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Old July 5 2011, 11:52 PM   #41
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Re: Before Dishonour....seriously?!

sosolidshoe wrote: View Post
But what need do the Borg have for sapient AI? If a component of the Borg is in contact with the Collective, then it does not need to be individually sapient to function, and if it is not, the evidence would suggest that the Borg place within that component a very narrow set of commands and procedures designed solely to re-establish that contact, or failing that, to prevent Borg technology falling into the hands of others.
I find that an odd question. Borg intelligence is and always has been collective. We're not talking about a single AI, a single program or server. Borg ships aren't like Starfleet ships with a single central computer, but more like the Internet, a decentralized network made up of millions of individual processing nodes that work collectively. The Borg Collective is a compound intelligence made up of countless organic and cybernetic parts. All of those parts contribute to the intelligence of the whole, just as all the neurons and glial cells in your brain contribute to your intelligence. A Borg cube is sentient because of the combined processing power of all its individual organic and cybernetic components. Take away the organic components -- the drones -- and you've only taken away half of what made up its sentience in the first place. What results is like a human brain that's undergone a lobotomy or even had a whole hemisphere removed. But there are documented cases of human beings who've remained alive and intelligent even after suffering such severe brain damage -- although their thought processes and abilities were profoundly changed as a result.

Further, from what we saw in "Survival Instinct", they have specific protocols in place in order to avoid autonomy.
Autonomy of individual components, yes. But we're not talking about a single processor, we're talking about the collective, decentralized intelligence of an entire cube. A cube is a colony unto itself, the size of a city. And this was a supercube, the biggest single Borg cube ever encountered. It was a respectable-sized mini-collective in its own right.

Bit this is not how the writer chose to introduce these new "features"; it is strongly implied and, if memory serves, once stated outright that Borg cubes have always been this way. The writer did not merely create a new scenario, he retroactively applied the results of that scenario to all previous Borg appearances.
He said that they've always had the potential to mutate into this, but never have before.

The Cube seen in "Unity" was damaged, but intact, and functional enough that what was apparently a minor repair to a single subsystem resulted in the vessel's reactivation, along with its remaining drone compliment. The Cube was cut off from the collective. I believe it is later implied that the "electrical discharge" which caused the Cube to shut down was actually an 8472 weapon. If Cubes have always been sentient and capable of self-repair and activation without input from the Collective consciousness, why did this Cube not effect necessary repairs itself and bring the deactivated drones back online? Why did it not simply grow a new Interlink Node?
My recollection is that the book DID NOT say cubes have always been sentient, at least not in this active way. It said it was a latent potential that never before had to be realized. Like the Moriarty or EMH examples I gave before -- the cubes didn't think autonomously, but they had the capacity to evolve that ability under the right circumstances.

I concede the principle, but not its applicability in this case; by making these new abilities retroactive, the author is not suggesting that this is a unique scenario, and in doing so asks the reader to engage in mental gymnastics to explain why we never saw this occur on screen, or in any prior fiction regarding the Borg.
No. Wrong. He said the potential for this mutation to occur had always existed. Mutation is not inevitable. It's a chance event. If, say, a primitive fish has a gas bladder for flotation, it has the potential for that bladder to mutate into a lung and enable it to live on land. But most of the individual fish that have that potential will not actually get that mutation, because that's not how mutation works. Potential and realization are two different things.

It was not inevitable that the Borg supercube would mutate in this way. It was just the Federation's rotten luck that it did. The building blocks were there, just as the building blocks for sentient holograms or "Emergence" intelligences were in the Enterprise computer, just as the building blocks for life exist in the primordial ooze of an uninhabited planet. But it takes the right spark, the right chance concatenation of events, to turn that potential into actuality.

I do not suggest that the Borg are defined by their organic component, however I do assert that, based on everything we see prior to the events of this book, that the biological minds of the drones are a core part of their guiding consciousness. The whole point of the Borg is not that they are AI, or technologically advanced humanoids, but that through a synthesis of mind and machine have created a new state of being and, alas for everyone else, a rather limited perspective on other forms of life.
Yes, but by the same token, the cybernetic components are equally a core part of their consciousness. And we know the organic components (the drones) can function as intelligent life when separated from the cybernetic components, so isn't is asymmetrical to assume the reverse can't possibly be true?

Even if the author had used a similar reason, which they did not, to explain the actions of the Cube, why would the Borg create a failsafe which specifically causes the rise of an individual consciousness under the same circumstances?
Not a failsafe. A fortuitous (for the Borg) and entirely unanticipated mutation.

I disagree. Drones are not puppets to the Collective in the same sense as they were in this story. Specific drones may be considered disposable if necessary, and they may be controlled by the will of the Collective, but they are also part of the collective; in this case they were simply macro-nanites, tools being directly manipulated by the singular intelligence which arose from the Cube. I'm not disputing that the mechanism would not allow such a thing, I'm disputing that Cubes have the capacity to do it.
The whole point of the book is that this was a new, unique, unprecedented variation on the Borg, a freak mutation. Of course it was different. That was the whole idea.

And it's misunderstanding the Borg to think of a cube as a single unit like a starship. It's a component of the collective whole and is itself a collective entity. The Collective is uniform, decentralized. A cube is merely a detached component of the whole, a large enough one to function as an autonomous collective even in isolation from the greater mass.

The queen is even more implausible since, again, this is not the Collective instituting the established system to give rise to a new queen, it is the Cube creating for itself a method to control drones, and to gain knowledge from Janeway.
No such distinction. The cube is a subset of the Collective and is a collective in its own right. It's not a starship, it's an ant colony.

I disagree, the abilities you discuss are entirely within the abilities of Constructor nanites which are conducting repairs to an existing structure which has been damaged.
And they are equally within the capabilities of fundamentally nanotechnological systems. One possibility does not disprove the other.

In addition, in every other case that we've seen, serious and extensive damage has always required the aid of drones to repair
Because of the limitations of television budgets. Why should books limit themselves without need? Should Titan have an all-humanoid crew just because the makers of the TV shows didn't have enough money to populate their ships with nonhumanoids? Arguments based on the shows' limitations don't make sense when applied to the novels.

And you're limiting the issue by focusing only on repair. What about growth? What about the growth of Borg technology on the assimilated crewmen in First Contact? What about the "future drone" in "One," grown by Borg nanites out of the Doctor's mobile emitter? There is certainly more evidence besides "Q Who" that this is at least possible. All you can do is demonstrate that an alternative interpretation exists. You can't show that it disproves BD's interpretation.

, yet the Cube in BD simply consumes its own mass and does its best impression of a T1000. The ability to repair damage is not in question, the ability to absorb people, or even entire starships, into the physical structure of the vessel, in seconds, is what I'm questioning, and such an ability is not a reasonable evolution of the Borg's abilities, not in a single stage.
I don't know why you think that. It's a standard "grey goo" nanotech scenario, and it's established that the Borg employ nanotech. It's simply extrapolating that established fact to one possible conclusion.

I mean, let's talk about your "Constructor" nanites. They have to get their raw material from somewhere. They have to be able to take existing matter apart and transform it into the compounds and molecular structures they need to build. So what you insist on treating as two mutually exclusive possibilities are nothing of the kind. The one you reject is actually implicit in the one you argue for.

No matter how much pressure natural selection places on a fish, it cannot become a mammal in one step.
Another straw man. The depicted mutation is not remotely so extreme.

If the writer had tones down the abilities and implied they were new, or they had developed gradually over a multiple-tome storyline, or even if they had been foreshadowed in other books by insinuating the Borg had assimilated such technology, then the circumstances described in the book would not be nearly as implausible; but to go from the Borg as seen in Voyager to the Borg seen in BD without any significant intermediary steps is exactly that.
He did explicitly say they were new. That was the whole damn point of the book -- to reinvent the Borg into a new, scarier form. You're entitled to say you didn't find that new form scary or satisfying. But it's simply false to claim he was saying the Borg have always been like that, because the whole damn point of the book was that this was something entirely new.

In contrast, I can read your book, read the "evolved" abilities of the Einstein/Frankenstein Borg, and see a logical and plausible progression from the Borg seen before.
They're the exact same Borg. Literally, the same individual Borg drones that we saw assimilated in Before Dishonor, aboard the same ship that Admiral Janeway was on when she and its crew were assimilated. They have the same mutant abilities and traits that BD introduced. So how can you see them as acceptable in GTTS and unacceptable in BD when they're the exact same thing?

I maintain that you must have that connection, that progression, no matter how extraordinary the circumstances of your story, because otherwise it hobbles my willing suspension of disbelief.
You didn't see such a connection. I did. Perceptions differ. No writer's choices are going to satisfy every reader. But a lot of your specific arguments here just don't make sense or are based on incorrect recollections of the book.
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