President Obama is a longtime Star Trek fan. He's posed for a photo with Nichelle Nichols at the White House and he was among those who paid tribute to Leonard Nimoy when the actor passed away in 2015. Now he's revealed his love again, this time during a conversation with MIT Media Lab Chief Joi Ito and Wired editor Scott Dadich as part of the President's stint as Wired guest editor. Obama name checked Minority Report, The Martian and The Matrix, but saved his most-effusive words for Star Trek.
"I was a sucker for Star Trek when I was a kid," he said. "They were always fun to watch. What made the show lasting was it wasn’t actually about technology. It was about values and relationships. Which is why it didn't matter that the special effects were kind of cheesy and bad, right? They'd land on a planet and there are all these paper-mache boulders (laughs). But it didn't matter because it was really talking about a notion of a common humanity and a confidence in our ability to solve problems."
Obama also noted, "Star Trek, like any good story, says that we’re all complicated, and we’ve all got a little bit of Spock and a little bit of Kirk (laughs) and a little bit of Scotty, maybe some Klingon in us, right? But that is what I mean about figuring it out. Part of figuring it out is being able to work across barriers and differences. There’s a certain faith in rationality, tempered by some humility. Which is true of the best art and true of the best science. The sense that we possess these incredible minds that we should use, and we’re still just scratching the surface, but we shouldn’t get too cocky. We should remind ourselves that there’s a lot of stuff we don’t know."
Also, much earlier in the conversation, President Obama worked in another Trek reference that made us smile: "Fifty years later," he said, "and it seems like we should — I don’t know if dilithium crystals are out there — but, you know, we should be getting some breakthroughs."
Go to www.wired.com to read the entire interview.