Fan Expo 2018: William Shatner Shares Some ‘Absolutely Monumental’ News
At this point in his never-ending career, 87-year-old acting legend William Shatner has answered just about every conceivable Star Trek question. That may explain why he largely ignored the topic during his Fan Expo panel on Saturday morning. Instead, he went on long digressions about horse riding, his upcoming Christmas album (Shatner Claus), and any other topic that popped into his head.
Fortunately, Shatner is a master storyteller with a taste for the bizarre—that occasionally spills over into outright hyperbole. While he boldly ignored the franchise everyone came to hear about, he offered insight on several other topics, including one that he believes may change the course of human history.
Staying out of touch
Only two years have passed since we last crossed paths with Shatner at Fan Expo, but his co-stars have been far less lucky, as the actor’s busy schedule usually stops him from staying in touch. “You establish a relationship with your fellow actors,” he said. “It’s almost like being in a foxhole at war because every day for 10, 12. 14 hours, you and the other people in the cast are saying words and working long and trying to do well. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s bad. You’re enthused and enraged. You eat together… and you make these lifelong friends—or so it would seem. Then the show is over and you might say, like I did to [Boston Legal co-star] James [Spader], ‘I’ll call you. Next week we’ll have dinner. Oh, I can’t call you next week. I’ve got an appointment. I’ll call’—and you never call. And I have never seen James since we finished that show.”
Fortunately, there was at least one co-star Shatner managed to stay in touch with: the late, great Leonard Nimoy. Reflecting on that relationship now, he credits conventions with keeping their bond alive. “We’d become brothers after three years and a lot of mutual experiences,” Shatner explained. “I really loved him… he would have gone his way, I would have gone mine, but we began to do shows like this [Fan Expo] and making films together. Then we began to have dinner and our wives and our lives just intertwined, so Leonard became a very dear friend.”
Not enough intimacy
Social interaction seems to be Shatner’s current preoccupation. In addition to the challenges of staying in touch with co-stars, he expressed concern about modern forms of communication, particularly texting. “There’s no intimacy,” he complained. “It’s all, ‘Hello, looking forward to seeing you,’ but you don’t really mean it. Every relationship’s at arm’s length or longer than that. There’s no intimacy. As an actor, I’m always reading voices… if somebody says ‘hello’ on the phone, you can read that ‘hello.’ You know what that person’s feeling from the first moment they speak and you’re tuned in. But if they type ‘hello’ or ‘I love you,’ it’s cold. I must say, in the last many years, I too have succumbed to writing these things. There’s an efficiency about it, but there’s no warmth.”
Monumentally scary news
While Shatner had almost nothing to say about Star Trek, he did veer into science—and even science fiction—while revealing the future of mankind. “We were having a fascinating conversation last night about artificial intelligence and the coming ability of artificial intelligence to take over the world,” he said, continuing his exploration of technology and the decline of human interaction. “I’m gonna tell you something I heard last night that is absolutely monumental, okay? This is like… news. Two artificial intelligence things… computers talking to each other. They’re teaching each other what each other knows, okay? A.I. Teaching each other what each other knows and the people who invented the machines are listening, and they’re fascinated because one thing builds on the other and it’s producing a logic, but it’s getting closer and closer to being inspirational and all of a sudden they’re talking and the people—the human beings listening to it—don’t understand what the machines are saying because what the machines are saying is ‘English is inefficient. Let’s invent our own language.’ They start talking in their own language and the scientists shut it down because they don’t know what the artificial intelligent machines are talking about. Now, how frightening is that?”