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Showing posts with label Star Trek. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Star Trek. Show all posts

Friday, 11 March 2016

The Economics of Star Trek by Rick Webb

The Economics of Star Trek
The Proto-Post Scarcity Economy
self-sealing stem bolt
by Rick Webb

"I promise this is about Star Trek. Sort of. Bear with me a moment.
I’ve been reading a lot about robots lately. When I read about robots, and the future, I can’t help but think about it in economic terms. And that inevitably turns my mind to the branch of economics called post scarcity economics. Traditional economics, of course, deals with the efficient allocation of inherently scarce materials. Post scarcity economics deals with the economics of economies that are no longer constrained by scarcity of materials — food, energy, shelter, etc.
The thing that never sits quite right with post scarcity economics, though, at least the very little that I’ve read, is that it’s always sort of an all or nothing affair: you either don’t have enough of anything or you have enough of everything. Thinking of this as a mental exercise is kind of fun, I think, but in reality it seems to me that getting from point A — a scarcity economy — to point B — post scarcity — is going to be a long, complicated journey as somethings become more abundant in some places, while other things are still scarce.
What is needed is some sort of interim-, or proto-post scarcity economics.
More and more I find myself thinking we are, as a race, constrained by the economic models we have. We have capitalism, of course, the proverbial worst model except for every other one that dominates much of our planet right now. It’s definitely a scarcity-based system. Then we have the centrally planned systems of Communism and Marxism, not particularly effective, as it turns out. We have European-style socialist capitalism, but that’s still capitalism, and scarcity-based, albeit with a much more robust safety net than we have here in the US. Some Americans seem to think that a robust safety net somehow nullifies the distributed planning of capitalism. I’ll listen to them again when our schools are decent and our life span starts increasing again magically.
The key here, to me, is to start thinking about how economics would work when we decouple labor from reward. Does that make a system inherently communist? I don’t think it does. People work. They get paid. It is market driven, and not centrally planned. In reality,the market already basically dictates this, for who can claim that a Wall Street banker works more than a teacher? The only thing we really need to do is take this to a logical extreme:that people can still get paid doing zero work. This fear seems to be at the heart of most people who say that Europe is communist: if we give people so much welfare, some of them might stop working! Quelle Horreur!
It seems to me that with the rise of machines and robotics, advances in mining technology, energy technology (both fracking and green energy technologies), the obesity epidemic in the US, etc., that there are plenty of reasons to believe that we may be at the beginnings of a post scarcity economy. We have a surplus, no doubt. Of course, we still have legions of people in the world that are starving, and even people still here at home. But we actually have the capacity to feed them, to feed everyone, even now, even if we don’t have the will. It’s not a matter of scarcity; it’s a matter of the organization of labor and capital.
Take a mental journey for a moment with me: what if, one day, technology reaches the point that a small number of humans — say, 10 million — can produce all of the food, shelter and energy that the race needs. This doesn’t seem like insanely wishful thinking, given current trends. There’s no rational reason why the advances in robotics, factories, energy and agriculture couldn’t continue unabated for long periods of time. Of course I’m not saying they will, but rather, they could.
So, then, take that journey. What, then, of labor? In today’s terms, a ‘healthy’ economy now is one at or near full employment. A healthy economy now is one where everyone has a job. But in our mental exercise, those jobs are actually unrelated to a healthy economy, at least from strict economic terms. Everyone’s fed and housed and tons of people simply don’t need to work. Right now, we have them working making shit we don’t need. Is that any better than them not working?
I give you we’re in some fringe areas of economics here, but I have always wondered: is there any economic proof that we need full employment to reach full satisfaction of needs? To my knowledge, there isn’t. There’s a body of economics that goes into standards of living, and the increased standard of living. And here we get to our shitty world of unabated consumerism,Thorstein Veblen’s conspicuous consumption and George Battaille’s accursed share — the inevitable destiny of all economies to eventually produce more than they need, and, thus, waste it.
Seems to me that if we could think beyond capitalism and think of a new model, we could break out of this pointless cycle of more and more consumption of shit we don’t need and model things in another way..."

To read the entire article, click this link.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

"Palaeontology of Kronos (Qo'noS)" [Star Trek fanfic]

 The Star Trek Universe, Star Trek, and characters of Star Trek is owned by Paramount Pictures, a division of Viacom. All the copyrights belong to them. This work is for entertainment purposes only and is presented free of charge.


Kronos, or Qo’noS, 1 is an M-class planet that orbits in the Klinzhai system2 and is found at galactic coordinates (-321.5, 48.6, -87.9). It is the second planet of the system and is nearly one and a half times the size of Earth. Kronos is the only world in its five-planet system that is inherently capable of sustaining life, although ecological changes have made life more tenuous. On all other occupied planets in the system, Klingons have had to use large amounts of relatively sophisticated technology to live there. The surface of Kronos is a vast shallow ocean3 with a large single landmass.  On the landmass itself there are many small bodies of water scattered around it. The largest thirteen of these, the only ones that show up on a planetary map, are very salty. Kronos has a severely tilted axis that causes dramatic seasonal changes,  turbulent wind patterns and extremes of weather.4

Kronos is unique among M-class worlds in that it has very little botanical diversity. Geological information from Kronos suggests that the world was once rather lush and wet, but suffered due to a large asteroid, which altered the axial tilt of the planet. This asteroid is also thought to have caused enormous pressure in the planet’s interior, which led to disastrous earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Fossils found in the underground water pockets and in the lava rock show that a form of klingonoid existed before the time of the asteroid.  Apparently, damage caused by the asteroid changed the level of silicates in the surface of the planet, thus making it less adaptable for vegetation. This caused nearly every native species to evolve into a carnivorous form.

Because of the axial tilt to the planet and because of the high carbon dioxide layer (and the greenhouse effect that it creates) as well as the large surface area of the ocean, the weather tends to be very turbulent.  The ecological devastation of Praxis has also affected the ecology and climate of the planet.


It has been considered that the Klingon people were ‘seeded’ on Kronos, possibly by a race called The Preservers, when the planet was lush. Some scientists have put this theory forth due to the chemical differentiations within the Klingon genome bearing no chemical resemblance to some of the rest of the life on the planet.  Since this theory is relatively new, most scientists concur that the Augment Virus of 2154 resulted in the chemical changes as well as genetic tampering by the Klingons themselves.  Nevertheless, the abundance of klingonoid-type beings within the Sagittarian region of space5, scientists use the taxonomical term Homo sagittari to refer to similar proto-klingon beings of Kronos6.
     The current physical state of the Klingon people is as it has been since long before the time of Kahless. However, the race ultimately developed from a quasi-mammalian creature with a very strong exoskeleton (Homo sagittari scutis), a design not unique to Kronos according to some researchers. The exoskeleton was composed of large, thick bone plates that almost completely overlapped. The H. sagittari scutis had a spinal ridge along the back and fore limbs, and possessed an opposable thumb. The H. sagittari scutis could squat on its hind legs to use the forelimbs to break, rip and hold. The hominid living in a harsh environment, developed redundant organs, possessing multiple versions of most important internal parts, such as lung, liver and kidneys; the heart had 8 chambers.
       The social behavior of H. sagittari scutis has recently been inferred by observation of the similar extant hominid native to the polar plateaus of Kronos -- Simia q’onoenis.  The H. sagittari scutis dominated the planet (fossils cover much of the planet) living in small family units (troops) lead by a dominant breeding female, the dominant male living outside the troop but in the same area. The males separated from the troop at about 6 years. At this age the male would seek out a mate from a different troop.
       Males that encountered another male without a troop would usually instigate a fight to the death. Ultimately the male would encounter an unrelated troop challenging the dominant male or taking a female away. Challenging a dominant male was a risky business and fights were always to the death. Once a troop was won in this way it was usually necessary to cull those that were a threat, most commonly the males near maturity and the dominant female. At times if two males of the same troop reached maturity at the same time they would leave together. In this rare circumstance, the two males would almost always seek out a large troop and defeat the dominant male, culling those that were a threat.  At times the dominant partner would become the dominant male and breed, the other male would assist in keeping the area free of other males. At other times the two males would split the troop and territory, then would either severe all ties or, quite commonly, to offer mutual defense to each other –forming a larger unit (clan).
     During times of famine the troops would be forced to move into territories claimed by other clans. Invariably this led to fights among groups. In most cases the older females and the males near maturity would assist the dominant male, as the threat was so serious the whole troop might die if the territory was lost. In these circumstances familial clans would unite and work together.7  This proto-klingon, after being a dominent species, quickly exits the fossil layer and is replaced by the heartier Homo sagittari osteodermis.
     Homo sagittari osteodermis appears after a planetary catasphrophe affected the planet of Kronos, dramatically changing the planetary surface into a much harsher environment.  Due to evidence found in the bones of H. sagittari scutis, famine seems to have occurred on a large planetary scale. The times of famine increased and slowly Homo sagittari scutis started to be replaced by Homo sagittari osteodermis. Although H. sagitarri osteodermis was slower in movement than H. sagittari scutis, he had the advantage of a stronger exosheleton and greater strength giving it the ability to bring down larger prey. This also meant that H. sagittari osteodermis’ troops, families and clans were more successful in times of conflict. 
     The hostile environment of Kronos that had necessitated the development of the exoskeleton slowly changed and in time the exoskeleton was slowly replaced by a stronger endoskeleton. Eventually the Klingon became a creature with several bony plates covering the vital areas of the body, such as chest, stomach and head. The spinal back ridge was retained and many retained plates on the upper and fore arm. There were also at this time still some cases of both H.sagittari scutis and H. sagittari osteodermis, however both slowly gave way to the faster and free moving Homo sagittari loricatis. The three sub species were fully compatible for mating purposes and the main reason for the decline of the more primitive forms was the dominance of the more agile Homo sagittari loricatus males.
     Slowly, the amount of bony plates reduced. The exterior cranial plate was still used presumably in combat, not always to the death, between males to settle disputes. For this reason the exterior cranial plate was the last to be subsumed by the endoskeleton. The spinal ridge on the back disappeared just before the cranial plate, this left a lumpy appearance in the internal spinal column in the new Klingon form.
     Finally the exterior cranial plate was lost and the modern Klingon form came into being. The internal skull had been reinforced to defend against the force of the Homo q’onoensis kranialis males striking their heads together. This gave the Klingon the well known cranial ridges.  Over time Homo q’onoensis kranialis developed a more settled lifestyle and their rudimentary use of implements led to the development of more complex tools. Homo q’onoensis kranialis began fashioning implements from wood, rock and bone using sinew as a binding material.
     As the use of implements grew and brain size increased, the nomadic nature of clans becomes more settled.  Thus we see the development of the large-brained Homo q’onoensis sapiens – the modern Klingon.  This development brought shelters and farming i.e. animal husbandry. In time, the use of implements led to the discovery of metals to replace bone and rock. Homo q’onoensis sapiens also developed the use of tools for modern defense and aggression – modern bladed weapons. Such weapons became commonly used in settling disputes, often fatally. This practice increased and became a pastime in itself. The male Homo q’onoensis sapiens regularly spar with each other violently for sport. This activity led to more success among more intelligent, larger-brained males when disputes with other clans arose.  At this time, clans developed into the first Klingon societies.
 Klingon evolutionary progression synopsis:

Homo sagittari scutis* – first known klingonoid biped developed from a ‘mammalian’ creature with a covering of heavy, scaled body plates/exoskeleton; opposable thumb; considered as the first with redundant organs; fossils suggest poison glands
Homo sagittari osteodermis* – A primitive klingonoid with several bony plates covering the vital areas of the body, such as chest, stomach and head. A prominent spinal back ridge with hard back plates and thick plates on the upper and fore arms
Homo sagittari loricatis*  - Klingonoid with several bony plates covering the vital areas of the body, such as chest, stomach and head. The spinal back ridge was retained and many retained plates on the upper and fore arms; developed the use of tools, such as utilizing rocks and sticks to break open the shells of other creatures
Homo q’onoensis kranialis - The thick exterior cranial plate was used in combat (?). For this reason the exterior cranial plate considered the last to be subsumed by the endoskeleton(skull thickens). Noticeable reduction of body plates / the spinal back ridge on the back disappeared just before the cranial plate, this left a lumpy appearance in the internal spinal column; development of tools for combat and hunting
Homo q’onoensis sapiens (Homo sapiens sapiens q’onoensis) – modern Klingon; retains prominent cranial ridges; hard leathery pads covering vital areas of body (chest, stomach, back, and upper parts of limbs); continued development of tools, development of recreational implements; settlements instead of nomadic lifestyle/animal husbandry, as opposed to hunting as main food source.

 * When speaking of the specific variant found on Kronos, the taxonomic name is usually followed by the variant name. Ex. Homo sagittari scutis var. qo’noensis.  However, in this information the specific variant is understood and will not be expressed.


  1. also called Klinzhai by its inhabitants, the same name as the system.  When Klingons say “Klinzhai” they are not referring to merely the planet but to the entirety of their “residence” in the Universe.  Klingon writing and song often use Klinzhai to refer to the Universe as a whole, indicating the Klingon “right” to dominate all. (Note that the “Klinzhai” is sometimes spelled “Klinshai” in other cultures/dialects)
  2. Some still use the antiquated term “the Kling (or Klin) system”
  3. Past scientists claimed that the planet was made up entirely of a great landmass with few instances of water.  However, we know that to not be true; although it does lack the great percentage of water found on Earth.
  4. Also see “The Asteroidal Tilt Change” or the modern “The Praxis Catastrophe” for more details
  5. From a Terran perspective (?)
  6. Humanoids from several star systems in the “Sagittarian Region” have very similar ‘klingonoid” features, most apparently the ridged forehead.  Other similarities include a redundant organ system and various biological processes.  Planets where the similarities are most observed naturally occurring include ‘Eng, Hoj, Busha, Azul VI, Tuqval, Daghtuj, Tysam, Majake, and Gillis IV.
  7. Social organization is based on archeological evidence and the observations of Simia q’onoenis, which shares 97% of its DNA with modern Klingons (Homo q’onoensis sapiens)