The New New World

Star Trek Discovery premiered this past week as a new entry in the Star Trek series that has been a part of my life since I was a kid. I was enamored with the idea of exploring the stars, meeting new civilizations while maintaining a strong ethical stance about not interfering with their development. The idea of beaming up to a ship instead of dealing with long shuttle flights seemed like something I’d like, especially as I sat on a long bus ride to and from school for most of my youth.

Since then I continue to dream about Star Trek technologies, which are still likely as far in the future as I thought as a kid. These days I wouldn’t want to go to space without artificial gravity, and I feel that the HoloLens, which interesting, is still miles away from any sort of Holodeck. Even the advances in speech technology, across many devices and slowly becoming more and more ubiquitous, don’t seem to be anywhere close to the fictional computers on board the starship Enterprise. I still can’t see how a general purpose speech device in a crowded area would work. Unless we all have our own moment to speak our lines.

There are so many ideas about the future of technology and where we might go. I know that in some ways my imagination of the JetsonsDick Tracy, and Star Wars aren’t anything like what we have today, well, maybe Dick Tracy has come true. We are barely in space, we haven’t gotten anyone to another planet, much less explored other galaxies. We have computers that are way more reliable, but software that is maybe not quite as reliable, and certainly VR far behind what many science fiction writers imagined. Communications occur at a rate I’ve rarely seen in fiction, though with a darker overtone than I ever expected or like.

There are still dreams out there, and plenty of thoughts and views of the future. Some sad ones, some scary ones, maybe some exciting ones. Most views are so far in the future, with plots that are too outlandish, but there are slices and glimpses of technology that could come true. Maybe instead of quick subspace orbital elevators we might get lots of hyperloop transport. Perhaps we won’t have warp drive, but is it possible to get people onto Red Mars?

I don’t have any great predictions about the future. I tend to see more the downsides and problems that technology can bring us, especially with more data being captured. However, maybe you have some ideas. Can you come up with something that you think our children might experience?

Steve Jones

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