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Old March 8 2013, 09:09 PM   #1
at Quark's
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Do the Borg do research ?

We're always told the Borg don't create new knowledge and technology, that they just take it from assimilated races, and this is stated repeatedly on screen. It's even the core assumption underlying the tactic in 'scorpion': the borg don't invent new stuff, so we're absolutely sure they need us and our modified nanoprobes - they can't come up with this themselves-, hence we can force their hand.

But is this actually true ? I began to wonder when I thought about 'the omega directive', where 7 says that the Borg managed to stabilize an Omega molecule for a trillionth of a nanosecond (or something to that effect), as that would imply some research , or at the very least, experimentation. Or in 'dark frontier', where they come up with an 'assimilation virus' (which needs no new technology I think , but it is a novel approach most probably. In 'Endgame', admiral Janeway brings new technology to which the borg have no defense at that time, and after the first confrontation, the admiral says that
' the Queen is studying her scans of our armor and weapons--and she's probably got the entire Collective working on a way to counter them!'. I think it would be very unlikely the Borg would need a lot of time to come up with a solution utilizing technology they already have - although the possibility remains that all they have to do is simply to construct some device that takes a lot of work and they don't carry around in a standard cube's inventory -- or such.

So, what do you think ? Do the Borg do any kind of research ?

(note: although this post contains almost only VOY references, I still think the topic is more general than that, so I placed it here; it's just that most of the material on the Borg is found in VOY)
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Old March 8 2013, 09:24 PM   #2
C.E. Evans
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Re: Do the Borg do research ?

Aside from being weapons platforms, I think Borg cube ships are also de facto research platforms--they go around looking for stuff to assimilate, and then conduct scans to see if their biological and/or technological distinctiveness can be added to the Collective.

If some previous society had been working on some highly advanced project prior to being assimilated by the Borg, then that knowledge would be passed onto the Collective and further work on the project would be continued there via the hive mind, IMO.
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Old March 8 2013, 09:30 PM   #3
Tiberius
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Re: Do the Borg do research ?

I think the Borg would be able to perform experiments based on combinations of knowledge they've already got from different species. For example, if they use knowledge from Species A to do an experiment but it fails because of too many alpha particles, and Species B has knowledge that the Borg assimilated about how to stop alpha particles, then they could combine that knowledge and successfully perform the experiment.

But I doubt they'd have the capacity for pure original research. Maybe the Queen, but the drones operate on little more than instinct.

But they would have had to have it at one point in the distant past, back before they were all cybernetic, back when they were mostly organic.
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Old March 9 2013, 06:34 PM   #4
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Re: Do the Borg do research ?

I'm sure the Borg do engage in research when the situation calls for it. They don't just go around assimilating people and not doing anything else. Borg ships no doubt have immense computing power, and if there are no targets for assimilation that are available, they probably put that power to good use.
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Old March 9 2013, 08:12 PM   #5
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Re: Do the Borg do research ?

The thing might be, no matter how much research the Borg do, it can never rival the yield from assimilation. After all, every assimilation victim is doing research, too - perhaps with lesser resources, but that doesn't matter because X assimilees have X ideas while the Borg Collective can only ever have one.

Thus, indigenous Borg research is derided and dismissed: it's quite on par with the Federation's, or perhaps ten or a thousand times better, but is not a significant element in the total research effort of the Collective.

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Old March 9 2013, 09:16 PM   #6
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Re: Do the Borg do research ?

Research that involve creativity, insight and abstract thinking would be impossible for the Borg collective that we've been shown. At the very least a group of drones with the necessary per-assimulation personal attributes, would have to be partially released/separated from the collective, in order to perform the required research.

When we first met Seven of Nine, it appeared that she had more autonomy that the bulk of the drones. So the drones don't all exist at the same level of mindlessness.

Last edited by T'Girl; March 9 2013 at 09:33 PM.
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Old March 9 2013, 10:01 PM   #7
Mr. Laser Beam
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Re: Do the Borg do research ?

T'Girl wrote: View Post
When we first met Seven of Nine, it appeared that she had more autonomy that the bulk of the drones.
That's because the collective assigned her to speak directly with the humans. She only had the autonomy because she was a liaison to the Voyager crew.
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Old March 9 2013, 10:46 PM   #8
Pavonis
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Re: Do the Borg do research ?

I suppose the Borg would do well at theoretical research and modeling. Experimental research wouldn't be their thing, except by trial-and-error, the way their drones are thrown at a problem until one or more make a breakthrough (such as determining the frequency of a phaser and which shield nutation to use by seeing which ones die).

It occurs to me that their Omega molecule research may have only been a massive computer model, and that seeing it "stabilize" in the model made the Collective think it could be harnessed in reality.
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Old March 10 2013, 02:15 PM   #9
Timo
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Re: Do the Borg do research ?

Umm, what possible reason do we have for thinking that the Borg would be stupid, either at the level of individual Drones, or at Collective level?

Sure, they look like zombies. But so did Isaac Newton. Sure, they move like cripples. But Stephen Hawking is worse. Even if they smelled phenomenally bad, they would only be matching Albert Einstein. None of this has any bearing on their ability to do research.

The average Borg doesn't engage in chit-chat. That doesn't make it a poor researcher; to the contrary, it reduces the laboratory hours wasted on coffee breaks or water cooler conversations. Witty remarks and clever ideas can fly back and forth along the inaudible Collective channels. With trillions of brains having Eureka moments, some of this is going to rise above the research speed of your average, non-cyborg culture.

It's not as if we ever heard that the Collective would treat Eureka moments with "Shut Up And Keep Walking Slowly Towards Phaser Fire" put-downs. To the contrary, the Borg Einsteins are in the admirable position of being able to efficiently work on their theory of general relativity even when walking slowly towards phaser fire. They just have to do the slowly walking bit in addition to being brilliant minds.

And if this Vinculum stuff is to be believed, the Borg "souls" are essentially immortal. Once the Drone body is gone, the innovative spirit of the assimilated Einstein still lives on and keeps interacting with the other minds in the Collective.

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Old March 10 2013, 07:47 PM   #10
Edit_XYZ
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Re: Do the Borg do research ?

Timo wrote: View Post
Umm, what possible reason do we have for thinking that the Borg would be stupid, either at the level of individual Drones, or at Collective level?[...]
The borg did not invent any of their technology; they assimilated all of it - as per 7 of 9.
As opposed to Newton, Hawking and Einstein, who actually discovered valuable information via their own creativity, without stealing it from anyone.

This makes the borg phenomenally stupid/ungifted when it comes to creativity and research.
The omega particle borg experiment was based on information assimilated from several species; and the borg still failed to stabilize the particle, despite the huge resources thrown at the problem. 7 of 9, on the other hand, as an individual, solved the problem in days, by using the meager resources on Voyager.

You can assimilate all the Einsteins you want; if you lobotomize them, by forcing them to think only what you want them to think, by forbidding anything approaching creativity (after all, innovative ideas can give drones...ideas: why should I go slowly towards that phaser fire, anyway? that's just stupid), you have gained nothing in creativity.
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Old March 10 2013, 08:32 PM   #11
Timo
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Re: Do the Borg do research ?

The omega particle borg experiment was based on information assimilated from several
As was everything Newton or Hawking ever did. Science is all about stealing, with references.

and the borg still failed to stabilize the particle, despite the huge resources thrown at the problem. 7 of 9, on the other hand, as an individual, solved the problem in days, by using the meager resources on Voyager.
This simply explains why they want to assimilate the Federation: if nothing else, they have the particular bits of knowledge needed to stabilize Omega.

They can't do transwarp, though, while the Borg can. Why, even deranged Borg subgroups frightened out of their wits can devise all-new methods of transwarping ("Descent").

by forcing them to think only what you want them to think
Since when have the Borg been doing that? Neither Jean-Luc Picard nor Annika Hansen nor the guy who was Third of Five ever commented on anything of the sort. They just complained about the noise in the multi-trillion-occupant dormitory.

by forbidding anything approaching creativity
Ditto.

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Old March 10 2013, 10:04 PM   #12
Edit_XYZ
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Re: Do the Borg do research ?

Timo wrote: View Post
The omega particle borg experiment was based on information assimilated from several
As was everything Newton or Hawking ever did. Science is all about stealing, with references.
Creativity in science is about standing on the shoulders of giants AND adding your contribution.
The borg do only the former, NOT the latter.

and the borg still failed to stabilize the particle, despite the huge resources thrown at the problem. 7 of 9, on the other hand, as an individual, solved the problem in days, by using the meager resources on Voyager.
This simply explains why they want to assimilate the Federation: if nothing else, they have the particular bits of knowledge needed to stabilize Omega.

They can't do transwarp, though, while the Borg can. Why, even deranged Borg subgroups frightened out of their wits can devise all-new methods of transwarping ("Descent").
Transwarp is a technology the borg stole - as everything else they posses. NOT a technology they developed.

And sending 2 cubes (a few years apart) out of MILLIONS to assimilate the federation doesn't really scream 'priority'. Quite the contrary.

by forcing them to think only what you want them to think
Since when have the Borg been doing that? Neither Jean-Luc Picard nor Annika Hansen nor the guy who was Third of Five ever commented on anything of the sort. They just complained about the noise in the multi-trillion-occupant dormitory.

by forbidding anything approaching creativity
Ditto.
That would be the 'thinking the same thoughts' part; the vinculum, removing any unwanted, non-standard thoughts from the drones.
And this standard is pretty tight, according to how the drones behave, to how former drones describe the collective (not much freedom of thought there), etc.

AND according to the borg's proven incompetence when it comes to scientific research (creativity in general): hundreds of years (perhaps hundreds of thousand of years) of high-tech without managing to develop anything non-trivial on its own? Pathetic.
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Last edited by Edit_XYZ; March 10 2013 at 10:18 PM.
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Old March 10 2013, 10:58 PM   #13
Vito Corleone
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Re: Do the Borg do research ?

If they do, you'd think they'd research that pesky 'Why have we not assimilated Species 5618 yet?' problem.
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Old March 13 2013, 05:54 PM   #14
tighr
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Re: Do the Borg do research ?

T'Girl wrote: View Post
At the very least a group of drones with the necessary per-assimulation personal attributes, would have to be partially released/separated from the collective, in order to perform the required research.

When we first met Seven of Nine, it appeared that she had more autonomy that the bulk of the drones. So the drones don't all exist at the same level of mindlessness.
As you mention, we have 7 of 9 as an example. We also have seen several other examples of drones who are organized into subgroups with numerical designations. With this information and without further on-screen canon, it appears that drones are segregated into subgroups to accomplish specific tasks. While they would retain the memories and knowledge of the entire collective as a whole, the drones themselves would be focused on accomplishing their task. This would seem to me to be very efficient.

It's essentially multitasking.

Even Seven's full name (7 of 9, tertiary adjunct of Unimatrix 01) implies her role within the collective. She belongs to a group of 9 drones; the group serves as one of at least three other groups who performs various alternating functions (hence, adjunct) for the primary Unimatrix (as opposed to being permanently assigned to a specific task, like taking bullets in the chest or maintaining the transwarp or building interplexing beacons or whatever). At the time Voyager meets Seven, her temporary assignment is to assist Voyager with the 8472 problem.

At the exact same time, even though she's doing that one job, Seven has access to all the thoughts and memories and knowledge of the entire collective at her disposal. If someone working on some other task needed her input, they'd have it, even though she's currently occupied with the 8472 problem.

We also know that Seven hasn't ALWAYS been 7 of 9, that throughout her tenure as a Borg she's served in various capacities. In Survival Instinct, she's in a group of 5.

But, as the Queen so adeptly puts it in First Contact, it can't be explained in puny human terms, so it's not really worth the effort. They are many, and they are one.
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Old March 14 2013, 03:48 AM   #15
TheRoyalFamily
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Re: Do the Borg do research ?

tighr wrote: View Post
They are many, and they are one.
This is key, I think. They are one personality. And it seems that one personality is the Queen. She (they) might be smart and know a lot, but she doesn't strike me as one terribly creative or inventive. Probably was a politician or leader before the whole Collective thing
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