I think I have seen someone apparently vacuuming(?) aboard the Enterprise or some starship in some version of Star Trek. But it seems to me that even if advanced AI is avoided -- we only see rare androids/robots in Star Trek -- more primitive robots which farm/clean/serve in restaurants and perhaps cook could exist. But I have not seen them.

Without them, while replicators might mean everyone has food, without robots, someone is still stuck with the jobs most people don't want. Does any episode/movie/book give us an idea of how people are not forced into dangerous or unpleasant jobs or indeed, do such jobs still exist? Is free and advanced medical care available for all and is that effected by either using limited but advanced AI that can do operations?

Is anyone disabled due to inability to pay for operations? Is anyone much shorter than average or too tall or fat or ugly due to inability to get elective medical procedures? Are people within reason allowed to enhance their intelligence using technology? I believe I saw an episode in which it is revealed that Bashir was illegally made much more intelligent than he would have been. (I think he was born subnormal? Not sure recalling correctly.)

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    I presume you mean "...on Earth", since the universe of Star Trek is a very big place
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 11, 2022 at 6:56
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    Wouldn't "equality" mean that everyone can work, not only the scientific and artistic geniuses, but also those with no talents beyond sweepong floors? Is inequality so bad in Star Trek that only the super-elite can work, and everybody else is on the dole?
    – user14111
    Commented Jun 11, 2022 at 7:32
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    Medical automation at least seems fairly primitive. It's not until Voyager that we're shown an automated doctor and he has, to put it mildly, some flaws as a healer. Prior to that, and even after it except in emergency situations, every time we see medical procedures they're carried out by a staff of living specialists not dissimilar from today.
    – Cadence
    Commented Jun 11, 2022 at 7:42
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    I would hope that by the 24th century people would not be charged for medical care. In the UK we've had the National Health Service since about 1947 - if you're ill you go to hospital and the cost is covered.
    – GordonD
    Commented Jun 11, 2022 at 8:20
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    I question the assumption that cleaning or other such jobs are necessarily jobs most people don't want, and someone is 'stuck' with them. First of all, if it is a post-scarcity society, how would you force someone to be 'stuck' with such a job? Second, what jobs people want or don't want, is culturally determined. It is not necessarily the same as you, personally, see it.
    – Basya
    Commented Jun 12, 2022 at 7:57

1 Answer 1


There are some examples of technology used to improve or enhance people but they are generally the exception over the rule. In most cases technology is used to help people compensate for physical shortcomings, whether congenital or accidental, but not to become super human.

As you mentioned, genetic engineering does exist in the Federation but its acceptance is a mixed bag. In the pre-Federation era it is generally shunned by Humans (ENT: Cold Station 12), but by the time of The Next Generation it is accepted in laboratory environments (TNG: Unnatural Selection) but is not acceptable for regular people to use (DSN: Doctor Bashir, I Presume). However, in utero genetic manipulation is used to correct congenital issues before birth (VOY: Lineage).

As for bio-mechanical enhancements, they appear to only be used to correct or compensate for physical shortcomings. We see Geordi using a visor due to congenital blindness (TNG: The Enemy) and later upgrades to ocular implants (First Contact). Worf temporarily uses neural transducers after a spinal injury to restore movement to his legs (TNG: Ethics). And Picard had his heart replaced after being stabbed as a young officer (TNG: Tapestry). Mechanical chairs are also used for immobile individuals (TOS: The Menagerie, TNG: Too Short a Season). We even see implants being used to help people with severe brain damage (DSN: Life Line).

Regarding artificial lifeforms or other dumb mechanical beings doing grunt work, this doesn't appear to have been done prior to the failed EMH mark 1. Even when the crew of the Enterprise encounter the exocomps they view them as novel rather than something that is common place or has a similar analogue in Star Fleet (TNG: The Quality of Life). However, when Starfleet removed the EMH mk1 from sickbay they were repurposed to work on waste barges to scrub plasma conduits (VOY: Life Line). We also later see mark 1s working in dilithium mines (VOY: Author, Author). Instead of decommissioning hundreds of obsolete programs Star Fleet chose to repurpose them into menial laborers, implying that they had no preexisting artificial workforce.

  • It is probably a common theme in scifi: "Paradises" are not all they are cracked up to be. One of the most important ideas, perhaps THE most important idea I ever encountered is that we are made happy by improvements in our situation: someone born rich would not appreciate a weekend at the Four Seasons; a min wage worker given that same weekend would be amazed. (And maybe panic counting the minutes until it is over.) I would like to see a ST episode showing the happy citizens of Earth.
    – releseabe
    Commented Jun 11, 2022 at 10:11

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