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Star Trek Induced Tech Ennui

Topics: Technology | 2 CommentsBy admin | June 5, 2010

Sure, I’d LOVE to boldly go where no-one has gone before. But not only do we not have the technology, that’s a split infinitive.

Well, we’ve got the hardware worked out.
Now we just need to work on the billing.

I have a serious case of technology-induced ennui that I can only blame on Star Trek. Sure, iPads are nifty, and it’s really groovy that there are now affordable, terabyte-sized hard drives. Excuse me….*yawns*. I’m underwhelmed. I want some teleporation! And replicators! And a holodeck! And an android (no, not that android) friend that makes me feel more human with his/her mere existence. So, are we even getting close to Star Trek technology? Well, speaking of androids, many older cell phones look remarkably like the original Star Trek communicator, and they do essentially the same thing. Except I don’t recall anyone on Star Trek ever complaining about their horrendous monthly bill. Perhaps because they were (will be?) just as confused about economics as we are. And although we’ve teleported information (or rather, the Chinese have), it was only one bit, over ten miles. To actually transport a human, the data management requirements alone are mind-boggling. Just to store the information about the body being transported (assuming 10^28 atoms per body) would require 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 GB, or 1 Sextillion 100 Gigabyte hard drives. And then there’s the energy requirement, which (according to The Physics of Star Trek) is a trillion degrees of heat and the equivalent energy of a 100 megaton h-bomb, all in a controlled reaction. And holodecks? Well, the recent resurgence in 3D entertainment has been fun, but as we’ve pointed out before, things haven’t changed much since the 50′s in this regard. No, we have a long way to go before most of this technology is possible. Which is too bad, because even a dozen or so replicators would go a long way toward solving the global hunger problem. Note that I’m not quibbling with the plausibilty of any of these things. Although pragmatic, hard-nosed science types expend a lot of brain power blaming the writers of Star Trek for the “flaws” in Star Trek technologies, one of the biggest offences the writers committed was the split infinitive in the introduction, i.e.: “To boldly go“. So what’s a technology-deprived person to do? Well, there’s always cryonics. I could just put myself in a deep-freeze and wait, right? Oh fudge. We don’t even have that figured out yet.

This is still probably the best way to attempt voice operation of your personal computer:

Right. Intelligent dialogs with a computer? Forget it. Although even Dissociated Press has a moderately amusing artificial intelligence you can chat with right now, voice recognition technology stalled around 2001. See Rest in Peas: The Unrecognized Death of Speech Recognition to understand why.

Read Comments

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