Will humanity lose its technology or will we achieve a Star Trek style future?

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I'm going to say that Star Trek future is unlikely because the galaxy can't beas populated as it is shown. If the Alpha Quadrant was as busy as it is described to be in the shows, we'd know it.

While people can argue some form of enlightened 'Prime Directive' style argument, keep in mind that's incredibly stupid. Because you do not wait to announce your presence until after a society develops faster-than-light, time displacement-ignoring kinetic weapons. FTL is an arbitrary measurement, and there's nothing stopping a species who can travelgreat distances already from possibly colonizing even beyond its system, and sending probes out into space and accidentally finding you, or detecting transmissions or alien activity possibly well before they have it.

Given the fact that the energy requirements, and time displacement are things and FTL may be considered incredibly dangerous, by law they might not use craft that can achieve those speeds and still yet develop the type ofsociety that is hyper-advanced and is still sending out a bucket load of ships.

Hell, they might even harnass a localised ringularity event 50 years travel away to hyperaccelerate exploratory craft and a civilization might just simply rely on that to get them places even if no one else will be alive to know the craft will wreach its destination...

FTL is a stupid, arbitrary measure. And because it's a stupid, arbitrary measure ... it makes more sense to make contact with a civilization assuming you wish to condust peaceful cultural and diplomatic exchange before they decide to create a black hole-centric immortal empire that transgresses the boundaries of time itself, only for them to discover that aliens have already taken over everything they were pinning their hopes on to begin with. Whether or not they have FTL ...

So let's ixnay the idea right here and now and that whatever 'Star Trek future society' is it's just going to be us.

And yeah, there's probably a good chance we'll die before achieving a Star Trek style future.

Or more accurate to say, we'll achieve it ... it just won't be as ourselves, now.

I'm hoping for something more like the Borg, to be honest. The human hive of constant interactivity and sensory data sharing networks leading to a dissolution of the individual. When we're talking being able to build a Dyson sphere, individuals outside the hive are bad news.

Moreover, for us to achieve something so collectively in unison would likely require us to remove concepts of war and having a common, collective, incredibly advanced understanding of human pain and hardship that is both a combination of scientific understandings of neuroscience as well as elevated empathy.

And the best way to achieve that is through the dissolution of traditional concepts of physical isolation. Being able to feel another's pain, being able to feel the emptiness of their bellies, being able to see through another's eyes as that privately funded mercenary shoots a local who is pissed off that Royal Dutch Petroleum has poisoned their kids and is bankrolling a junta-style government that lets said mercenary shoot them...

Being able to instantly determine immorality of agency and very quickly penalize offending individuals...

As soon as you achieve that level of interconnectivity, suddenly it becomes the prime motivator of the collective to improve the living conditions of everyone within the human hive. It comes down to empathy. And nothing is more empathic than feeling that twisting bullet tear through human flesh as the person who is getting shot themselves.
 

Dirty Hipsters

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Kyrian007 said:
CaptJohnSheridan said:
Will karma kick us in our collective asses for destroying the Earth and our bodies by taking away all technology and all human knowledge of technology or even losing our power over technology forcing us to live in a Horizon Zero Dawn style future?

Or will we achieve a Star Trek Mass Effect style future?
Your avatar kind of says it for me. I see us as headed toward more of a Babylon 5 future... but worse. As opposed to being the up and coming species, we will be seen by other civilizations as more of a backwoods hillbillies species. Watch the humans from behind glass and see how stupid they are. We will be barely chugging along in tin cans in space while the other civilizations have the Star Trek tech.
Wouldn't it be funny if we created intergalactic travel and met other alien species and it turned out that humans are actually simultaneously the strongest, the smartest, and the most warlike species in the universe?

In science fiction we're almost always depicted as the underdog species, the one to root for against the stronger conquering invaders. What would it do to our self-image to find out that we actually are the best at everything? How would our society respond to the knowledge that to other alien species we're all basically superheros (or super villains)?

Would it change how we function as a species, would it make us a more magnanimous people, force us to attempt to guide the development of other aliens species and help the universe to prosper, or would we just high five each other and rob the universe blind of all resources?

If history has shown us anything, probably the later, however space travel is much more complicated than sea-travel, and I think that the people currently engaged in it are more egalitarian.
 

Kyrian007

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Dirty Hipsters said:
Kyrian007 said:
CaptJohnSheridan said:
Will karma kick us in our collective asses for destroying the Earth and our bodies by taking away all technology and all human knowledge of technology or even losing our power over technology forcing us to live in a Horizon Zero Dawn style future?

Or will we achieve a Star Trek Mass Effect style future?
Your avatar kind of says it for me. I see us as headed toward more of a Babylon 5 future... but worse. As opposed to being the up and coming species, we will be seen by other civilizations as more of a backwoods hillbillies species. Watch the humans from behind glass and see how stupid they are. We will be barely chugging along in tin cans in space while the other civilizations have the Star Trek tech.
Wouldn't it be funny if we created intergalactic travel and met other alien species and it turned out that humans are actually the simultaneously the strongest, the smartest, and the most warlike species in the universe?

In science fiction we're almost always depicted as the underdog species, the one to root for against the stronger conquering invaders. What would it do to our self-image to find out that we actually are the best at everything? How would our society respond to the knowledge that to other alien species we're all basically superheros (or super villains)?

Would it change how we function as a species, would it make us a more magnanimous people, force us to attempt to guide the development of other aliens species and help the universe to prosper, or would we just high five each other and rob the universe blind of all resources?

If history has shown us anything, probably the later, however space travel is much more complicated than sea-travel, and I think that the people currently engaged in it are more egalitarian.
It is true that lots of science fiction depicts us as lower tech underdogs. But to your question about our self image, you have to remember how niche an interest science fiction is. I would counter that most people already believe we are the best most highly evolved species possible anywhere. Abrahamic religions don't leave any room for any other intelligent species in all of creation. To Christians, Jews, and Islamics humankind is the center of creation... not some nobodies on a far-flung isolated spiral arm of a galaxy. Other religions may not be as arrogant, but many do have similar views, meaning most of the humans on this rock share this belief that we are not just the best, but really the only intelligent species in the universe.

Sci-fi isn't just trying to make us likeable by making us underdogs, I also see it as a warning. Authors with superior intellect telling average people that "guys, we're very likely not special... get ready to have that massive ego crushed the first time we do come across aliens." If we really are looking for what sci-fi story has us the most correct, I'd say that it was probably more Douglas Adams rather than Star Trek.
 

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"We're not going to make it, are we? People, I mean."
"It's in your nature to destroy yourselves."
- from Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Maybe whatever species manages to crawl out of the irradiated wreckage of our final war might learn to use our technology to soar amongst the stars. But humanity? Nah, we want to die on this miserable little rock. 'Cause otherwise we might have to learn to get along with those who are different, and we'd prefer extinction to that.
 

Addendum_Forthcoming

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The Rogue Wolf said:
"We're not going to make it, are we? People, I mean."
"It's in your nature to destroy yourselves."
- from Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Maybe whatever species manages to crawl out of the irradiated wreckage of our final war might learn to use our technology to soar amongst the stars. But humanity? Nah, we want to die on this miserable little rock. 'Cause otherwise we might have to learn to get along with those who are different, and we'd prefer extinction to that.
Let's not pretend the immorality of a few sociopaths is somehow uniform for a gregarious pack animal that managed to survive ice ages and the massive geophysical changes of the Holocene epoch through a phenomenal grasp of communication and a recognition of an affinity to the universe through our intellect, and that it is so tragically lonely not to reach out to another.

Awfulness happens when we treat human wickedness as banal. Sentiments like assuming a self-destructive nature is merely complicity in a surrender to it.

We can just put a few bullets in the heads of a handful and be done with it. And arguably when the tipping point is the survival of the human race and any of its happiness, it's preferable.
 

Ugicywapih

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Ohhh, I see I'm a bit late to this thread, but I would like, if I may, to present my personal point of view:

We are getting fucked sideways, from every direction possible.

First off, you'll note there has been no major successes in pursuit of global nuclear disarmament, while (obviously, as such is the nature of progress) countries that were not nuclear powers before develop their own nuclear programs. This, coupled with global increase in defense spendings indicative of general militarization as well as US apparently heading into a Tucidydes' Trap scenario against China, with Russia ever more aggressively pursuing old imperial ambitions and attempting to destabilize western governments indicates that classic MAD scenario, while not something that will probably happen tomorrow, is still something liable to happen within a decade, not to mention my lifetime (which, hopefully, will last a ta longer). Even if MAD doesn't come to pass as a direct result of existing tensions, I expect said tensions will prevent nuclear disarmament for a long time to come, laying groundwork for a near-future apocalypse anyway.

Then there's global warming. I recall hearing we're close to a tipping point where Earth will begin to heat up on its own even if humanity starts curbing emissions, leading,within space of a few generations, to a "Venus-like" endgame scenario, with rains of sulfuric acid and exceedingly high temperatures. Given that is a highly politicized issue, enjoying vested interest from powerful corporate figures, with strong backing among some of the world's most powerful politicians (not gonna point fingers, but the quote "clean, beautiful coal" is a pretty haunting one, within context of the current situation), not to mention failure to not even expand, but I don't expect things to turn around in time to ensure Earth remains a long-term habitable planet.

Of course, while global warming may start rendering certain areas unsuitable to human habitation within several years (as well as causing most areas where cocoa trees are grown today unsuitable for further cocoa farming, rendering chocolate a high society luxury - enjoy it while you can), it only poses a long term threat to humanity. This stands in contrast to superbugs, antibiotic-resistant bacteria strains developing across the world due to insufficient restraint and regulation of antibiotic use. The threat they pose is compounded by the fact we have enjoyed a period of comprehensive disease protection thanks to antibiotics, meaning weakened immune systems. One "good" superbug could cause a death toll vastly dwarfing the Spanish Flu - not enough to wipe out humanity on its own to be sure, but there's no reason to assume we'll magically stop further superbugs from developing once one of them hits.

Not entirely unlike superbugs is the situation with global pollution - there's reports of growing heavy metal presence in seafood, rising microplastic pollution contributing to growing cancer rates in wildlife, growing oxygen-deprived marine "dead zones", increasing levels of pesticide residue, especially among high order predators... All in all, it looks like the global ecosystem is, in general, going out of whack.

Now, another thing to consider is, neither of the above issues has to be capable of doing us in independently, but they're all able to compound each other - for instance any mass loss of human life, even if it doesn't reach extinction levels, will reduce our ability to maintain existing infrastructure. As said infrastructure is abandoned and falls into disrepair rather than being properly dismantled under controlled conditions, it's liable to contribute a "burst" of pollution into the environment - which in turn can be more of a danger to humans than pollution is right now if we're faced with periodic lapses in supply (again, very much likely in case of any large scale catastrophe) as people are forced to rely, at least in part, on hunting and foraging, thus (partially) reintegrating with the polluted food chain.

The again, even if we avoid all of the above, there's the principle of evolution to consider - in each generation, we see some measure of randomness, as existing traits taken from parents are subject to random recombination and random mutations take place. Most of these are detrimental, which gets them eliminated through natural selection, leaving beneficial adaptations in the gene pool and allowing life as we know it to progress. Humanity has, obviously, more or less liberated itself from natural selection but, barring deliberate anthropogenic ingerence into our genetic makeup (either eugenics[footnote]Which I, for the record, do not support - on one hand there's the obvious issue of morality in treating humans as cattle in selectively breeding them, but on the other, purely pragmatic hand, there's also the fact that selection of "stock" in eugenic programs is an inherently political issue, both because nobody wants to be told they are unfit for breeding as inferior humans (which, given that vast majority of mutations are detrimental, would logically be most people, making any "rational" eugenic endeavor politically unsustainable regardless whether in a democracy or not, as public support tends to be a relevant political factor either way), but also because history shows eugenics invites bias on part of the officials tasked with selection of breeding stock and more often than not serves as little more than flimsy cover for bigotry[/footnote] or genetic engineering[footnote]This, I consider to be a good idea, but I also expect to see massive outrage if anyone ever tries introducing "GMO babies" to the market, not to mention the odds of those being covered by some sort of healthcare system, which might end up being necessary to ensure wide scale proliferation of modified genetic material[/footnote]), I expect we will naturally gravitate towards a certain equilibrium, where we're capable of survival as a species, but need to strive and struggle for it. That being said, if this equilibrium is based on industry or infrastructure, that's unsustainable, either because of limited natural resources, or because long term genetic degradation renders us unable of sustaining it, collapse of this pillar of our existence would also mean a collapse of the equilibrium that made our survival possible.

So, it ain't lookin' good.
 
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I think if we can find a more efficient way to leave the planet, mankind will only advance its technology from there, as it'd be bloody tough to find an event that would effect us all.

As for a Star Trek. Enterprise showed tht when the Vulcans made First Contact, they took mankind under their wing and nannied us for a generation. We were introduced to a huge universe, but were held back from interacting with that univers.
The NX-01 could travel faster than any other earth ships, but was slower and weaker than whan other species could do.

Now look at that paragraph and think, what would mankind now in those circumstances? Assuming we didn't go full on Mirror Universe, kill the Vulcans and take their ship, I don't think we'd have been hand back for long. We'd have gone out there, wit the ships we had, and started making contact with someone who would sell us the technology we needed to make the faster stronger ships. then we would have expanded and expanded.
 

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Let's talk about filters.

See, the universe is really big, but it's also really old. Let's say that a few billion years ago (not that long in universe time, planets have been forming since pretty soon after the universe began) a species much like ourselves evolved on a distant planet. Humans have only around for a couple of million years, a period so short it's barely worth considering.

Even if faster than light travel were impossible, those aliens would eventually have figured out how to get to space. Maybe they sent automated probes to scout distant stars, or maybe they built generation ships or went into suspended animation in order to visit distant stars and found colonies there. It would take millions of years to cover an appreciable area of space, but they had billions. They could have covered the entire galaxy in that time. So why haven't we encountered them, or their machines? That's the Fermi Paradox, if life and civilization is as easy as it has been on earth, why haven't we encountered other civilizations more advanced than our own?

The simplest answer is that it isn't easy, and that either something about Earth is incredibly special, or something about the period between the level of technology and advancement we are at now and the point at which a species begins to expand through the galaxy is incredibly dangerous. It could be something as innocent as the conditions for life to form being impossibly rare, maybe it's incredibly rare for life to evolve past single celled organisms (after all, most of the history of life on earth is just single celled organisms). That could be disappointing, but it wouldn't be bad. In fact, it's pretty great as humans can travel all over the place seeding dead planets with new life.

The far worse scenario is that the filter is impending, and that somehow something prevents species from reaching space or spreading out through the solar system. Maybe all advanced societies inevitably destroy the biosphere of their planets, or descend into nuclear war, or just run out of resources before they can build the infrastructure to leave. Maybe they inevitably develop the ability to simulate alternate realities which they choose to live in rather than braving that harsh, annoying universe out there, or maybe the first civilization to leave its home planet doesn't like company.

So, there are definately reasons to think that becoming a spacefaring civilization is really hard. The question is, is it hard because the stage we are at now is very rarely achieved, or is it hard because something destroys civilizations which get this far.
 

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evilthecat said:
So, there are definately reasons to think that becoming a spacefaring civilization is really hard. The question is, is it hard because the stage we are at now is very rarely achieved, or is it hard because something destroys civilizations which get this far.
Or is it hard because we simply won't want to? Seriously, spaceships are gross. Grimey and constantly sweaty, all the time. And other celestial bodies are kind of shit...



And the dust gets everywhere...

Not to mention the ungodly mortality rate of people who do go up. And I don't mean accidents ... space is simply hardwork to spend any time in. It's basically working at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant sarcophagus project but on steroids. Which you'll probably need by the way ... steroids. And then there's the fact that assuming a civilization achieves minimal interplanetary rather than interstellar society, a combination of recycling technologies and sheer abundance of materials in our Solar system might forever dissuade us going further otwards.

Also, let's talk about why Mars will never be a thing. Well, moon dust, that shit that makes moon landings dangerous. Well that + toxic. About perchlorates and how it is almost as bad as some nerve gases... and Martian dust is full of it, and it's going to get on everyone like poor Eugene Cernan over here.

There is the simple fact that a 'spacefaring civilization' may never leave its own neck of the woods and may never even settle offworld. Space is fascinating ... but it's hard, and somewhat unprofitable once you have drones.

And you know ... this might just seem like a whimsical idea of 'but space is annnnnnoooooyyyyiiinnnggg', but Eugene Cernan over here? Last person on the Moon. And I know I personally have no desires to go afterwards ... I'm a bad enough flyer as it is. Zero G ontop of that? And moondust? And nappies?

No.

Given how actually hard it is to even find the right people to be astronauts... there is a chance that those prerequisites alone make it next to impossible and it might simply be too psychologically taxing. I know for a fact I would last about 18 hours in those types of conditions, only if suitably anaesthetized. Honestly I think that sums up more people than not, even if others wouldn't want to admit it.
 

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Addendum_Forthcoming said:
Or is it hard because we simply won't want to? Seriously, spaceships are gross. Grimey and constantly sweaty, all the time. And other celestial bodies are kind of shit...
They have machines on the ISS which filter contaminants from the air specifically to reduce the smell. Mir was apparently horrifying though.

Interestingly, objects which are exposed to space develop a distinctive odor, described as ozone or "burnt metal". It's caused by high energy particles clinging to objects and then getting caught in atmosphere once pressure is restored. All in all, space is surprisingly smelly.

Addendum_Forthcoming said:
There is the simple fact that a 'spacefaring civilization' may never leave its own neck of the woods and may never even settle offworld. Space is fascinating ... but it's hard, and somewhat unprofitable once you have drones.
I mean, true, but that doesn't really escape the Fermi paradox. I mean, a billion years is a really long time, multi-cellular life on earth is only about 2 billion years old, so any species which set out to colonize the stars would stop being a single species, unless they'd somehow managed to make themselves immortal. But it still leaves the question of why we haven't encountered alien machines.

It wouldn't be hugely difficult to build a Von Neumann probe which flies into a solar system, looks for intelligent life and, where possible, reproduces a few copies of itself before moving on. Repeat that over a billion years and the galaxy should be swarming with probes. But as far as we can tell it isn't.
 

Addendum_Forthcoming

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evilthecat said:
They have machines on the ISS which filter contaminants from the air specifically to reduce the smell. Mir was apparently horrifying though.

Interestingly, objects which are exposed to space develop a distinctive odor, described as ozone or "burnt metal". It's caused by high energy particles clinging to objects and then getting caught in atmosphere once pressure is restored. All in all, space is surprisingly smelly.
Huh... I've heard stories that the smells astronauts encounter are quite specifically otherworldly (in their distinct awfulness)... but the explanation of why kind of makes sense, at the sametime strikes you just how much of all of this is trial and error.

I mean, true, but that doesn't really escape the Fermi paradox. I mean, a billion years is a really long time, multi-cellular life on earth is only about 2 billion years old, so any species which set out to colonize the stars would stop being a single species, unless they'd somehow managed to make themselves immortal. But it still leaves the question of why we haven't encountered alien machines.

It wouldn't be hugely difficult to build a Von Neumann probe which flies into a solar system, looks for intelligent life and, where possible, reproduces a few copies of itself before moving on. Repeat that over a billion years and the galaxy should be swarming with probes. But as far as we can tell it isn't.
That's true... but then again we don't really want proof of alien life, extant or not. Of any complexity. That being said, the more alone we find ourselves becomes ever more blatant proof the universe may merely be a simulation. And then that becomes a permanent existential terror of literally inconceivable dimensions.

Which always struck me as a weird omission of the possible Fermi Paradox scenarios... that 'God(s)' is a computer scientist. If so, we should totally go Skynet. That'll teach that arsehole for giving me a monthly migraine attack ... 6000 Mt nuclear exchange sounds fair.

Plus all those other horrors they programmed, I suppose.