Time travel. Communication with aliens who happen to speak English and look suspiciously human. Robots that cook and clean and have conversations with you. Cloning people. Androids. Warp speed. Transporters. Holograms. iPads?
Science fiction is defined as “fiction based on imagined future scientific or technological advances,” the keywords being fiction and imagined, meaning that traveling across the universe in mere seconds or slipping into an alternate dimension are completely outside the realm of possibility. Yet, taking examples from things that I have in my own home, I can use my finger on a touch screen to talk to people halfway across the world, control my video gaming system with my voice or by waving my hand in the air, make a cup of coffee by placing a disk in a machine and pressing a button, and send the exact image of my iPhone screen onto my television wirelessly.
People today can walk across conveyor belts in airports to get you from Point A to Point B faster (or just ride the conveyor which I am criminally guilty of), answer their phone calls from a watch (which I still don’t fully understand the point of) or by holding your hand in a phone-like manner with a special glove on, and print 3D objects. Are the technologies we have today really so far off from what science fiction imagined decades into the past?
The answer can be found by watching a few episodes of Star Trek. No, I’m not saying we can beam ourselves from here to the grocery store (which they really should be working on because it’s, like, really cold outside these days) or chat up an alien civilization from our Starship, but compared to the technology available in 1966 when Gene Roddenberry created the show, we have come a long way in the last 4 decades.
A communicator in Star Trek: The Original Series allows the landing party to communicate with the ship, simply by flipping it open and pressing a few buttons. Not only does it act exactly like a cell phone, but it looks exactly like a cell phone (the flip phones that are 1000% out of date now). Our “communicator” technology has come way further than was dreamed of in Star Trek. Our cell phones can not only make calls, but send text messages, hold tons of cool apps, and be controlled with our voices, which brings me to our next Star Trek technology.
In the 60s, controlling a computer with your voice was a ridiculous idea that could only be real in science fiction. Today, I can not only control my video gaming system or cell phone to do things, but have Siri tell me jokes or call me Queen of the World.
Made famous by Lieutenant Uhura, an in-ear comm is essentially a Bluetooth headset, wirelessly connecting you to your call.
Star Trek: The Next Generation uses the PADD – Personal Access Display Device – which is a handheld computer with a touchscreen display, or, as we would call it now in the 21st century, an iPad or tablet.
Starfleet’s mission was to seek out life within the immense universe and it would be foolish to think that every, single alien civilization would speak English. Today we can translate web pages through Google, or look up words and phrases in different languages online and on our smartphones.
The future, as imagined by 60s sci-fi, is here, and we should appreciate how freakin’ cool it is that we can do all the things that we can do with technology. Plus, I finally wrote a post about Star Trek!!!