5 Lessons ‘Star Trek’ Can Teach Us About Technology
The ‘Star Trek’ franchise is beloved by many people and cultures around the world. The myriad of characters, locations, and dilemmas allow audiences to empathize and build rapport with the characters. And the technology utilized in ‘Star Trek’, whether in the television shows or movies, continues to entrance minds with the possibilities of technological advances.
First, a little background.‘Star Trek’ first arrived in the form of a highly successful television series in the 1960s. Since then, many movies and subsequent television series have had their debut as part of the ‘Star Trek’ universe. Even in 2020, ‘Star Trek: Picard’ continues to capture the minds of trekkies and non-trekkies alike.
The use of technology in ‘Star Trek’ is certainly not the point of the series or movies, but does capture people’s imaginations. And, interestingly, serves as a reminder of how to use technology wisely. So, let’s dig in!
Lesson One: Don’t Let Technology Take Over
In the ‘Star Trek’ movie “Star Trek: First Contact”, a species called the Borg try to invade Earth. The captain of the Enterprise, Jean-Luc Picard, in this case, strategizes a way to destroy them using the knowledge he gained when he was assimilated previously. In order to save Earth from a technically superior foe, Captain Picard and crew come up with ways to keep the Borg occupied so they can’t carry out their plans.
The Borg are an interesting case study for technological lessons. They are a species that, in order to survive, has opted to assimilate living organisms to further their race. In order to assimilate others, the Borg uses technology. And really, their whole survival depends on technology.
Just like the Borg use technology to try to assimilate everything and everyone, our technology can do the same. We can get so stuck in a digital reality that we forget about the things that really matter. Our relationships with others, for example.
It’s hard to connect with family, friends, co-workers, and even strangers when we are lost in cyberspace. Technology can do amazing things, but we need to control it, rather than let it control us. Use technology to your advantage, not to the demise of what matters most.
Lesson Two: Technology is a Tool
In the original ‘Star Trek’ television series, Scotty, the chief engineer of the Enterprise, seemed to always be able to fix or do something that was previously impossible for the ship to accomplish. In the episode from the original series ‘The Ultimate Computer’, the entire crew was replaced with computers. Needless to say, Scotty was very against such a move. And in the end, the ship, now completely automated, almost destroyed an entire fleet of ships. Thankfully, the disaster was avoided thanks to the quick thinking of Scotty and other crew members.
Technology is a great tool, but that’s what it is. A tool. Nothing more, nothing less. You can’t rely wholly on technology to do everything for you. You need to make decisions for yourself and then decide what technology best helps accomplish your goals.
Lesson Three: Don’t Lose Your Mind When Technology Doesn’t Work
In the original series episode ‘The Paradise Syndrome’, the crew of the Enterprise must divert an asteroid. In the attempts to do so, the ship and crew are almost destroyed. Thankfully, the quick-witted crew member Spock searches until he finds a technological solution, albeit an older one, that worked; unlike another crew member, Bones, the ship’s doctor, who loses his mind over the situation.
In the end, we can’t always rely on technology. You have to use your own mind, from time to time, to troubleshoot problems. And newer technology doesn’t always mean better technology. Instead of just looking forward to the next big ‘thing’ in tech, consider if the technology is really right for the task at hand. The hottest item on the market doesn’t always equate to the best job done.
Lesson Four: Technology is a Good Teacher
In the more recent television series ‘Star Trek Continues’, the episode ‘The White Iris’ finds the captain of the Enterprise, James T. Kirk, confronting key moments from the past in order to find closure. In order to do this, he must make use of technology. Technology was the only way for him to confront the past and find the healing he needed.
Technology can help you find a path forward. Whether technology helps you repair relationships, or find closure, it has the ability to facilitate growth and introspection. Although this is not typical when we think about technology, it’s a very important aspect of technological function. Even without our basic technology such as phones and computers, it would be difficult to be able to communicate with others, and, thus, find closure with our past.
Lesson Five: It Takes Work to Find and Create Good Technology
The original series episode ‘The Doomsday Machine’ features Scotty taking a completely dilapidated ship and fixing it up in order to destroy the doomsday machine. Not an easy feat, especially since the doomsday machine is designed to kill and destroy entire planets at a time. Of course, Scotty is successful in the end thanks to technology. But it takes more than just technology to solve the problem. It also takes a lot of hard work and effort on his part.
You can’t rely wholly on technology to do your job for you. You need more skills than just being able to operate it. You need ingenuity, problem solving, and grit. All of these attributes get you further than relying on technology alone. Being able to solve a problem takes more than just using technology as it also takes seeing technology as a tool in your solution.
Do Your Job Well, In Spite of Technology
Something that all of the ‘Star Trek’ television series and movies have in common is that the characters are good at what they do not because of technology, but in spite of it. We need to be the same in our jobs. Be good at your job in spite of technology, rather than because of technology. Nothing can make up for the amazing capacity of the human intellect, not even technology.