Are We Heading Towards A Star Trek Or Mad Max Future?

Star Trek: The only way we can grow and evolve as a new species is to have new experiences. - Peter Diamandis

Salim Ismail
Salim Ismail

Star Trek: The only way we can grow and evolve as a new species is to have new experiences. - Peter Diamandis

Right now, some of us may feel like humanity is headed towards a Mad Max-inspired dystopia. Even before Covid-19, we saw more people beginning to feel disenfranchised with a growing gap between the haves and have nots. Look at certain elections, Brexit, and divisions becoming stronger within countries, communities, etc.

But in fact, we do have a choice to move towards more of a Star Trek-like utopia. We have the power to determine our future. It’s up to us.

As Shots of Awe host, Jason Silva claims, “it’s like someone dosed our drink with acid and didn’t tell us, and we’re collectively realizing the only way out is through. Once we contend and metabolize the panic and converge our brilliance and creativity, we realize from an ego-death can come renewal, transformation, reinvention. This is our chance to be the phoenix that rises from the ashes.”

In fact with exponential technologies today, technology can make the impossible possible. There are assistive technologies that can help people to communicate, to hear, and to see. Be My Eyes is a free mobile app that makes the world more accessible to the blind. We now have 3D-printed organs, wearables that can detect our heartbeat, steps, and sleeping patterns. VR devices have been helpful in the medical industry with helping medical students to have close to real-life experiences as well as aiding patients with diagnosis, treatment plans, and rehabilitation and recovery. There are endless possibilities with technology today.

At a recent, ExO World event, Peter Diamandis had a conversation around what the future holds with Rod Roddenberry Jr. from Star Trek’s Discovery and Picard. If there’s one universe, one set of principles that portrays a hopeful positive compelling future for humanity, it's the work of Rod Roddenberry Jr and his father, Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek. He had a vision for a future “where diversity and tolerance are encouraged and in which inclusivity and equality are the norm.” This lead to the creation of Roddenberry Foundation by Roddenberry Jr.

In the future, the Star Trek creator believed, the human potential to be “remarkable” would yield a better, fairer world — “a world with no hunger, poverty, prejudice, or greed”. Since it first aired over five decades ago, Star Trek has continued to offer a unique brand of science fiction that invites us to “think, question, and challenge the status quo” with the intention of creating “a brighter future”.

For Roddenberry, Star Trek was more than just entertainment. It’s ethos and messages inspired people. The idea behind it was that we can grow and evolve as a species as we experience new things. “The enterprise wasn't out there just looking for strange-looking aliens. It was out there actually looking for unique ideas, different ideas because we at that point had come together as a world and as a planet. We've learned to not tolerate each other but to truly find joy and acceptance in the uniqueness between us all. We realize that for us to meet someone with a different point of view was a way that we could grow, evolve intellectually.”

Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations (IDIC), the basis of Vulcan (and Roddenberry Jr’s) philosophy and belief “that beauty, growth, progress — all result from the union of the unlike.” The symbol, a triangle intersecting a circle, with a stone in the center, represents this with unlike shapes – one smooth and one angular – combining together with a gemstone in the middle. This is also the guiding principle behind star Trek.

Roddenberry recalls a great quote “do something that scares you every day. Go out and find someone or something that is completely opposite of the way that you think and expose yourself to it.” This is how you grow as a person and the principle behind Star Trek.

There's also a mindset that there is no problem that we cannot solve. We are oriented towards solutions. The human race is always striving to be better. Ray Kurzweil has said that every technology can be used for good or evil. An example he often uses is fire that can be used to cook our food or burn our homes. As we explore solutions for Covid-19 and other problems, we do still need to evaluate new technologies. Do the rewards outweigh the risks? Each of our questions about new technologies should relate to themes of equality, risk, and autonomy. Will we all equally benefit? Will we become dependent on this technology? An example is the recent development of Covid-19 tracking apps. There are concerns over privacy and health data vs tracking infections. Another issue is that only 1 in 6 Americans do not have smartphones according to the Washington Post. “Rates of smartphone ownership are much lower among seniors.” Inequality comes in various forms from economic, gender, age, race, etc. Being aware and addressing issues around equality, risk, and autonomy early on can lead us to a Star Trek future.

It’s also important to think about what are the powerful myths and stories that can guide us away from Mad Max and toward Star Trek? And how can we empower more of our youth, elders, and indigenous to be change agents? It’s by working together that we can build towards a more abundant Star Trek future.

Learn more about Salim here
FutureExponential OrganizationsPeter H DiamandisRay Kurzweil

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Salim's the author of Exponential Organizations. He's an XPRIZE Foundation Board member, Founding Executive Director of Singularity University; Chairman of OpenExO & ExO Works, etc