These Are the False Records of the Starship Google

August 12, 2016

Star Trek technology was/is designed by prop masters and special effects artists based on preconceived notations of the time.  The original Trek series ran on analog, while the franchise reboot has holograms and streamlined ships free of the 1960s “groovy” design.  Google wants to make Star Trek technology a reality and in manner ways they have with a search engine and a digital assistant that responds to vocal commands.  Is Google getting too big for its britches, however?  STAT asked the question in its story, “’Silicon Valley Arrogance’?  Google Misfires As It Strives To Turn Star Trek Fiction Into Reality.”

Google wanted to create the Star Trek tricorder, a handheld computer that records, scans, and processes any type of data from soil samples to medical information.  Google created a biotech venture, Verily Life Sciences, to invent a cancer scanning tricorder, but the project is not doing so well.  The cancer tricorder is only one example of Google’s misfire in medical technology.  Verily appears to be working on projects that are more in the realm of science fantasy and are used as marketing devices to promote Google as the “technology company of the future.”

Google wants to maker new scientific inroads in medical technology, pulling on their expertise with big data and their initiative:

“’Part of the Silicon Valley ethos is about changing the world, about disruptive technology, about ignoring existing business models,’ and ‘taking on grand challenges,’ …

‘That’s admirable,’…but in Verily’s case, ‘it also feels pretty quixotic.’”

Fantasy drives innovation, which is why science fiction series like Star Trek are inspiration.  Much of the technology from the original Trek series and later installations are available now, but we are still far from making everything from the show a reality.  We should not halt experimentation on new technology, but big claims like Google’s are probably best kept silent until there is a working prototype.


Whitney Grace, August 12, 2016
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