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

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Old March 19 2009, 09:18 PM   #1
davidant32
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Death on the Holodeck

Is it possible to die on the holodeck when the "safety protocols" are active? I realize that with the "safety protocols" active, holographic bullets cannot kill, but I can still imagine a thousand other death scenarios. What about a holographic car accident, or being hit by another person with a holographic baseball bat? What about a holographic drowning, or a scenario that causes the user a heart attack?

How does the holodeck know when one of its holographic scenarios could cause instant death to the user?
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Old March 19 2009, 10:02 PM   #2
Verteron
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Re: Death on the Holodeck

Presumably the AI powering the Holodeck is clever enough to figure out if you're drowning or about to be hit by a bat, and simply make the water and/or the bat vanish in the nick of time. A car accident would be made safe by turning the car and the surrounding buildings/walls/grounds in to the consistency of blancmange... whilst the holodeck manipulates your body via force fields so you slow down at reasonable acceleration rather than suffer from a high speed impact.

As for a heart attack, this would be harder to avoid, although the Holodeck may monitor vital signs and could alert medical staff to the problem within a split second.
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Old March 19 2009, 10:06 PM   #3
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Re: Death on the Holodeck

The holodeck is a mature technology by the time TNG rolls around, so I would imagine it's pretty safe.

As for your car accident example, a passenger in a holographic car has no momentum so there would be no overwhelming danger in a "collision"
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Old March 19 2009, 10:12 PM   #4
Uncle Sol
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Re: Death on the Holodeck

The program could end or pause if the player 'dies' much like any game. I imagine O'Brien and Bashir had many a plane crash during The Battle of Brittan.

I would also have to think that the program user would have to play along to whatever happens during the course of the story. If they were hit with a bat or stabbed with a sword they would have to act like it for the sake of game play.
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Old March 19 2009, 10:15 PM   #5
Verteron
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Re: Death on the Holodeck

Mr. B wrote: View Post
As for your car accident example, a passenger in a holographic car has no momentum so there would be no overwhelming danger in a "collision"
Various sources such as the TNG Technical Manual tell us the holodeck can operate in two modes, one where the background is effectively a scrolling 3D image, and one where surroundings are created from forcefields for a more interactive experience.

If everyone's in the same car then it may indeed actually be stationary with the street scrolling by, although if another real person's driving another car in the other direction, they will have to move relative to eachother and therefore at least one will be moving relative to the holodeck. The two forcefield cars could therefore collide.

Alternatively, a forced perspective effect or a projection of the other car may be used to make it look like the other car is driving towards you when in fact both are stationary in different corners of the holodeck.

Or the holodeck may not support this kind of action when the safeties are engaged... or at all...

I would also have to think that the program user would have to play along to whatever happens during the course of the story. If they were hit with a bat or stabbed with a sword they would have to act like it for the sake of game play.
Although you can't pause real people, so you could still stab me with a holographic dagger. Unless it simply refuses to move or the blade's substance disappears the moment it touches my skin...
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Old March 19 2009, 11:12 PM   #6
Myasishchev
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Re: Death on the Holodeck

The holodeck could probably make it appear, to one observer, that another player has in fact been mortally wounded. They would be removed from the game as experienced by the survivor through the same technology that makes the walls of a holographic house seem solid. No need to pretend on the part of the slain player--although maybe if he yelled really loudly from his "penalty box" it would be bad for immersion.
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Old March 20 2009, 12:04 AM   #7
Uncle Sol
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Re: Death on the Holodeck

[quote=Verteron;2731686]
Mr. B wrote: View Post
I would also have to think that the program user would have to play along to whatever happens during the course of the story. If they were hit with a bat or stabbed with a sword they would have to act like it for the sake of game play.
Although you can't pause real people, so you could still stab me with a holographic dagger. Unless it simply refuses to move or the blade's substance disappears the moment it touches my skin...
If the safeties are on as the davidant32 suggests, I imagine any part of the dagger penetrating another player would dissolve.
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Old March 20 2009, 03:25 AM   #8
Unicron
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Re: Death on the Holodeck

Picard killed Borg on in FC with the safeties off using a holographic gun, so that seems as good an answer as any.
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Old March 20 2009, 05:34 AM   #9
FKnight
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Re: Death on the Holodeck

Mr. B wrote: View Post
The holodeck is a mature technology by the time TNG rolls around, so I would imagine it's pretty safe.
Except for the lack of a big huge lever in engineering labeled "Cut Power To All Holodecks"
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Old March 20 2009, 06:37 AM   #10
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Re: Death on the Holodeck

davidant32 wrote: View Post
Is it possible to die on the holodeck when the "safety protocols" are active? I realize that with the "safety protocols" active, holographic bullets cannot kill, but I can still imagine a thousand other death scenarios. What about a holographic car accident, or being hit by another person with a holographic baseball bat? What about a holographic drowning, or a scenario that causes the user a heart attack?

How does the holodeck know when one of its holographic scenarios could cause instant death to the user?
Sort of begs the question why anything on the damn holodeck would be deadly in the first place. Seems like, I dunno, a HUGE design flaw, especially for Starfleet officers to be using the holodeck for family entertainment without taking into account the possibility of Barkley Junior choking on a holographic hotdog.

Personally, I'd tend to ignore the whole "safety mechanism" bullshit and just assume that ninety percent of what goes on in the holodeck is just illusion anyway; there are no holographic bullets, just muzzle flashes and splatter effects on holocharacters and sometimes the occasional light show of a tracer round. As for scenery... if the holodeck is really using replicator technology to manufacture static objects and structures (which seems likely based on the explanation in Season 1 and yet highly unlikely thereafter) then the safety protocols would be there to protect visitors from mishaps like, say, falling off a loose rock and drowning in a river before the ship's resident android can run over and save your dumb ass.

It's actually more likely that the various holodeck malfunctions/re-functioning we've seen were some kind of elaborate hack to the holodeck program, sort of like a mod installed on a first-person shooter that causes holographic guns to be loaded with deadly analogs to real bullets (rendering and processing holographic bullets in the first place is, let's face, so computer- and energy-consuming that there's no reason to do it in the first place except when you need to really kill things). The "loss of safety protocols" probably just means a shutdown of basic security features so that this sort of hack becomes expressed in the program instead of blocked like it's supposed to be.
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Old March 20 2009, 08:25 AM   #11
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Re: Death on the Holodeck

Let's remember why people turn off the safeties, folks. Ten times out of ten, it is for the purpose of experiencing an adrenaline rush from the awareness that injury or death lurks around the corner.

Surely the holodeck AI would understand this. So an order to "turn off the safeties" would be taken as intended: the holodeck doesn't just stop pampering the user, it actually actively puts him or her at mortal risk. That's what he or she wanted with the order, after all.

Building a machine that can do things like that is perfectly reasonable if one assumes one or two things: that the users are mature people who have every right to commit self-injury or suicide if they want to, and that the holodeck becomes a more useful training tool for the Federation's de facto military arm if it has a life-threatening aspect to it.

So I'd not sweat the details of how one can get injured when safeties are off. The original question is the more interesting one: can the safeties always protect the user? Considering the spectrum of magic available to the holodeck for creating the illusions, I'd argue that all situations can be made completely survivable in the mechanistic sense. Even if the rest of the ship explodes, the holodeck could erect protective forcefields and inertia nullifiers as the last line of defense; even if a deadly chemical permeates the ship, the holodeck could replicate and insert the required counterchemicals while holding back the intruding agent with suitably semipermeable barriers of all sorts.

It all boils down to the initiative and intelligence of the controlling AI, then. Can it have "blind spots" that allow for death? Probably it can. But even if death does occur, one would assume it would be reversible: the holodeck should be able to quickly reproduce the finest services UFP medicine can offer, such as replicating the required drugs directly at the required parts of the body, performing rapid surgery, or creating a set of temporary lungs or midbody so that the remaining body parts can be stitched together. And if a tiny tissue fragment of a transporter user, combined with some sort of a recent transporter pattern of him or her, can be used to recreate a body that was damaged either inside or outside the transporter process ("The Lonely Among Us", "Unnatural Selection", "Rascals" et al.), then the holodeck, constantly involved in transporter magic of all sorts, might well pull off a "Game over - shall I restore the user from last save?" trick and bring back to live a use burned to crisp, flattened by a steamroller, cut to pieces and ground to dust in a peppermill by a live-action Itchy&Scratchy demolition team, and scattered to the winds.

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Old March 21 2009, 12:00 PM   #12
Klaitu
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Re: Death on the Holodeck

We've seen several examples of people getting injured on the holodeck with the safetys on. I think it's entirely possible for someone to accidentally die inside the holodeck.
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Old March 22 2009, 04:09 AM   #13
Unicron
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Re: Death on the Holodeck

FKnight wrote: View Post
Mr. B wrote: View Post
The holodeck is a mature technology by the time TNG rolls around, so I would imagine it's pretty safe.
Except for the lack of a big huge lever in engineering labeled "Cut Power To All Holodecks"
I'm sure it will be installed on Tuesday.
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Old March 24 2009, 03:55 PM   #14
FordSVT
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Re: Death on the Holodeck

Klaitu wrote: View Post
We've seen several examples of people getting injured on the holodeck with the safetys on. I think it's entirely possible for someone to accidentally die inside the holodeck.
I agree. Landing one way breaks your arm. Land slightly differently and you've killed or paralysed yourself. Since the computer didn't know better to protect you from breaking your arm, how would it know better to protect yourself from death?

It's certainly harder to kill yourself on the holodeck than IRL, but impossible? Sorry, I don't accept that notion. You can't completely protect people from accidents and random stupidity.

There is a reason that not ALL of the risk was taken out of the holodeck, and that is the fact that part of being entertained, part of enjoying life, is risk. There has to be some kind of consequence for action or inaction. Skiing down a hill isn't fun if you're just standing there making motions while some pretty pictures move by. The holodeck might be able to protect you from slamming head first into a tree on the side of the trail, but I don't think it's going to protect your ass from the ground when you fall on it. Of course, the system would stop you from having a tremendous fall or a terrible crash, but any system with a margin of error like that will eventually fail. Natasha Richardson just died from a bump to the head she laughed off, you think the holodeck catches everyone who trips and falls in the holodeck?
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Old March 25 2009, 03:33 PM   #15
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Re: Death on the Holodeck

FordSVT - You mean the herd has not been culled yet? What about all those redshirts?

Wasn't there an episode of TNG where someone walks into sickbay after breaking his arm (I want to say it was Chief O'Brien) whilst skiing or mountain climbing?
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