Star Trek predicted generative AI, and the future of fiction, literally perfectly
In which props are giveth
One’s fandom stops at a certain point, after enough butchering of an intellectual property. But I would still happily self-describe as a fan of the earlier Star Treks. Personally, I never reached the level of a “trekkie”—I’ve never attended a convention, nor bought a figurine. Although I have, I confess, dressed up as Star Trek characters for Halloween. And this is perhaps the best I’ve ever looked. There’s a joke in my family that my body is cursed to be too broad for modern clothes, which fit me awkwardly and bunch and strain—I look my best, and am most comfortable, on only one day a year, which is Halloween. For it is on Halloween when I’m ensconced in some boxy sci-fi or fantasy tunic, i.e., the kind of clothing I’m supposed to wear (in graduate school I had a friend who occasionally jokingly called me “Plato,” which means “the broad”). But with that aside aside, even if me being a “trekkie” is an overclaim, and even if I dislike a lot of the modern incarnations of the franchise, I’m still a Star Trek fan.
And I’d like to point out that, despite the show not even really trying, and being more about moral thought experiments than about realistic spaceships, Star Trek can’t stop predicting the future of technology. A lot of things, from smartphones to natural language interfaces to video calls to 3D-printing, have made freakishly prescient appearances in some guise. Notably, they recently did it again. We must add yet another to the list: most of the fictions the characters in Star Trek consume are AI-generated.