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The current tech level would be waay
lower, for one thing. Tons of modern technological items, from computers to modern sensor equipment (portable metal detectors, colour sensors, laser level and range finders, modern GPS, etc) owe their existence to some bright spark thinking them up on Star Trek.
I was going to mention "doors that open themselves," but there's a precedent for that from Ancient Greece.
And in case you think I'm kidding, look up "transparent aluminum" one of these days. And if you're wondering how aluminium can form transparent compounds at all, you haven't heard of rubies and emeralds.Google search pageWikipedia entryAnother Wikipedia entryThe latest high level concept from The Harrison Arsenal - Aluminium Oxynitride
I suspect that, in another way, the world would be a much darker and more terrible place too, but not for the reason you suspect.
If you think current levels of racism, sexism and other bigotries are bad, imagine what they'd be like without the catalyst of a show like Star Trek
coming along and showing the world how people of different ethnic backgrounds can and must work together.
Politically, the show's message came along at just the right time. Nichelle Nichols' Uhura encouraged young women and black people to strive for better; Walter Koenig's Chekov and George Takei's Sulu also gave people of different ethnic backgrounds hope that they, too, can attain positions of command and responsibility.
Most of all, despite the seeming simplicity of some storylines ("The Omega Glory" springs to mind with its "shock twist" "Ee'd Plebnista" ending, and the Space Hippies from "The Way to Eden") nonetheless as a cultural phenomenon, Star Trek
brought out a timely sense of optimism in the American public at the time - and, when it reached international markets, the rest of the world.
At a time (the early 1970s) when TV and cinema SF was in serious danger of dying on its feet, with the most incredibly downbeat SF like Soylent Green
, Phase IV
and The Stepford Wives
, it took a bright and shining show like Star Trek
to keep that little spark of optimism alive until Star Wars
came along in 1977 and rekindled it into a brilliant, beautiful flame again.
While all the world was fearfully looking to the skies, expecting The Bomb to fall on them at any minute, Star Trek
kept reminding us that we had hope; that humanity still had a future, and that it would be in many ways a lot better time than the ugly present.
And even though no new TV Star Trek
series are currently being made, the optimism of this show and its descendants is a message that we still need to heed in our current pessimistic climate.