Re: Anti-extropianism in the new Star Trek

From: Jim Fehlinger (
Date: Mon Mar 05 2001 - 09:46:20 MST

Jeff Davis wrote:
> "These are the voyages of the starship seek out evil
> genetic enhancement and (no doubt) slap it around some thus proving, amidst
> much spouting off about it, the moral and practical superiority of natural
> and unenhanced humanity."
> Hollywood can just suck sometimes.

There's always been a strain of this in _Trek_, starting with
the original 1966 version. In the original series, we had evil
(or at least soulless) uploads -- the android-ized Roger Korby
in "What Are Little Girls Made Of?", the uploaded social
philosopher Landru in "Return of the Archons"; we've had the
single-minded anti-life AI "Nomad" in "The Changeling", and the
insane AI (which was in fact a reverse-engineered human brain
transcribed to an inorganic substrate): Dr. Richard Daystrom's
"M-5" in "The Ultimate Computer"; and we've had megalomaniacal
genetically-enhanced humans: Khan Noonian Singh and his cronies
in "Space Seed" (and in the future history revealed in this
episode, there were "eugenics wars" on Earth in the 1990's).

And wasn't there an episode of _Star Trek: Deep Space Nine_ that
revealed that Dr. Julian Bashear owed his obnoxiously high IQ to
illegal (in the Federation) genetic manipulation, and that he lied
about it to get into Star Fleet?

Of course, we've also had _Star Trek: The Next Generation_'s
Lt. Commander Data, friendly AI and Pinocchio wannabe, whose
freedom as a sentient being was defended in Star Fleet court by
Captain Picard when a representative of the Daystrom Institute
wanted to claim him as government property.

Gene Roddenberry, for all his spaceship technophilia, was a
champion of humans vs. the machine. Also, TV shows are a form
(however debased) of literature, and they're produced and written
by people with liberal arts and humanities backgrounds (and
somewhat left-wing political biases), not scientists and
engineers. _Trek_, and SF in general, has often taken a skeptical,
dyspeptic attitude toward the rush to Singularity.
This is not necessarily a bad thing, IMO.

Jim F.

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