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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Misc. Star Trek > Trek Tech

Trek Tech Pass me the quantum flux regulator, will you?

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Old September 14 2012, 07:00 PM   #1
Methos
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Artificial Intelligence in Trek?

From what we've seen in TNG, DS9 and VOY, AI's became quite prevalent in Star Trek sometime around 2364...

We have the obvious choice in Data, then Starfleet's own Emergency Holograms, which are quite impressive AI's on their own...

I was wondering if there was ever an indication in any episode or book that the Federation actively started investigating the possibility of installing an AI system directly into the ships computer system?

It's obvious the ships computer, the Enterprise D / E, Voyager and Prometheus to name a few, are capable of this, running both EMH systems, holodecks, and the various Sentient Holograms we saw in TNG holodeck episodes.

And on the Prometheus episode of Voyager, we saw the ship was quite intelligent on its own, needing only 2 EMH's to actively run and assign attack / defence patterns while engaging the Romulans / Federation.

You'd think an active AI system built into the ships computer would be a logical step if the crew were incapacitated somehow, with Voyager's ECH system being a step in the right direction, but i was wondering if an AI controlled Starfleet ship had ever been explored in Trek before?

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Old September 14 2012, 07:43 PM   #2
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Re: Artificial Intelligence in Trek?

One has to wonder what aspects of artificial intelligence would be needed for controlling a Starfleet ship, or assisting in controlling one. Would the AI have to be capable of fluent colloquial speech, for example? Of expressing emotions or cracking jokes? Or could it be all business and speak in a monotone voice?

It would seem likely in light of "Tomorrow is Yesterday" that a starship computer is trivially capable of passing the Turning test, and is prevented from doing so simply because Starfleet hates computers that talk back. The "I'm sooo humanlike" routine is simply turned off as default, but can be brought to play at any time - either in specialist subprograms being run by the computer (such as holoentertainment or expert programs), or in the main interface of the computer system.

As far as the Prometheus is concerned, we could argue it's a sign of Starfleet not trusting robotic ships with combat after all. While the vessel seemingly flies with just four live crew (and can be flown with zero), its one known crewed section is stated to feature seven decks between Bridge and Sickbay, an arrangement that would make no sense if the four crew on the four Bridge seats were the intended operational norm. Quite possibly, the two combat sections with the big warp engines are drones - but rather than being fully autonomous, they are slaved to a rather heavily crewed control section, in a compromise that eliminates some of the downsides of the M-5 disaster while playing up the advantages.

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Old September 16 2012, 12:58 AM   #3
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Re: Artificial Intelligence in Trek?

In the TNG officer's manual (non-canon) it said that the Enteprise Dee's computer was an Ai, was "alive," and it was a M8-A (more advanced that a M5).

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Old September 17 2012, 12:34 PM   #4
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Re: Artificial Intelligence in Trek?

I think I agree with Timo, AI's probably control the whole starship, but in the background except maybe the main computer, which still isn't a blabbermouth, I guess its a matter of how the thing has been designed.
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Old September 17 2012, 01:03 PM   #5
The Borg Queen
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Re: Artificial Intelligence in Trek?

Computer! Activate the emergency Captain hologram program. Also, activate the First Officer hologram program, the Conn Operator hologram program, the Chief Engineer hologram program, and the Disposable Redshirt hologram program.
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Old September 17 2012, 03:15 PM   #6
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Re: Artificial Intelligence in Trek?

The Enterprise could probably fly itself without a crew.
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Old September 17 2012, 08:08 PM   #7
T'Girl
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Re: Artificial Intelligence in Trek?

^ But what would be the point?
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Old September 17 2012, 08:30 PM   #8
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Re: Artificial Intelligence in Trek?

Wouldn't an AI ship - something like the Romulan drone ship in ENT just with an AI in place of a telepath - be just an glorified probe?
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Old September 17 2012, 09:44 PM   #9
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Re: Artificial Intelligence in Trek?

I think a big factor would be prejudice against AI in general. I forget the name of the TNG episode where Data was assigned as the captain of an individual ship in a task force dealing with a Romulan conflict. Data's first officer was reluctant to serve under an Android Captain -- Data essentially had to prove his competence by winning the engagement.

Extend that in general to have an entire ship run by AI. That first officer can't be alone in his sentiments (in fact we *know* he's not: Commander Maddox in "Measure of a Man" tried to have Data disassembled entirely!) Based on that, I'm sure there would be a lot of resistance to having computer control of any major command function.
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Old September 17 2012, 09:48 PM   #10
alpha_leonis
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Re: Artificial Intelligence in Trek?

(Sorry for the double.) Likewise to my post above, it took Voyager's crew a long time to accept The Doctor as anything more than a glorified tool.
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Old September 17 2012, 11:35 PM   #11
Hando
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Re: Artificial Intelligence in Trek?

^Actually, I didn't mean it in terms of sentience or rights.
More in terms of function.

Such a ship could could investigate the various features of the universe, but what about investigating societies, living beings, making first contacts...

Also people don't join Starfleet because they are forced, they do it because they want to go out there see it for them selves, have an adventure...

Artificial lifeforms, be it AIs, androids or holograms, should augment and help not replace.
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Old September 18 2012, 09:00 AM   #12
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Re: Artificial Intelligence in Trek?

Hando wrote: View Post
Also people don't join Starfleet because they are forced, they do it because they want to go out there see it for them selves, have an adventure...
Except for Doctor McCoy, who joined to get away from his ex-wive's lawyer.





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Last edited by T'Girl; September 18 2012 at 02:16 PM.
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Old September 18 2012, 02:09 PM   #13
Timo
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Re: Artificial Intelligence in Trek?

Wouldn't an AI ship - something like the Romulan drone ship in ENT just with an AI in place of a telepath - be just an glorified probe?
Or a capable combatant, at least for very short engagements. I'm specifically thinking of "The Battle" where Picard single-handedly flies a cruiser into battle. Removing even that single "hand" looks very doable in that episode... But Starfleet could alternately assign a lone humanoid operator to each of its massive starships to keep guard over the apparently untrustworthy AIs.

Of course, a full crew would be a nice thing to have for repairs and maintenance. But the very fact that the ships can make do without a crew for a while can be used as evidence that there are fairly advanced artificial thinking processes available, and these can in emergencies or special situations replace the live crew easily enough.

Timo Saloniemi
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Old September 18 2012, 04:26 PM   #14
Hando
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Re: Artificial Intelligence in Trek?

Timo wrote: View Post
But Starfleet could alternately assign a lone humanoid operator to each of its massive starships to keep guard over the apparently untrustworthy AIs.
Wasn't there an alternative Enterprise like this in Q&A? USV Enterprise
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Old September 20 2012, 11:27 AM   #15
Drago-Kazov
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Re: Artificial Intelligence in Trek?

Which was the TOS episode that had dealt with this?
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