This post on TED by Nilofer Merchant discusses how we're about to bring the Star Trek world to life. We're thirty years out Merchant thinks.
As exciting as the technological inventions that mimic what was once the far-fetched tech on the classic Star Trek--communicators (smartphones), universal language translators, video chatting, replicators (3D printing), using light to diagnose medical conditions etc--these aren't the focus of Merchant's prediction.
She is more interested in the ways the new forms of communicating provided by technology are creating new ways for people to form purposeful associations that have the power to make effective and lasting change that once required the involvement of huge organizations or governments. Both notorious for lumbering zig-zags toward goals they are as actively resisting as they are pursuing.
The notable characteristics of these groups forming for a purpose are their tendency to celebrate diversity, see the potential of those with different abilities, champion creativity over conformity, value individual and community well being over material wealth, and the ability to envision even the far-fetched and make it so.
This was the heart of Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek universe and his vision for our future. Though I couldn't have articulated that at age eleven that was the heart of my fascination with Star Trek from the classic 1960s series and through each movie and series that followed.
I wanted to live in that world. I still do.
former tech executive and blogger at: Yes & Know. Twitter: @nilofer.