The most common reason I have heard for why Star Trek must go back to time periods that have essentially been done (pre-Kirk or around Kirk time) is because we cannot imagine any technology beyond what has been created. We have reached the max of what can be imagined.
Are we really so lacking in creativity that we cannot use our imaginations to envision what may yet be?
So here’s my endeavor.
Note: I am a fan of Star Trek and have seen all of the series and movies except Discovery. However, I am not as familiar with a couple series, particularly Enterprise, which I just don’t remember much of beyond that the third season improves and someone got pregnant through their hands.
Drawing Music and Art Straight from the Mind into a 3D Formation or on the Page
Let’s imagine for a minute that you could envision something and then pull it out of your mind and into reality. Obviously this would likely come with something of a cost, but how amazing would that be even if it left you drained for a few days or even weeks? Or maybe that story can be pulled from the mind and directed straight onto the page. I suspect some form of cleanup would be necessary. (If I ripped everything out of my head right as it is, it’d probably be a huge mess, but hey! There’s got to be some work involved as well as a challenge.)
Some Invention (Please!) That Would Speed and Improve Pregnancy
When I first watched The Child, I was shocked to realize that in the future, the only way women’s pregnancies speed up is through supernatural alien interference, and they still had Counselor Troi’s feet in stirrups while she was in pain. At least in Disaster when Worf had to deliver Keiko’s baby, they were in an emergency situation. Then when we get over to Major Kira and her delivery in The Begotten, it’s the natural Bajoran hormone release that results in a pleasant delivery (and the bickering men who make it less than).
So…come on. We’re already talking about in-home baby incubators as a reality in our living rooms (still a fair ways out from being usable). Can’t you give us hope for the future? That in a few centuries it won’t be so incredibly painful? (I could add a myriad of health issues here that would be great to have resolved, but I’ll leave it at pregnancy as that is what we are most likely to see.)
Learn to Use the Distortion Wave as an Energy Source and Control It
So in New Ground, the Enterprise tries riding distortion waves with disastrous results that almost wipe out a bunch of innocents (oops). The idea behind it was interesting, so why not expand on that? What if there was a way to make that work? Or perhaps something similar. Given that warp drive is eroding sections of space, wouldn’t alternative fuel sources be a great thing? And surfing as a method of transportation, why yes!
Come on now. We’ve had pet rocks and pet targs and pet cats. We’ve had nanos/nanites accidentally escaping and the Enterprise creating its own form of intelligent life. What if we get to a point of creation where kids or perhaps, if that’s too much, adults can make entire little worlds.
Terraforming is something that more than one series addressed. And in a sense, we did get to see all-powerful aliens creating miniature worlds in such as The Squire of Gothos or illusion-based like Catspaw in just the Original Series among many others. Each series has at some point or another tackled some larger entity taking hold of our courageous protagonists and thrusting them into a smaller altered reality. Sometimes even the occasional hologram character decides to do this as in Ship in a Bottle.
But we haven’t really seen viable worlds being created by humans that are sustainable outside a program. Think Ant Farms but at a much larger level with perhaps a layer of Sim City or Rim World except it’s real. Oooooh. Think of the ethical issues! The possible conundrums. I can hear one of the captains prepping a monologue for us now. Brew the tea, coffee, and raktajinos!
It could even be done on a smaller scale with a biome that has been compressed and that allows the caretaker to oversee what is happening and provide for it. And perhaps…life finds a way (I’m afraid I can’t keep it to one franchise.)
So technically this sort of exists if we take it the route of “remove this memory.” But I’d like to see this developed into a device (I’m envisioning sort of a pistol with multi-colored, energy radiating lines) that you put up against the patient’s head and then literally pull the thought out so that you can see it. Perhaps even put it in the hologram (we all know how much Star Trek loves using the holograms, sometimes to the detriment of actual exploration as in Voyager; I feel like I know Fair Haven better than the Delta Quadrant).
Now perhaps this doesn’t work on everyone. That could add some conflict and intrigue. But I would love to see a thought extractor. So many possible uses and misuses! And then of course you must have the counter measure! A way to block the thought extractor. (Maybe the Ferengi will fix this one up. Or the Romulans or the Cardassians. Who knows! Maybe we’ll have lots of different thought extractors now available on the market, but please, let’s push ourselves and not fall back on the trope of “it destroys the mind and personality.”)
So it appears that in the future, certain illnesses have been eradicated (though heaven help you if a mutant or modified T cell gets loose). But people still have to go in for surgeries. Throughout the series, we see many problems. But what if we actually got technology that recognizes what should biologically be in particular humanoid’s bodies and repairs that to match (perhaps even using those scans that they mention and use conveniently when they need to deage someone like Dr. Polaski). You have your own profile. You need an organ? No need for interstellar travels to the nearest qualified physician (and no that’s not because the most qualified physician was on your ship all along). Just pop in and get microwaved and everything is restored. Same goes for reconstructive surgeries.
And if you think that this means no medical conflict, how wrong you are! You may note that in Star Trek power surges/loss and situations where they are without their tech occur frequently. There’s too many to mention but Armageddon Game plays with this nicely.
There’s also the possibility of new types of diseases, viruses, creatures, and oh so much more!
Implants to Allow Walking in Space or Underwater or in Hostile Environments Without Suits
Space suits are a cool part of going into outerspace, I admit that. But they can also be rather cumbersome, and they are difficult to walk in. So what if instead, implants were created that would essentially create a miniature forcefield around you so that you can do everything you normally would (and look glamourous doing it)? Or perhaps the implants allow you to be immune to whatever the effects are.
I will also add that when I was about five or six, I was convinced that I had solved this problem on my own. It was obvious how people could breathe underwater. See, all you had to do was get a fish head and cut it off just behind the gills – and that’s where everyone started laughing so hard, I never got to explain why it would work. My poor mother collapsed against the side of the fridge with bread dough on her hands, laughing until she cried. Ah, life was so clear back then.
Ships that Literally Move Their Pieces Around
So we all know that the Borg have a cube for a ship that grows and responds. But what about a multi-cube ship with a fantastic network around it. When you shoot photons or divert something through the deflector at it, it senses this and rearranges itself. Which means that the only way to destroy it is to make sure that you send off so many explosives that it cannot possibly respond to all of them.
And I don’t want this to be a one-off single episode or even a two parter. No. I want to see this developed. I’m sure there are loads of flaws with it, but it’d be such a pest to fight. Might also have some problems with aerodynamics, but I’m sure we can compensate
Now I know that in Relics, the Enterprise encounters a Dyson sphere. But that encompasses a star and uses that energy for its own energy needs. I’d like to see an actual sun colony. Maybe they’re there harvesting energy or tending to the star’s needs. I don’t know precisely what that would look like, but you can’t convince me there isn’t some advanced tech and amazing possibilities for characters. (Plus what if something lives inside the sun!)
Person to Person Energy Transfers
Most Starfleet characters seem to enjoy caffeinated beverages. But you know what I’d love to see? Person to person energy transfers. Now of course this needs to be done willingly, but it allows you, if you have some extra energy to send over, to transfer it to someone else. (I know parents of five-year-olds are getting hopeful.)
It would also be an interesting reason for having so many people on board the starship or an even better excuse for a station.
And of course this could be used nefariously! The reason behind chronic fatigue syndrome and adrenal failure is the Cardassians, I tell you! Or the Romulans. It’s hard to say for sure.
Video Messages With All Sensation Included
Holograms can only go so far, but hey surely we can top this. Apparently holograms can go pretty far actually if Voyager is our standard, even to the point of people falling in love with them and apparently the only real reason that they have to be pulled out is because it isn’t “real.”
For whatever reason, this doesn’t seem to be transferrable to video messages from family in one’s own quarters. Perhaps because you need a hologram to make them work? But let’s have an invention that allows you to interact with that video message of a loved one, and it stimulates the necessary parts of the brain to create the right sensations.
(Also how amazing would this be for a revenge plot? Your husband cheats on you, and so you send him a good-bye letter, but you program it to inflict deep searing pain!)
Recreational Calorie-Free Food and Drink and Insta Fitness
Apparently the future involves a lot of rather attractive folks. So let’s explain that by having recreational food and drink and insta fitness programs that explain how everyone can look so great except the one fat person intended to represent greed and hedonism.
Now you’d still have workout classes and the like since you need that to build up your will and knowledge of how to react. But you cannot convince me that in in a semi-utopia like Star Trek, there aren’t people who wouldn’t want to look like models and eat to their heart’s content.
(Though really anything over the play-do squares of the Original Series is probably going to be an improvement in that regard, but let’s reach a little higher here, shall we?)
I have always wondered, what lives at the bottom of an acid lake? Or pool? Or planet? What if something could live in there. And wouldn’t it just be handy to not have to worry about being dissolved into a puddle? Space suits could then be adapted to explore these regions or others with corrosive atmospheres. Yes! Let’s go where no man has really gone before and survived!
So these are just thirteen ideas for possible inventions and developments that don’t yet exist in Star Trek. Some are better than others, but this is just off the top of my head. I refuse to accept that our imaginations allow us to go no farther than the tech showcased in Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager. And this doesn’t even touch the possible storylines and explorations that could exist that do not require scientific inventions.
What about you? What are some inventions you wish existed within Star Trek’s future?
And also with you.