Monday, May 29, 2006
Why we do anything
Lance has been reading science fiction magazines again. Go see his post so I don't have to rehash it for you. Seriously, because I'm not going to and this might not make sense if you don't.
Lance brings up a point about Star Trek that's always bugged me too: they have free energy and the means to create whatever they want out of it. Why don't they all just relax? What's the point of all that running around, building spaceships, stressing out over the Romulans or Cardassians or Jem'Hadar or whatever? What's the deal?
In season 1 episode 26, "The Neutral Zone," the cryogenically-frozen 20th century financier expresses doubt when he learns of this futuristic moneyless society: 'what's the challenge?' he asks. Picard replies, 'to better yourself,' or some such. The point is, technology improved and made things easier, so people improved too and went looking for new challenges or, put another way, went looking to make things harder again.
Lance frets: will we, in fact, have the wisdom and fortitude to seek new challenges when the magic button takes care of the old ones for us? I submit that we will, but first some more discussion.
It is perfectly plausible that, freed from want, we would take a long planetwide vacation; kick back, lounge about, play a few holodeck games. At least until the alien invaders show up and then I hope someone had the foresight to program these into that magic button.
Point number one: the humans of Star Trek had other races to compete with.
Point number two: the humans of Star Trek had plenty of time to get used to the new technology. Captain Archer didn't have replicators, neither did Captain Kirk. The hapless folk in Lance's SF story apparently had the things dropped in their laps, while the Trek people were evolving and assimilating all the new stuff that comes out of joining the, er, galactic community.
I started to digress into a description of a couple conversations from DS9; one between Bashir and O'Brien about the cultural effects of Terran artists trying out extraterrestrial art forms, the other between Quark and Garak about root beer. They're pertinent, honest. But, this is turning into an attempt at a serious discussion of the result of free energy in society, and that's really not necessary. You see, the entirety of human achievement throughout history can be ascribed to one thing - the desire to impress the opposite sex. [Or the same sex, if that's your deal, nothing wrong with that.] As long as we have that, we're gonna be okay.
At least until those damn Xindi show up.
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