The new Star Trek Discovery launched this week and is making big buzz beyond the Trekkies. Living in a Star Trek universe certainly has its appeal over much of the backward thinking of many current politicians these days and I remain hopeful about the future. I see the advances made by science and technology as, overall, good for society as a whole. I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next.
But a column I wrote recently about the future of workplace tech got me thinking about the ways the future might not be as bright. Implanted RFID chips might be less cumbersome than lanyards and harder to lose, but do I really want company property under my skin? A neural implant connecting my brain to my laptop might do wonders for my typing speed, but until they're un-hackable (and not much is, just ask Equifax) I'm not going to be first in line.
Instead of worrying about the trade-offs between convenience and privacy, big data and personal freedom, I decided to seek counsel from those who have helped to shape the future. Here's what some of the greatest thinkers throughout history have said about "boldly going" where humans have never gone before.
- "Technology would have long ago made privacy impossible, except that this had only made it more precious and desirable..." ― Gene Roddenberry
- "Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth." ― John F. Kennedy
- "The secret point of money and power in America is neither the things that money can buy nor power for power's sake... but absolute personal freedom, mobility, privacy. It is the instinct which drove America to the Pacific, all through the nineteenth century, the desire to be able to find a restaurant open in case you want a sandwich, to be a free agent, live by one's own rules." ― Joan Didion
- "He who has overcome his fears will truly be free." ― Aristotle
- "Impeccability of the word can lead you to personal freedom, to huge success and abundance; it can take away all fear and transform it into joy and love." ― Miguel Angel Ruiz
- "Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does. It is up to you to give [life] a meaning." ― Jean-Paul Sartre
- "The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day." ― David Foster Wallace
- "True freedom is impossible without a mind made free by discipline." ― Mortimer J. Adler
- "I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do." ― Robert A. Heinlein
- "Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another." ― Toni Morrison
- "Freedom lies in being bold." ― Robert Frost
- "I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will." ― Charlotte Brontë
- "Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind." ― Virginia Woolf
- "Our lives are bound by physical limits, familial ties, political conditions, and geographical restrictions. Individual freedom takes us beyond them all." ― Ai Weiwei
- "As human beings, we are always torn between individual freedom and the ability to choose our actions, and the need for at least enough social structure so that anarchy, chaos, and warlordery - or the war of all against all - can be avoided." ― Margaret Atwood
- "There can be no real individual freedom in the presence of economic insecurity." ― Chester Bowles
- "True patriotism springs from a belief in the dignity of the individual, freedom, and equality not only for Americans but for all people on earth, universal brotherhood and goodwill, and a constant and earnest striving toward the principles and ideals on which this country was founded." ― Eleanor Roosevelt
- "Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom." ― Albert Einstein
- "The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off." ― Gloria Steinem
- "Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom." ― Søren Kierkegaard