How did V***GER know how to say "V'ger"?

Discussion in 'Star Trek Movies I-X' started by gottacook, Nov 23, 2013.

  1. gottacook

    gottacook Captain Captain

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    This question is in the spirit of other current/recent threads:

    Assume that V'ger had cameras or camera-equivalents observing every part of itself, and could see what the Enterprise officers saw on the outside of the original Earth probe: V***GER. What possible guidance could V'ger (identifying itself as such through the Ilia-mechanism) have had in knowing that V***GER constituted language symbols? And even if it could recognize them as such, what agency could possibly have instructed it as to making a best-guess vocalization?

    I suppose one could raise the same issues about Nomad in "The Changeling," but a viewer isn't given time to think about how it knows to call itself Nomad, or how and why it might be able to vocalize; we're shown a speaker grille, and that takes care of it neatly. (Also, soon enough it's calling itself Ton Ru as well.) But in that case there wasn't a little plate saying NOMAD on the outside, which is why the V***GER name revelation comes off poorly - it's a half-assed "wha' ?" resolution of a quarter-assed concept, somewhat made up for by the big Decker-Ilia-V'ger meld scene a moment later.
     
  2. Captain Clark Terrell

    Captain Clark Terrell Commodore Commodore

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    ^I don't have a precise explanation, but I wonder if the answer lies in something Kirk hypothesized. He said, "And on its journey back, it amassed so much knowledge it achieved consciousness itself. It became a living thing."

    V'Ger was able to conceive that it had a name based on the markings on the satellite. The total body of knowledge possessed by V'Ger allowed it to recognize the letter-symbols used in the English language and understand that these symbols could be combined to form words. With no information available to refute the idea that V'Ger was the identity of the satellite (as opposed to Voyager 6 as Kirk would find later), the Intruder was able to surmise that V'Ger was its name.

    --Sran
     
  3. gottacook

    gottacook Captain Captain

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    OK, let's say that V'ger could recognize that what was left of its exterior label constituted a name. That only takes us past step 1. The ability to know which sounds were denoted by that combination of symbols, and how to cause the Ilia probe to vocalize them, is another thing entirely. Certainly the Voyager 6 programming couldn't have included the capability; it's not as if computers think in English. And by what scenario would the transformed V'ger have the ability to both read and speak English? Perhaps from the Enterprise computers - but again, its files wouldn't be in English, nor would they be likely to include an English-teaching program for the benefit of possibly hostile invaders.
     
  4. Chemahkuu

    Chemahkuu Admiral Admiral

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    It knows everything, absolutely everything, that's sort of the point. Learning to read is rather early on the scale of knowing things.

    That and all probes we send out have our languages encoded on them, recovering any of that would allow the machines to decipher the words if not the markings.

    They would have known it spelled out V'ger and assumed it meant something to those that built it, and gave the new entity this name to identify itself.
     
  5. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    ^ Yeah, that's what I thought...it was the machine life forms that read the inscription "V_GER" and thus they told V'ger what its name was.
     
  6. Captain Clark Terrell

    Captain Clark Terrell Commodore Commodore

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    This is what I'm thinking, which is why I included the Kirk quote in my earlier post. V'Ger had so much knowledge that it was able to understand ideas and concepts well beyond Voyager 6's original programming. When one considers that V'Ger had knowledge of other galaxies and civilizations, it's not hard to accept that it could also have learned an Earth language in order to communicate with human beings.

    Recall that V'Ger probed the Enterprise computer before Ilia was originally taken. If it needed help understanding English to interact with Enterprise crew members, it could easily have found and processed the necessary information. Also, V'Ger provided its probe with Ilia's memories, and as she knew how to speak English, the probe would've had a solid basis from which to speak and understand different languages.

    --Sran
     
  7. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    If you slo-mo the Spock/V'ger mindmeld scene, you'll see many images flash up consecutively, including the NASA line drawing of the man/woman/solar system symbols that were imprinted on the metal LP record that was included with the real Pioneer probes, and presumably the fictional Voyagers 4 through 6. On that recording was a greeting to aliens from the US President and messages in the languages of the world.

    In the script, "In Thy Image", IIRC, the entity that returns seeking its creator was called N'sa - pronounced En-Sa - caused by a misreading of a damaged NASA logo.
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Exactly. It had no knowledge that the squiggly shapes V GER on the side of its original body represented sounds until it downloaded the knowledge from the Enterprise and Ilia's mind -- and perhaps from the Epsilon 9 personnel's minds before that, though I doubt it had reason to access them like it did with the Ilia probe. The probe served as the interpreter, and so it analyzed the available data and created a verbal designation to convey to the carbon units aboard the Enterprise.

    I have the same problem -- in reverse -- with Tarzan in the original novel. Burroughs writes that Tarzan taught himself to read by studying the books left by his parents, but had no idea that the written symbols represented spoken language; they were two completely separate things to him. And he was given the name Tarzan by the apes, who were of course not literate, so he knew it only as a sound. Yet when D'Arnot finds Tarzan's family home, there's a sign on it, written by Tarzan, in which he claims the house for himself -- and his name is written on the sign as Tarzan. How does he know how to write his name when he doesn't know what sounds go with what letters? It's a major contradiction that Burroughs didn't seem to recognize.

    There's also the problem of the Horta. Spock says they call themselves Horta, but how can they when the only sounds they make are like grinding rocks and hissing steam? There are a lot of aliens in sci-fi that are given phonetic names even though they have no capacity for human-style speech, and it annoys the heck out of me.
     
  9. scotpens

    scotpens Vice Admiral Admiral

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    In the case of "The Changeling," Nomad was the name of the probe originally sent out from Earth. Tan Ru is presumably the name of the "Other" -- the alien probe it encountered and merged with after being damaged in a meteor collision.

    But that "Jackson Roykirk/Captain James Kirk" thing is a pretty amazing coincidence, isn't it?
     
  10. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    I agree with the suggestion that V'Ger came to pronounce its own name by using Ilia's brain.

    Assuming that's the way it went down, for me the larger issue is how it failed to realize that some of the markings were covered up. Upon looking at the spacecraft, Ilia would have known exactly what Kirk did, that there were obscured letters. Using Ilia's brain patterns to read, V'Ger couldn't have helped but to have drawn the same conclusion.
     
  11. Captain Clark Terrell

    Captain Clark Terrell Commodore Commodore

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    But the Ilia-probe didn't have an opportunity to view the markings until Kirk noticed them during the away-mission. Even a pre-programmed mechanism can't know everything- precisely the reason why the probe was used in the first place. V'Ger was armed with seemingly infinite knowledge of its universe but had no way of understanding how or why the Enterprise and its carbon-units were interested in learning more about it until the probe was able to interact with the crew and assimilate information about their mission.

    Beyond knowing that V'Ger was a type of spacecraft housed inside a much larger vessel, the Ilia-probe would have no way of knowing that the craft had been damaged or soiled in some way that obscured its nameplate without viewing the device up-close as Kirk did.

    --Sran
     
  12. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    Then V'Ger shouldn't have been able to read at all.

    And I never postulated that the Ilia Probe got to examine the spacecraft close-up. I've underlined what I did postulate, though.
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    It couldn't. But it had a visual record of the markings, and once it had the Enterprise/Ilia knowledge, it was able to associate those markings with phonetic equivalents. It didn't matter that there was a gap between them; it just needed a convenient phonetic reference for communication with the carbon units.
     
  14. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    I thought that, too. It's interesting that it didn't occur to these machines to clean up the probe's name plaque before sending it back. ;)

    KIRK: It must have emerged sometime on the far side of the Galaxy and fell into the machine's planet's gravitational field.
    SPOCK: The machine inhabiters found it to be one of their own kind, primitive yet kindred. They discovered its simple twentieth-century programming. Collect all data possible.

    But here is where I think it gets even more complicated: The Pioneer plaque we saw briefly in the mind meld scene (and which told the machines where to find Earth) clearly featured two "carbon units" next to V'ger.

    At least by the time V'ger had digitized Epsilon 9 and its human crew, should it not have shown more interest for these carbon units? ;)

    And another one:

    SPOCK: Captain, the intruder has been attempting to communicate. ...Frequency more than one million megahertz, and at such high rate of speed their entire message lasts only a millisecond.
    SPOCK: I am now programming our computer to transmit linguacode at their frequency and rate of speed.

    But later this:

    SPOCK: A simple binary code transmitted by carrier-wave signal. Radio.
    KIRK: Radio?
    DECKER: Jim, V'Ger expects an answer.

    Since V'ger apparently thought the creator would still be alive but could have theoretically been on a spaceship, I'd rather think V'ger could or would have expected all kinds of messages and not exclusively the fastest ones only.

    Bob
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2013
  15. Captain Clark Terrell

    Captain Clark Terrell Commodore Commodore

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    Except that we know V'Ger probed the Enterprise computer and used Ilia's memories as a template with which to program its probe. It could've gotten basic information about the English language from the computer core and then applied this information using Ilia's memories of interpersonal interaction and basic communication skills- including reading and understanding written words.

    As to why V'Ger didn't extrapolate that its name was Voyager rather than V'Ger, perhaps the answer lies in how V'Ger reasons and solves problems. As Spock noted numerous times, V'Ger was driven by pure logic. As such, it made use of the information it was provided and nothing more or less than that. Trying to guess or infer that there might be letters covered up by debris or dirt required the human curiosity that Kirk displayed when he examined the nameplate more closely, something V'Ger didn't have until Decker joined it.

    --Sran
     
  16. Chemahkuu

    Chemahkuu Admiral Admiral

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    I see it as V'ger having a form of tunnel vision about it's goal. It was rushing headlong at Earth and only pausing to collect data more absent mindedly than usual on the way carrying out it's function, divoting nearly all of it's processing power and higher functions to the contemplation of it's final task.

    As soon as V'ger recognised the constellations of the Milky Way, it knew it was nearing the end of it's journey, it was only interested in the Creator, the Epsilon 9 station absorbed but not really analysed, stored away for later.

    Actually, that's an unpleasant thought. What if that holographic chamber was the "pre-digestion" area? that whatever V'ger knew exited only on disc, the scale digitisations held for "processing" at later date, slowly being fed in?
     
  17. Captain Clark Terrell

    Captain Clark Terrell Commodore Commodore

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    Good point! It could be a sort of history folder, too. Maybe what Spock saw during his space-walk was a list of the most recently digitized items, since there was a representation of the Epsilon IX station as well as Ilia visible. We didn't see the Klingons, but maybe that's because V'Ger determined they were somehow less relevant to understanding the carbon-based units on the Enterprise.

    One idea that's not been explored: we know what Spock learned from V'Ger during his mind-meld, but what did V'Ger get out of it? Spock's mind wasn't as sophisticated as V'Ger's computer memory, but there should have been something there V'Ger could use.

    --Sran
     
  18. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Um, what?

    The golden record aboard the Voyager probes contains a diagram of the rate of various pulsars and the distance to them from Earth. Spot those pulsars and you can triangulate the position of our system. That's presumably how V'ger did it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2013
  19. Chemahkuu

    Chemahkuu Admiral Admiral

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    The "Ex Machina" novel goes into that, and apparently V'ger did learn something but yet again was too concerned with the Creator to fully make use of it, but that Spock's memories still linger in the new "Voyager" lifeform.
     
  20. Captain Clark Terrell

    Captain Clark Terrell Commodore Commodore

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    ^I wonder if that means Decker would try the neck-pinch if he returned to normal space, or if he and McCoy both needed to attend the same support group due to having absorbed so many of Spock's memories.

    --Sran