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Old August 7 2013, 01:27 AM   #1
polyharmonic
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TNG/DS9 timeframe should be full of AI or remote controlled starships

During all of the various wars, we see that all of the various species (Federation, Romulan, Klingon, Dominion, etc) are actually at the helm and fighting in person. But if you think about it, it seems VERY anachronistic.

By the time of Star Trek TNG/DS9/VOY, there is clearly advanced AI tech (Data, The Doctor, etc etc). Let's set aside for the moment that Data and The Doctor are just as alive and anyone else, why are all of these advanced species with warp drives, transporters, replicators, etc not having them UNMANNED??? Somehow I highly doubt that any human could outfight a AI that can react so much faster and not have to worry about "life support" issues!

During those massive battles we see throughout Star Trek episodes, we should have been seeing huge armadas of AI controlled ships fighting it out!

And then there's this other thought:
Especially during war (but even for general exploration), why aren't there more use of "remote controlled" vessels? I mean IRL here in 2013, we are using drones controlled from virtual cockpits halfway around the world and surely we would expect such advanced species to be using similar tech!

So why not explore space or fight wars in remote "virtual bridges" back on Earth and control them through "sub-space" links? With sub-space links and holodecks and what-not, they could easily make it so that the entire crew felt like they were really on the actual bridge but in reality they were sitting in some "virtual bridge" back at Starfleet HQs.

Anyway it seems that by the time of TNG, all of these advanced species would have made much greater use of AI and/or remote controlled ships.

Thoughts?
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Old August 7 2013, 01:39 AM   #2
Melakon
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Re: TNG/DS9 timeframe should be full of AI or remote controlled starsh

But it's a lot more dramatic for a television show to have people on the starship, rather than sitting in front of a tv screen.
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Old August 7 2013, 02:08 AM   #3
bullethead
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Re: TNG/DS9 timeframe should be full of AI or remote controlled starsh

Subspace comm. signals probably don't have the range, reliability, and bandwidth to make real time control of combat capable ships practical from Earth. You could probably set up each ship with couple dozen drones though.

There's also the fact that Starfleet runs into so much weird crap in space that having a ship full of specialist scientists is generally a good idea. I can see AI controlled ships working for convoy escort missions and general space lane patrolling, but not deep space exploration.
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Old August 7 2013, 02:51 AM   #4
Shat Happens
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Re: TNG/DS9 timeframe should be full of AI or remote controlled starsh

There was a robot cargo ship in one TOS episode or two, wasn't? or TAS.

and there was M5
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Old August 7 2013, 03:01 AM   #5
Elias Vaughn
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Re: TNG/DS9 timeframe should be full of AI or remote controlled starsh

How many times in TOS did we see rogue AIs? I can see the Federation not wanting to risk another M5 incident.
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Old August 7 2013, 03:43 AM   #6
Nerys Myk
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Re: TNG/DS9 timeframe should be full of AI or remote controlled starsh

Melakon wrote: View Post
But it's a lot more dramatic for a television show to have people on the starship, rather than sitting in front of a tv screen.
Exactly.
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Old August 7 2013, 03:56 AM   #7
LobsterAfternoon
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Re: TNG/DS9 timeframe should be full of AI or remote controlled starsh

Plus, as Measure of a Man and 1000 Voyager episodes showed us, there are ethics that must be applied to the use of technology once it has reached sentience. Using AIs/robots would be immoral, unless these highly sophisticated pieces of technology agreed to being disposable soldiers.

As for remote stuff - there are plenty of episodes that show our heroes being unable to communicate with Starfleet Command. I don't think you'd want to send out devastatingly powerful pieces of tech into the universe, only to lose them when an ion storm or a pulsar pops up.
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Old August 7 2013, 05:54 AM   #8
The Emissary
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Re: TNG/DS9 timeframe should be full of AI or remote controlled starsh

Hah! I'm glad someone else finally brought this up... I thought I was the only one who felt this way.

While the other posters here bring up good points on why having a fully automated starship doesn't work in most situations; there are some that it could work.

In the 23rd century, they had those computers control ships and they went rouge. In a hundred years they couldn't fix that? I mean...I guess that's possible but still.

It makes sense to not have automated ships for exploration, but why not for battles? Why the hell do those small fighters need people to man them? That's pretty much a death sentence to fly one of those in a space battle to be blunt. It could be A.I. that flies it.

Although two things? Data wasn't built by Starfleet and as far as I remember...they can't build entire armies of Data. Wasn't that what his trial was all about? Second, they can't do that for exploration. The point is to boldly go where no man has gone before. Seek out new life. Blah blah blah. Not send out machines to do it...
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Old August 7 2013, 06:56 AM   #9
sojourner
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Re: TNG/DS9 timeframe should be full of AI or remote controlled starsh

Read the Berserker books by Saberhagen, then think about how much you want AI in control of all those ships.
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Old August 9 2013, 09:37 PM   #10
polyharmonic
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Re: TNG/DS9 timeframe should be full of AI or remote controlled starsh

LobsterAfternoon wrote: View Post
Plus, as Measure of a Man and 1000 Voyager episodes showed us, there are ethics that must be applied to the use of technology once it has reached sentience. Using AIs/robots would be immoral, unless these highly sophisticated pieces of technology agreed to being disposable soldiers.
Well sure and I did mention that you would have to "set aside" the notion that the AIs were actually "alive" and sentient otherwise the ships controlled by AIs would also be considered as "manned".

But if the AIs were not "alive" then this wouldn't be an issue.

As for remote stuff - there are plenty of episodes that show our heroes being unable to communicate with Starfleet Command. I don't think you'd want to send out devastatingly powerful pieces of tech into the universe, only to lose them when an ion storm or a pulsar pops up.
Yeah I can concede that. You certainly wouldn't want to send, say, the Enterprise and control it remotely. But then again if you were to remote control a ship, it would never be that big as it wouldn't need all of the crew comfort, life support type stuff so it would be more of a shuttle-craft or maybe up to Defiant sized ship. Anyway if the subspace link was lost, the AI would be able to take over until the link was re-established and the AI could self-destruct in case the "drone" ship fell into enemy hands.

Anyway, even if it doesn't make sense for deep space exploration, using AI and/or remote controlled ships makes sense during those huge space battles as I simply don't see ANY reason why you would need to have manned ships. I mean at the Battle of Wolf 359 or similar, having a bunch of Defiant-like ships that are AI and/or remotely controlled makes a lot more sense than sending in starships with thousands of people on board!
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Old August 9 2013, 09:46 PM   #11
Melakon
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Re: TNG/DS9 timeframe should be full of AI or remote controlled starsh

sojourner wrote: View Post
Read the Berserker books by Saberhagen, then think about how much you want AI in control of all those ships.
I keep waiting for someone to make a film of those.
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Old August 9 2013, 10:22 PM   #12
YJAGG
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Re: TNG/DS9 timeframe should be full of AI or remote controlled starsh

Not after M5 never again
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Old August 9 2013, 10:45 PM   #13
T'Girl
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Re: TNG/DS9 timeframe should be full of AI or remote controlled starsh

The Emissary wrote: View Post
In the 23rd century, they had those computers control ships and they went rouge. In a hundred years they couldn't fix that?
For every self-aware starship with a mind like Data's, you get a second starship with a mind like Lore. But you don't know which one is which until after the weapons systems are activated.

Install a remote cutoff switch you say? I'm sure the Romulans and the Cardassians would love that.

In Tin Man we heard of the Vega Nine Probe, an unmanned long range probe. From the brief description, it didn't sound "alive."

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Old August 10 2013, 12:05 AM   #14
JirinPanthosa
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Re: TNG/DS9 timeframe should be full of AI or remote controlled starsh

Having AI-driven ships would break the dramatic nature of Star Trek.

But it'd be cool to see another story where wars were fought that way, completely by AI. Not sentient AI of course, just tactical decision making engine.
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Old August 10 2013, 12:21 AM   #15
Sran
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Re: TNG/DS9 timeframe should be full of AI or remote controlled starsh

For goodness sake...

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