Posts Tagged ‘Star Trek’

Star Trek comeback

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

As seen on digg.com, Paramount Pictures has released a high definition video trailer of the next Star Trek movie: Star Trek XI.

Get it here!
It is to be released exactly on Christmas 2008. This choice of a date obviously signifies a desire to make a spectacle out of its release, because Christmas is among the most expected and valued days in the western world today. While I can be wary of hype, I think hype around Star Trek is well deserved. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If there was ever a time the world needed Star Trek it is today, when we are just about to make the first steps towards making space routinely accessible to the masses, when we are developing technology faster than ever, when we are facing paradigm shifts more often and more significant than ever.With all of this comes an enormous opportunity to screw up as well as an enormous opportunity to evolve as a humanity and create an incredible new world. Star Trek is among rare of the cultural phenomenons which at its core promotes positive and responsible use of technology – one which results in a truly better world. It may sound like an utopia, but what else is an utopia than a world gone right? Isn’t that what we should believe in? Isn’t that what we should strive for?

The new movie, directed by a very talented producer J. J. Abrams, is to lead us to the beginnings – to where it all started – the time when legends such as Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock were still kids growing up to become heroes that they were. By placing the drama so much closer to the real world time we are living in we are capable of making more parallels to reality of our own.

I think that the world today is more susceptible to taking what Star Trek presented more seriously, if nothing than for all of the incredible technologies which were literally realized yet were first seen in Star Trek, from ubiquitous mobile communications, multi touch screen equipped devices (datapadds in trek — iPhone, Nokia N800, Neo1973 and many others) to holograms and androids (albeit still fairly AI-primitive). And the more of such technologies emerge the less far fetched more impressive things like replicators, teleportation (of at least dead objects) and even ultimately warp engines will seem. And as humans believe that something is possible, it usually, sooner or later, becomes possible.

Indeed, nanotechnology is a big field nowadays, and advanced nanotechnology seems closer and closer, and it is exactly it which will lead to replicators as we know them from Star Trek and objects-teleportation which will mark probably the most significant paradigm shift in all history – because it will render physical objects, not just digital matter (as information) copyable (replicable) at a very low cost.

Positively minded science fiction, like Star Trek, is necessary to guide the people’s imagination of technology use in a positive, constructive rather than destructive direction. It is also among the most powerful of driving forces towards exploration of space, which is in my opinion becoming absolutely essential, not just because of the technologies whose development it inspires, but because of a mental shift in human minds which happens as they experience Earth from space, as fragile and beautiful as it is. I heard that most people who visit space come back as renewed environmentalists, simply because the really experience what a treasure this planet is.

But when it comes to space exploration, list of benefits will never stop at technological development and renewed environmentalism. It is in human nature to go beyond – and space IS the final frontier, or the biggest container of “new frontiers”, the unknown and unexplored, not just places, but visions and new ways of thinking Have you noticed how space exploration in Star Trek always coincides with exploration of human condition? That’s what I mean, as we explore more of the universe around us we end up learning more about ourselves, for it is in the experience of the new that we find something new about ourselves, through our reactions to the new.

Star Trek may not be the only science fiction series with a space theme, but as far as I am aware it still remains unique in the way it describes humans in the future and in space. It is the only one which promotes something more than some fantastic plot in space (star wars, fighting with some weird monsters, saving the Earth countless of times.. whatever). It is a consistent theme of exploring space and ourselves as we strive to evolve and better ourselves.

This is all why I am glad Star Trek as a phenomenon and as a meme is still so very much alive, and will get an additional boost by the end of this year (and throughout this year as the hype for the new movie continues to propagate).

Cheers

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Trapped by emotions

Thursday, December 13th, 2007

I just had a thought about emotions. Just listening to music of particular kind can completely change the polarity of my current perception of the world. It can be a shade of negative or it can be a shade of positive. Then I thought, what if I felt nothing? What if I could see the world without looking through the cloud of emotions?

But we don’t seem to be able to do it. We often believe we do things that are reasonable, that are logical, that are not based on emotions, but how often is this really the case? In majority of cases I think we’re actually guided by what we feel is right or what we like or love. In fact, we often base our reasoning directly on some sort of emotions. A good example may be common perceptions of what is moral and what is not.

What if we had no emotions? What if we were guided by reason and logic alone? How would our life be like? We would assess every situation we find ourselves in and act based upon our logic. We would in essence always do the right thing, always do what is most logical. Perhaps a world would be a better place for we would probably already, far far ago, come to the logical conclusion that war is not a way to grow, that alcohol, smoking, drugs, violence and many other self-destructive activities are simply not reasonable. We might be living in a sterilized, clean, peaceful and advanced society, perhaps more advanced than we are today, presuming that we set continuous advancement as a logical course of our evolution.

No, we would not be quite like Vulcans in Star Trek. Vulcans strive to be logical and to suppress emotions, but they do have them. In fact, their natural emotions are much higher and more intense than humans, which is why they developed a whole belief system based around suppression of emotions, so that they can keep themselves from lowly savage instincts that emotions often put them to.

Instead, a human without any emotions would probably be like a machine that we ourselves may soon be able to create, an android that is self-aware. Data from Star Trek is an excellent example here. Of course, then we wouldn’t be humans, if humans are defined as emotional beings.

And that brings us to an interesting intersection. Data in Star Trek constantly keeps striving to be more like humans, and as we are watching the series we can see various interesting points being revealed on the emotion – no-emotion relations that at some points makes us envy Data, the emotionless android, and at other points cherish the fact that we can feel.

And yet, even envy is an emotion.

In the end of any discussion about pros and cons of emotions perhaps it would be inevitable to conclude that it is both a blessing and a curse, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. I wonder how much of our culture is inspired by emotion? How many scientific discoveries? It seems that for every negative outcome of an emotion-inspired or affected activity there is a positive to be found.

Pity that we still have to deal with the curse. Between a positive and a negative the strive is and always should be towards the positive, the good. Therefore when faced with both a blessing and a curse we don’t just accept the curse, we try to ban it.

And how to do that?

Perhaps now, Vulcans have something to say about that. ;) It is all about control or controlled suppression of certain emotions. It is about putting the logic and reason in us in place of an executive director of all of the rest that is in us – the ocean of emotion.

Controlled by emotion or controlled emotion. It’s a choice between being trapped and being free.

But it may be one of the toughest disciplines for us to master. And we all have our ways.

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Why I just love Star Trek

Monday, September 24th, 2007

Confusion is like a pot of disorganized, incoherent thoughts and ideas. It is like a pile of “memes” which have not been connected into a coherent understandable whole. It relates to chaos more than any kind of order and it isn’t pleasant to be in that state for too long.

Luckily there are things that inspire. Inspiration is really the key to a lot of things in life. It has the power to motivate, to spark enthusiasm and consequently create mental energy needed to “unfuzz” the fuzzy to organize the disorganized, to connect the dots – to explore, learn and practice wisdom. Exploring is an act of seeking out the unknown in order to observe it and its surroundings. The next step is its consequence – the learning – an act of acquiring facts (or perceived facts) – an act of making the unknown known. What is left is to “practice wisdom”, the ability to connect the learned facts into a whole which provides deeper understanding of the object in question (physical or non-physical) and the context within which it exists.

On my old blog I sometimes talked about the thing that I believe was one of the greatest sources of inspiration and enthusiasm for me. In fact I count it among things that influenced my life and myself as a person. Because of it, among other things, I am who I am today.

This “thing” is a story and a fictional universe. It is an idea and an ideology. It is a vision and it is a culture. It is a phenomenon called Star Trek.

Trek has made me look beyond. Period. Beyond “what” exactly doesn’t matter as much as the fact that it is “beyond”. The object being super-seeded will always change, but what shouldn’t change is being open towards the beyond.

Some of these “beyonds” include thinking beyond the context of:

Thinking beyond is a fundamental idea which we also often call “being open minded”. It entails the ability to accept change, most importantly the change in our understanding of the reality around us.

Without being exposed to Star Trek as much as I have I doubt that I would hold on to this value as much as I am today. And I think this had a profound effect on my life.

Trek has emphasized my optimism. I think everybody has a dose of optimism in themselves and so did I. I am not sure if I am genetically or in some other way predisposed to be more optimist or pesimist and I am not entirely sure that I was prior to having significant contact with Trek largely an optimist or a pesimist. But it doesn’t matter. What matters is that, just as it made it easier and desirable for me to look beyond everything it has emphasized the value of optimism.

It has basically encouraged me to embrace a vision of a better future and a better world rather than a vision of a cool, but cold and dark “cyberpunk” world where the fittest survive in a constant violent war, as some other modern action packed scifi stories present it. While I enjoy even such dramas and find certain values in them as well, I prefer an optimistic vision of the future any day. We have enough of the dark drama in the real world as it is.

Trek has encouraged my idealism. Gene Roddenberry deliberately envisioned a show which will promote certain moral standards and ideals. This is why he set off to do what no TV show did before, like feature an african-american woman on the show in a time when both racism and sexism were still raging. This is why most stories depicted in Star Trek deal with moral issues and dilemmas and why starship captain’s usually are idealists. In fact, the very future depicted is idealist, with many wrongs we know in the world today having been set right.

This significantly encouraged me to appreciate certain ideals as something worth standing for and pursuing. It has, indeed, a lot to do with my involvement with Free Software and Free Culture.

Trek has fueled my interest and passion for technology. It is almost a perpetual past time of mine to look at the world I am surrounded with and compare it to the world presented in Star Trek making me fascinated when I see things in the present day world be like in Star Trek. Just the same I am looking forward to the future in which all of the things presented in Star Trek will be real and this anticipation fuels my interest in technological advancements. And that’s where most of my fascination with technology really comes from.

Coupled with the open mindedness (tendency to think beyond), optimism (envisioning a positive future) and idealism (standing up for something) technology largely becomes the means used to manifest the above values – used in a positive way for positive purposes. The reason why some may perceive Star Trek promoting technology as inherently good may be because in the above described bigger context of values promoted by Star Trek, it really is, in its world, used largely for positive things.

However even in Star Trek, later series, it has been portrayed what could we face if we do not use technology in a positive way promoted by Star Trek. The Borg may be the best example. They are an example of technology abuse.

So it is not that Star Trek promotes technology as inherently good. It does not. Technology is just a neutral tool. It promotes the idea that technology can be used to create a better world IF we learn to be more open minded (think beyond), be more positive thinking (envision the better future) and care for certain moral and ethical standards. Otherwise, we are in a world of trouble.

And that’s really what sums it up for me. Those are the ingredients that have “infected” my personality. I love technology assuming that it can be used for good and I love the fact that someone in the 60s had the guts to tell the world a message that even today the world deserves to hear: better world is possible, we just have to care and then evolve upon, which includes building the means to build that better world, advancing technology.

And why have I, after that last post portraying a bad and confusing state I am sometimes in, writing this blog entry? Well, I just felt the need to express this. When feeling disoriented and disordered it is good to look for something to grasp on to, and something that inspires me so significantly seems like a good choice.

Writing to this blog is my way of getting something off my chest. All of the entries so far were exactly the result of that, including this post. I am occasionally watching the episodes of Star Trek lately seeking for nothing but inspiration and a source of enthusiasm that I’ve felt evading me with regards to the work I do on the web (Libervis Network). And as I watch it I just feel this urge to, yet again, express why exactly do I love and appreciate it so much.

Mind you, I don’t really know nor care if I should be called a trekkie or a trekker because of that. I don’t particularly care for branding myself as anything. I am just a guy whose life has been affected and whose personality has been inspired by a Star Trek vision and the universe which it created.

Thank you for bearing with me.

Mr. Libervisco Out.

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