Re: The economics of Star Trek

From: Richard Steven Hack (
Date: Thu Feb 28 2002 - 01:21:12 MST

At 05:06 PM 2/28/02 +1100, you wrote:

>Received much joy from the discussions around this topic (despite the air of
>rabidity surrounding the original article) however Star Trek is pretty much
>an easy target - virtually nothing in the various incarnations of Star Trek
>makes much sense; the technology alone is laughable despite being forced to
>the forefront of the viewer's attention by the SFX & episode plots, so it's
>a bit much to expect lesser aspects of ST world-building like economics to
>be logically consistent.

Agreed - what's the point of criticizing fiction as if it were
reality? Just to get the goat of lib Star Trek fans?


>This leads me to
>think that perhaps a communist-style society that retains real & sustainable
>human rights is only possible once a certain level of technology (most
>importantly energy & material abundance technology) is achieved, and
>furthermore that today's world of capitalism & free markets is only a short
>term stage in social evolution necessary to achieve the level of
>technological advancement that makes a "free" communist society possible (&
>desirable). Any thoughts on this?
>Neil Blanch
>Stewing in my own pancreatic juices,
>Sydney, Australia

The problem I have with that notion and the referenced story (which I have
NOT read) is that here again people seem to fix on a few technological
innovations, slot them into an otherwise contrived environment and ask
"what if?" The problem is that a tech like nano is going to have very
general, very pervasive effects very quickly; the same is likely to be true
of "true" AI, vastly extended lifespan, and other major advances. The
likelihood of there being any kind of "communist" OR capitalist society
after the Singularity is IMO nil. Charles Ostman talks about the "virtual
commodity asset economy" which personally I expect to be the
economy. IMO fully developed nano-based entities only need five
things: 1) Energy. 2) Raw materials (everywhere in the solar system). 3)
Nano-mass. 4)Knowledge Bases. 5) Computation power. What else do you
need? The only likely form of "trade" would be knowledge - facts and
algorithms - and *possibly* entertainment. The point of economics is to
satisfy the survival needs of sentient biological entities on this
planet. Given that posthumans are unlikely to be biological (in the
conventional sense) or have any survival needs they can't take care of with
their tech, what's the point of trade in such a "society"? In fact, IMO, I
don't think these entities will have a "society" per se - I think they will
be post-social, post-economic, and post-political as well as post-biological.

Richard Steven Hack

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