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Tools were only invented in the past couple of million years, by a select few species such as humans, chimps and Caledonian crows. Technology — complex tools — is unique to humans and only appeared in the past few thousand years. But when technology finally appeared after aeons, innovation accelerated exponentially. I quantified this exponential growth by consulting a detailed timeline of modern inventions : a list of game-changing technological breakthroughs that transformed society, such as the printing press, antibiotics, the car, the aeroplane, TV and the internet any such list has inherent subjectivity, so you might want to find your own.

The resultant graph of technological progress shows innovation proceeds rather slowly until about AD, and then really takes off. The next double-century therefore promises no fewer than breakthrough innovations on par with the steam engine, antibiotics and the aeroplane. This exponential growth is no surprise. Innovation is a positive feedback process. Every invention sets in train further innovations, which can further drive elaboration of the original invention. Think of inventions that improve communication eg writing, print, telephone, radio, TV, internet.

Better communication means ideas circulate much more rapidly, interact and synergise, resulting in further innovation, which in turn quickly yields even further improvements to communication. Every invention relies on, and sets the groundwork for, other innovations, though some links are not immediately obvious. The technology to build tall buildings has existed for many thousands of years, as evidenced by the massive temples and columns of the ancient world. Yet the first skyscraper — the first inhabited tall building — only appeared Chicago as late as the s.

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It was built shortly after the invention of the lift and the powered industrial water pump. This is logical: a skyscraper would not be very popular if there were no lifts, and the toilets were on the ground floor. So an efficient water pump, as much as the lift, made possible the skyscraper. And of course, as those buildings got ever taller, the pressure to improve pumps increased. Once life on any planet — such as Earth — hits upon technology, the rate of change will rapidly and continuously accelerate, and society will spend less and less time at any particular technological level.

But imagine the angst that would result if you put a teenager 50 years into her past, or yourself 50 years into the future. Things are now changing faster than ever, and the pace of progress will only increase. Our current technological level will probably span about years, from to daily life before and after this period will be qualitatively different. If evolution on alien worlds proceeds even vaguely like that on Earth, then extraterrestrial life, too, will be stuck at zero technology for aeons.

When technology finally appears, it will hurtle forwards with increasing momentum so that life spends short and increasingly shorter intervals at any particular technological level.

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Even a slight time displacement on this steep learning curve translates to monumental differences in technological capability. For intance, the end of the age of sail was separated from the beginning of the space age by less than a century. It is the interactive nature of affective states that allows Data to align himself with his pet at the same time as becoming human by replicating distinctly human interactions with animals.

Transmission of affect as a pivotal channel of interspecies communication complements, and in fact, surpasses verbal language.

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The fact that Spot feels about Data as about a human being speaks for the breaching of bodily boundaries and the successful transmission of affect. In a key scene see Fig. He thus conflates his own experience with that of his pet on an emotional, affective level. Spot being unsuccessfully trained by Data.

At the end of the movie, after the Enterprise has crashed, as the crew is looking for survivors, Data discovers Spot alive. Spot meows, seemingly in greeting and Data hugs her, at which she purrs. Data presses her to his face and cries tears of joy see Fig. Screenshot taken from Star Trek: Generations.

The episode has Spock time-travel to his childhood to save his younger self from being killed in the desert. Spock's former pet sehlat, the Vulcan version of a sabertooth, aids him in this endeavor. As he protects young Spock from a predatory creature, I-Chaya is, however, fatally wounded. Young Spock has to make the decision to have I-Chaya euthanized, mourning his death see Fig. A pet… died. To some. They illustrate how language and affect may serve to unite the modes of being of aliens and animals at the same time as having the potential to disrupt this bond by humanizing the alien.

In examining the alien-pet relations through a triangular structure of interconnected becomings, namely alien-becoming-animal, animal-becoming-alien, and alien-becoming-human, I have identified convergent and divergent becomings that complicate a dichotomous categorization and rather present rhizomatic dis connections.

Furthermore, instances of transmission of affect between Spock and I-Chaya and Data and Spot are evocative examples of affect disavowing binary distinctions between subject and object. Whereas Deleuze and Guattari remove the pet from their considerations and maintain that animals are excluded from becoming, I have demonstrated that pets in Star Trek show a capacity to effect a becoming, which is, however, notably not their own. Instead, the converging and diverging becomings presented in the Star Trek franchise that set off a divergent becoming for nonhuman animals effectively reduce them to absolute alterns and mere catalysts of alien becoming.

Safe for an isolated example of a brief mutual gaze between Spot and Data that turns them into equals, the subversive capacity of these relations is not fully exploited by far. Although the relations between these alterns are posthuman in their affective becomings involving human, animal, and machine, they ultimately revert to an anthropocentric vantage point, perpetuate human exceptionalism, and fail to radically reconceptualize posthuman subjectivity.


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Portraying alien characters affiliating with both animals and humans might point to such a gradual expansion of kinship. However, for nonhuman animals in Star Trek , the human-animal boundary remains the final frontier. Steven Spielberg. Warner Bros. Rick Berman and Brannon Braga. James Whitmore, Jr. Star Trek: Enterprise. Baker, Steve. The Postmodern Animal. London: Reaktion Books, Star Trek: The Human Frontier. New York: Routledge, Booker, M. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, Bostic, Adam I. Braidotti, Rosi. The Posthuman. Brennan, Teresa.

The Transmission of Affect. Rick Berman and Brennon Braga. James L. Collodi, Carlo; Brock, Geoffrey. The Adventures of Pinocchio. Harold Apter. Robert Wiemer. Star Trek: The Next Generation.

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A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, Derrida, Jacques; Mallet, Marie-Louise. New York: Fordham UP, Discourse on the Method. Radford, VA: Wilder Publications, Naren Shankar. Robert Lederman. Brannon Braga. Gates McFadden. Gordon, Joan.

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Mini-Bioreactors and 'Star Trek' food replicators

Haraway, Donna. When Species Meet. Ono, Elyce Rae Helford, eds.