Posts

Star Trek’s “Infinite Diversity” and the Endless Frontier

Spock understood the importance of innovation for life and prosperity by RICHARD LORENC …

Last Friday, millions of Star Trek fans were saddened by the news that Leonard Nimoy, the actor who played the iconic character Spock on the series, had died at the age of 83 after a brief hospitalization.

I was among the multitude on social media who paid tribute to Nimoy by posting pictures, sayings, videos, and eulogies in remembrance of the man who brought “Live long and prosper” to the world.

The classic Vulcan farewell is not the only thoughtful gift from Nimoy and Spock. Another idea shared by the quintessential Vulcan was his people’s concept of “Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations,” or IDIC.

IDIC was the Vulcans’ subdued, yet profound, appreciation for diversity. They wore pendants representing IDIC and posted it like a religious icon in their homes, temples, and starships. It became the de facto symbol of the Vulcans and their intensely logical ways. It was as if they were saying, “Difference is essential to the universe, and we’ve seen far less than actually exists. We’ll never see the end of it – and that’s a good thing.”

That idea didn’t always sit well with space cowboys Kirk and McCoy, who wanted more concrete answers. But then humans are illogical. What else could Spock expect?

Like Star Trek generally, IDIC had a big impact on me. It’s an idea that still motivates and delights me when I think of the possibilities for humanity today, and particularly the opportunities for difference and diversity offered by markets.

If you view the market process as one of discovery – discovering new ways to combine old ideas, and imagining how to apply those ideas in service to others – you can see how it begins to reveal IDIC. With nothing holding back individuals’ creative energies, there’s no telling what orders and ideas might emerge, and there’s no end in sight to the frontiers of social and economic innovation.

The next time you walk a city street and gawk at the skyscrapers, or wander a supermarket and marvel at fresh strawberries in the winter, or gaze through a glowing box to see friends across the planet, take a moment to remember IDIC. Because of it, for the first time in history, our species truly can “live long and prosper.”

It’s fascinating – but it’s only logical.

ABOUT RICHARD LORENC

Richard N. Lorenc is the Chief Operating Officer of FEE.