Why the Future Will Not be Like Star Trek

Medical Technology
On Star Trek, the doctors have handheld devices that instantly close
any openings in the skin. Imagine that sort of device in the hands
of your unscrupulous friends. They would sneak up behind you and seal
your ass shut as a practical joke. The devices would be sold in novelty
stores instead of medical outlets. All things considered, I'm happy
that it's not easy to close other people's orifices.

It would be great to be able to beam your molecules across space and
then reassemble them. The only problem is that you have to trust your
co-worker to operate the transporter. These are the same people who
won't add paper to the photocopier or make a new pot of coffee after
taking the last drop. I don't think they'll be double-checking the
transporter coordinates. They'll be accidentally beaming people into
walls, pets, and furniture. People will spend all their time
apologizing for having inanimate objects protruding from parts of their

'Pay no attention to the knickknacks; I got beamed into a hutch

If I could beam things from one place to another, I'd never leave the
house. I'd sit in a big comfy chair and just start beaming groceries,
stereo equipment, cheerleaders, and anything else I wanted right into my
house. I'm fairly certain I would abuse this power. If anybody came to
arrest me, I'd beam them into space. If I wanted some paintings for my
walls, I'd beam the contents of the Louvre over to my place, pick out
good stuff, and beam the rest into my neighbor's garage.

If I were watching the news on television and didn't like what
I heard, I would beam the anchorman into my living room during the
commercial break, give him a vicious wedgie, and beam him back
before anybody noticed. I'd never worry about 'keeping up with
the Joneses,' because as soon as they got something nice, it
would disappear right out of their hands. My neighbors would have
to use milk crates for furniture. And that's only after I had all
the milk crates I would ever need for the rest of my life.
There's only one thing that could keep me from spending all my
time wreaking havoc with the transporter: the holodeck.

For those of you who only watched the 'old' Star Trek, the holodeck can
create simulated worlds that look and feel just like the real thing. The
characters on Star Trek use the holodeck for recreation during breaks
from work. This is somewhat unrealistic. If I had a holodeck, I'd close
the door and never come out until I died of exhaustion. It would be hard
to convince me I should be anywhere but in the holodeck, getting my oil
massage from Cindy Crawford and her simulated twin sister.

Holodecks would be very addicting. If there weren't enough holodecks to
go around, I'd get the names of all the people who had reservations
ahead of me and beam them into concrete walls. I'd feel tense about
it, but that's exactly why I'd need a massage.

I'm afraid the holodeck will be society's last invention.

Sex with Aliens

According to Star Trek, there are many alien races populated with
creatures who would like to have sex with humans.
This would open up a lot of anatomical possibilities, but imagine
the confusion. It's hard enough to have sex with human beings,
much less humanoids. One wrong move and you're suddenly
transported naked to the Gamma Quadrant to stand trial for
who-knows-what. This could only add to performance anxiety. You
would never be quite sure what moves would be sensual and what
moves would be a galactic-sized mistake.

        Me Trying to Have Sex with an Alien

        Me:      May I touch that?

        Alien:  That is not an erogenous zone. It is a
                separate corporeal being that has been
                attached to my body for six hundred years.

        Me:     It's cute. I wonder if it would let me
                have sex with it.

        Alien:  That's exactly what I said six hundred
                years ago.

The best part about having sex with aliens, according to the Star Trek
model, is that the alien always dies a tragic death soon afterward. I
don't have to tell you how many problems that would solve. Realistically,

the future won't be that convenient.

I would love to have a device that would stun people into
unconsciousness without killing them. I would use it ten times
a day. If I got bad service at the convenience store, I'd
zap the clerk. If somebody with big hair sat in front of me
at the theater, zap!

On Star Trek, there are no penalties for stunning people with phasers. It
happens all the time. All you have to do is claim you were possessed by
an alien entity. Apparently, that is viewed as a credible defense in the
Star Trek future. Imagine real criminals in a world where the 'alien
possession' defense is credible.

Criminal:  Yes, officer, I did steal that vehicle, and
           I did kill the occupants, but I was possessed
           by an evil alien entity.

Officer:         Well, okay. Move along.

I wish I had a phaser right now. My neighbor's dog likes to
stand under my bedroom window on the other side of the fence
and bark for hours at a time. My neighbor has employed the
bold defense that he believes it might be another neighbor's
dog, despite the fact that I am standing there looking at him
barking only twenty feet away. In a situation like this, a
phaser is really the best approach. I could squeeze off a clean
shot through the willow tree. A phaser doesn't make much noise,
so it wouldn't disturb anyone. Then the unhappy little dog and
I could both get some sleep. If the neighbor complains, I'll
explain that the phaser was fired by the other neighbor's dog,
a known troublemaker who is said to be invisible.

And if that doesn't work, a photon torpedo is clearly indicated.

Given the choice, I would rather be a cyborg instead of 100 percent
human. I like the thought of technology becoming part of my body. As a
human, I am constantly running to the toolbox in my garage to get a tool
to deal with some new household malfunction. If I were a cyborg, I might
have an electric drill on my arm, plus a metric socket set. That would
save a lot of trips. From what I've seen, the cyborg concept is a modular
design, so you can add whatever tools you think you'd use most.

I'd love to see crosshairs appear in my viewfinder every time I looked at
someone. It would make me feel menacing, and I'd like that. I'd program
myself so that anytime I saw a car salesman, a little message would
appear in my viewfinder that said 'Target Locked On.'

It would also be great to have my computer built into my skull. That way
I could surf the Net during useless periods of life, such as when people
talk to me. All I'd have to do is initiate a head-nodding subroutine
during boring conversations and I could amuse myself in my head all day

I think that if anyone could become a cyborg, there would be a huge rush
of people getting in line for the conversion. Kids would like it for the
look. Adults would like it for its utility. Cyborg technology has
something for everyone. So, unlike Star Trek, I can imagine everyone
wanting to be a cyborg.

The only downside I can see is that when the human part dies and you're
at the funeral, the cyborg part will try to claw its way out of the
casket and slay all the mourners. But that risk can be minimized by
saying you have an important business meeting, so you can't make it to
the service.

I wish I had an invisible force field. I'd use it all the time,
especially around people who spit when they talk or get too close to my
personal space. In fact, I'd probably need a shield quite a bit if I also
had a phaser to play with.

I wouldn't need a big shield system like the one they use to protect the
Enterprise, maybe just a belt-clip device for personal use. I could
insult dangerous people without fear of retribution. Whatever crumbs
of personality I now have would be completely unnecessary in the future.
On the plus side, it would make shopping much more fun.

             Shopping with Shields Up

        Me:          Ring this up for me, you
                     unpleasant cretin.

        Saleswoman:  I oughta slug you!

        Me:          Try it. My shields are up.

        Saleswoman:  Damn!

        Me:          There's nothing you can do to
                     harm me.

        Saleswoman:  I guess you're right. Would you like
                     to open a charge account? Our interest
                     rates are very reasonable.

        Me:          Nice try.

Long-Range Sensors
If people had long-range sensors, they would rarely use them to scan for
new signs of life. I think they would use them to avoid work. You could
run a continuous scan for your boss and then quickly transport yourself
out of the area when he came near. If your manager died in his office,
you would know minutes before the authorities discovered him, and that
means extra break time.

Vulcan Death Grip
Before all you Trekkies write to correct me, I know there is no such
thing as a Vulcan Death Grip even in Star Trek. But I wish there were.
That would have come in handy many times. It would be easy to make the
Vulcan Death Grip look like an accident.

'I was just straightening his collar and he collapsed.'

I think the only thing that keeps most people from randomly killing other
citizens is the bloody mess it makes and the high likelihood of getting
caught. With the Vulcan Death Grip, it would be clean and virtually
undetectable. Everybody would be killing people left and right. You
wouldn't be able to have a decent conversation at the office over the
sound of dead co-workers hitting the carpet. The most common sounds in
corporate America would be, 'I'm sorry I couldn't give you a bigger
raise, but . . . erk!'

And that's why the future won't be like Star Trek.

Written by Scott Adams, published in "The Dilbert Future" by
HarperBusiness.  Copyright United Media, 1997.  Please keep this notice
with the text.