“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” Desmond Tutu
With all the conflicts and problems and noise these days it is healthy to dream about how better our future will be. This post comes from a vision of our sustainable / regenerative future from the 1960’s courtesy of Star Trek. We have already developed numerous technologies that were shown on Star Trek through the power of projects, many that are widely used today such as:
- big screen displays
- technical manuals and literary works seen on rudimentary computer monitors – e-books like Kindle or Kobo,
- the flip communicator – the flip phone was a precursor to the smartphone,
- the wedge-shaped clipboard used by the Yeomen – computer tablets and touchscreens,
- the universal translator – is comparable to today’s smartphone translator apps and other translator devices,
- the Tricorder – examples like the Scanadu Scout
- wireless headsets – bluetooth headsets (Uhura had one first)
- Replicator (cheap) – 3D printers
- Holodeck (cheap) – virtual reality
- the multi-colored “microtape” data cartridge portable memory – 3.5-inch computer diskettes, which later became flash drives,
- automatic doors
- the Enterprise’s voice interface
- main computer that interacted with the crew – Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri,
- teleconferencing or video-conferencing technology – Skype, Zoom, Apple’s FaceTime,
Also Dr. McCoy’s hypo-spray injects medicine without a needle. As a type one diabetic I used one for a few years which was really cool.
Based on our technological advancements, the following two technologies should be achievable in the near(ish) future through sustainable projects, that will revolutionize humanity:
- matter/anti-matter energy (or something similar), and,
- the replicator.
These technologies could solve many urgent and seemingly unsolvable problems, such as resolving our dependency on carbon based fuels and the corresponding impact of Co2 and global warming, waste, the lack of cheap easily accessible sustainable energy for all, child and slave labour, hunger and inaccessible drugs, and even the damages caused by mining.
Sustainability and Regeneration
Though there are many definitions of sustainability, the fundamental point is to cause no harm, specifically for future generations. The notion of regeneration is built on sustainability, but involves also resolving the damage caused by problems we have already inflicted. I emphasize this because these technologies would be able to will provide regenerative solutions.
Technology One: The Matter/Anti-Matter Converter
We need to resolve the energy crisis with a sustainable, scaleable, cost effective and safe energy source like the matter / antimatter reactor, which as I understand it though fun, is not actually possible.
Something along the lines of nuclear fusion, HHO or ortho-hydroxy or hydrogen sources, cold fusion, or sonoluminescence to move forward. Numerous movies have highlighted the potential benefits of a new type of energy source that would be available to the general public:
Many regions and industries are held back and financially and environmentally crippled by a lack of access to cost effective and sufficient energy for their current and future needs. China and the US have lots of energy, but as it comes from coal and carbon based sources it is negatively impacting their (and the world’s) environment and climate.
Though renewable energy like geothermal, solar and wind are becoming more cost effective and reliable, storage concerns and reliability still remain an issue for continuous energy demands. Hydro is limited globally, adoption of fusion (nuclear) energy which is far safer now with exceptionally reduced radioactive waste concerns would be better but still has consumer acceptance problems. Also, in the future our energy requirements are going to continue to increase exponentially.
All of this could be solved with a sustainable, scaleable, cost effective and safe energy source like the matter / antimatter converter.
The Global Economy & Global Inequality
Tied to the energy crisis, this type of sustainable, cost effective and accessible power would also help propel the global economy. Providing the energy to drive new technologies and innovations will empower a new age of economic development and improve the lifestyles of those currently impoverished.
CO2 Emissions & Global Warming & Climate Change
A new energy source will reduce our requirement for carbon based fuels which will reduce our CO2 emissions. Planes, trains, trucks and ships could also use this new energy source. The energy would also be sufficient for technologies to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.
Technology Two: The Replicator
Effectively this would be a 3D printer on steroids. Imagine a device that could provide standard items quickly and cost-effectively. This would require a sufficient energy source as mentioned previously to be cost effective to rearrange matter at the sub-atomic level.
The Global Economy & Global Inequality
This will provide similar benefits provided by the previous technology. The growing global economic inequality and wealth gap has been growing exponentially for years, forcing a large percentage of the world’s population to exist without safe and foundational supplies. In many ways including the loss of hope. The replicator would change the global economy and dynamics, forcing humanity to focus on more valuable and worthwhile investments, priorities, transactions and economic models.
Starvation and Access to Water and Drugs
As on Star Trek, the replicators provide food and drink cost effectively and nutritionally. The shortage of many pharmaceutical drugs could be removed with the replicator as well.
Also, the raw matter to supply the replicator could be waste, which would work to reduce our waste problem. Finally a solution to the plastic crisis.
Child and Slave Labour
Cobalt for lithium batteries, along with other rare elements are obtained by the exploitation of child and slave labour. This problem would be resolved with replicators.
Time and Distance
Effectively this would provide almost instantaneous access to anything required, without the overhead and time and cost of acquiring raw materials from far away and shipping them.
Mining and Logging
The environmental and societal problems caused by mining rare minerals or cutting down forests would be resolved.
Conclusion – A Sustainable and Regenerative Future
These two technologies would change the nature of humanity. The potential impact on society and the earth is probably unimaginable at this juncture (both positive and negative). Most importantly though, we would also be able to regenerate the planet by reducing our negative impacts and the problems we have caused from our past. We outlined this dynamic in a previous post, Another Sustainability Model – Evaluating Human Systems and Earth Systems, but the potential impact of these two technologies on the earth system / human system integration would be incalculable!
At least we can dream. If there are project teams developing these technologies… sign me up.
Blas, L. (2016, September 08). Far-fetched gizmos of ‘Star Trek’ are today’s tech toys. Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/tv/2016/09/06/far-fetched-gizmos-star-trek-todays-tech-toys/85658282/
Looi, M. K. (2016, September 08). Here are all the the things Star Trek accurately predicted. Retrieved from https://qz.com/766831/star-trek-real-life-technology/
Safa Motesharrei, Jorge Rivas, Eugenia Kalnay, Ghassem R. Asrar, Antonio J. Busalacchi, Robert F. Cahalan, Mark A. Cane, Rita R. Colwell, Kuishuang Feng, Rachel S. Franklin, Klaus Hubacek, Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm, Takemasa Miyoshi, Matthias Ruth, Roald Sagdeev, Adel Shirmohammadi, Jagadish Shukla, Jelena Srebric, Victor M. Yakovenko, Ning Zeng; Modeling sustainability: population, inequality, consumption, and bidirectional coupling of the Earth and Human Systems, National Science Review, Volume 3, Issue 4, 1 December 2016, Pages 470–494, https://doi.org/10.1093/nsr/nww081