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Old April 11 2009, 01:47 AM   #1
Eddie Roth
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Thoughts on "Nothing Human", ethics, and Seven of Nine

After many years, I decided to watch Nothing Human again tonight, feeling in the mood for some thought-provoking Trek. And from the plot outline (I remembered close to nothing about the actual episode) I thought this might qualify. But I come away from it disappointed and I'd like to hear your thoughts on this show.

I admired what Jeri Taylor was trying to say here, talking about the ethics of profiting from knowledge that was gained by the killing of innocent people. However, I felt that the conceit of using a hologram undermined the whole idea. How could a hologram programmed by the Doctor be held responsible for what the person on who it was modeled did?

(As an aside, many good and valid questions about many other problematic aspects of the episode, including how the hologram could be so perfect, are raised in this review here:

http://www.jammersreviews.com/st-voy/s5/nothing.php

But I would like to stick to the above for now and accept that Harry Kim and the Doctor are just such geniuses at holoprogramming that the Cardassian is simply a great surgeon.)

I wondered, if this holographic version of a mass murderer is being held responsible for what the original person did and gets deleted for it in the end - despite being an obvious asset to the crew, especially the understaffed Sickbay that always seems to need the helmsman's help - how come no one ever questions Seven of Nine's frequent use of Borg technology or knowledge the Borg acquired by assimilating (i.e. killing) Species #xxx? Wouldn't that be the exact same dilemma? The knowledge is available only because people died at the hands of the Borg giving it up? Isn't that unethical as well?

Wouldn't the Krell hologram have been another interesting resocialization project for Voyager's crew, much like Seven? Or are there double standards?

Was B'Elanna bigoted in the extreme to back off from medical assistance because her doctor's assistant looked like a Cardassian? (She didn't wait for confirmation that he (respectively the Cardassian he was modelled on) had actually done something eveil...)

Any thoughts about this?
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Old April 11 2009, 03:16 AM   #2
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Re: Thoughts on "Nothing Human", ethics, and Seven of Nine

Well I don't think they were blaming the Hologram per se, but what it represented. I actually thought this episode was interesting (technical aspects notwithstanding..never cared much about them anyway!).
He gets deleted, because it's the embodiement of the unethical research the real Krell commited. In fact using it, would mean condoning the actions of Krell. The hologram itself isn't being blamed...
At least that was my understanding.

Also I don't think the hologram was a sentient being like Seven in order for it to be ressocialized. It simply was an aproximation of what the real Krell was...

B'Elana was indeed bigoted..she really can't stand Cardassians! Makes sense to me...

You also bring a very, very interesting point. I also do not remember any momment where someone questioned the use of Seven's Nanoprobes (and boy, were they used!), since using them was indeed the same thing as using Krell's research..if not worse!
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Old April 11 2009, 04:51 AM   #3
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Re: Thoughts on "Nothing Human", ethics, and Seven of Nine

I've posted about this here before, it is a fun and thought provoking topic.

I agree that it would have worked out better using a real person and not a hologram. The hologram WASN'T HIM! Why oh why didn't the doctor just download all of him memories into himself, or just simply read about the research? Or change the appearance and personality of the hologram? So many options were there.

Torres's attitude was completely absurd. I've never disliked BLT more than in this episode.

Also, you don't ever discount knowledge gained by evil means if you can save lives with it. It simply makes no sense. Using the knowledge gives some meaning to the people who died and suffered. How many times have the Federation traded information with their allies the Klingons who have murdered and tortured countless people? They seem to have no problem with that.
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Old April 11 2009, 12:45 PM   #4
Eddie Roth
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Re: Thoughts on "Nothing Human", ethics, and Seven of Nine

destro wrote: View Post
I've posted about this here before, it is a fun and thought provoking topic.

I agree that it would have worked out better using a real person and not a hologram. The hologram WASN'T HIM! Why oh why didn't the doctor just download all of him memories into himself, or just simply read about the research? Or change the appearance and personality of the hologram? So many options were there.
Right. But in that case the controversy wouldn't have been there since the files apparently said nothing about the unethical research methods. This, I feel, was an unfortunate contrivance that ultimately undermines the show. Because if the Doctor had just done the obvious - reading the research or downloading it into his own program - there would have been no discussion about it.

Also, you don't ever discount knowledge gained by evil means if you can save lives with it. It simply makes no sense. Using the knowledge gives some meaning to the people who died and suffered.
A good point - at least if that knowledge is used by people other than those who murdered those victims.

Praetorian: It felt like they were blaming the hologram to me. After all, the Doctor found it necessary to tell Krell what he had decided. I usually don't speak to my computer programs before I delete them to explain to them why I'm doing it. It implies sentience if you do. Also, the hologram did argue against its deletion, which further indicates wanting a continued existence.

As for the resocialization aspect, I felt the crew's treatment of the Doctor as a life form (or the Hirogen holograms later in Flesh and Blood) was indicative of a changed stance on the definition of life. Much like Data was considered alive. They could have reasonably expanded that definition to include another hologram which the Doctor created. His "son" of sorts.
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Old April 11 2009, 03:15 PM   #5
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Re: Thoughts on "Nothing Human", ethics, and Seven of Nine

I think this entertaining if muddled episode is supposed to be a comparison to Operation Paperclip, where the United States recruited scientists, engineers, and doctors from defeated Axis countries. The skills and knowledge of these people were valuable, however many of them had blood on their hands one way or another, even Von Braun's projects were run by slave labour. If you know what the writers intended, half the battle is won.
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Old April 11 2009, 03:46 PM   #6
Eddie Roth
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Re: Thoughts on "Nothing Human", ethics, and Seven of Nine

No, it's not. Because the question posed in Nothing Human is basically: Is it ethically wrong to gain knowledge from book a Nazi scientist wrote? Because the Krell hologram is nothing more than a physical embodiment of a database. The controversy around Paperclip is that the actual people were recruited and thus basically forgiven for what they had done. I suppose it wouldn't have been a problem if just their knowledge had been acquired from, say, a German library in the form of articles and research material. It was about turning a blind eyes to these people's crimes in order to gain access to their expertise. In VGR's case, the hologram isn't Krell, the man.
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Old April 11 2009, 03:49 PM   #7
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Re: Thoughts on "Nothing Human", ethics, and Seven of Nine

The episode was ridiculous as was the decision of the doctor at the end. Nobody's behaviour except Krell's made any sense whatsoever.
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Old April 13 2009, 11:41 AM   #8
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Re: Thoughts on "Nothing Human", ethics, and Seven of Nine

This episode was definately muddled. I can understand why B'Elanna and the young Maquis bloke (whom we'd never seen, and then never see again!) hate Cardassians, being Maquis and all. Perhaps the problem is that being a Maquis was something that hadn't mattered on Voyager for quite a while. And the crew had dealt with The Doctor's sentience on a few occasions - he's one of the crew now, yet they can't see the difference between him and what was essentially a medical journal?

I agree that the hologram of Crell Moset should not be held accountable for the crimes of the real Crell Moset. He's just a representation with the knowledge of what experiments had been done. However, if B'Elanna had a problem with it, then the EMH should have downloaded the info into himself. He was *always* doing that. I know it's a less interesting episode, but it makes more sense. Another rewrite away from being a good episode perhaps?

I like the idea that Seven is always using Borg knowledge to aid the crew, despite the Borg also being mass murderers. I suppose that the Borg are such a negative force throughout the galaxy that using any information gained by them to help in any way could be seen as resetting the scales a bit, especially as Seven was only complicit with the Borg when her individuality had been taken away.

Oh yeah - the prop that was attached to B'Elanna throughout the episode was a bit silly, but that's neither here nor there.
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Old April 13 2009, 08:37 PM   #9
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Re: Thoughts on "Nothing Human", ethics, and Seven of Nine

I loved this episode I have to admit. It made me think when Krell pointed out that a lot of medical knowledge the federation were already using was aquired by less than justifiable means - I felt that the writers were pointing this out to us too.

I don't know what the answer is to this, no point chucking away any knowledge and so leaving people to suffer and die, but since B'Elanna was a Maquis fighting against the very person the hologram represented, in her particular individual case I saw her point in wishing to refuse treatment.
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