Data - B4 Question

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by EJD1984, Sep 2, 2008.

  1. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    How do we know this?

    LaForge says that Data's memories will be transferred in the jump-start procedure, but that by no means establishes that nothing else will. Since Picard accepted the procedure, one might assume it's familiar to him from "The Offspring" already - and that procedure was described as the complete transfer of Data's brain contents over to Lal. Not just "dead" memories, but the complete contents, including experiences, personality patterns and so forth. What use Lal or B-4 would make of those is a different issue.

    For all we know, Data was dumped into B-4's head in totality. How much of that overflowed and was lost, we can't tell; Data and LaForge probably wouldn't have attempted the operation unless B-4's brain had the ability to receive the essence of what was being given, though. Data clearly expects B-4 to undergo a rapid change from moron to clever android brother, and even when he's disappointed, LaForge still comforts him that this may simply take some time.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Well, in terms of the novel continuity, we know it because it's been explicitly stated in GTTS and maybe another book or two. As far as the novel continuity is concerned, this question has already been decided: B-4 does not hold Data's "katra."


    Data didn't expect that to happen, he hoped it would. The fact is, any pretense that Data didn't have emotions without the chip is bull; he obviously had hopes, desires, regrets, the works, even if he didn't express them with the intensity of human emotion. He felt excitement at the prospect of having a brother (who wasn't evil) and the desire to nurture and encourage that brother. He was willing to try anything to help B-4, whether it had a good probability of succeeding or not.

    And when Geordi said it might take time for B-4 to assimilate the knowledge, that was immediately after the transfer. By the end of the movie, Data himself had become convinced that the transfer had failed completely and that B-4 had no capacity for significant growth. Sure, the bit about B-4 remembering "Blue Skies" at the end was meant to offer a ray of hope to the audience, but it's unrealistic to assume based on that single recollection that Data's judgment about B-4's capability was so profoundly off the mark, especially since Data was the one person who most wanted to believe B-4 could grow. At most, B-4 might have some limited capacity to learn and grow, he might have incorporate a small percentage of Data's engrams, but at best he's the equivalent of a human with a severe learning disability.
     
  3. Saul

    Saul Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    However, more Trek characters have come back to life in novels than onscreen.

    I find that hard to believe considering they left the door open for Data to return at the end of Nemesis. Kirk and Trip didn't have any hint of coming back from the dead when they were killed off onscreen. They made it far easier to write Data back to life.
     
  4. Trent Roman

    Trent Roman Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Kirk was pretty much dead. But I do think there was a backdoor with Tucker, with respect that we last saw him--stil alive--vanishing into a tube of undisclosed function. Later dialogue strongly suggested Tucker was dead, but it would have been simple enough, had a miracle occured and ENT was picked up for another season, to claim that was a statis tube and Tucker was being put into storage, near death, until a way to help him could be found. Then, presumably, at some point (because TATV was several years into the series' future) we would have had a STIII-style arc to save Tucker before he was too far gone.

    ...frankly, I'm not sure why that wasn't used in the rush to resurrect Tucker for the books, instead of the tottering house of cards we wound up with. And I'd have much preferred that, if anybody would have gotten the 'Get out of Death' card, it would have been Data rather than Tucker (for the entirely selfish reason that I prefer Data as a character; I do recognize that Data had a better, more heroic death than the silly, slapdash death Tucker got).

    Fictitiously yours, Trent Roman
     
  5. KRAD

    KRAD Keith R.A. DeCandido Admiral

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    Really? Onscreen we've had McCoy ("Shore Leave"), Scotty ("The Changeling"), Spock (The Search for Spock), O'Brien ("Visionary"), and Kim ("Deadlock"). In fiction we've had Kirk (The Return) and Tucker (The Good that Men Do). I suppose you could make an argument for Sisko (Unity). That still puts the screen stuff in the lead. :)
     
  6. captcalhoun

    captcalhoun Admiral Admiral

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    and Wesley died on-screen in 'Hide and Q'...

    shame on you for forgetting, KRAD...
     
  7. Marco Palmieri

    Marco Palmieri Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Not persuasively. "What You Leave Behind" rather unambiguously sets up his return, which to me meant he never actually died.
     
  8. EJD1984

    EJD1984 Commander Red Shirt

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    It just seems to me that there was a purposeful setup at the end of Nemesis that Data would eventually reemerge through B4 (to me Nemesis was just an elaborate rewrite of TWOK).

    Basically Data had downloaded his “Katra” into B-4 (i.e. TWOK - Search for Spock), and I’m just surprised that this hasn’t been explored in the novels.

    Maybe the situation is that Data is fully encompassed in B4’s subconscious, and it would take some extreme event for Data to emerge, though with some of B-4’s limitations - making Data more “human”.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2008
  9. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    Maybe, but why the hurry? He'll be an entirely different personally to Data, or should be, so he won't actually be the drawcard to attract Brent Spiner fans that a return of B-4 in a movie or telemovie might be.
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    It wasn't a purposeful set up, it was a safety net. Writers in an ongoing franchise can't make assumptions about what subsequent storytellers will do, or even whether there will be subsequent stories. Brent Spiner wanted John Logan to kill Data off in NEM, and that's what he did. But in the wacky world of movies, there was always the possibility that there could've been a sequel and enough money offered to Spiner to get him to come back. So they left a little bit of a loophole that could theoretically be used to bring Data back if things had worked out that way. It doesn't mean their intention was to absolutely, positively bring Data back the first chance they got, because filmmakers in an ongoing series know better than to make rigid plans like that. It just means they wanted to hedge their bets.

    Consider your own TWOK analogy. The final shots of TWOK, with Spock's tube intact on Genesis and Nimoy giving the voiceover, weren't put in because the filmmakers knew for a fact that Nimoy would be returning, because at that point, they didn't know any such thing. They were put in because test audiences found the ending of the film too depressing, so a more hopeful grace note was added. B-4's little song at the end of NEM serves the same purpose -- to offer a glimmer of hope to soften the tragedy. It suggests that, even if Data can never come back from the dead, at least part of him lives on.

    I just find it thoroughly unbelievable that a prototype as crude as B-4 would ever be capable of containing any sizeable percentage of Data's consciousness. Telling the story that way would require glossing over most of what was established about the character in NEM. At most, B-4 might be able to grow to the point of being a functional child with occasional flashes of Data's memory. And I think that's potentially a hell of a lot more interesting than resurrecting Data. We've spent 20 years exploring what it is to be an advanced android with superhuman intelligence and capabilities. What's it like to be an advanced android with a severe, crippling learning disability? There's a staggering irony in that. Also a splendid opportunity for social commentary. The story KRAD told in Articles of the Federation about the legal debate over B-4's right to exist and be defined as sentient could never have been told if he were just Data 2.0.
     
  11. EJD1984

    EJD1984 Commander Red Shirt

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    That's it! Just rain on my parade! :lol:

    OK, maybe the term "purposeful set up" may have been a bit too exact - it was made as a "possible storyline to explore"

    In a few interviews I've read over the years, Bennet, Myer, and Nimoy have said that the final tube and voice over were added due to the fact that after filming had ended Nimoy said at the wrap party "I had a lot of fun doing this movie, I can't wait to do the next one" So they quickly filmed the tube scene as their "out" to bring Spock back.

    The one issue that wasn't addressed, and may have been way to technically involved for a movie. How do we know that B4 may have just been loaded with basic software, basically to just the level of a toddler, and may have actually had the capacity to eventually evolve and grow, though at a much slower pace (though helped along with Data's programing and memories). In fact Data was initially somewhat childlike and we got to watch him evolve and grow over time. Therefore B4 could grow into his own character, possibly even surpassing Data - in time.

    "We can sometimes surpass the sum of our parts"
     
  12. Dayton Ward

    Dayton Ward Word Pusher Rear Admiral

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    ^ Sure, that's possible...but that's not "bringing Data back," which is where this thread started. :)
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I think it's a hardware issue, not a software one. B-4 is an earlier prototype with a less advanced neural network. His processing ability is just not on the same level. He got all the software he could ever need when Data did the memory download, but his hardware just wasn't able to handle it.
     
  14. EJD1984

    EJD1984 Commander Red Shirt

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    I know, I know.......................just admitting defeat.......... :(

    Also referencing the great quote "There are always (dramatic pause) Possibilities" :)
     
  15. EJD1984

    EJD1984 Commander Red Shirt

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    For the sake of debate - In comparison, then it could argued that humans are not as advanced as Data (processing, memory storage/retrieval), at out current state of evolution. Maybe then: Less advanced neural network + Segments of Data's memories, software = Closer to Human.

    Geordi did make the comment "Maybe it'll just take longer for him (B4) to incorporate the download" - paraphrasing

    So there were a few "out clauses", if the B4/Data storyline/issue was to have been revisited in a future Nxt Gen movie.
     
  16. Plecostomus

    Plecostomus Commodore

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    HEY HEY how about some spoiler warnings next time eh? :scream:

    :D
     
  17. Rush Limborg

    Rush Limborg Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Interesting note: As I have stated before, I've written a number of short stories, which I had intended to send to Strange New Worlds. Alas, this was not to be.:(

    Anyway, my final short story (as of now) was a post-Nemesis tale, focusing on B-4, and the true beginning of his growth. (As I recall, it involves Geordi and Leah Brahms --not to mention Barclay....) Actually, I treated this growth much like Chris is suggesting.

    Proof once again of the ol' saying: Great Minds Think Alike.:techman:
     
  18. William Leisner

    William Leisner Scribbler Rear Admiral

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    And even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and again.
     
  19. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    No, not really. In terms of raw capacity and speed, Data surpassed us, but in terms of neural-network architecture, he was still a step or two behind us on the developmental scale. Data was created to mimic the way a human mind works, and though he approached that goal more successfully than any previous known human-made AI, he still fell short in terms of emotion and socialization skills. Indeed, he was arguably surpassed by subsequent AIs such as the Doctor and Vic Fontaine, who don't have Data's psychological limitations.

    B-4 is more analogous to, say, a chimpanzee. A chimp is capable of learning language and other skills at about the level of a small human child, but not beyond. You can teach a chimp a vocabulary of hundreds of words, but it takes a lot longer than with a human child, and there's a limit to how much it can learn. Even if, say, Spock were to mind-meld with a chimp and give it all his memories, the chimp might learn some things no chimp had ever known before, but it would still perceive and respond to that knowledge in its own chimply way, and it would never be able to qualify as a starship science officer.

    I addressed this point already in the final paragraph of post #22.

    Of course there were out clauses; the whole memory-download idea was a blatant out clause. But for the reasons I've explained, I wouldn't have found it credible if a subsequent movie had used it to resurrect Data (though I guess it pales next to my credibility issues with Genesis and the fal tor pan), and I'm quite happy that the books have taken a different route. There was a pretty good Data-resurrection story in SNW10, and that was entertaining as a wish-fulfillment piece, but I just don't see it as technically feasible.
     
  20. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    What if B-4 was given an experimental procedure that made him smarter temporarily? And it had been tested on his pet robotic tribble, named after an ancient Earth programming language? But the tribble died, so B-4 had to go back to being the way he was before.

    It could be called Flowers for ALGOL-9.
     

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