Friday, November 02, 2007

The Star Trek future

Gene Roddenberry and his successors were very far-sighted when filling in the back story of Star Trek. If I could predict one future for the human race, it would be the one offered by his vision. Sadly - but realistically, Roddenberry and co didn't predict a smooth transition to this elevated state where money is rightfully kicked into touch and human beings exist to improve themselves and those around them in a positive way.

One of his predictions - that by 1996 we'd be immersed in The Eugenics Wars, where a race of genetically modified supermen try to wrest control of the Earth - looked like being way out. It may have led to the greatest Star Trek movie of all time - The Wrath of Khan - but the idea we'd have supermen ruling the Earth within 30 years of the original episode foretelling this story ('Space Seed') seemed wildly inaccurate at best.

Well, folks, sooner or later most Star Trek predictions about our future seem to come to pass: scientists have bred 500 genetically modified "super mice" (see here). It may sound like we're all about to become supermen on the back of this, but do we honestly think anyone other than the super rich would ever be able to afford this? And why would we want to place ourselves even more under their thrall? And are we really so primitive as to happily inflict the suffering on innocent animals in the name of "research" into this kind of rubbish? The director of GeneWatch doesn't think so - read her comments here.

One other thing - the second best Trek movie, First Contact - sees the crew of the Enterprise go back in time to 2063 to secure mankind's passage to the stars by alerting another space-faring species (the Vulcans) that we've attained warp capacity. The only thing is, by then the world will have been plunged into a nuclear winter following a third world war. During the 80s and 90s it seemed this idea was incredibly quaint, a throwback to the Cold War, but with nuclear weapons turning up left, right and centre it now seems more likely than ever that another Trek-inspired prediction will come to pass. And unlike the race of supermen, this might happen sooner rather than later. Seems mankind is still as "primitive" as Kirk and co commented back in 1987 when their time-travelling trip was designed to bring the humpback whale - extinct in their time - into the future to save the planet.

Christ, no wonder I love this show so much. If only more people were as intelligent and enlightened as the hundreds of people who've given their talents to it...

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