Star Trek: The Next Generation offers numerous episodes discussing the mixture of man (or aliens) and machines. Which will happen first in our reality? Borg or Data? Are we experiencing a rise of the machines?
Artificial intelligence. Robots. Machines.
Nearly 20 years into the 21st century mankind faces questions and moral dilemmas once considered nothing more than sci-fiction.
Where are we now and which will happen first: Borg or Data?
It can be argued The Borg saved TNG. These cyborg mongrels — humanoids and aliens of many races augmented with power tools and cybernetics — first appear in the TNG Season 2 episode “Q Who,” but they make a chilling and indelible impact in the Season 3 cliffhanger “Best of Both Worlds” and Season 4 opener “Best of Both Worlds 2.”
What we’re seeing today: People are beginning to merge technology inside their bodies with RFID chips. In 2015, Gizmodo reported on the invention of “cyberlace” a neuronet easily injected into the body.
According to the Gizmodo article: “A group of chemists and engineers who work with nanotechnology published a paper this month in Nature Nanotechnology about an ultra-fine mesh that can merge into the brain to create what appears to be a seamless interface between machine and biological circuitry. Called “mesh electronics,” the device is so thin and supple that it can be injected with a needle — they’ve already tested it on mice, who survived the implantation and are thriving. The researchers describe their device as “syringe-injectable electronics,” and say it has a number of uses, including monitoring brain activity, delivering treatment for degenerative disorders like Parkinson’s, and even enhancing brain capabilities.”
Scientists have made tremendous progress in prosthetic limbs as well. Here we see a video demonstrating a bionic arm controlled by thought:
While The Borg are an alliance of machine and flesh, Data ranks as a purebred. As a pure android, aka a robot, Data can compute, move and lift with greater speed and strength than most humans. His TNG character maintained the “emotion theme” played by the Vulcan Spock in TOS.
However, as Spock fought to suppress his human half and emotions, Data strives to become more human and eventually has an emotion chip installed.
Here’s a great Data scene from Star Trek: Generations:
Is a Data-type robot in our future?
We are getting there. Meet Erica:
The good news: If you’re missing a limb, life just got a lot easier.
The bad news: Robots/androids will replace jobs like Erica the receptionist.
The visionary founder of PayPal, SpaceX and Tesla warns us against runaway AI.
Of course, there’s a whole other rabbit hole of human/android companionship we won’t go down here…