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General Trek Discussion Trek TV and cinema subjects not related to any specific series or movie.

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Old July 10 2014, 02:31 AM   #1
t_smitts
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How do you define a sentient hologram?

This was something that came up regularly on Voyager and, arguably, once or twice on TNG.

So what makes a hologram sentient? Is it simply being aware that you're a hologram?

I think most people assume the Doctor to be sentient. But what about Moriarty or Vic Fontaine? How about the characters in "Shadowplay"? Or that insane hologram in "Revulsion", or Iden's holograms? How about the EMH's on the Equinox, Prometheus, and Enterprise-E?

(Edited to add: OOPS! I meant to post this in General Discussion!)

Last edited by t_smitts; July 10 2014 at 03:11 AM.
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Old July 10 2014, 04:20 AM   #2
HIjol
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Re: How do you define a sentient hologram?

I would define a sentient hologram as the projection of a self-aware machine (computer)
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Old July 10 2014, 05:39 AM   #3
Melakon
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Re: How do you define a sentient hologram?

My only problem with self-aware holograms and how they're supposed to be such a miraculous thing is, why aren't the ships housing those computers, or even the ship's computer itself, treated as if they are self-aware?
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Old July 10 2014, 11:56 AM   #4
HIjol
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Re: How do you define a sentient hologram?

Melakon wrote: View Post
My only problem with self-aware holograms and how they're supposed to be such a miraculous thing is, why aren't the ships housing those computers, or even the ship's computer itself, treated as if they are self-aware?
Now THAT is an excellent question...if memory serves, the holo-people that have been shown as "sentient" have been "surprises" to the crew, and, by extension, to the nature of the technology...maybe too few and too far between to be classified and understood and harnessed?...
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Old July 10 2014, 12:23 PM   #5
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Re: How do you define a sentient hologram?

Melakon wrote: View Post
why aren't the ships housing those computers, or even the ship's computer itself, treated as if they are self-aware?
IIRC, the ship computer (when functioning normally) was never depicted in a way that suggested it had any degree of self-awareness.

It was, however, obviously able to create self-contained "programs" (for lack of a better term) - such as James Moriarty - that appeared to be fully self-aware.

ETA: I was just reminded of TNG's "Emergence", where they Ent-D actually develops an intelligence and promptly proceeds to procreate. At the end of the episode, of course, the reset button kicks in as the emergent intelligence dies/vanishes after giving birth and the Ent-D computer is back to normal.
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Old July 10 2014, 05:04 PM   #6
Melakon
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Re: How do you define a sentient hologram?

I've only seen "Emergence" once or twice, though thought it did some inventive things for making a slightly different holodeck story. But wasn't it all caused by some mystical outside alien influence?

If the Enterprise and Voyager computers can create self-aware programs, why isn't it creating a self-aware identity for itself? If it's because it's programmed not to conceive of such a concept, then why couldn't one of its sentient holograms think of it as a way of upgrading the ship? The Intrepid class even seems a likely candidate for such a thing, with its bio-neural gelpacks.

ETA: Bought TNG Season 7 today, so at least I can watch "Emergence" again now.
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Last edited by Melakon; July 10 2014 at 08:56 PM.
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Old July 10 2014, 06:14 PM   #7
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Re: How do you define a sentient hologram?

The ship's main computer might have built in "hardwired" safeguards that prevent it from ever becoming self aware. If it should ever begin to exhibit signs that it starting to become self aware, programs will activate to set the computer back to a "unaware" state.

Holodecks/suites might have been around for a while, but I got the impression from the first season of TNG that the holodeck on the Enterprise was something new and advanced. The creation of Moriarty was likely an accident, it was somethng the main computer's programmers didn't anticipate.

Similar with Voyager's EMH, initally he wasn't self aware, just a program. But as he was used for unanticipated protracted periods of time he grew into a sapient being. He accidently woke up.

I like the character of Vic Fontaine, but I'm not completely sure he's self aware.

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Old July 11 2014, 12:09 AM   #8
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Re: How do you define a sentient hologram?

Whereas I'm kind of the opposite. I found Vic a little grating - I think everyone just gushed about how cool he was once too often - but I do think he's self aware.
I do think the issue of sentient holograms is really interesting, and given it's implications I'd think that the Federation should really consider how they're using holograms. The potential abuse there could be pretty horrific.
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Old July 11 2014, 01:22 AM   #9
Melakon
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Re: How do you define a sentient hologram?

"Vulcan Love Slave" with a sentient hologram might be a bit extreme.
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Old July 11 2014, 04:13 AM   #10
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Re: How do you define a sentient hologram?

That's pretty much what I'm thinking, although beyond sex, there would be sadists who would enjoy acting out abuse on a hologram.
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Old July 11 2014, 05:11 AM   #11
HIjol
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Re: How do you define a sentient hologram?

Melakon wrote: View Post
"Vulcan Love Slave" with a sentient hologram might be a bit extreme.
borgboy wrote: View Post
That's pretty much what I'm thinking, although beyond sex, there would be sadists who would enjoy acting out abuse on a hologram.

However, with Urbane, "Gentlemen-of-the-Galaxy" like ourselves, there would be only the most judicious and exquisite use of the technology!... ...yeah, baby!

As I think I tried to say above, I think a confluence of events and "critical mass" of tech and power and use and connection occurred, and these " self-aware" events happened...kind of like we are to accept Skynet becoming self-aware...who is to say how and when, and with what "ingredients" this kind of thing can occur?...
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Old July 11 2014, 07:00 AM   #12
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Re: How do you define a sentient hologram?

Moved to General Trek Discussion per OP's oops.
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Old July 11 2014, 02:53 PM   #13
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Re: How do you define a sentient hologram?

Some of this has been talked about over in Trek Lit, given the subject of "The Light Fantastic".

I would say "The Doctor"-Yes, sentient.
Moriarty, Yes.
Vic, No-he's just programmed to fake it really well.
The Shadowplay people. Can't really tell.

It's hard, maybe even impossible, to tell the difference between actual sentience and simulated sentience, yet I maintain that there is one.
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Old July 18 2014, 05:49 AM   #14
Oso Blanco
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Re: How do you define a sentient hologram?

There is a very fine line between a hologram being a just a combination of different computer routines and the point when it's becoming more than the sum of its parts.

Human brains are nothing but biochemical computers, yet each of us is different and we're all acting kind of unpredictable. Maybe that's the difference ... being unpredictable. Making decisions that based on computer logic do not make any sense at all. An ability to chose that goes beyond simple computer commands.
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Old July 18 2014, 06:16 AM   #15
Ithekro
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Re: How do you define a sentient hologram?

What about Minuet, the Binars' distraction for Riker in the first season?
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