Considering The Cultural Merits Of The Holodeck
I bought some wireless earphones a few months ago. They were not expensive, nor were they cheap. Within a month, they stopped working. I did not drop the product once. I treated it carefully. More recently, a shaver head I purchased ceased to make the same energetic sound that went hand in hand with its once efficient effect. A small amount of moisture made its way into the device. The whirring sound that once signalled the health and vitality of the shaver head gave way to a soft, painful, and enervated whimper. No longer could it shave in a timely and effective way. None of these inconveniences compare with the disappointment of my laptop malfunctioning. One day, the light on the caps lock button kept flashing. Odd combinations started to appear when I pressed keys. Typing one letter often led to a different letter to the one I selected appearing alongside a random number. Pressing the d key would reveal something like g5. I turned to my tablet as an alternative. I am keen to complete an upcoming piece with a working title of ‘Faustian Arts As Told By Oswald Spengler’. My tablet is around a year old. I have not used it a lot. Noting happened when I swiped my fingers across its screen to unlock the device. The tablet did not even register my efforts. I tried again and again. And nothing. The screen did not tell me I had swiped incorrectly, let alone offer advice on what to do. It had frozen. As a result, I am writing much of this article on my phone. Such a writing experience is nowhere near as comfortable as using a laptop or tablet. While my devices are away for repair, I hope to borrow a laptop to complete the piece on Spengler and other works.
I have had just under three and a half good years out of the laptop, so some wear and tear, I can perhaps expect. The earphones, shaver head, and the tablet are another matter. They are new products. It seems like things are made to break these days. With things breaking on my mind, I have been thinking about communities across Britain, what has happened or is happening to them, and how these domestic concerns apply to the West more broadly. Communities formed over decades, centuries, and millennia, have been subjected to drastic alteration and destruction. Globalism and its many facets have made what was homely alien and miserable. The onslaught of big brands leaves many a high street looking the same as any other. Green land is giving way to unprecedented demographic pressure. Horrendous building projects blight landscapes, robbing our environment of pleasantness and beauty. Grotesque edifices stand high up in the sky. Such designs invariably give little thought to older elegant buildings in the vicinity. The ugly gives rise to incoherence. What if these trends never stop? Those who enjoy such developments are often powerful and wealthy. The technocratic behemoth is devouring space. May there be a way for those with an affinity for our culture, coherent and culturally intact communities, and more traditional morals and aesthetics to escape this dystopia? When pondering this and other attendant matters, I thought back to technology and all the talk of AI (Artificial Intelligence) and ChatGPT. Recently, I saw a news item about the capacity for students to request an essay on any given subject and for an app to generate this. Significant ethical questions arise from this sort of thing, no doubt. What else might the future bring? Today, AI generates academic works and images at our dictation. How long might it be before many of the objects we use today for various tasks are made totally redundant by AI? How long might it be before it can create manifold environments and situations at our command? In Star Trek, the latter prospect manifests via the holodeck.
The holodeck is featured frequently in Star Trek: The Next Generation (SNG). It is a device that uses holograms 'to create a realistic 3D simulation of a real or imaginary setting, in which participants can freely interact with the environment as well as objects and characters, and sometimes a predefined narrative'. The word holograph comes from the Greek words holos, which means whole and graphe, that is writing or drawing. In most Start Trek episodes, the holodeck is a room within a starship. The technology it employs defeats space and makes vast expanses such as oceans and mountain ranges that look real. Before being put to any specific use, the holodeck presents a grid of orange lines that form black squares (see the image at the top of the page). A panel outside the entrance offers the user various settings to select a program or adjust the experience.1 The program is also commanded by voice.
The holodeck can facilitate recreation, games, learning, and training exercises. In the SNG episode, Elementary, Dear Data, Data, Geordi La Forge, and Katherine Pulaski step into the nineteenth-century world of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes.
If we had such technology now, how might we use it? Perhaps those dissatisfied with the trajectory of the Western world could step into less ruinous times. Maybe a walk around the Britain of the 1950s or even that of the 1990s may offer a palliative to the ills of today. Far from mere escapism, a holographic immersion into the past could offer endless educational possibilities. How did we manage without appalling architecture, soulless modern ''art'', unprecedented demographic change, the promotion of gender dysphoria, the medicalisation of typical human inadequacy, and the lionisation of halfwits via a vapid culture of celebrity? How might we do with an education system that values balance and truth over leftist cultural idealism and its concomitant insanity? The holodeck could answer such questions while serving a salutary warning to those who pejoratively wail, "What Western culture? What British culture?"
What if someone lives in an environment that is beginning to feel more and more dissonant? Going to a pie and mash shop might be something that many English people alive today have seldom or never experienced on account of the moribund state of such eateries. Imagine stepping into a simulation of such a place to see a distinctive culture evident and in motion. Think of the interactions you would witness, the sights, sounds, and smells. Step forth the holodeck as a portal of cultural discovery and a means to overcome the tragedy of deracination. It may be the case that your area has run out of pubs. Walking into one that matches your specifications, where you choose what is on offer, not to mention the type of clientele, would be incredibly rewarding. Or you may want to recline in an elegant living room or study that surpasses what you possess. It goes without saying that the holodeck would require safeguards against any depraved appetites some wretch or other may want to unleash on it.
After the globalist teleology overcomes almost every vestige of authentic culture that preceded its remorseless advance, holodecks could serve as defiant outposts of the cultures and orders posterity will strive to reinstall in the real world. The holodeck could be the scene where the skills and tactics needed to overthrow the overlords who have made a holographic alternative so desirable in the first place are devised and honed. Praxis may be refined in the virtual arena before application in reality. The holodeck might be the place for envisioning architectural plans and other social developments. If we had the holodeck now, it would not just be a place where we could forget the ills of our time by sating feelings of anemoia. On the contrary, the best ideas from the past and present could find expression and this may lead to great feats in a bright and heroic future.
Is this not just fantasy? Not for everybody. Some feel that the holodeck may be a reality at some point. In a 2021 article, How to Build A Holodeck, Tim Bettridge notes new developments in language generation through Open.ai's GPT3 and Google's LaMDA. 'When it comes to chatbots and voice assistants, the introduction of Transformer-based language models has led to spellbinding exhibitions of flexible and unscripted, open-domain dialogue generation.' In SNG the holodeck creates environments after its user utters the phrase ''computer". Bettridge notes an experiment by Bram Adams. He used GPT-3 and natural language to generate code that renders a 3D scene. Bettridge admits that the results were a bit lacklustre. Who knows how things may develop in the years ahead? DALL.E, by Open.ai, creates images from text, a 'GPT model type trained on text-image data sequences can generate convincing images from natural language input alone'. 'Ask DALL· E for a chair that looks like an avocado, and avocado-inspired chairs are exactly what you’ll get; in fact, you can get dozens of variations.'2
In October 2018, VR Scout reported that holographic display start-up Light Field Lab (LFL) and graphics company OTOY 'have officially announced a partnership that is “making the Star Trek Holodeck a reality”'. Rod Roddenberry, the son of the late Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and head of Roddenberry Entertainment, is excited about the LFL and OTOY partnership. He said in a statement: “The concept of the Holodeck was extremely important to my father as well as the Star Trek Universe. I want to see Star Trek’s technologies made real, and for the very first time, now believe that a real Holodeck is no longer limited to science fiction.”3
AI has momentum. Ten years ago, many people would not believe what AI is doing today. The idea of a holodeck within our lifetime may not be out of reach. It is a shame that while some technologies are making great strides, things that have been around for such a long time break so easily. One gets the sense that some products are not meant to last. This way, companies get more money from us. I hope that the holodeck will not be like that. It invites some magical thoughts. With it, we will not need so many actual items.
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Science Unbound, When Are We Going to Get Holodecks (or a good equivalent)? - YouTube, accessed 3/12/23
Carol Bee, Data and Geordi in the Holodeck playing Sherlock Holmes - YouTube, accessed 3/12/23.
Tim Bettridge, How to build a Holodeck:, Medium, accessed 3/12/23
Becca Loux, No Headset? A VR Space Like Star Trek's "Holodeck" May Soon Become Reality, VRScout, accessed 3/12/23
Holodeck - Wikipedia, accessed 3/12/23
Tim Bettridge, How to build a Holodeck:, Medium, accessed 3/12/23
Becca Loux, No Headset? A VR Space Like Star Trek's "Holodeck" May Soon Become Reality - VRScout accessed 3/12/23