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Star Trek as a purely symbolic artifact of past times (antipope.org)
215 points by CountHackulus on Feb 8, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 127 comments



The observation about nobody wasting time in Star Trek made me think of the Culture - where 99.9999% of the human population are effectively doing nothing other than "wasting time" - having a jolly good time along the way, of course.

Then I saw a comment that explains it:

"Star Trek and the Federation actually depict a Space Amish splinter group from the Culture."


Plausible, but the Aubrey/Maturin LARP seems even more likely.


This seems to apply -- as most of the episodes show earth citizens goofing off all day or working hobby jobs.


My favorite comment on there:

What, no mention of the Borg? They have constant awareness of each other and consider it jarring when someone "drops off the grid"... they suffer real problems with an environment that fosters "epistemic closure"... better analog for social networking than the Great Link, IMHO.

I think we might be heading more to being like the Borg.. :-)


the borg make most sense as wireheads who, from a certain type of utilitarian standpoint, are engaged in a great moral crusade.


It has its advantages -- I could use nano upgrades for quite a few things.

But there is a key difference between the internet and the Borg technology. Borg tech was based on voice (e.g the episode in which the first officer of Voyager is temporarily connected to some subgroup of borgs) whereas the internet is based on text (we have video, but even on Facebook, most of what people share is text-based) and where the Borg is synchronous, we are mostly asynchronous. In both cases this helps us to scale the networks better.


Internet is based on the transmission of thought.

The reason text is used for thought encoding right now is that at the current level of technology text offers very good price/performance for ease of production, delivery and retaining and at same time provides reasonable accuracy and information density.

At the era of brain implants when you will "look" at the website, you'll "see" thoughts, ideas and memories, not text, pictures and video.


text, pictures, and video _constitute_ thoughts, ideas, and memories.

;)


The article says no one wastes time and just kicks back and watches videos all day and how unrealistic that is. I think there was a character that did that, though. Lt. Barclay (sp?) or something like that got addicted to the holodeck to the degree where it interfered with his work.

Additionally, it's a very different world. Didn't they get rid of money in the federation, for example? Surely living in a no money environment where everyone has their basic needs covered for free would change how people behave.

Also having super smart computers. Maybe no one posts on Facebook because they can just talk outloud to a computer or a badge and it will get deliver to the recipient as text, newsfeed, or voice - whatever their preference. I already know people who prefer I always call them instead of text. If they are there we can have a conversation with some back and forth, if not, Google Voice transcribes the message and it is the same as a text message anyway.

Lastly, being in the tech industry and the US I tend to run into some blindingly smart immigrants. I think part of why they are that way is that they already had the money or education or talent to be able to get to the US when they wanted to. Many people are too poor to leave their home. So the people we mainly see in Star Trek could be similar, they are the people who had all the opportunities or talent to let them go out into the universe or become super well known politicians or doctors on the planets we visit, etc.. Making assumptions about everyday live based on the people we usually see might be like making assumptions about everyday life in the real world by only looking at Wall Street.


I am hoping that addiction is too big and important a problem to persist much longer, at least within wealthy societies.

There will, perhaps even within the next 20 years, be treatments that quickly and reliably improve executive function (indeed, there are already such therapies, but they are slow, time consuming, and expensive).


SF shouldn't see itself as being in the business of predicting anything; or if it does so, then that's a niche subcategory of minority interest. I don't want to read about SF predicting Facebook, and nor do I want to watch compelling dramas played out on comment threads.

SF is always an artifact of the time in which it was written. It's not about the future. It's about the present with a frame shift, and what that tells us about ourselves here and now, from a different perspective. Prognostication - especially about the future - is a fool's game. A compelling story should relate to the reader / viewer here and now, not in 20 or 40 years on the haphazard chance that a bunch of predictions play out.


SF isn't about predicting the future, it's about predicting our reactions to possible futures.

A book that predicted Facebook would be interesting as a coincidence; a book that predicted Facebook and accurately showed some of the advantages and pitfalls that it presented would have been a worthwhile thing to read.


All fiction (not just SF) is about predicting reactions of a set of characters to set of circumstances. There are really only two kinds of drama: ordinary things happen to extraordinary people, or extraordinary things happen to ordinary people. (And for extra comic-book style bombast, I guess you could include extraordinary things and people.)

The way Philip K Dick put it, in SF the ideas (or circumstances) are the main character(s), rather than the people.


I just reread Heinlein's Friday published in 1982.

He is surprisingly accurate in describing the way casual use of networked computers for entertainment and education is used to track individuals.


The most notable sci-fi stories seem to come down to one central point "be careful what you wish for, you might just get it". Sci-fi by nature is a warning of mankinds potential.


Indeed.

Read "A Logic Hamed Joe".

Think about the implications for Google, Facebook, Siri, etc.

Remember that "A Logic Named Joe" was written in the 1940s.


I think I disagree. To me, good science fiction proposes some future technology, then explores what the ramifications are for society and/or individuals. It is relevant to us now, because it explores how our lives would be different if something new was introduced.

A great example is a short story by Asimov about someone who creates a television that can look into the past. The government in the story has known for a long time that such a thing was possible, but kept it secret because of a simple unintended consequence: the elimination of personal privacy. If you can look into the arbitrary past, then you can look into anyone's past of 5 seconds ago. The consequences are society-shifting.


Hmm, I seem to remember that story, but have it filed under 'Damon Knight'. I most clearly remember a scene set in the bathroom where the protagonist, the inventor who has realized the implications, shaves and then flips the bird to the mirror, as if to say to future generations, "Yeah, wadda you lookin' at?!"

I can't remember a SF story where a lack of privacy is considered a good thing for humans. Other species, yes, but in STV even some members of the Borg attempted to create their own private space to maintain a sense of individuality and non-Borg unity.


They both must have written short stories around the concept, because I don't recall such a scene; giving the finger is also very un-Asimov.


Counterpoint: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_William_Shatner_Changed_the...

"technological advancements and people in the real world that were inspired by the Star Trek phenomenon"


That sounds more like an exercise in bias confirmation, to be frank; assume a premise, then look for evidence. Inspiration comes from lots of places, not least culture, fiction, nature, chance, etc. Finding the particular bits of inspiration influenced by a particular niche of fiction is a funny way of arguing that the purpose of a niche of fiction is to generate inspiration.


People are wasting time in Star Trek all the time, more so in the Next Generation spinoffs than in the Original Series. DS9 probably showed the most time wasting of them all.

Quarks Bar? Those aren't business meetings. Those holodeck/holosuite episodes? They weren't there for training. Picard is always reading or trying to read a book, Sisco does baseball and Janeway paints and whatnot with Da Vinci.

Its just that it is also a TV series. It's just not interesting watching Keiko tweet that O'Brien's favorite food is horribly unhealthy and she hates eating it.

Keeping the show interesting is basically the most important thing for the writers, so its probably best not too look too deeply at what is portrayed as if it is some realistic situation.


> Its just that it is also a TV series. It's just not interesting watching Keiko tweet that O'Brien's favorite food is horribly unhealthy and she hates eating it.

Right. No one wants the cameras to follow Kirk as he gets a worried look on his face, sticks a copy of Space Sports Illustrated under his arm and runs for the head after eating a bad batch of Rigelian Sarklon worms. Presumably, however, it does happen from time to time.


The first season of TOS had an episode, "Shore Leave," where the Enterprise makes a stop over at a planet for the sole purpose of wasting time and relaxing.

I think you're right, though. It's not so much that there's no time wasting, but the show was about the adventures of the Enterprise and its crew. For all we know the crew in TOS spent 99% of the time screwing around, and the show was about the 1% of the time they spent working.


The only reason "Shore Leave" was even an episode is because something went very awry on the shore leave planet and action and adventure ensued!

Which goes to show--really, the reason they don't show anyone goofing off on Star Trek is because goofing off isn't very entertaining to watch and because it's an action-adventure show about action and adventure, and not a show about people's everyday lives. At least by DS9 they realized it would be entertaining to show the crew trying to get into each other's pants.


It's like James Bond. You see in the movies the one week every couple of years where he's actually being a spy. The rest of the time he sits at a desk at MI6 HQ doing paperwork.


> Quarks Bar? Those aren't business meetings.

It's even full of people gambling, and the gambling tables are run by busty women in cleavagey outfits. And in the first few seasons, it's pretty obvious that the holosuites are for porn.


>"DS9 probably showed the most time wasting of them all."

Well, the theme was "To boldly stay where no person has stayed before," after all.


Sounds like you stopped midway through Season 1!


> Battle re-enactments are eminently useful for military officers

But what good are they for a doctor and an engineer? To paraphrase Ender's Game, how do you apply the lessons learned at The Alamo, or on the fields of ancient Ireland to three-dimensional warfare (not even thinking about the wormhole at this point) in space?

Another thing that struck me is that perhaps nobody wastes time because of the culture the Federation has become. They don't have money, either, and don't seem to particularly miss it. Perhaps Star Trek depicts a humanity that has finally decided to better itself consistently, on a mass and individual level.

Or perhaps when anything is accessible via subspace radio, holodecks and replicators, the only thing that truly brings peace and a sense of accomplishment is actually accomplishing something instead of clicking on cows.


"three-dimensional warfare (not even thinking about the wormhole at this point) in space?"

... well... if you take Star Trek seriously, for some mysterious reason, space battle in their universe isn't actually 3 dimensional. At best it's 2.5, taking place on a two-dimensional plane with a few hundred meters of play in the third. Also, everything takes place at what would, even with modern military hardware, be considered point-blank range. Not only is Star Trek combat modeled on naval warfare, it's modeled on 17th century naval warfare.

To your next paragraph, I would point out that we are following the elite of the elite. Sisko is the officer, out of all the presumably billions-if-not-trillions of people in the Federation, who is considered most suitable to be in charge of an incredibly strategic station. Odds are he's not a typical sample of humanity, nor any other officers there. I suspect our best officers today similarly do not "waste" much time either.

Otherwise... I'm a big fan of taking canon "seriously" and trying to work out how it could actually be working. I particularly enjoy playing this game with Futurama, something you're not "supposed" to do that with. But having spent some time on Star Trek, I find it's really, really hard to square the stated philosophy of the Federation with what seems to be the reality of the Federation. It just doesn't make sense. Even such old chestnuts like "Why did the Enterprise actually carry families?" are old chestnuts precisely because it really, honestly doesn't make sense. Starships are blowing up all the time in Star Trek, usually not even due to hostile action (or at least, conventional hostile military action). And I just find that in the end, there's no practical way to actually put together the pieces into anything like a coherent whole.

Almost as if Star Trek was written over the course of decades by dozens upon dozens of writers mostly focused on how the current episode will turn out.


Warfare deserves its own comment.

You can fucking reproduce historical figures with incredible fidelity, but you can't have a swarm of tiny battleships piloted by equivalent AI? Instead, you send your best people in a small warship right into the enemy lines, where they can be picked off at leisure?

Why aren't you people just firing a solid wall of torpedoes at the enemy? Why aren't you flinging black holes around like birdshot? Considering how many ships are lost per battle, why aren't you just launching cloaked warp cores at the enemy and decloaking & detonating when they're in their midst?

Did they completely forget about the self-replicating mines? Ignoring where they get the energy, why not fire a wall of those at the enemy? Right before the first wave hits, it should replicate another wall right behind them, and so on and so forth.


Yes, sort of expanding on cstross' point, real-world military technology is also rapidly advancing well past what Star Trek has ever considered. The 1960s heritage shines through here too. In the original series, hooking up a Big Honking Computer that gives the Enterprise some sort of drone-like control possibility was a Big Deal, the focus of an entire episode. And they had to actually bring in new hardware, it wasn't just a software patch.

I've seen a moderately serious treatment that suggests that in a fight between our modern military and the Enterprise, the modern military might very well win. The Enterprise does have the ability to slag its choice of ground target, and we'd have a hard time retaliating as long as it stayed in orbit, but that is pretty much all they could do. It seems it would be trivial to block their transporter, shuttles may be shielded but they seem to be slow and one imagine we could wear them down even with conventional weaponry, and Federation ground troops are laughably incompetent by real military doctrine standards, armed with a single line-of-vision ray weapon that immediately gives away their position every time they use it, somehow no air support, and their use of this weapon is also incompetent. Any modern military would chew them up on the ground, to say nothing of the elite ones.

Also it seems like any ol' script kiddie from real modern Earth would be able to penetrate their computer security by accident. The Federation seems to be incapable of writing a login screen without a cross-site scripting arbitrary code execution attack built right in and easily accessible in seconds from the keyboard.


I've seen a moderately serious treatment that suggests that in a fight between our modern military and the Enterprise, the modern military might very well win.

Seems the Reddit-originated movie-bound story Rome Sweet Rome http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rome_Sweet_Rome has a similar issue with the Roman military vs well-equipped (but no resupply) Marines gone back to that age. Modernity works up to a point, but eventually it takes "boots on the ground" with massive resupply chains to win.



The big E's one advantage is it's already in space.

Just tractor some asteroids and drop them in the ocean. Aside from the tsunami's, a few weeks of saltwater rain would make it really tough to feed 6 billion people.

Swing back by in a year, and then really fight with whoever is left.


Follow up: I assumed this was cstross without looking, but it doesn't seem to be. Sorry, I can no longer edit.


One that always got me is: why does no one think of using the transporter as a weapon? Once the enemy's shields are down, you can just beam the entire enemy crew into space and have a relatively undamaged enemy ship to capture.


One of the things I loved about the Stargate series is that they took a lot of these questions somewhat seriously. Transporters are used as weapons in Atlantis to beam in big ol' bombs until the enemy eventually works out what's happening and how to prevent it. In some ways you can still tell it's ultimately a Star Trek sequel, but they did a reasonable job of thinking it through much better.

It also doesn't suffer from "Cool Technology in one episode -> never heard from again" syndrome, to give another example of an improvement over Star Trek.

If you've never watched it, I recommend it. It sort of dies with a whimper rather than a bang (opinions on the spinoffs are mixed), but SG-1 was very good for a very long time. Mainlining the first season episodes without commercials and in sequence is really a spectacular experience if you can stomach the "time wastiness". The first couple of seasons in particular really captured the sense of humans being thrust extremely suddenly into a new, huge universe without guides very well.


Stargate does mostly avoid that issue, but it falls down on the fact that the Goa'uld are ridiculously incompetent at both a strategic and tactical level. The most obvious being the fact that they never developed the iris that humans managed to develop almost immediately.


My theory is that they actually had an incentive not to be too competent. As long as their squabbling just gets a bunch of minions killed, it's fine. But suppose that one Goa'uld decided to fortify stargates, use a bunch of secret weapons simultaneously, and begin conquering in earnest. This guy would be wildly successful, for a while -- until the rest of the Goa'uld power structure decides to take him down.

It's well established that all Goa'uld have the vast knowledge required to pull miracles out of their hats at will. They can and will punish any defector who doesn't have a huge advantage. Just look at how they allied against Anubis, when he made his bid for supremacy.

The Goa'uld are not pathologically incompetent; they're just wary of being disruptive.


There is an episode which explicitly makes the point that the Goa'uld make very sure not to arm their minions with too much weaponry or tactical skill. The Goa'uld are very aware that they are not Gods and there isn't anything in particular preventing the Jaffa from overthrowing them.


I always wondered this as well. It seems like with the transporter accidents that occasionally happen where someone's pattern is lost, they could even just dematerialize the enemy and then memset(0) the transporter buffer.

My theory is that there are some rules of war that most people with transporter technology follow. We've already seen examples of similar conventions in Trek; for example those banning thalaron & subspace weapons (Nemesis & Insurrection movies respectively).


My theory is

I think a more realistic theory is that the script writers simply had to draw a line somewhere and ignore the obvious inconsistencies from that point, or they would have never finished an episode.

It was an entertainment TV series after all, not a scientific paper...

I do agree anyway that many episodes were real turds. Personally I hated every single one with "Q" in it. Often those were not even internally consistent.


Once the enemy's shields are down it only takes one or two photon torpedos, much more efficient. In addition, I don't know of any species in star trek with the technological capability to transport hundreds of people from a ton of different locations simultaneously. The federation transports only a dozen or so people max at a time, and they're usually all standing together.


I always wanted to weaponize the borg. Capture one drone, keep him in statis, and then beam him onto an enemy ship. Wait thirty seconds, and open fire.

The trick is doing it right after it starts assimilating the ship, but not after it's successfully done so and suddenly turns on you and everyone else in the sector...


My mom's company knows when she logs back in after signing off for the day on her remote workstation. A big no-no, and grounds for termination or losing your telecommute privs. It's a big insurance company, go fig. The point is, you think the Collective doesn't know when a drone is put into stasis? The Collective would be like, "Whoa, drone 0x1ffe5ac3409f just went offline, hostiles encountered, last known location Sector X Quadrant Y. WTF? Imma send a squad cube on over to check that shit out." Congratulations, you're dead.


Instead, you send your best people in a small warship right into the enemy lines, where they can be picked off at leisure?

Not to mention perching all of your senior officers in a bubble, on top of the ship.


> I'm a big fan of taking canon "seriously" and trying to work out how it could actually be working.

It's our Alamo :)

> Even such old chestnuts like "Why did the Enterprise actually carry families?" are old chestnuts precisely because it really, honestly doesn't make sense. Starships are blowing up all the time in Star Trek, usually not even due to hostile action (or at least, conventional hostile military action).

Time to pick some nits. Sure, we see ships blow up all the time, but we also see shootings, explosions and robberies on the news every night, but I've only dealt with a break-in at my apartment once, and I've never been shot at in the street, and the only explosions I see are on the fourth of july. Statistically, I'd wager that people are just as safe on a Galaxy-class vessel as they are in San Francisco. (Although, the Enterprise was on a mission of exploration, where you never know where you might end up - it's about as dumb as, say, packing all of your stuff into a wooden box on wheels and heading west... hm.)

But you're right. It's all terribly inconsistent. I'd wager that Futurama is probably easier to rationalize, because at least they portray a lot of the people as human, making dumb mistakes and irrational decisions. "Why is this so?" "Because Fry is an idiot." "Oh, okay." The only difference, really, is in rationalizing the technology, but how different is a self-sealing stembolt from the smelloscope?


"I'd wager that people are just as safe on a Galaxy-class vessel as they are in San Francisco."

No, definitely not. Over the course of TNG I think the Galaxy-class death rate was at least 33% in ~10 years. There weren't that many deployed at the time, and we see several of them blow up, and the carcasses of a couple of others.


On the other hand, how often in Star Trek do you see Earth, and even San Francisco, get attacked? The whole planet almost gets assimilated twice, attacked up by the Xindi and the Dominion, menaced by the whale probe...OK, Earth is probably still safer than any given Galaxy class ship.


Push the casualty rate high enough across the whole run of the series and you end up with an extinct humanity at the end of it. Especially since there is very little evidence to suggest that humanity has any really significant colonies anywhere, and quite a bit of evidence against it. (There's also evidence that none of the other major species do either, which combined with the way the Enterprise in all its incarnations is always the only ship in the sector strongly suggests a Federation and equal-powered foes that are a great deal less wealthy that it may appear at first.) Again we run up against the writers not really seriously thinking through the consequences of their own attempts to create drama, which wrecks up attempts to take it seriously. However, "Federation as declining dystopian human empire" is certainly one popular fanon interpretation.


> there is very little evidence to suggest that humanity has any really significant colonies anywhere, and quite a bit of evidence against it

It is kind of suspicious that most of the characters are from Earth; Tasha Yar is from a colony but there aren't any other major examples.

> combined with the way the Enterprise in all its incarnations is always the only ship in the sector

Space is big, and sparse. There are apparently hundreds of planets in the Federation (explicitly stated at times). There are also hundreds of starbases. And while in the original series there are only about a dozen ships in the same class as the Enterprise, by the time DS9 rolls around we see huge fleets of hundreds of ships on screen.


> Even such old chestnuts like "Why did the Enterprise actually carry families?" are old chestnuts precisely because it really, honestly doesn't make sense. Starships are blowing up all the time in Star Trek, usually not even due to hostile action (or at least, conventional hostile military action).

The TOS Enterprise didn't carry families because it worked in a frontier with considerably more outright dangers. I think in early TNG, it's implied that the Enterprise has what it thinks to be a much safer job, what with all the diplomatic missions and always being in closer contact with Starfleet. There's an entire episode where Q introduces them to the Borg just to remind them the galaxy is still dangerous.

Given how often Earth itself seems to be attacked, maybe they just realized there's no safe place in the galaxy so the families might as well be around to keep up the morale of the troops.


> Perhaps Star Trek depicts a humanity that has finally decided to better itself consistently, on a mass and individual level.

That's more or less explicitly the point. I think that's almost word-for-word what Roddenberry wrote in the series bibles, for TNG if not TOS.


Picard states this several times, almost explicitly, when explaining to alien cultures why the Federation doesn't use money. The pursuit of wealth was superseded by the pursuit of the betterment of the fellow man/member of the Federation.


Heh. "The enemy's gate is, um, that way."


Star Trek is an interesting example of Science Fiction, as it's actually only quasi science fictional, but in a very fascinating way.

The foundation of speculative fiction is exploring the implications of certain ideas that represent deviations from the way the world works today. (Aside: also, the difference between fantasy and scifi is that the former is teleological while the latter is mechanistic, but that doesn't bear on this discussion.) However, Star Trek is rarely about exploring the implications of the setting of Star Trek. This is because that's not what Star Trek is about. Instead, Star Trek is about creating a setting with certain character archetypes that we grow to care about, a familiar setting, and a world where almost anything can happen. This allows Star Trek to dedicate each episode to vignettes where different individual premises are explored in true scifi fashion.

In short, Star Trek is not a scifi series per se it's more of a scifi anthology. The constant aspects of Star Trek (the world, the crew, the ship, and the associated technology) are just stage setting that enable and make more meaningful individual stories from the anthology.


I /just/ finished re-watching "Past Tense" last night - a two-episode arc where Sisko, Dax, and Bashir get stuck in 2024 San Francisco.

Everyone poor is isolated into ghettos - those without ID, those with no job, those with mental illness. They aren't allowed to leave, and thugs rob people of their ration cards all the time.

It's hard (but possible) to see this kind of future in the US. What struck me about the arc was the complete lack of mention of the constitution - had it been suspended? why? I mean, this is only set 29 years after it aired.

All communication is semi-internet, but done over channels - like cable tv. The user interface for it looks like the graphics used in "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?". The internet wasn't quite commercialized, yet - that would come the year after air. But we already had BBS' and other connectivity. Surely the writers worked on some sort of network at their office.

We also already had user interfaces more interactive than what they showed - giant desk-size consoles, a 5" monochrome screen and a series of menu options. Is this what people thought of computers, even in 1994?

The entire premise seemed to be 24th-century Federation, but regressed ~200 years -- instead of present-day, progressed 30 years.


Keep this in mind too: Star Trek, while originally attempting to portray humanity in the future, inevitably created canon. Thus, there is a world war 3 in the star trek universe that occurs around 1999 (I can't remember the exact time frame). So It makes sense that 20 years after the world "ended", people would be pretty scared and do anything to try to right civilization.

In the end, as the original post implies, Star Trek is no longer a vision of the future, but rather a sandbox to put humanity into and see how they react.


The Eugenics Wars ran from 1996-1999. World War III was sometime in the mid-2000's with First Contact with Vulcans occurring in 2063.

Personally I don't remember Khan being launched into space, but it is kinda funny when you look back and think that they sort of thought that was going to be possible in the late '60s.


> What struck me about the arc was the complete lack of mention of the constitution - had it been suspended? why?

I don't want to get too far into this, but eh...in 1996, people would look at legislation like SOPA, NDAA, and the Patriot Act and ask the same question. I think "Past Tense" is being borne out rather than repudiated by recent events, especially depending on your level of pessimism about the economy.

Funny enough though, some of the DS9 writers actually went on the internet to communicate with their fans.


I watched the first episode of that arc last week (and the next next week, due to scheduling issues with my watching group).

I was struck by how incredibly plausible it was (here in 2012) that this could happen by 2024. Do I think that things will continue to get worse, economically, for 12 more years? No, not really. But we already have the Occupy camps -- I mean, Sanctuaries, it's just that they're being resisted by the authorities rather than institutionalized, so far. But things being resisted by the government and then institutionalized is what often happens with things like that. It's one of the few ST things that looks more plausible closer to the time than it did when it was written, in my opinion.

Surely the writers worked on some sort of network at their office.

In 1994? I would expect that at least some of them were writing on typewriters.


I always assumed this was because in the Star Trek universe people were freed from a lot of the drudgery by the systems, and used the time to go do the interesting things that they wanted to do.

I suppose it's because I see reddit and facebook as a weird form of escapism from reality. I know that when I don't have any pressing issues I'm much more likely to sit down and read. reddit/hn is for when I need a quick "don't think about work" break, never for when I have the whole weekend stretching out in front of me.

The utopian dream of Star Trek is a never-ending weekend where _you_ get to decide what's important without being overly concerned that you'll starve to death on Monday.


Star Trek, especially TOS, are all about drudgery. As I recall, they had to manually place torpedoes on the launch racks, and firing the phasers involved Kirk giving the order to fire, which is relayed by the weapons officer to a poor schmuck sitting in the phaser room, who then presses a button. Even in the more recent episodes, you constantly had people hauling around those little pads in order to give information to somebody, rather than transmitting it via the (presumably) incredibly advanced computer which is linked to and controlling the entire ship.


If I email you my report, you can ignore it. If I hand you a pad locked on the report till you acknowledge that you read it, your attention has been put to the task at hand. If I were putting together the social organization scheme for running a space ship, I might take advantage of that. In TOS, pads were first used by the captains for reviewing and acknowledging that they had seen various reports.


I think that was the entire purpose of Yeoman Rand, well, that and the short skirts (this is TOS, after all).


Also, Chief O'Brien's attempts to keep DS9 running, albeit that's Cardassian technology.

> As I recall, they had to manually place torpedoes on the launch racks, and firing the phasers involved Kirk giving the order to fire, which is relayed by the weapons officer to a poor schmuck sitting in the phaser room, who then presses a button.

HELM 108!


I agree with the author that the social subtext on DS9 (and Star Trek in general) was very old fashioned (i.e. no gay crewmen). But to it's credit, DS9 had a very modern political subtext.

DS9 was a show set in space dealing with an occupied peoples that suffered decades of repression and were trying to regain their sovereignty. The show was filmed as the first Intifada and Oslo peace process happened in the real world, and I feel the a major part of the series arc is about Israel/Palestine. I have not seen a show on TV since that attempts to have a smart political discussion about this issue.


I'd rather think that outside of episodes devoted to gay issues that many characters could be interpreted as gay or straight. Essentially that it was a non issue in the future.

I partly agree with your second point. I think the Cardassians are clearly the Nazis and the Bajorans as the oppressed Jews.


At some point, there will be a generation whose entire life history, from cradle to grave, will be documented online.

Soon thereafter, the archives containing all of that data will be made public.

At that point, I think it's plausible that people will adopt radically different attitudes towards online sharing. By the 23rd century personal logs would tend to stay more personal, parents would think more carefully about putting their child's life-story into the public domain, and willfully living in social silos may come to be seen as pathetically parochial.


> At that point, I think it's plausible that people will adopt radically different attitudes towards online sharing.

That's a fairly tame prediction. Most of the benefit we get from keeping secrets is either temporary (I don't want my boss to know I'm looking for another job; I don't want my wife to know I'm having an affair) or only benefits us if everyone else keeps the same secrets so it becomes a taboo (I'm gay; I don't believe in God; I have embarrassing sexual fetishes; I have fringe political beliefs). The first kind we don't care about keeping after death unless we're especially vain and famous enough people would care, and the second kind is only work keeping secret if everyone else keeps it secret.

I can't imagine a huge backlash against sharing and social networking once it becomes culturally engrained; instead, insistence on privacy will be seen as suspicious and eccentric.


I only have anecdotal evidence but my observation has been that the set of things people decide to share is motivated by the facade they want to create. Once all that stuff gets analyzed in the aggregate, future historians will be able to paint a more complete picture of people's lives. My prediction depends on how ugly that picture turns out to be.


Ugly is culturally relative. Fifty years ago, people would be horrified to find out how many people were gay. Today, we're horrified to find out that gay people felt the need to stay in the closet.


Agreed, 'ugly' is culturally relative. I'm interested in what happens when cultural norms change a lot in the span of 20 years yet everyone's real history is public domain.


That real history will itself affect the cultural norms.


Maybe. But by "real history" I'm referring to the stuff that historians produce, not popular history/myth.


First, 23rd century is a very long shot. It's like trying to predict 20th century from 17th. You can only realistically figure out something about mid-21st.

And I bet the events described by you would cause people to start caring even less about privacy. What's the big deal about data becoming public if it's old and nobody reads it any more? Because each second produces more data than you can possibly care?


I was being a little tongue-in-cheek as far as predicting the 23rd century (the article was about the DS9 era of Star Trek).

My thesis is that people do care about privacy but are motivated to share in order to portray a certain image. They don't want all of the ugly stuff revealed. So I don't see how people will start caring less about privacy when they realize that they don't have any control over their image.


I think the main point to remember is that Star Trek, even DS9, mostly portrays the lives of idealized people in, effectively, the military. When I think of the most talented and driven people I know (and surely it takes driven and talented people to make it in Starfleet), I think of people who work long hours, spend much of their spare time cultivating their talents, and generally don't waste much time. One such person whom I know actually watches Shakespeare productions for entertainment. Some particular examples strike true--O'Brien's always tinkering with things when he isn't drinking and carousing with Bashir, Bashir has an endless supply of research projects to work on when he isn't drinking and carousing with O'Brien, Odo is an introverted workaholic.

The prevalence of things like Shakespeare and classical music is mostly a writing conceit--it always comes off as contrived and awkward when Star Trek writers either invent futuristic forms of art or awkwardly shoehorn in the 20th century.

I would posit that the world of Star Trek eliminates the alienation of everyday life on Earth that leads one to social networking in the first place. Furthermore, and this is admittedly handwavy, but any analog to the internet would either only cover the station itself (in which case why bother, because the whole station hangs out at the bar anyway) or require subspace radio to communicate with thousands of planets at once, which is very plausibly impractical if not outright prevented by security requirements.

More nitpicks:

> 90s! YOU WERE THE BEST! With your adorable WE ARE SO DARK plots that seem like Strawberry Shortcake Goes to Space by today's standards.

Well, compared to BSG I guess there's no on-camera rape scenes, but all the rest, torture and genocide included, is there. It isn't portrayed with the same realism, granted.

> In fact, the war correspondence he so longs to write--and he believes he is the only one who can write it--would be one of many, many voices escaping from occupied DS9 in the post Arab Spring networked news hivemind.

Well they evacuated nearly all the civilians. Jake is quite possibly the only civilian left who doesn't have anything better to do than to be a war correspondent. Quark has his bar, Rom has his undercover mission, and the Bajoran crew are still military officers who have to run the station and pretend to collaborate with the Dominion.

To the point that "nobody blogs", the actual crew all keep "personal logs", and while they're classified and not shared to the world (more on that later), it's not that far off.

> Can you imagine the subreddit for the station? How many atheists would tear down Sisko the messiah, how every decision would be questioned, mocked, dissected where the actors and the acted upon could see it?

Who, exactly? The crew? No, that would be insubordination. The crew's families? Not technically insubordination but still awkward. The business owners on the Promenade? Right, Quark and the owner of the Klingon restaurant are going to openly criticize the one thing that makes DS9 a tourist destination for Bajoran pilgrims.

> Because of this, and because of the lack of a social network, it is possible to be alone in the Star Trek world in a way which I would have to deliberately take action to achieve in my world. Even when we are alone, most of us check a number of communication vectors and leave them live--Twitter, email, text messages, Facebook, our blogs, Reddit, news feeds. We are a baby hivemind spinning our training wheels. To be alone as profoundly (to me) as Sisko, Kira, and the rest often are, I would have to make a decision to shut down all of those streams.

These people are living in space. Only the highest ranking officers have their own quarters, and the unmarried ones seem to spend half their leisure time dating or hanging out in the bar. Even the station commander's son has to have a roommate when he moves out of his dad's quarters. There's even a scene where Worf and Odo, the introverted loners of the cast, discuss their respective strategies for getting away from it all to finally spend some time alone.

EDIT: Come to think of it, the station does have a network. Quark is constantly hacking into it, probably with Rom's help. In one amusing scene, he does it to spam everybody with poorly produced advertisements for his bar: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-9tw2mx_gE


> One such person whom I know actually watches Shakespeare productions for entertainment.

You make it sound like this is some kind of rarity. That’s ridiculous: Shakespeare plays are incredibly common and popular, and lots of people watch them for fun – because they’re fun! You can probably find one in any major metropolitan area on any given weekend.


> You can probably find one in any major metropolitan area on any given weekend.

I can also find dog fighting in any major metropolitan area on any given weekend, this doesn't necessarily mean its common and popular. The most common plays performed are in the public domain and most of the time still struggle horribly to survive. Despite (A) being easily recognizable and (B) cheaper to produce.

The plays people actually go see, and I hear regular people discuss are like Mama Mia and Spamalot. Basically, if it wasn't on broadway you have no hope of getting a general audience in.

It is some kind of rarity, because the list of things that 99% of the population do in their free time does not include 'enjoy shakespeare'. I rarely watch a movie twice, and I haven't seen a shakespeare film since I was forced to in high school. But get this, I actually enjoy the writings of shakespeare it's just that there's things that are culturally relevant today.


I can also find dog fighting in any major metropolitan area on any given weekend, this doesn't necessarily mean its common and popular. The most common plays performed are in the public domain and most of the time still struggle horribly to survive.

You're speaking, of course, solely for the US.


Are you claiming there is no dog fighting in Europe?


I think he's claiming that plays are more popular in Europe.


I would be very surprised to find dog fighting in most of Western Europe. (The UK might have some)

But in Eastern Europe, sure.


You're totally right, but like any old, "high" art, Shakespeare's popularity partially includes people who actually get it and enjoy them and partially includes people who are self-congratulatory about how "cultured" they are. In Shakespeare's time, it was basically popular entertainment with lots of violence and dirty jokes, but there's centuries of difference in language and cultural context that provides a barrier to entry for contemporary audiences, and likewise there's an air of artistic prestige to it that's grown in the intervening centuries, so the way someone in Elizabethan England would watch a Shakespeare play for fun is extremely different from the cultural practice of Shakespeare productions today.

Music's another good example--from any objective standpoint, there's music being produced today that matches or exceeds the artistic merit of any of the old composers; likewise, tons of the old composers were popular musicians in their own day. But there's an awkward separation between high culture and popular culture, mostly based on how old something is.

It might come off as silly to actually portray this in science fiction, but it's interesting to wonder how people a century or two from now will approach the art we're producing today. Will there be cover bands performing Metallica's "Master of Puppets" who are treated with the same reverence as contemporary orchestras performing Wagner operas? Will people wear formal clothing and sit quietly, not realizing that it was meant to be music for sweaty teenagers to run around and body-slam each other to?


> there's an awkward separation between high culture and popular culture, mostly based on how old something is.

That's an interesting notion that may prove true in the future, but a few exceptions aside, I don't think it accurately describes the history of what you'd call "the western canon." The reality is that in the past, most popular art has been completely forgotten a few generations out. Of course there are exceptions, but the overwhelming number of plays, songs, novels, paintings, etc are dust. Your example of Shakespeare was a bit off the mark, because while he certainly had and has popular appeal, Shakespeare was in no way 'basically popular entertainment'; Lord Chamberlain's Men, The Kings Men—they were not performing for the sole benefit of the groundlings, they were performing primarily for very wealthy patrons.

Also, Shakespeare created perhaps the finest and most elevated art in the English language, and was recognized for it then, even more so today; the plays that were basically popular entertainment in his time are footnotes or worse today.

And as a side note, I'm one of those people who enjoys seeing Shakespeare performed. I think you'd be surprised how much audiences enjoy it, and not just in that insufferable, look-how-cultured-I-am, self-congratulatory way.


Just wanted to make a quick reply to this:

>When I think of the most talented and driven people I know (and surely it takes driven and talented people to make it in Starfleet), I think of people who work long hours, spend much of their spare time cultivating their talents, and generally don't waste much time.

I totally agree. Not only is it specifically discussed that man has begun to evolve in a way that they can better themselves, through cooperation and self discovery, but it's also a mindset I see quite often. People who work tirelessly, and do incredible work, and then enjoy the small hobbies they have? Sounds like a lot of people I know, though not nearly in as large a quantity that one might find in a star trekesque future.


You never see a Star Trek episode that follows the daily lives of ordinary people, though. Nearly all the humans are Starfleet personnel, and according to various series' bibles, Starfleet is very selective.


DS9 Had several episodes that explicitly follow the civilian lifestyle of Sikso's father. The major plot point is about the strife between ordinary citizens being subjected to security tests who are not part of Starfleet.


There was one or two like that in TNG, but those were very conspicuous in their intent to depict a day in the life of the crew.


And they were still about the crew, not about civilians.


>I would posit that the world of Star Trek eliminates the alienation of everyday life on Earth that leads one to social networking in the first place. Furthermore, and this is admittedly handwavy, but any analog to the internet would either only cover the station itself (in which case why bother, because the whole station hangs out at the bar anyway) or require subspace radio to communicate with thousands of planets at once, which is very plausibly impractical if not outright prevented by security requirements.

This goes directly against how Facebook got started on college campuses. Campuses are already hypersocial places, are self-contained to some extent, and you constantly run into everyone you know - but this environment proved to be the most fertile ground for social networking.


People always seem to ignore one of the big factors of social networking - it's better. It's not just another way to get the same thing done, it is fundamentally BETTER. When you meet someone in person, and speak with them, you are severely restricted. You can't talk to 5 other people at once. You can't talk to anyone who is not geographically close to you. You can't stop and think about your reply. You can't check the validity of something you're thinking before you say it. You can't bring other people into the conversation unless they are geographically close by.

There are many, many, many very real limitations to communication that face-to-face communication introduces. Even most of the 'advantages' that (usually older or hipster) people claim are actually disadvantages. 'You can tell more what someone is feeling'. Bullshit. We know this. When you talk to someone, you think you know what they are thinking. And you are wrong. Even the ability of decades-experienced police officers who SWEAR they can read people only perform as well as random chance. 50% of the time, when you think you know what someone is feeling or thinking, you are wrong. 50% of the time you are right, of course, but that's not much to recommend it. You are far more likely to be mislead (not necessarily intentionally!) in person. The brain has real biological limitations. Our technology is designed to help us work around these limitations. There is no grace or honor in foregoing the 'assistance' of technology any more than it is cowardice to take a vaccine.

If you want to communicate effectively with someone - do it electronically. There's a learning curve, sure, and there are certainly social considerations (like you don't want to propose marriage over SMS) but in the vast majority of situations, doing it electronically will be faster, more effective, and enable every participant to get more out of the time spent communicating.


You're using a subjective definition of "better" and waving off anyone with a different definition as being either old or a hipster. Body language, tone of voice, word emphasis, etc. is not about being able to predict what someone is thinking or feeling, but about communicating meta-text, for which the electronic stand-ins (lol, emoticons, caps, italics, etc.) are severely lacking and really quite lame. Talking to someone in person even just one time, so that you can hear their voice when you read their text adds a lot of richness to electronic communication. If electronic communication really is better in every way, as your first two paragraphs claim (pretty offensively - "Bullshit", "no grace", "cowardice", "vaccine"), then why wouldn't you want to propose marriage over SMS? In-person communication is good. Electronic communication is also good, but in different ways, and for different things. All this "BETTER" stuff is nonsense - if you have a short missive to fire off, use a text, if you haven't talked to a friend or loved one for awhile, pick up a phone or get on a plane!

Or maybe I'm just a hipster (I don't think I'm old yet...)


I don't necessarily disagree with your point (although I think you overstate it), but this part is at least partially wrong:

Even the ability of decades-experienced police officers who SWEAR they can read people only perform as well as random chance.

Some people (perhaps 0.25% of the population) can do significantly better than chance. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wizards_Project


But it relies on an internet which the station very well may not even have. Plus, the feature set of Facebook at the time was a lot smaller--no news feed, no status updates, not even photo uploading and sharing to start with. It very well may have been filled by the ship/station's crew manifest.


Yeah, but Facebook was a way different beast during the timeframe in which you are referring to.


> I would posit that the world of Star Trek eliminates the alienation of everyday life on Earth that leads one to social networking in the first place.

This kind of discussion always makes me think of how in the Star Trek universe, Baseball is no longer a professional sport, the final World Series being played in 2042[1] due to a lack of interest from the public.

So what kind of social changes could possibly have the by-product of turning Baseball into a niche, amateur sport? I don't know, but I'd wager the changes would have to be pretty sweeping. And from there, would it be such a leap to think that perhaps similar sweeping changes might also massively alter the trajectory of social media and/or other apparently 'too big to fail' juggernauts in this fictionalised and hypothetical future?

Disclaimer: I'm not a rabid trekker trying to retcon so that my fondly remembered childhood reality can remain intact. I just like to think about this stuff sometimes because I was/am just a trekker.

1. http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Baseball


> So what kind of social changes could possibly have the by-product of turning Baseball into a niche, amateur sport?

North America finally gains an interest in soccer? People's attention spans keep getting shorter?


As good guesses as any. I remember my feeling when I watched the episode in question was that the decline of Baseball was not due to the rise of another sport, but I don't have any source on this and I don't think this was ever explicitly stated. From memory, the reason was chalked down to something non-specific like people becoming interested in 'other things'. It's been a long time since I watched this stuff.

And people's attention spans seem better in the future if anything, don't they?


Well yeah, but that's only AFTER WWIII and warp drive and first contact.


Duly noted. :)

I guess getting back to my actual point though, if an entrenched and perennial favourite like Baseball can topple in this version of our future, then conceivably just about anything else can too.


>Well, compared to BSG I guess there's no on-camera rape scenes

While it's no Clockwork Orange Star Trek had rape scenes like this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v... Plenty disturbing.

Then you have the roving rape gangs that were a big part of Tasha Yar's back story https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tasha_Yar


War is what I found more anachronistic in most sci-fi. And I believe it works as a justification: showing advanced civilizations at war makes us forget the shame that we're still primitive enough to kill one another in highly organized ways. It's always been like that, it always will. Really?


Well Earth has been at peace for centuries, it's just those damn aliens that start it, who are either warrior races or fascist imperialists or Borg.


Presumably the new Star Trek universe introduced with the Abrams film can allow for some of this cruft to be broken off.

I still think it's kinda charming that people read the classics in the future though. I mean, I don't always read high falutin' books, but I try to read something from the English cannon every once in a while.

Also, you have to consider that since they have replicators, why not read on a real book? You can just toss it in the replicator whenever you want and get a fresh copy when you sit down to read.


I actually prefer the physical form of an ebook reader, most of the time. It's lightweight and always lies flat, even when held at a weird angle that I would never even attempt with a dead-tree book.


You could argue that a lot of sci-fi isn't really meant to be a description of events in the future: instead it's often a thinly-disguised morality play set in the then-present.


>All of the episodes involving Jake's incipient writer-hood (besides being pretty weaksauce in general)...

The most critically acclaimed episode of the entire 7 seasons and my personal favorite was about Jake becoming a writer.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Visitor_%28Star_Trek:_Deep_...


I read "Star Trek" and thought of the show with female aliens wearing push-up bras and a computer with large blinking lights.

Man, I'm feeling old.


Turns out, it hasn't changed all that much.


Has any (mainstream) sci-fi besides Wall-E shown a future where laziness and preoccupation with the mundane is the norm?


How mainstream are you looking for? The Culture is pretty lazy, for the most part.


Do you consider Idiocracy science fiction?


Futurama?


All Science Fiction writers miss big trends. Asimov missed computers. Whoops! This makes it all the more impressive when they do hit it. And the greatest science fiction renders technology irrelevant. When Star Trek broke racial stereotypes and attacked bigotry - that was a cultural message.


Uh, what? Asimov writes a _lot_ about U.S. Robots and positronic brains amongst other things. He's exploring the idea of increasingly powerful computers in 'The Last Question'.

And those are just off the top of my head. I really don't see how you can claim Asimov missed computers///


The robots in Asimov's stories don't much resemble computers as we know them--they're more like characters. His computers tend to be massive centralized things, as computers were in his day. Compare to the pocket computers in The Mote in God's Eye, which are eerily similar to today's smartphones. Niven apparently thought the idea was one of the most fantastical aspects of the book.


Unless I'm mistaken, at the very least "The End of Eternity" features pocket computers, too.

And to say robot brains don't count because their AI is so advanced that they are more like characters is kind of disingenuous :)


Star Trek was always a very fascist dictatorship-esque vision of the future. What you wear is dictated by a central authority. "Primitive" cultures are deemed too inferior to be permitted to decide their own future, so it is decided for them by the Federation. Most of the worst anti-human flaws of current time are not simply maintained, they are amplified and made so oppressively constant that they disappear unless you're looking for them. And, as is actually said directly several times, humanity has 'improved' to the point where they are perfectly happy to live with extreme restrictions on even the most mundane freedoms, so long as they are handed down by a militaristic hierarchical power structure.

There is a degree of limitation imposed on anyone trying to create popular entertainment. You can't be too imaginative. There are many aspects of human society that modern people believe are 'natural' and endemic to human nature, even though even cursory glances at history show those exact things to not only be 'not natural', but exceedingly bizarre. If you line up the social mores and values and the like of every culture that we know has ever existed, you can spot things which are common to all cultures, and you can spot things that are strange aberrations that emerged and eventually went away. And, you can see several aspects of our culture that are so diametrically opposed to the common components of every culture ever that it's very foolish to imagine that our wholly unique take on the matter will endure for long.

Science Fiction is fascinating, but often disappointing when presented for a popular audience. For a popular audience, you can't question their basic assumptions. You would not get too far presenting a decentralized society which understands that centralized control of power is a guarantee of abuse and tragedy. You can't show a society where sex is used as a basic social interaction. And a society where eating is treated as stigmatized and for-marriage-only as many see sex today would simply be confusing (even though there are tribes which adopted exactly this practice, believing eating around others to be inherently extremely shameful, something only to be shared with someone you are married to).

And, if the creators look at history and they see the aesthetic of military organizations doing a lot, it makes sense that they would presume that in the future all of the 'important' stuff would be handed over to militaristic agencies. That smacks of a complete lack of understanding of WHY military agencies are structured in the way they are. The military does not adhere to rigorous discipline because that is an effective way to accomplish general human endeavors. They do it because committing violence against other human beings is extremely difficult to get human beings to do. And when they do it, they are torn apart with post-traumatic stress disorders, depression, anxiety, and all sorts of negative effects. In order to be able to overcome the conscious brains prohibition on violence, soldiers must be trained so that their muscle memory can kill before their conscious mind can prevent them from doing it. And sticking to a simple routine with no allowance for individual diversity and the like makes it easiest to continue functioning in traumatic situations. These techniques don't work in any other human endeavor at all. They are exclusively useful for the purpose of getting human beings to kill other human beings. That is certainly an arguably useful thing (another topic entirely), but the techniques do not extend to non-soldiers.

Humans function very poorly in situations where their freedom is significantly hindered. This is why there has never been a successful dictatorship or fascist regime that lasted. People naturally, even subconsciously, resist being controlled. And people put in control of others suffer just as many negative psychological effects as those they dominate. The reasoning, or sensibility, of the rules do not seem to matter. Whether you are preventing someone from drinking a bottle of poison, or forbidding them from considering an alternative political ideology, the result is the same. On the societal scale, restriction leads to self destructive behavior, gang behavior, and eventually revolution. We see this in prisons, we see it in restrictive nations, etc. The same pattern repeats over and over again, and mostly people take away 'oh well, that wouldn't happen if the people involved were better people' or 'that wouldn't happen if the rules were better'. It would. It always would. No system, no matter how complex, can possibly account for human behavior.

Anyhow, older scifi is at least slightly better than modern. Watch a modern scifi show. See how many episodes follow this pattern: 'Smart' character has idea. 'Not smart' but intuitive character warns that the idea might be dangerous. 'Smart' character ignores the warning, and leads everyone into lethal danger. A character, usually military, follows his gut and saves the day.

You'll find it difficult to find any modern scifi that does not fit this formula. The hero is always the person who is "reasonable" by ignoring reason, and who refuses to carefully consider the situation, just going with their gut. And, of course, pretty much every single scifi show presents the military as the savior of all humanity. I especially loved watching the first episode of that new terrible show 'Terra Nova'. They go back in time to 'start over' and right all the wrong choices humanity made. This time they're not going to screw it up. Oh, and how is this announced? By an unelected military god-king who controls every facet of the lives of every person there. Right, off to a roaring start, throwing away all that 'democracy' hoo-ha and giving all control to people whose training was designed solely to teach them to kill most effectively when needed.


You seem to have confused a voluntary life in the military with a fascist dictatorship for everyone.


The military does not adhere to rigorous discipline because that is an effective way to accomplish general human endeavors. They do it because committing violence against other human beings is extremely difficult to get human beings to do. And when they do it, they are torn apart with post-traumatic stress disorders, depression, anxiety, and all sorts of negative effects. In order to be able to overcome the conscious brains prohibition on violence, soldiers must be trained so that their muscle memory can kill before their conscious mind can prevent them from doing it. And sticking to a simple routine with no allowance for individual diversity and the like makes it easiest to continue functioning in traumatic situations. These techniques don't work in any other human endeavor at all.

Star Trek takes place on ships and space stations, so let's consider the typical carrier battle group, which consists of at least one aircraft carrier, a deployed carrier air wing, and various support ships. In the course of its mission, the people of this carrier battle group will safely launch, control, pilot, land, and maintain high-performance jet aircraft from the deck of a ship; maintain and operate ship systems including computers, electricity, fresh and waste water, communications, and propulsion--which fairly often entails operating a nuclear reactor; feed, clothe, deliver mail to, provide comprehensive health care for, and maintain the fitness and morale of thousands of people at sea; and occasionally, sometimes, launch cruise missiles or carry out bombing attacks against land targets hundreds of miles away. Very few of the crew actually engage in anything close to combat, and those who do have distance and technological abstraction separating them from the effects of their actions. Tests have shown that naval aviators actually experience more stress landing on an aircraft carrier than in combat.

The purpose and applicability of naval tradition is not to desensitize people to killing; it's to coordinate many different people doing many different jobs to work together cohesively. And it is certainly directly applicable to a wide range of human endeavors. Of course, it doesn't entail "sticking to a simple routine with no allowance for individual diversity"--that kind of command-and-control structure was shown to be ineffective as recently as World War II, where the most effective militaries were the ones with the most disagreement, political infighting, and allowance for individual initiative.

You've got an internally consistent narrative, but it doesn't match reality, and while I could certainly get into a flamewar with you, it would make more sense for you to read some recent military history and modern military doctrine, get to know some veterans, and really educate yourself about this. There's kernels of truth in what you've written, but reality is always more nuanced than the simple, tendentious narrative you've constructed.


> "Primitive" cultures are deemed too inferior to be permitted to decide their own future, so it is decided for them by the Federation

That seems like the exact opposite of the prime directive.


Yeah, the Prime Directive seems to be more "we don't want to completely fuck up a less developed culture by accident" than anything else.


When it comes to retro-futurism, I'm having a hard time finding a more uncannily accurate past prediction than this one by Andy Warhol: "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes."




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