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Was Gene Roddenberry an Anti-Robot Bigot?

Illustration for article titled Was Gene Roddenberry an Anti-Robot Bigot?

With all the chatter about JJ Abrams' Star Trek remake around, it's hard for people to remember what is really important about the real Star Trek. Namely, that the show had an irrational fear and hatred for robots


This post from a fan at explains:

We have sentient computers, sentient holograms, FTL, teleportation technology, fusion technology, replicator technology and yet they still have human(oid)s push and pulling and carrying stuff about ships with nary a robot in sight. Forget Data-esque androids, how about basic droids? ...Sure, there was that whole M5 ... "incident" ... but is there some story or episode that explains why the robophobia? Is there some Butlerian war, some kind of Joshua incident, some kind of Skynet takeover attempt that explains why, not just Earthers, but the Klingons (altho they have a culture that kinda explains direct action), the Romulans, the Ferengi (less fellow Ferengi to share profits if you have robots), Betazoids, Andorians, Cardassians, Bajorians, Vulcans, pert near every alien encountered rarely if ever used robots, even the Borg are hybrid organic / technoid, why?


Thank God that someone is finally facing up to Gene Rodenberry's disgusting anti-machine bigotry!

The other fans at the message board aren't afraid to tackle the subject full-on... Well, almost:

"Perhaps in the Star Trek universe all the civilizations that create intelligent robots get wiped out by them before they invent warp drive."

"What incentive could intelligent robots possibly have to wipe out organic sentients? I could see it as an anomalous event, sure, but every culture that produces them? Get out!"


"I suspect Twiggy has something to do with it. Beedee-beedee-beedee...destroy all humans!"


Twiggy? Admittedly, I've often thought that she seemed somewhat mechanical on America's Next Top Model, but still, that's a bit of a stretch. Thankfully, others on the board have slightly more sensible suggestions, both thematically ("Because the whole guiding principle behind Roddenberry's 'vision' was exploring and glorifying the wonderness of the human spirit") and practically ("back in 1966, a robotic-intensive futuristic show would have been far more expensive to produce—special mechanical effects and other FX").

Of course, there's also the fact that one of the unwritten rules of Star Trek always seemed to be that powerful machines are bad (Even in non-canon stories). I'm telling you, it's really all because Gene Rodenberry was a secret luddite; this whole "sci-fi" thing? Just his excuse to have Uhura and Janice Rand wear those short skirt things.


Why is Star Trek so robophobic? [Cool Sci-Fi Forums]

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Annalee Newitz

If only Majel Barrett had been Number One, none of this would have happened.