Star Trek will turn 50 in 2016. In its half-century of existence — on TV, on the big screen, and in the worldwide community of its fans — Star Trek has become an integral part of our everyday lives. Even casual viewers know the pointed ears, the Vulcan salute, and the meaning of “beam me up, Scotty.”
Yet, Star Trek does not owe its enduring popularity and its place in our collective imagination to its aliens or to its technological speculations. What makes it so unique, and so exciting, is its radical optimism about humanity’s future as a society: in other words, utopia.
In Star Trek, humanity has reached abundance. Thanks to scientific progress and good governance, the Federation has overcome the social ills commonly associated with the uneven distribution of material wealth. The citizens of the Federation no longer work to sustain and provide for themselves — they find meaning in more elevated pursuits.
This state of economic bliss, however, is not without difficulties. For one, the Federation and its fire department-cum-diplomatic arm, namely Starfleet, operate in a galaxy where equally (if not more) advanced species do not live by the same altruistic motivations. Most notably, the ever-scheming Ferengis view the relentless acquisition of private wealth as their cardinal purpose in the universe.
Trekonomics takes readers on a journey through Star Trek’s fictional society, its mores and values, and its sources of inspiration in classic sci-fi. But it also looks hard at the challenges posed by it. How does Star Trek solve what Keynes called “the economic question,” the old and stubborn quandary of the allocation of scarce resources? How can it benefit all without depriving anyone? And what could that mean for us, the passengers of starship Earth?
I fell into science fiction and Star Trek fandom at the age of eight, back in Paris, France, where I was born and raised.
I studied history of science and economic history in Paris and Chicago. After many happy years in the Ivory Tower, I yielded to my childhood passion for the future. I embarked on my continuing mission to explore strange new worlds by boldly going where many have gone before: Los Angeles, CA, where I advise and (occasionally) build tech companies.
When I can pry myself loose from my computer, I spend time with my seven year-old son and my wife on the otherworldly lava fields of Hawai’i.
Favorite ST:TOS episode: The Ultimate Computer. Favorite ST:TNG episode: Lower Decks. Favorite ST:DS9 episode: The Bar Association. Favorite ST:VOY episode: The Blink of an Eye. Favorite ST:ENT episode: Carbon Creek.