Star Trek's formula for sustainable urban innovation

Star Trek's formula for sustainable urban innovation
The TV show Star Trek contains lessons for sustainable and inclusive innovation. Credit: Shutterstock

On the long-running television series Star Trek, the characters were knowledge workers and did not seem to worry about food, lodging or acceptance. Theirs was an inclusive society, one that collaboratively practised sustainable innovation.

Although the crews on various ships were lost in space, Star Trek communities supported one another. Each built environment met its own needs and when they encountered societies on other worlds, those too practised inclusive and sustainable development.

The lesson here is that we need to apply an inclusive approach if we are to meet critical goals. This includes addressing the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 1.5-2℃ global warming targets, working towards the UN sustainable development goals and developing sustainable cities.

Challenging traditional markets

Traditional market functions are being challenged in several ways.

Thanks to affordable digital platforms, sellers can easily service global customers and buyers are not constrained by physical marketplaces. Individuals can take greater control over their health, their wealth and their work (telecommuting and the ).

Let's also remember that corporations live shorter lives —down from an average of more than 50 years to as little as 10 years, so making large investments to attract large companies could be risky if the payback is long. It could be a political win but a questionable economic benefit.

Markets are either maturing in developed economies, evidenced by trends including the declining auto sector in China, or they are shifting due to technological change, such as the increase in online shopping. There has been a gradual shift in economic power, movements of jobs to new regions and new innovations such as artificial intelligence and robotics.

Star Trek's formula for sustainable urban innovation
United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Credit: United Nations

These changes affect everybody. They are not cyclical problems associated with one sector or in one region. They require new thinking and action.

Cities can help lead a joint agenda for public and private investment in inclusive growth and to alleviate these impacts or access new opportunities.

Creating inclusive growth

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) describes inclusive growth as "economic growth that is distributed fairly across society and creates opportunities for all." Inclusive growth is foundational to the discussions on income inequality, including the need for a sustainable basic income.

Examples of countries adopting or thinking about basic income include Kenya, Finland and Canada.

Unfortunately, some trials are not successful—but as management guru Edward Deming explained, 94 per cent of problems are due to poor systems, not people, and can be fixed.

People have the right to a good job, and in the Star Trek community, everyone makes a contribution somewhere.

In the digital economy, a segment of the population (for example those with lower levels of education, according to an OECD report) will have greater difficulty accessing new jobs and occupations. Clearly there is a need to improve linkages between people and jobs, and to increase our efforts to prepare people for jobs.

BBC: Did Finland’s basic income experiment work?
Livability and sustainability

Innovation plays an important role in making cities more liveable and sustainable.

Since the responsibility for achieving inclusive growth is shared between individuals, employers and policymakers, cities need to engage these stakeholders into the discussion. Local resources and new innovation can together create local wealth and improve life and the sustainability of cities. Technology can shift patterns of behaviour and provide equity in services. It is disruptive thinking that develops new solutions.

Advancements in artificial intelligence, automation and digital platforms are rewriting our entire economy. These technologies have the potential to positively affect wealth disparity and quality of life.

However, without proper care, they also have the potential to produce the opposite effect, including the monopolization of our economy and placing jobs at risk.

Employers have a role to play. Those who treat their employees well will not only gain a competitive advantage, but they'll build stronger social currency.

Citizens have a role to play. There are many examples of citizen engagement in solving important issues such as waste reduction, loneliness, mobility, neighbourhood development, health, and more.

However, leaving the responsibility to a single entity, such as the private sector —or even governments —will likely not yield the results we need in time. Inclusive growth mindsets and innovation incubation should happen in all public and private sectors and with all its citizens.

The opening theme for the original Star Trek series. The Star Trek formula can help guide inclusive innovation.
Inclusive Innovation Ideas

Inclusive growth and innovation starts with a digital infrastructure that keeps everyone connected. It includes technologies and ideas that rethink the ways we manage energy, car ownership, education, skills training, waste management, food production. It may include new concepts such as blockchain-based governance systems, health care and banking services.

The circular economy concept is an example —it creates local employment while providing economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable options to the local economy.

For instance, an urban farm in Brussels is based on aquaponics integrated buildings. The project says it wants to see "a change in food production, where technology, sustainable practices and local people come together to create a food system that works for consumers, producers and the environment." Their model reduces the need for transportation, reuses urban space in sustainable ways, applies green methods of managing operations and provides local jobs.

Another strategic example is the provision of affordable basic energy options. M-Kopa is a solar energy provider in Nairobi. It offers locally built, low-cost solar kits that demonstrate how innovation in the energy sector can be successfully adopted quickly by consumers thanks to creative financing. Kenyans purchase the solar kits at a very low cost, payable in small instalments. This meets the needs of rural populations while promoting local employment, and has the potential to provide more opportunities as it builds skills and opens avenues to leverage the technology for more innovation.

The role of cities

Cities have a larger role to play today and they are poised to move in this direction—they have resources (people, businesses, infrastructure) that can be used more efficiently and effectively. There are also many examples of strategies that work—some cities have successfully developed innovation labs as collaborative efforts, new partnerships with diverse stakeholders and new working environments that focus on meeting local problems.

Some cities in Europe set aside a percentage of their budgets to support local entrepreneurs improve services and cost structures. These initiatives are likely to generate greater local benefits and can be repeated and improved upon from one city to the next.

The Star Trek formula is work together and share ideas and resources, look out for the best interest of society and the planet, use technology to benefit and advance, and develop each person as a valuable member of society. Local solutions to local problems, solved through inclusive innovation.


Explore further

How African cities can harness green technologies for growth and jobs

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Feb 11, 2019
It is just amazing, how year after year, it takes just a little bit longer for humans and their thinking to mature. Basing your social views on BS television fiction is what you would expect from 12 year olds. "Can't we all just get along???" No. We cant. It goes, completely, against human nature. Everybody hates everybody, anything different from themselves and anything they don't understand. If these, immature, college geeks would grow up and take off their rose colored glasses, they would see that same principal shines through in every episode of every Star Trek series and every Star Trek movie. "Everybody gets along" was the Star Trek ideal NOT the reality. If it was, they would not have a story. (No conflict, No story)

PS: Multiple versions of Star Trek ran for a long time but the original series "Star Trek" ran for only 3 years, then went into syndication and reruns.

Feb 11, 2019
Another "human nature" is the unbreakable leash around our necks argument. Classic boring status quo stuff. People look to sci-fi (and write it) out of a yearning to explore through metaphor and to imagine where we are going. More often than not science and speculative fiction have walked hand in hand through our history and driven each other forward.

Of course there's conflict in ST, it's a story (as you say, no conflict, no story.) But it did use a comparative vehicle to argue that we as a single species COULD all get along, and we're watching the struggle to get there in an inter-species scenario, having already been able to attain intra-species harmony.

Science fiction is a method of having a philosophical conversation about today's issues and ideas via metaphor. It STARTS as a conversation about social views. It's natural, and I would argue, CRITICAL to take that metaphor and return it to the present scenario.

Feb 11, 2019
Ain't no "formula." It's an aspiration. A good one too; but ST doesn't say how to get there. There's a lot of stupids. They breed like flies. Until we solve this problem we're at risk of extinction.

Feb 11, 2019
Star Trek can function as shared culture. It is a common reference point to discuss abstract concepts like distant future scenarios. Star Trek also has a lot of layers and is not easily dismissed or explained away by people like pntaylor whose false and fundamentally unhelpful conclusion is we all hate each other, so just give up. Who do you think you are, Donald Trump?

If you actually watch the show, many episodes are cautionary tales and you may come to realize that nearly all technological civilizations are likely to struggle at some point to move forward because they get hung up on various flaws that slow or prevent their progress. Some episodes include discovering the remains of civilizations that screwed up so badly they went extinct. For example, the classic Star Trek episode, Let That Be Your Last Battlefield, is a cautionary tale of racial hatred destroying an entire species.

Feb 11, 2019
Some people are bothered by the fact that there has been no first contact, and I don't mean a grainy Air Force video of a blob flying around, I mean everyday interaction. Either they don't exist, they failed to reach us so far, or they choose not to contact us. Most of the reasons I can come up with for these scenarios are not good for us. Based on life experience, my guess is the big problems are behind us, with us, AND ahead of us. Considering the stakes keep getting bigger, we had better find a way to work together to solve problems like Global Warming, or we may end up being nothing more than an interesting bit of archeology for a more collaborative alien race to discover in some distant future.

Feb 11, 2019
HAWW..HAWW...HEEE....HEEE... Considering the stakes keep getting bigger, we had better find a way to work together to solve problems like Global Warming, or we may end up being nothing ..HAWW...HAWW...HEE...HEEE

The Mark ThomASS brays again.
This is the jackass who boasts about his WASTEFUL joyriding in his Tesla, despite the fact that most of its power comes from fossil fuels.
Keep braying at the heretics, you jackass. That's how you'll save the world.

Feb 11, 2019
antigoracle, what have you ever done to address global warming?

Your childish taunts and lies prove you are an oozing pile of troll scum.

Feb 11, 2019
antigoracle, what have you ever done to address global warming?

Your childish taunts and lies prove you are an oozing pile of troll scum.

Wasn't that a character in a star trek episode?
Oh, wait... There's one in Orville...

Feb 11, 2019
"Skin of Evil" is the 22nd episode of the first season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, and originally aired on April 25, 1988. - Wikipedia


WG, you got it! :-)


Feb 11, 2019
antigoracle, what have you ever done to address global warming?

Your childish taunts and lies prove you are an oozing pile of troll scum.

The Mark ThomASS, brays again, with the typical Chicken shit response, ie. detract from its own hypocrisy.
This is the jackass who boasted about speeding and joyriding in his Tesla. When faced with its WASTEFUL ways, it boasted that most of the cars electricity was from nuclear and wind, rather than fossil fuels. Which, of course, was a blatant LIE.
Imagine if this jackass did not believe in gloBULL warming, how much worse, its WASTEFUL abuse of fossil fuel energy, would be.
Keep braying at the heretics, you jackass, and don't look at yourself. That's how you'll save the world.

Feb 11, 2019
In the Star Trek universe, everyone can have whatever they want and they don't need money. I want a fleet of starships equivalent to the Enterprise. How's that going to work out?

Utterly, completely unrealistic and I am a bit insulted that someone is using Star Trek as a social template.

You know we can solve a lot of our social problems if people would just get better paying jobs with fantastic health benefits and at least a month of paid vacation a year.

Feb 11, 2019
In the Star Trek universe, everyone can have whatever they want and they don't need money. I want a fleet of starships equivalent to the Enterprise. How's that going to work out?

By becoming an admiral.
As for the rest, It would be great but then somebody would ruin it by trying to do as little as possible while gaining all the benefits.

Feb 11, 2019
speeding and joyriding in his Tesla.


That's all you got? So fucking what?!? That only proves I am human, or since this thread is Star Trek-related, maybe humanoid. Trust me, the temptation to see what a brand-spanking new Tesla can actually do is darn near overwhelming once you lay out the money to buy one. None of my passengers have been underwhelmed, and a good number tell me it may be too powerful. If anybody still wonders if an electric car can be thrilling with zero emissions, test drive a Tesla, at least until the other car companies finally start to catch up.

Once again, antigoracle, exactly what have you done to foster scientific understanding and address global warming? Are you so pathetic and brain-dead, like the rest of the Republican Party trolls, that you can't provide a coherent response?

What have YOU done jackass?

Feb 11, 2019
In the Star Trek universe, everyone can have whatever they want.


Wrong, you appear to be very young and/or don't understand Star Trek at all. Look, it is hard to completely reconcile Star Trek with the materialistic world we live in, but in the show you primarily work to better yourself so material possessions are secondary. Try watching the show instead of making baseless comments.

Utterly, completely unrealistic and I am a bit insulted that someone is using Star Trek as a social template.


Why, because everyone you know is a pathetic loser like antigoracle and could never rise to their level? If everyone was like antigoracle it would be game over for the human race.

You know we can solve a lot of our social problems if people would just get better paying jobs with fantastic health benefits and at least a month of paid vacation a year.


So you are what, 12 years old? Has it occurred to you that billions desperately want that?

Feb 11, 2019
speeding and joyriding in his Tesla.


That's all you got? So fucking what?!? That only proves I am human, or since this thread is Star Trek-related, maybe humanoid. Trust me, the temptation to see what a brand-spanking new Tesla can actually do is darn near overwhelming once you lay out the money to buy one. .... If anybody still wonders if an electric car can be thrilling with zero emissions, ...HAWW...HAWW...HEE...HEE.

So, the Mark ThomASS, Chicken Shit jackass brays again and confirms its astonishing stupidity and hypocrisy.
Hey jackass, since most of the electricity for that Tesla comes from FOSSIL FUELS, it is not zero emission.
So, keep braying at the heretics, you jackass, since that's all you got. It's beyond the shit between your ears, to comprehend, how much UNNECESSARY CO2 would be emitted, if everyone did like you and went joyriding in a Tesla. This jackass will save the world.

Feb 11, 2019
The "no money" part of Star Trek is a little hard to swallow here in 2019, but there are two recent developments that could at least weaken the hold of money. First is AI. If the machines take all the paid jobs, we had better get used to doing something else. Second is new manufacturing techniques like 3D printers. If in say another 250 years you could use a machine to make whatever you want/need out of cheap raw materials, money may start to become far less important. Experiences like interplanetary travel or even interstellar travel could take on far greater importance in a world where every adult could print a new phone, vehicle, television and even home for themselves whenever that felt like it.

Feb 11, 2019
Yep, I went joyriding in my Tesla, so antigoracle wants everyone to believe the world is going to end because of it. Nobody is buying into your lies and stupidity. If you are getting paid to post this crap, your boss could probably find a better liar than you for less money.

You seem unable to answer my simple question. What have you done to help? NOTHING is the answer you are hiding. You are pathetic.

Feb 11, 2019
Yep, I went joyriding in my Tesla, so antigoracle wants everyone to believe the world is going to end because of it. Nobody is buying into your lies and stupidity. If you are getting paid to post this crap, your boss could probably find a better liar than you for less money.

You seem unable to answer my simple question. What have you done to help? NOTHING is the answer you are hiding. You are pathetic.

LMAO.
The Mark ThomASS, Chicken Shit jackass brays again. This is the jackass who brayed that nasty BIG OIL did not want him to stop burning fossil fuels, which was destroying the world. So, jackass goes and buys a Tesla, and then boasts about how fantastic his WASTEFUL JOYRIDING was. He then BLATANTLY LIED, claiming that most of its electricity was not from fossil fuels.
You are a PATHOLOGICAL LIAR, HYPOCRITE and JACKASS.

Feb 12, 2019
in the show you primarily work to better yourself so material possessions are secondary


The other side of the story is, that in the Star Trek universe you went before the Federation council to basically justify yourself, why you exist or should be given anything at all.

The underlying premise is that poor people and misfits, or even people with differing opinions didn't exist, except in a trivial infantile sense like a child rebelling against their parents. Groups who had fundamentally different views to the Federation somehow just weren't there, like they had all been genetically engineered out or aborted as babies, and only those who wish to "improve themselves" according to the arbitrary consensus of the Federation were seen - except as the occasional villain.

Basically, it was Space Communism. The premise relied on centralized social control that somehow didn't auto-corrupt, and somehow could represent "everybody", even though that's logically impossible.

Feb 12, 2019
The reason why it's logically impossible is because it's impossible to come up with a non-conflicting version of society that pleases everybody - and it isn't really even about "pleasing" you, but fundamentally about defining what is "Good" with a capital G in the ultimate sense - about How Things Should Be.

Well, you'll have just as many opinions on that as there are people alive, and the fallacy is to think that there is a possible way to distill this into some sort of compromize, to reduce the People into this non-distinct soup, like trying to make everyone wear the same average sized shoe, or to mix every flavor of ice cream into one tub and then call it Good Ice Cream - or even have a select variety.

It requires the invention of an abstract entity called "Society" and claiming that this imaginary entity has wills and wishes, in order to hide the individual people away and not deal with the messy reality. What the System says exists, IS, and the people can go hang.

Feb 12, 2019
in the show you primarily work to better yourself so material possessions are secondary


The other side of the story is, that in the Star Trek universe you went before the Federation council to basically justify yourself, why you exist or should be given anything at all.
You're given space, clothes, and food just for existing. If you want to do something, prove it's worthwhile. Or sit and watch TV all the time. Your call.

You're lying again, @Eikka.

Feb 12, 2019
Case in point: you think shoes come in a relatively small variety, a manageable number of a few common sizes that fit nearly everybody? Notice that a size 9 shoe made for the Japanese market is actually slightly different from a size 9 shoe made for the US market:

https://en.wikipe...hoe_size
There are a number of different shoe-size systems used worldwide. While all of them use a number to indicate the length of the shoe, they differ in exactly what they measure, what unit of measurement they use, and where the size 0 (or 1) is positioned.


Another thing is that people often have feet of two slightly different sizes, so we just have to pick the shoe that fits the larger foot. Ideally, you'd have yours tailor made.

Feb 12, 2019
You're given space, clothes, and food just for existing. If you want to do something, prove it's worthwhile. Or sit and watch TV all the time. Your call.


That wasn't the point. The point was: to whom do you have to prove yourself, and why do They get to decide?


You're lying again, @Eikka.


Nope. Think about it: in the Star Trek universe, you're not even allowed to have babies unless you're given the right to reproduce - otherwise people would just make more babies because why not? They're given free room and board anyhow - overpopulation and Malthusian crisis becomes a problem. In the Star Trek universe, your right to even exist depends on whether your parents can justify you to the social leaders.

These are the sort of practical issues that simple storytelling can just brush aside, and what utopists neglect as inconvenient and therefore irrelevant.

Feb 12, 2019
And continuing the thought:

you'd have yours tailor made.


One can instantly counter this by saying that mass-produced shoes come so much cheaper that it isn't warranted to have everybody's shoes custom-made, or even to have some shoes custom made, or to have only so many shoes tailor-made for some people by some criteria. You'd save so much resources to do Something Else...

Well, what else exactly? Why? How much? Etc.

We can flip it around endlessly.

Feb 12, 2019
Your peers. And whatever psychological testing is required to ensure you won't murder someone.

Feb 12, 2019
Here's the deal: to survive we need to get rid of the stupids. Cull them. It's gonna be a hell of a fight, and blood will be spilled. A lot of it by all appearances.

Feb 12, 2019
See, if we can't do that we won't survive that long.

Feb 13, 2019
in the Star Trek universe you went before the Federation council to basically justify yourself


Eikka, since when does "makin shit up" qualify as analysis? Exactly what series and exactly what episodes are you talking about? You have to ACTUALLY WATCH AND UNDERSTAND the show at some level, not just make up sweeping false statements with Republican-style mislabeling and insults.

I would rank The Original Series episodes differently, but here is good place to start:

https://www.busin...s-2016-9

"The Doomsday Machine" is a great episode and includes a cautionary tale of stupid leaders run amok that led to the destruction of their race. Just as relevant today as when it was filmed.

"The Corbomite Maneuver" is a great episode that shows ACTUAL THINKING outside the box, not just mislabeling everything, is critical if you are going to boldly go where no one has gone before.

Feb 13, 2019
Specifics, Doctor. Labels do not make arguments.


- Statement from Spock to McCoy in "I Mudd" Star Trek (TOS): Season 2, Episode 8

Millions need to learn this lesson. Put simply, you have to actually use that thing between your ears, not just accept the lies and false conclusions being fed to you by people who make their living misleading others.

Feb 13, 2019
LMAO.
The Mark ThomASS, Chicken Shit jackass brays again. This is the jackass who brayed that nasty BIG OIL did not want him to stop burning fossil fuels, which was destroying the world. So, jackass goes and buys a Tesla, and then boasts about how fantastic his WASTEFUL JOYRIDING was. He then BLATANTLY LIED, claiming that most of its electricity was not from fossil fuels.
You are a PATHOLOGICAL LIAR, HYPOCRITE and JACKASS.

Feb 13, 2019
antigoracle, you are the PATHOLOGICAL LIAR, HYPOCRITE and JACKASS.

Feb 13, 2019
Antiporacle, the puss-filled slimeball, oozes again. Keep LYING and SPREADING YOUR FILTH, you moron...oh...and WASTEFUL electricity user posting false comments about GLOBAL WARMING. That's how you'll save the world, you ASShole.

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