Star Trek: Voyager's "The Thaw" shows a potential issue with the growth of AI

Star Trek has always been able to predict potential issues with technology.
FX Networks' Star Walk Winter Press Tour 2020 - Arrivals
FX Networks' Star Walk Winter Press Tour 2020 - Arrivals / Matt Winkelmeyer/GettyImages

Star Trek has always been able to look beyond the present and into the possibility of the future. We've seen that all the time with how the old communicators from the 1966 original series would essentially become the template for modern-day cell phones. Or, well, cell phones from about 15 years ago. Still, Star Trek saw it coming.

Yet, it's not just the good ideas that Star Trek: Voyoager predicts, it's the bad as well. In the 23rd episode of season two, entitled "The Thaw", we saw a very realistic possibility occur to the main cast of characters; evil AI.

AI, or artificial intelligence is one of the single greatest concerns of the modern day. Its creators have to harvest other people's works to build their programs, essentially stealing work. Beyond that, it's a huge suck on resources. It overtaxes networks, causes issues with data centers, and is an environmental nightmare. The same concerns with farming for cryptocurrency are happening here but at a grander level.

AI may be a helpful tool, eventually, but currently, it's making things a nightmare. People are creating works of fiction that not only border on the cruel but also on the illegal and passing them off as real. It's nearly impossible now to know what's real or fake on the internet. Creating a nightmare situation for all those seeking information.

It's supposed to be a tool that helps, but all it's doing is harming a majority of people. Just like Voyager depicted could happen. In "The Thaw", the AI goes wild and develops a mind of its own. It essentially murders those who are stuck in a simulation and would do the same to the crew of the Voyager if it had a chance.

The manifestation of this entity (dubbed The Clown), played creepily (but wonderfully) by Michael McKean, really sold just how traumatic it all could be. Stuc on another plane of existence where you have very little power and your very well is being twisted by something that hates you.

It seems far fetch, that modern AI could develop into something that is actively endangering us, but we've seen scenarios in science fiction play out all the time where the AI turns on us. It may not even be intentional, just look at how many of those self-driving cars fail and cause injuries. Now, imagine some yahoo gets enough money from a lobbyist to put an AI in charge of a power grid. All to save a few bucks.

There's a lot to learn from the likes of Star Trek and we should be willing to listen.