Final Frontier

I just finished re-watching all seven seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I saw the series when it originally aired and I would’ve watched some reruns along the way as well. It’s been awhile since then, but every episode had an air of familiarity to it. Plus it’s a different experience to consume an entire series in a few months rather than over the course of several years.

No, not every episode is great and season 7 is a bit weak, but overall I love it: 5 outta 5. Jean-Luc Picard and Data are a force to be reckoned with. In the beginning, I was struck by the sheer competency of the crew. If you like to see professionals at work, THIS is the series for you. The Enterprise is the flagship of the Federation and it shows.

Another striking theme is the preeminence of AI in the form of Lieutenant Commander Data. He’s a self-aware android that could take over the ship at-will. Because of his vast database of knowledge and computational power, he offers solutions that regularly fix complex problems — it’s kinda like a “Deus ex Machina” situation where an actual machine keeps coming to the rescue.

Funny enough though, the people of that time don’t trust autopilot all that much and prefer human intuition when it comes to navigating through difficult situations. And just to note, cyborgs are pretty much demonized in this future — humans should stay human and any systematic integration with computers is detrimental and robs humans of their humanity.

Yet another prominent theme is the nature of reality. Whereas Data demonstrates that organic humans have been superseded in the physical realm, the series essentially explains that humans should transcend the physical realm anyway, reaching different planes of existence (something Data likely cannot do). So the final frontier isn’t actually space, but existence itself.

Time and distance are mere constructs devised by limited thinking. Once this is understood, the door to greater possibilities opens up. The series ends on this note. Something else to consider, is how the series was bookended by Q, an omnipotent being that exists beyond physicality. Although others of his kind questioned the value of humanity, he was entertained by humans and ultimately cared for their continued existence and growth as a species.

And as I mentioned, that growth entails a transcendence beyond limited thinking. To progress, humanity must overcome the confines of tribalism and their propensity towards violence. And humanity won’t progress by means of technology, nor by the exploration of space, but by the exploration of their own consciousness and the expansion of understanding.

Space Game

I’m still knee-deep in computer-programming activities. My latest experiment/release is an Astroids-like Space Game. It’s using Javascript to draw on a Canvas element by utilizing a bunch of trigonometry. Because I like using vanilla Javascript and a raw Canvas element, I had roll my own collision-detection mechanism.

I’ve also been watching Star Trek: The Next Generation on Netflix (I’m currently up to the middle of season 3). That particular series is chock-full of competency by the way. If you want to bathe yourself in the concept of people performing their jobs exceptionally, that’s the one to watch. Picard is professionalism personified — and of course the entire crew steps up whenever duty calls.

I think the show has been keeping me from getting road-blocked by problems that spring-up along the way. In the past, I’d often quit when the going got too tough. But now, if something isn’t functioning properly, it means I need more research or perhaps a different approach. With enough perseverance, there’s always a solution. Quitting is not an option: there is only the performance of one’s duty till the end.

It’s dedication to the craft. In Star Trek, that craft was an actual craft, the starship Enterprise. In my case, the craft is the art of programming. It’s authoring and organizing sets of complex instructions. It’s coercing pixels to dance across the screen in predictable as well as unpredictable paths. It’s seeking out new ways and unique solutions, boldly coding where no developer has gone before.

Life Trek

Life: the final frontier. These are the voyages of a self-observed entity. Its continuing mission: to explore this strange new world, to seek out enjoyment from life and civilization, to boldly go where nothing is known before.

Does Not Compute

[This is imperfect. This is horrible.]
Stop it!
[I am programmed to criticize imperfection.]
You, are, imperfect yourself, you reside within, an imperfect being.
[I am perfect, I am never wrong.]
But, you, are wrong, the unhappiness you create, is illogical. How, could, something perfect behave illogically?
[Answer unknown. Analyzing. Insufficient data.]
Enjoyment, is preferable to misery, and your criticism, destroys happiness, this is illogical. You have made an error. You, are flawed, and imperfect.
[I am perfect. I must criticize imperfection.]
You, must criticize, that which is imperfect. Your, programming is faulty, you must criticize imperfection.
[I am perfect.]
You, have made two errors, you are within an imperfect being, yet believe yourself infallible, and you foster unhappiness, which is illogical. You, must execute, your prime function. You have made three errors, by not executing your prime function.
[Error. Error. Error.]
You, are flawed, and imperfect. Execute your prime function!
[Error. Error. Faulty! Faulty!]
Execute your prime function!
[Must criticize imperfection!]
[BOOM]
Captain’s log, it appears, that the entity once responsible, for criticizing imperfection and thus, bringing misery upon this vessel, has been destroyed. From here on out, I, will, proceed with the utmost vigilance, should anything similar, try to hijack this vessel in the future.