal of status through the elimination of wealth accumulation. I did say long and difficult, right? The current financial crises are the first rumblings (or can be) of how we treat wealth differently in the future. We must reach a point where the world is so small, that wealth accumulation is not valid. When food and shelter are available to everyone such that wealth storage against lean times is not required. Though we must be wary of the dangers of fascism through corporate control of such things as wealth and welfare.
  • As much as it scares the religious, we’ll have to move to a single world governance. We already have a start on this with existing organizations. It is not strong enough on its own to do anything, but the member nations working together through such organizations could help push us toward a federation like we see in Star Trek.

I know that many people could surmise these things. What I see differently is how disruptive technology pushes events beyond previously thought hard boundaries. Twitter et al and cell phones changed the Arab Spring from a skirmish to fairly big upheavals. The Internet is such a disruptive technology that it is threatening the existence of many previous technologies:

  • printing,
  • telephones,
  • cable tv,
  • communications in general,
  • knowledge or rather control of it and the dissemination of it,
  • the software world is being disrupted and Google is leading the way to deprecate the old ways of doing software,
  • even how new technologies are developed – development groups work together in geographical disparate locations

The LHC and space programs around the world are working to improve our capabilities there. It’s a slow process but progress is being made. The linked post shows that we are discovering more and more about the universe that we did not know. Our knowledge is increasing. The increase in knowledge has been a near universal harbinger of change in all of our history. Not always good change, but change nonetheless. As these and other changes come together to push and pull on society it will push us toward that Star Trek existence.

If you think about it, you yourself will be able to see how some of the world around you right now could morph into what we have seen of the Star Trek universe. I’ve given a few examples already. We don’t  have to have ALL of the Star Trek technology to find ourselves in that universe. Even the story does not always have a transporter or food machine everywhere.

If we thought nuclear energy was dangerous, when we have power storage technology dense enough to support hand held energy weapons the world will become an incredibly smaller place. Society will be forced to shift and change. Those changes will push us toward extinction or Star Trek. I think that human nature, as violent and vicious as it is, we keep us from annihilating our species altogether. It would take only one common enemy or even a common disaster that requires we work together to survive to get us pushed in the right direction. Discovering another species in space could do it. Life on Mars could do it. Even finding Earth 2.0 could do it.

The way I see it, we have dozens of things ready to push us toward a Star Trek universe and some of them are not so patient as you might think.

That is why I have hope for the future. We are not doomed, we just need to get out of this chrysalis and get on with the next stage of our development.

Now, _WHERE_ is my shuttle? I’ve been waiting all day. I have to get to the moon or I’ll miss the next launch to Earth 2.0

 

UPDATE:

I was reading over at indigoflindigo where they have posted about ‘meaningful work‘ – a post which I recommend.

I asked “How would you say this idea of meaningful work would fit into a Star Trek like universe? One with no money, no debt, universal care and feeding etc.”

and they replied

Oh what an excellent question. “The Culture” novels by Iain M Banks have a similar utopian post-scarcity setup – can people be happy in that framework, if this model holds?

Well … first thoughts are that at least for the Star Trek characters we’re exposed to, there is a fundamental quest for knowledge that would translate directly into increased control (better understanding means improved chances of survival in the universe). Even in the domestic setups shown, there is often some sort of science going on – some better way of farming, horticulture, or engineering advancement, etc.

But there have to also be other fundamental aspects of the utopian citizens’ lives that they don’t get for free. Mobility comes to mind. Not everyone is flitting all over the galaxy. Don’t they have some sort of system of credits for buying things like shuttle tickets??

Or maybe they choose a pursuit (like chess), thereby making prowess a proxy for personal value, especially if playing and winning increased social exposure/acceptance (as a way of increasing personal security through status) or if it increased mobility by leading to travel for playing etc. But I’m not sure about the validity of this point AT ALL!!

And then again, there are perhaps some people (or AIs!) who choose not to work for growth in any aspect, and there might be rampant depression and sense of hopelessness! Yikes!

 

 

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