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Old July 5 2011, 04:11 AM   #31
Christopher
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Re: Before Dishonour....seriously?!

sosolidshoe wrote: View Post
I'm not so convinced to be frank. The Borg were always presented as a fusion of organic and technological, and it was that fusion which defined them. In BD, there were essentially no Borg as we had seen them, there was a sentient cube puppeteering a number of disconnected drones and Janeway; it was not a Collective. EDIT: Indeed is it not specifically stated in First Contact that neither the Borg's organic nor technological components can function without the other?
Except we know the organic components can be separated from the technological and still survive -- look at all the drones who've been liberated, from Picard to Seven to various others. So why can't the reverse be at least possible? Sure, it would be an exceptional circumstance, but that's exactly what BD established it to be. It was very explicitly not the way Borg technology normally works; it was a mutation, a last-ditch adaptation in order to survive.


In addition, the Borg's nanotechnology has always been presented as Constructors, rather than Smart Matter. By which I mean; the individual nanoprobes are nonsentient robots designed to construct or reconstruct macro-scale technology according to preset programming or direct instruction. The technology itself is not actually made up of nanoprobes.
Do we know that for a fact? I don't recall it ever being explicitly stated. If universal assemblers can form themselves into any desired construct, then how could you tell the difference between a conventional macroscopic device and one made of nanotech "cells"?

And is it even a reasonable conceit to assert that they aren't made of nanites? The problem with the Borg is that, as originally conceived, they were a rather backward concept. The idea of cyborgs being just humanoids with clunky machine parts stuck on them was outdated from the very beginning. When ST finally caught up with the concept of nanotechnology in FC and VGR, all they could do was tack it onto the macroscopic technological approach they'd started with, creating an awkward hybrid. But even so, FC certainly gave me the impression that the Borg components on the assimilated Enterprise crew were grown from the nanites injected into the crewmembers. They did what they could to retcon the silly walking junkyards of TNG into something more biomechanical.


Regardless, it was actually the horribly contrived "trauma" nonsense I was referring to, the concept that the big bad Enterprise was so mean to the poor little cubie-woobie that it somehow metamorphosed into a sentient creature bent on revenge. First, refer to the argument I make above as to why I find that dubious, but second and more than that, we've seen cubes "experience" circumstances as "traumatic", perhaps even moreso, than were presented in Resistance, yet none of them turned into melty-walled emos.
I have no idea where you're getting "emo" from. You seem to have a misconception about what the word "trauma" means. It doesn't mean hurt feelings, it means serious physical and/or psychological injury. It's the Greek word for "wound." (Watch any police procedural or medical show and you'll hear all sorts of talk about blunt-force trauma, traumatic brain injury, and the like. Trauma is serious business.) Anything that is violently attacked and nearly destroyed is certainly traumatized, in the physical sense and presumably in the psychological sense as well (like a soldier suffering post-traumatic stress disorder -- for your own sake I certainly hope you wouldn't be so foolish as to call one of them "emo" to their face).

And what happened in "Resistance" was a new and different situation from previous Borg defeats. Previously, the organics and technology were destroyed together, or some organics were liberated while the technology was destroyed. This is a case where the organics were destroyed but the technology survived intact. So it's not unreasonable that the outcome might be different. The way I read the situation was that the cube was nearly destroyed and did what Borg always do in a crisis: it adapted. That's what the Borg do. When they're defeated, they adapt to the problem and come back again. Since this was a different situation than we've seen before, it's natural that the resultant adaptation would be one we hadn't seen before.



Anywho, I've just finished Greater Than The Sum, and my sense of despondency has lifted enough after the experience to attempt the Destiny trilogy next. I really enjoyed this one; the technobabble was much more plausible, the characterisation was much more consistent, and the concept of planetary geological processes resulting in evolved intelligence was inspired. Furthermore, it felt like a Star Trek story, although I realise that's a subjective concept.
I'm glad you liked it.

Hell, I wish they'd put this story up on the big screen in place of Nemesis
Nahh, I liked Nemesis. Except for the dune-buggy chase and the made-up-particle-of-the-week weapon.
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Old July 5 2011, 04:12 AM   #32
j3067
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Re: Before Dishonour....seriously?!

Christopher wrote: View Post
I don't see what's wrong with the idea of Borg technology being sentient without an organic component. Isn't that the whole idea behind the Borg, that the overarching collective program enslaves the minds of the living beings it assimilates? And the walls gaining the ability to absorb matter into them is merely an extrapolation from the Borg's use of nanotechnology. If it's assumed that all their technology is assembled from nanites, then it should have the ability to transform or to deconstruct matter on a molecular level. It's basically your classic "gray goo" nanotech scenario. One may quibble about the extremes to which it was taken in Before Dishonor, but the underlying concept is sound.
I think this makes a lot of sense. The concept is also part of the VOY episode, "Drone", during which the Doctor's mobile emitter is hijacked by nanoprobes. Before Dishonor just runs with these concepts ad absurdum.
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Old July 5 2011, 05:31 AM   #33
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Re: Before Dishonour....seriously?!

Glad you liked Great Than the Sum, sosolidshoe!
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Old July 5 2011, 01:53 PM   #34
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Re: Before Dishonour....seriously?!

Christopher wrote: View Post
-snipped for brevity-
To your first counterpoint; I can see where you're coming from, but the validity of this point hinges on whether the cube was possessed of enough sentience and intelligence to actually adapt in the first place, which I still contend runs contra to what we've seen from the Borg previously.

To your second; no, it has not been explicitly stated, as is the case with most Treknology, we must make logical inferences from the information that is available and what we can see on screen. Whether the original Borg concept was backwards or not isn't really at issue, they are an established fictional race with established features, and none of those established features support the concept of sentient cubes.

To your third; I am aware of what trauma means, my emo comment was meant as a joke; I assure you I do not regularly use words like "cubie-woobie" Regardless, I still cannot see why this is a unique situation. There have been numerous instances shown where massively damaged cubes have been cut off from the Collective with most or all of their drone populations killed, particularly during the war with 8472, yet those cubes were never shown as anything other than inert technology. Wreckage.

I just keep coming back to the same thing; there has never been any prior indication that cubes are sentient, or that they need to be so. The Collective consciousness is the Borg, without that, nanites become dormant, drones revert to individuality or die, and without those to maintain it - technology becomes inert. For me personally, it's simply too much of a stretch to assert out of nowhere that, well, actually, cubes are sentient see? And they're made up of nanites, see? Oh yes, and they can also puppet drones, and make "pseudo-queens", and suck people into walls, and and and etc etc.

Agree to disagree I suppose.
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Old July 5 2011, 02:00 PM   #35
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Re: Before Dishonour....seriously?!

Christopher wrote: View Post
Nahh, I liked Nemesis. Except for the dune-buggy chase and the made-up-particle-of-the-week weapon.
I liked it better when it was called The Wrath of Khan
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Old July 5 2011, 02:29 PM   #36
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Re: Before Dishonour....seriously?!

sosolidshoe wrote: View Post
To your first counterpoint; I can see where you're coming from, but the validity of this point hinges on whether the cube was possessed of enough sentience and intelligence to actually adapt in the first place, which I still contend runs contra to what we've seen from the Borg previously.
But since this was specifically and intentionally a situation we haven't encountered before, we can't really definitively say it's inconsistent with what we've seen previously.


To your second; no, it has not been explicitly stated, as is the case with most Treknology, we must make logical inferences from the information that is available and what we can see on screen. Whether the original Borg concept was backwards or not isn't really at issue, they are an established fictional race with established features, and none of those established features support the concept of sentient cubes.
I think the concept that the Borg have sapient AI is a logical inference from what we've seen, and the concept that they don't is not a logical inference. The Borg have always tended more strongly to the cybernetic than the organic. We know the Queen must be a program rather than a living being, since she re-embodies elsewhere after a given body is destroyed. More broadly, we know that sapient artificial intelligence exists in the Trek universe, we know the Borg have existed long enough and spread far enough that they've surely encountered it before, and we know that the Borg assimilate any technology they find useful.

For that matter, we have multiple precedents in the Trek universe for even a non-sapient computer spontaneously evolving sentience in the right circumstances: Moriarty, the "Emergence" entity, Voyager's EMH. So even if we stipulate to your premise that a Borg cube's cybernetic systems are, for whatever reason, no more intelligent to start with than a Starfleet computer mainframe, that still doesn't rule out the possibility that they could become self-aware in unusual or extreme circumstances.


Regardless, I still cannot see why this is a unique situation. There have been numerous instances shown where massively damaged cubes have been cut off from the Collective with most or all of their drone populations killed, particularly during the war with 8472, yet those cubes were never shown as anything other than inert technology. Wreckage.
Yes, that's exactly the difference. In those cases, the physical technology was massively damaged along with the organic drones, or instead of the organic drones (for instance, in "Collective," the technology was fried but the juvenile drones survived). The technology wasn't just wreckage because the drones died, it was wreckage because the technology itself was physically destroyed, taking the drones with it. This is the opposite case, a circumstance where only the organic components of the cube were neutralized and the technology left essentially unharmed.


I just keep coming back to the same thing; there has never been any prior indication that cubes are sentient, or that they need to be so.
Even if that were true (and I don't agree that it is), that was the whole point of the story: that what we were seeing was something new resulting from extraordinary circumstances. There was never any indication prior to "Elementary, Dear Data" that a holodeck character could become sentient, but it happened there, and happened again later on.

The Collective consciousness is the Borg, without that, nanites become dormant, drones revert to individuality or die, and without those to maintain it - technology becomes inert. For me personally, it's simply too much of a stretch to assert out of nowhere that, well, actually, cubes are sentient see?
But you're making the entirely unsupported assumption that the collective consciousness consists solely of the organic minds within it. When have we ever been given any reason to believe that? We've always been shown that the Borg are a complete symbiosis of the organic and the technological. It's completely misunderstanding them to treat the technology as mere support for the biology, when all along their actions have shown just the opposite, that their organic components (drones) are treated merely as subordinate adjuncts to the governing machinery. Or, at most, that the Borg consider both biological and technological components to be of equal and interchangeable importance.


And they're made up of nanites, see? Oh yes, and they can also puppet drones, and make "pseudo-queens", and suck people into walls, and and and etc etc.

Agree to disagree I suppose.
All of those are extrapolations from things we canonically know to be true. We know their technology includes nanites and is grown by nanites, therefore it's not a fundamentally incompatible premise to posit that their technology could be fully nanotechnological. Even if most Borg technology isn't, this was an outlying cube that Resistance already portrayed as having some differences from most Borg populations we've seen (such as being sexless by default), so who's to say it couldn't have had some unusual variant of Borg technology as well?

As for "puppeting drones," that's what they always do -- the drones are merely peripheral devices controlled by the collective consciousness. I don't know why you'd think that's anything new. If you mean the technology manipulating a dead drone body, zombie-style, we saw something very like that happen in VGR: "Unity." The Doctor inadvertently activated a backup power cell in the dead drone he was autopsying, causing it to rise up and flail around. That proves, canonically, that it is possible for a drone's cybernetic components to cause it to move without there being any living tissue within it.

As for making "pseudo-queens," how is that any more implausible than their ability to assimilate people in the first place? After all, the Queen is simply a specialized drone that contains the Royal Protocol, the software that's essentially the Borg Queen's consciousness. Homecoming/The Farther Shore already established that the Protocol can be downloaded into an assimilated drone. There may be some variations in the way it occurs in Before Dishonor, but there's nothing about the basic premise that's implausible or inconsistent in light of what's been established about the Borg in the past.

As for the walls being dynamic and mutable, able to change shape or suck people in, I've already pointed out that we have canonical precedent for this going back to "Q Who," when we saw a damaged portion of a Borg cube healing under its own power, morphing back toward an intact condition. So that ability has been implicit in what we've known about the Borg quite literally from the beginning. This was merely an extrapolation from existing canonical precedents.
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Old July 5 2011, 03:46 PM   #37
AuntKate
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Re: Before Dishonour....seriously?!

j3067 wrote: View Post
Christopher wrote: View Post
I don't see what's wrong with the idea of Borg technology being sentient without an organic component. Isn't that the whole idea behind the Borg, that the overarching collective program enslaves the minds of the living beings it assimilates? And the walls gaining the ability to absorb matter into them is merely an extrapolation from the Borg's use of nanotechnology. If it's assumed that all their technology is assembled from nanites, then it should have the ability to transform or to deconstruct matter on a molecular level. It's basically your classic "gray goo" nanotech scenario. One may quibble about the extremes to which it was taken in Before Dishonor, but the underlying concept is sound.
I think this makes a lot of sense. The concept is also part of the VOY episode, "Drone", during which the Doctor's mobile emitter is hijacked by nanoprobes. Before Dishonor just runs with these concepts ad absurdum.
If that were the case, why bother with the organic component at all? Seems like it is more of a problem than a help. And I didn't think that the Queen's little naked head in "First Contact" offered much of a threat without the organic component--it was probably screaming for a body to restore it.

In "Drone," those were nanoprobes from the future, where the Borg may very well have evolved into more mechanical beings.
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Old July 5 2011, 03:58 PM   #38
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Re: Before Dishonour....seriously?!

AuntKate wrote: View Post
If that were the case, why bother with the organic component at all? Seems like it is more of a problem than a help.
Because then they wouldn't be Borg.

AuntKate wrote: View Post
In "Drone," those were nanoprobes from the future, where the Borg may very well have evolved into more mechanical beings.
Nope, they were Seven's present-day nanites. All the future stuff was harvested or extrapolated from the emitter.
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Old July 5 2011, 05:44 PM   #39
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Re: Before Dishonour....seriously?!

AuntKate wrote: View Post
If that were the case, why bother with the organic component at all? Seems like it is more of a problem than a help.
I don't know why you'd draw that conclusion. Even the mutated technology in BD still needed to assimilate organic bodies to function at full capacity. It's simply a variation on the same theme. The Borg are and have always been a hybrid of the organic and the technological. Their whole mentality is one of collectivization and assimilation. They wouldn't think to pose the question in those terms, either organic or technological, one or the other in opposition. It's their fundamental nature as a species to think in terms of unifying different things into a homogeneous whole. Where you see an option of organics or technology, they would be incapable of conceiving the or and would only see it as an and. Both organics and technology have potentials and benefits, and it's the Borg's fundamental drive to assimilate anything that can be of use to them. It would never occur to them to reject one option in favor of the other; they want it all.


And I didn't think that the Queen's little naked head in "First Contact" offered much of a threat without the organic component--it was probably screaming for a body to restore it.
Huh? I think you have it backward. The head was the only organic part. The body seemed to be purely cybernetic; in Voyager ("Dark Frontier," I think), we saw it assembled from distinct parts.

Besides, that head is not the Borg Queen. The Borg Queen is a software protocol that pervades and coordinates the entire collective. The physical body and brain of the Queen is merely its current server. When one "Queen" drone is destroyed, the software (Royal Protocol) is downloaded into another suitably prepared drone/server, which becomes the new "Queen." This is how Queens keep coming back after being destroyed. (It's possible that the Collective keeps a stock of clones of a couple of particular drone genomes that are known to be suited for running the Royal Protocol, one that resembles Alice Krige and one that resembles Susanna Thompson.)
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Old July 5 2011, 07:09 PM   #40
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Re: Before Dishonour....seriously?!

Christopher wrote: View Post
sosolidshoe wrote: View Post
To your first counterpoint; I can see where you're coming from, but the validity of this point hinges on whether the cube was possessed of enough sentience and intelligence to actually adapt in the first place, which I still contend runs contra to what we've seen from the Borg previously.
But since this was specifically and intentionally a situation we haven't encountered before, we can't really definitively say it's inconsistent with what we've seen previously.
I am of the opinion that one should not depart significantly from an established characterisation; if a writer wishes to do so, they must do so in an evolutionary fashion and in a way that makes sense in the universe. I remain unconvinced that this is the case here.


To your second; no, it has not been explicitly stated, as is the case with most Treknology, we must make logical inferences from the information that is available and what we can see on screen. Whether the original Borg concept was backwards or not isn't really at issue, they are an established fictional race with established features, and none of those established features support the concept of sentient cubes.
I think the concept that the Borg have sapient AI is a logical inference from what we've seen, and the concept that they don't is not a logical inference. The Borg have always tended more strongly to the cybernetic than the organic. We know the Queen must be a program rather than a living being, since she re-embodies elsewhere after a given body is destroyed. More broadly, we know that sapient artificial intelligence exists in the Trek universe, we know the Borg have existed long enough and spread far enough that they've surely encountered it before, and we know that the Borg assimilate any technology they find useful.
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.

Further, from what we saw in "Survival Instinct", they have specific protocols in place in order to avoid autonomy.

For that matter, we have multiple precedents in the Trek universe for even a non-sapient computer spontaneously evolving sentience in the right circumstances: Moriarty, the "Emergence" entity, Voyager's EMH. So even if we stipulate to your premise that a Borg cube's cybernetic systems are, for whatever reason, no more intelligent to start with than a Starfleet computer mainframe, that still doesn't rule out the possibility that they could become self-aware in unusual or extreme circumstances.
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.


Yes, that's exactly the difference. In those cases, the physical technology was massively damaged along with the organic drones, or instead of the organic drones (for instance, in "Collective," the technology was fried but the juvenile drones survived). The technology wasn't just wreckage because the drones died, it was wreckage because the technology itself was physically destroyed, taking the drones with it. This is the opposite case, a circumstance where only the organic components of the cube were neutralized and the technology left essentially unharmed.
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?




Even if that were true (and I don't agree that it is), that was the whole point of the story: that what we were seeing was something new resulting from extraordinary circumstances. There was never any indication prior to "Elementary, Dear Data" that a holodeck character could become sentient, but it happened there, and happened again later on.
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.

The Collective consciousness is the Borg, without that, nanites become dormant, drones revert to individuality or die, and without those to maintain it - technology becomes inert. For me personally, it's simply too much of a stretch to assert out of nowhere that, well, actually, cubes are sentient see?
But you're making the entirely unsupported assumption that the collective consciousness consists solely of the organic minds within it. When have we ever been given any reason to believe that? We've always been shown that the Borg are a complete symbiosis of the organic and the technological. It's completely misunderstanding them to treat the technology as mere support for the biology, when all along their actions have shown just the opposite, that their organic components (drones) are treated merely as subordinate adjuncts to the governing machinery. Or, at most, that the Borg consider both biological and technological components to be of equal and interchangeable importance.
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.

The collective itself is a synthesis of all of its component minds; could an artificial mind be a part of that synthesis? Of course, but the specific suggestion that the Borg's space craft are artificial minds, and almost always have been, is what I'm taking issue with.


And they're made up of nanites, see? Oh yes, and they can also puppet drones, and make "pseudo-queens", and suck people into walls, and and and etc etc.

Agree to disagree I suppose.
All of those are extrapolations from things we canonically know to be true. We know their technology includes nanites and is grown by nanites, therefore it's not a fundamentally incompatible premise to posit that their technology could be fully nanotechnological. Even if most Borg technology isn't, this was an outlying cube that Resistance already portrayed as having some differences from most Borg populations we've seen (such as being sexless by default), so who's to say it couldn't have had some unusual variant of Borg technology as well?
Aha! Hoisted by your own petard(sorry, I've been waiting to use that one for months ); in your own book, you explain the sexless drones as a function of them being "vat grown" rather than assimilated, and that the prevalence of said drones was a function of their distance from the core of Borg territory, in order to guard against them returning to individuality in the event they are severed from the collective. 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? Surely they would have followed the same pattern as with other instances of isolation; basic directives to return, or to self-destruct.

As for "puppeting drones," that's what they always do -- the drones are merely peripheral devices controlled by the collective consciousness. I don't know why you'd think that's anything new. If you mean the technology manipulating a dead drone body, zombie-style, we saw something very like that happen in VGR: "Unity." The Doctor inadvertently activated a backup power cell in the dead drone he was autopsying, causing it to rise up and flail around. That proves, canonically, that it is possible for a drone's cybernetic components to cause it to move without there being any living tissue within it.

As for making "pseudo-queens," how is that any more implausible than their ability to assimilate people in the first place? After all, the Queen is simply a specialized drone that contains the Royal Protocol, the software that's essentially the Borg Queen's consciousness. Homecoming/The Farther Shore already established that the Protocol can be downloaded into an assimilated drone. There may be some variations in the way it occurs in Before Dishonor, but there's nothing about the basic premise that's implausible or inconsistent in light of what's been established about the Borg in the past.
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 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.

As for the walls being dynamic and mutable, able to change shape or suck people in, I've already pointed out that we have canonical precedent for this going back to "Q Who," when we saw a damaged portion of a Borg cube healing under its own power, morphing back toward an intact condition. So that ability has been implicit in what we've known about the Borg quite literally from the beginning. This was merely an extrapolation from existing canonical precedents.
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. In addition, in every other case that we've seen, serious and extensive damage has always required the aid of drones to repair, 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.

No matter how much pressure natural selection places on a fish, it cannot become a mammal in one step. 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.

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.

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.
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Old July 5 2011, 10:52 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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Old July 6 2011, 11:38 AM   #42
sosolidshoe
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Re: Before Dishonour....seriously?!

Christopher wrote: View Post
-snip-
Frankly, I think it's pretty cheap of you to accuse me of strawmen, considering the amount of times you strawmen my arguments in the last post. I also really don't appreciate the attitude.

I'm done, but I do suggest you do some research into nanotechnology, because most of the terms you use don't mean anything close to what you think they mean.
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Old July 6 2011, 02:47 PM   #43
Thrawn
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Re: Before Dishonour....seriously?!

Don't let christopher scare you off. He does this a lot, but the attitude is unintentional. He's just passionate in a way that doesn't come across well online sometimes.
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Old July 6 2011, 03:10 PM   #44
j3067
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Re: Before Dishonour....seriously?!

David cgc wrote: View Post
AuntKate wrote: View Post
If that were the case, why bother with the organic component at all? Seems like it is more of a problem than a help.
Because then they wouldn't be Borg.

AuntKate wrote: View Post
In "Drone," those were nanoprobes from the future, where the Borg may very well have evolved into more mechanical beings.
Nope, they were Seven's present-day nanites. All the future stuff was harvested or extrapolated from the emitter.
Exactly...to me, the Borg are defined by a homeostasis between the organic and synthetic enhanced by the assimilation newly discovered species and their technology.

Independent of any organic component the Nanoprobes created an incubation/maturation chamber out of the mobile emitter and the compartment on Voyager. To me, this canonically demonstrates that the Borg Tech can operate independent of an organic component, but with an imperative to re-incorporate the organic (seeking homeostasis).

To a certain extent, I also think this follows to First Contact. When the Borg captured Data they attempted to assimilate him by adding organic components to him.
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Old July 6 2011, 03:34 PM   #45
King Daniel Into Darkness
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Re: Before Dishonour....seriously?!

About sapient Borg cubes... if the Enterprise computer can come to life and make a baby that flies off into space at the end (as we saw in that bizarro holodeck episode), then similar can happen with the Borg, too.

In the fanatasy world of Trek (and it is fantasy, in the crudest "science fiction" dress up), anything's possible.
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