It’s Star Trek day and here’s a post from our 50th anniversary Star Trek series of posts!
OK! Warp factor 9 with the posts and more about Star Trek’s 50th anniversary here on the Adafruit blog. There are LOTS of characters in the Star Trek universe and while it’s easy to say “Picard!” when asked who might be the best captain or other character, this is post about our favorite character (and why). Ours as in Ladyada & pt 🙂
First up, Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge, portrayed by LeVar Burton. Chief Engineer of the Enterprise-D. When Gene Roddenberry created/developed the characters, here’s what he had to say –
Lt. (J.G.) Geordi La Forge – An away-mission regular who is racially black and birth-defect blind – although with prosthetic super-high tech artificial “eyes” which can detect electromagnetic waves from all the way from raw heat to high frequency ultra-violet, making other crewpersons seem hopelessly “blind” by comparison. His closest friend is Data, and the two of them are particularly efficient when working together on away missions. Because of his “eyes”, Geordi can also perform some of the functions of a tricorder – Gene Roddenberry, Geordi La Forge’s description, Star Trek: The Next Generation Writer/Director’s Guide, March 23, 1987.
La Forge is an engineer, he has had incredible challenges from birth being blind, then later working with and using technology to solve problems, tough ones, on top of that La Forge is the bridge between humanity and the emerging artificial intelligence (android) Data. La Forge is Data’s friend, this is something important – Data isn’t a butler-robot or something or someone to be taken apart removing the “sum” of his parts. If beings like Data become ubiquitous, the interactions Data has will set the tone and vibe of how we as humans are viewed by this emerging species. The “programming” of AI will not be code, it will be our interactions with them, La Forge shows the best of us to Data. We like us some Worf and Riker, but Geordi is a good first intro to humanity we think 🙂
We can think of no better ambassador than La Forge to Data – he made robot friend, not robot enemy, not robot slave. Additionally, to show that a prosthetic (his VISOR) can be a feature, not a disability, and to become the chief engineer on the flagship of the federation, what a great story to celebrate.
Think about this, it’s the 24th century (year 2,300 … 284 years from now), human kind breaking the light barrier, able to do almost anything, however, La Forge is blind. Instead of just having regular vision, La Forge has super VISOR vision and it’s a constant asset to himself and the crew. In the Star Trek series La Forge shows that we have not solved everything, people can still be blind, technology can help, it can make us better, it can empower human kind – and when given the opportunity to become our “first contact” with a new species of AI/android (Data), created by us, La Forge is the best of us and demonstrates that. As Next Generation started, La Forge was a helmsman and then promoted to Chief Engineer (yay, promoting from within! good HR in the 23rd century). La Forge in some ways was the “new Spock” but only in a technical sense, he brought so much humanity to being an engineer.
If we had to choose one character to join the Adafruit team (besides Guinan or Q) we would choose Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge.
To understand the universe, physics, and be able to apply that to good, to overcome barriers and more – to be the humble engineer that propels us, extends us, Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge, we salute you. The actor, LeVar Burton is also known for his role as Kunta Kinte in Roots, as well as the host of Reading Rainbow.
The only thing that we’d suggest to La Forge is that the holodeck totally needs to be re-worked, every time it takes over the ship, safety protocols are disabled, or becomes self-aware or something bonkers happens, surely a 23rd century OSHA violation 🙂
And here’s a final heart warming note, in real-life, when the actor LeVar Burton was married, “Data” was the best “man” 🙂
BOLDLY GO 🙂