Several times Star Trek Predicted the Future

Most of Star Trek’s predictions of the future were dead wrong. We are living in the 2024s and there are no Martian colonies, interstellar spaceships, or genetically engineered fascist super soldiers yet.

Conversely, Star Trek’s many franchises got a few things right about the future. Some predictions of the future Star Trek got right included:

Flip-Phones

In the original Star Trek, Captain Kirk and his crew carried devices called Communicators. The communicator flipped open when Spock or McCoy needed to chat with Lieutenant Uhura. During the 1990s and 2000s, most cellphones, the so-called Flip-phones had a similar design.

Today, Flip-phones are largely history but there are fans who swear by them. In fact, you can still buy flip phones online and companies such as Alphabet (GOOGL) subsidiary Motorola keep trying to revive them.

Virtual Assistants 

In both Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation crew members could tell the ship to perform specific tasks. For example, Captain Picard famously ordered, “tea Earl Grey hot from the replicator.”

Today, devices such as Amazon’s (AMZN) Alexa give everybody similar capabilities. Notably, Amazon was led by Trekkie and Picard fan Jeff Bezos when it brought out Alexa.

Video Conferencing

In all versions of Star Trek, there is a giant screen on the ship’s bridge. Faces of aliens and captains of other ships regularly appear on the screen.

Thus, Star Trek predicted video conferencing fifty years before Zoom (ZOOM).

Wearable Tech

Star Trek: The Next Generation introduced the concept of wearable tech. Instead of carrying communicators in their pockets, Picard and his crew touched a device clipped to their shirts to send messages.

On The Deep Space Nine episode Little Green Men, we learn most 24th Century people wear tiny devices they call universal translators in their ears. Hence, wearable tech is a fact of life in Star Trek. Other Star Trek wearable tech includes Commander LaForge’s visor and the Borg’s gadgets.

Today, Amazon sells a wide variety of wearable tech although universal translators are not available yet.

The End of Television

Strangely, Star Trek a TV series predicted the end of television in the 21st Century on at least two occasions.

In the cheesy original series episode, Bread and Circuses, an alien TV broadcast confuses the bridge crew. Lieutenant Uhura calls the transmission “something that used to be called video.” Spock quips the “colloquial term was television.”

In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode The Neutral Zone. Commander Data encounters a 20th Century man who wants to watch television. Data comments that form of television didn’t last beyond the mid-21st Century.

In predicting television’s demise, Star Trek proved startlingly accurate. Today, in 2021, ratings are in a free fill. Deadline notes that viewership for the Olympics opening ceremony fell by 37% between 2016 and 2021. Meanwhile viewership for the Academy Awards fell by 58% to 10.4 million in 2021, Deadline estimates. Even the Super Bowl had a hard time attracting an audience in 2021.

Thus, Data was right about TV’s demise. Strangely, Star Trek was right about something else. As TV dies, video becomes more popular. People watch more video than ever as television dies.

Inequality, Poverty, Homelessness, and Civil Unrest in the 2020s

In two 1995 episodes, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine eerily predicted the civil unrest of the 2020s.

In Past Tense: Part 1, a transporter accident sends Captain Sisko and Dr. Bashir to a dismal 2024 San Francisco. They find themselves herded into a part of town called a “sanctuary district” where the poor and homeless are hidden from the affluent. Thus, Star Trek predicted the practice of herding in which police move homeless people around cities to keep them out of sight.

In the Sanctuary District, experience budget cuts by social services. They also get caught up in riots that the internet broadcasts to the public. A historical event, Sisko remembers as the Bell Riots. An eerie prediction of the George Floyd Riots. Notably, the Bell Riots like the George Floyd riots start when police mistreat a black man – Sisko.

In a fascinating subplot, Sisko and Bashir’s comrade, Commander Dax, hangs out with wealthy tech titans. In other words, Deep Space Nine predicted the income inequality of today’s Bay Area and the civil unrest plaguing American cities, such as Portland.

Another subplot features an internet millionaire who says he could lose his license for posting controversial material. The controversial material is an expose of the horrendous conditions in the Sanctuary District. In other words, Deep Space Nine predicted today’s growing cancel culture and demands for internet censorship.

One Star Trek Prediction We Hope Never Comes True

Although Star Trek has a reputation for being optimistic, its view of the 21st Century is gloomy.

In the Star Trek: Next Generation series premiere Encounter at Far Point. Q gives the crew a glimpse of the late 21st Century, Captain Picard describes what he sees as the “Post Atomic Horror.”

The Post Atomic Horror is a nightmarish courtroom reminiscent of a scene from a Mad Max Movie. In the court, the Judge Q can order his bailiffs; who are drug addicted soldiers, to shoot people in the court. The implication being that the 21st Century was horrific and barbaric. In Past Tense, Dr. Bashir admits to knowing little of 21st Century history because he finds it too depressing. An implication that the 21st Century was a time of horrors.

In the movie Star Trek: First Contactwe learn civilization collapsed completely in the mid 21st Century. In the late 21st Century, the Enterprise crew find developing world conditions in the United States. Bozeman, Montana, is a shanty town and its people are fighting a civil war with the Eastern Coalition. The date is 4 April 2063, a decade after World War III.

Thus, the Star Trek civilization is a future culture that replaced ours. Star Trek predicts the collapse of our civilization in the 21st Century.

Frighteningly, this Star Trek prediction could be accurate. A landmark Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) study called The Limits of Growth predicts industrial civilization could collapse by 2040.

The Limits of Growth predicted humanity would run out of resources in the mid-21st Century triggering collapse. A recent reanalysis of the study by KPMG shows collapse could come as early as 2040 in keeping with the Star Trek time line. The collapse will occur because of Climate Change, The Guardian reports.

However, Star Trek puts an optimistic spin on the apocalypse. The later series predicts a better, more humane and peaceful civilization with a post-capitalist New World Economy will arise from the rubble. They mention the New World Economy on Star Trek: Enterprise, but never explain it.

However, Star Trek puts an optimistic spin on the apocalypse. The later series predicts a better, more humane and peaceful civilization with a post-capitalist New World Economy will arise from the rubble. They mention the New World Economy on Star Trek: Enterprise, but never explain it.

So yes, Star Trek could predict the future. However, it may not be the future we want.