Implications of "lifetime within hours" tech

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by polyharmonic, Aug 6, 2013.

  1. polyharmonic

    polyharmonic Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    In at least a couple of Trek episodes, we are introduced to tech that allows one to experience pretty much a lifetime of experience within minutes or hours!

    The episodes, of course, are:
    The Inner Light (TNG)
    Hard Time (DS9)

    There may be others that I missed.

    Anyway, it seems that if a civilization could develop such tech, it would have profound implications. I mean, in a normal human lifespan, such tech could allow one to experience thousands of lifetimes! If you were in your office, or whatever, instead of taking a lunch break, you could take a "lifetime" break and experience this whole other life before you returned to your work!

    Or if you're unhappy with your real life, you could just escape into this alternate fake life and keep doing this over and over again instead of living real life. Or if you are dying in a few months, why not use this type of tech to essentially prolong your life?

    Now people will say well its no different than living a "holodeck" fake life. But I think its profoundly different. I don't think the existing Federation holodeck tech could have allowed Picard to experience a full timetime in 25 minutes.

    What do others think?
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2013
  2. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    There's also the other side of the coin: living 20 years in a day may be hard on the body, even if you don't have time to actually grow a Rip van Winkle beard. The brain does still have to go through the biochemical acrobatics of experiencing two decades' worth of thoughts. Perhaps Chief O'Brien would indeed have died peacefully in his bed at 140, surrounded by loved ones, but will now have to settle for dying at 120?

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  3. The Lensman

    The Lensman Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    No, it's not the same at all. "The Inner Light", while a fantastic episode is a perfect example of the "Reset Button". Picard had a wife and children and a whole lifetime of experience and the idea that the only real change in him was that he knew how to play the flute (and got a little misty eyed thinking about his former "life") was unrealistic.

    Having lived for decades in a non-Starfleet life, having seen how much value and worth there was in things like marriage and children, having developed new interests and cultivating different talents, Picard should've been a much different person as his Starfleet life was decades behind him.

    When you talk about living another life on your lunch break....well when you got back from your lunch break, you'd be a vastly different person because of your life experiences and assuming you even remembered your job and how to do it, the person you are now may not give two shits about that job.
     
  4. polyharmonic

    polyharmonic Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    If the tech were such that it would shorten your real life, either 1:1 as you imply or at least some "significant" ratio between real life:fake life, then sure this tech would be used sparingly. It is possible the Argrathi tech does this though this is not stated and it is just as possible that it has no effect on the lifespan of the subject compared to if the subject did not experience those decades of fake life.

    For sure, we know that the Kataan tech through which Picard experienced his "lifetime" did not shorten his life, at least not on a 1:1 ratio. He lived an entire lifetime on Kataan in 25 minutes. Obviously if the Kataan tech shortened Picard's REAL life on a 1:1 basis, he would have "awakened" dead.
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2013
  5. polyharmonic

    polyharmonic Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    The Inner Light was a tremendous episode but I agree it could have been handled even better. If it were me, I would have ended it with Picard telling Riker that he was taking a leave of absence and Riker was now in command for a while while he got his bearings back. That ending, to me, would have been much more true to how I imagine any one of us would react. I'm not even saying they need to have further episodes on this as the next episode with Picard back in command could have taken place months later.

    But that is my point, isn't it?

    What if the Argrathi/Kataan type tech were something that was widely available? I mean what would it do to a society when people, as you say, go on "lifetime" breaks during lunch and then return in a daze. Maybe they would have to ban such tech for "general" use b/c it is so disruptive?

    Consider for example if Federation scientist studied the Kataan probe tech and figured out how to replicate it for general use!
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2013
  6. Roboturner913

    Roboturner913 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    You wouldn't want people living lifetimes on their lunch break for obvious reasons, but the recreational possibilities are endless.

    This would certainly solve my problems of not being able to watch the Cubs game every day, for instance.
     
  7. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Commodore Commodore

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    While these are compelling caveats, I would expect that this type of life experience would be gentler. The person would still breath and have their heart beat at their normal rate, not at the accelerated rate. The brain would not need to direct motion or growth. Indeed, the brain would only be busier with conscious thought, which is probably only a small fraction of its activity.

    I am surprised that there wouldn't be any life development benefit. Picard was able to pick up a musical instrument during his alternative lifetime. He wasn't great at it, if evidenced by his attempt to record classical music, but still had a good knowledge of music thereafter. I suspect that he would just need to develop the muscle memory in order to bring his body up to speed with his mind. I imagine that an individual might learn languages, philosophy, basic engineering, etc.

    There would then be the possibility of compressing a lot of thought work. Perhaps the months or years it might take to write a manuscript might be reduced by allowing the individual to accelerate the thought work. Let's say someone wants to write about Vulcan politics. After they've done the research, they use the technology in order to brainstorm the writing. In the space of a minute, they could do months of thinking things over, perhaps not needing to stop for sleep, food or recreation during that time. Once they awaken, they can proceed with writing.
     
  8. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

    It would be a scary brain-washing tool.
     
  9. Jonas Grumby

    Jonas Grumby Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I don't think this kind of "alternate lifetime" is analogous to the holodeck. It's not physically experiencing an alternate reality at all; it's just a memory implant. For that reason, there should be no physical effects--harmful or otherwise--unless the implanting procedure itself causes direct physical harm.

    The only likely damage I can foresee is with possible psychological issues from carrying around multiple totally authentic but contradictory versions of what one remembers of any given time frame in one's life.

    Career prospects for someone addicted to this type of "entertainment" might take a major hit, too. A lifetime of memories--implanted or not--has a major effect on one's beliefs and sensibilities. Not many people would want to have to depend on someone whose entire philosophy of life is prone to changing overnight.
     
  10. marksound

    marksound Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    It sounds a lot like Total Recall to me. ;)
     
  11. Richard Baker

    Richard Baker Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Think of the educational benefits- in less than an hour you could get a master's degree in a new science using the alternate time mode.
     
  12. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    If you were on your death bed it'd be a pretty attractive prospect, but in the end it'd be unfulfilling. All of your experiences would occur in set parameters, you couldn't really accomplish anything or leave any lasting impact on anything.

    My feeling about Inner Light is that through the experience, his neural activity didn't really change, and his experience was compartmentalized. So when he came to, even though he felt like he'd gone through a lifetime, the same thoughts were fresh in his head.

    When I go on vacation to a place I haven't been in years, I remember things I did last time I was there like it just happened. Memory responds to cues very well.
     
  13. polyharmonic

    polyharmonic Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    When O'brien experienced similar tech (although Argrathi vs Kataan), he clearly reacted as if he really had just experienced a real-life 20 year sentence and was just released. Are you saying the Kataan tech is really different? Somehow I think that if the Kataan probe were used instead on O'brien (but with the same "prison program"), I would be surprised if it would make any difference.

    You seem to think the Argrathi vs Kataan techs are "different" but I'm not sure why that would be.
     
  14. marksound

    marksound Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    If that kind of tech were available for learning, it would be really cool. If it were just for "vacation" like in Total Recall I wouldn't be at all interested.

    But a thought just occurred to me: TOS showed similar technology in Spock's Brain. The knowledge couldn't be retained, but hey.

    I don't think I'd want that for a deathbed vacation. Since there's no way for us to know for sure what happens when the lights go down, I'd want to spend that time making my peace and saying goodbyes.
     
  15. The Emissary

    The Emissary Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    I'll concede that it is hard to say if it is truly possible or not to use such complicated technology for recreational use, but I highly doubt it. The human mind, especially memories, are very delicate. The idea of putting an entire fictional life on top of yours and just walking away from it is laughable.

    I too enjoyed "The Inner Light" but Picard just back on duty like it was nothing was dumb. I understand that TNG was during a television era when arcs weren't as prevalent and they preferred to stay episodic, but geez...

    Anybody going through that trauma (or the one that O'Brien suffered) through would not just bounce back the next day or even in a few days.

    If, for example, Picard woke up and found that he was in fact a nobody science officer, lieutenant junior grade ala that episode in TNG where Q pulls a "It's a Wonderful Life", what do you think Picard would do? Would he shrug off his life as captain of the ENT-D, captain of the Stargazer, etc? Or would he FIGHT to get that life back? Would he be traumatized by the fact that his life wasn't real?

    Technology like this sounds nice because people are assuming you can spend that time...learning a language or a skill but how? Would you live the life of a student for a few years? Wouldn't even that short amount of time not be disorienting? I mean, maybe it wouldn't be as bad as what Picard or O'Brien went through because they had no hope of going back to their old lives. They had resigned themselves to their artificial lives. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad going through this if you KNEW you'd come out of it with only like twenty minutes of your life eaten away. But if you're "living" in an artificial reality learning a new language, I imagine you're doing more than that. At some point you need to fake eat, fake exercise, fake interact with others outside of the classroom. No matter what...you have to build an artificial life or you'll go stir crazy.

    Technology like this would be pretty creepy if you ask me. Seems like a great way to essentially tear apart a person's life. Funny this topic came up because recently I saw a science article about how scientists successfully implanted fake memories into mice. Maybe we'll see if we can do it to humans...
     
  16. marksound

    marksound Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Now, if you could download information and skills to be accessed on demand ... hey look! It's the Intersect 2.0! ;)
     
  17. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Commodore Commodore

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    Of course, we are entertaining a conceit. We can only determine the usefulness of such a technology according to how it is presented. Such neurochemical manipulation would probably have unforeseeable consequences in reality. However, we are basing what we write on what we see on the show. In that universe, it is possible for an individual to have a mental alternative lifetime and pick up where they were in their normal life, more or less. And let's not forget that O'Brien's suffering was by design, not simply an after-effect of the mind manipulation.

    They had these lives imposed on them against their wills. That need not necessarily be so. Perhaps an individual can choose to sit down with a Klingon speaker for ten hours, day after day, week after week, until he or she gained proficiency in the language. There would be no resistance to the process. Moreover, the person could go in with the knowledge that the process would not be endless. That might mitigate some of the uncertainty that plagued O'Brien. Maybe the individual would need a social life as part of the program. That still would be compressed for time.
     
  18. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Auld Lang Mod Moderator

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    In Picard's case, I imagine that once the experience was over, it was like waking up from a dream...he knew who he was, he knew that what he'd just experienced was an elaborate illusion, and recent memories of his true life were fresh. Certainly there would have been some disorientation, but relatively briefly.
     
  19. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Also, like Jonas Grumby says, "Inner Light" looks and smells like a memory implant. Picard remembers the decades, but did he live through them? Or did ironweaver Kamin? For the first few days of the memory, Picard behaves like Picard - but for the following decades, we don't necessarily see him making any decisions in life, taking any action, thinking any thoughts - it could just Kamin doing the living, the thinking, the choosing.

    "Inner Light" is ambiguous there, though. Would Kamin have had the skill or the drive to study climate change or solar behavior? "Hard Time" does not present us with such practical handles to the problematique. O'Brien spends twenty years in hell, yeah. But does he make any choices there? Had he really been locked in with that other fella for twenty years, would he have made any of the choices the memory-implant version of him is seen making? It's all awfully generic, rather than something specific either to a hero-in-a-jam like Picard or even to a "borrowed" or completely fictional personality like Kamin.

    Memory implants could well be argued to fade in a day or two, if not sooner. Neither Picard nor O'Brien would have had their brains undergo any actual learning activity or major cognitive processing of any sort... Did Picard even learn to play the tin pipe - or was Kamin's lack of skill part of the dream, and his actual learning at the end of the episode a triviality (like tin pipe playing probably would be to many)? Remember how the characters in the dream actually go out of their way to say that Kamin doesn't know how to play...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  20. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Commodore Commodore

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    It depends. Was the goal to give O'Brien a painful memory of his own making, or simply make him imagine he has killed someone? The complexity of the technology suggests it would be simpler to make him imagine he killed Keiko, Molly, or worse, Julian. However, such an artificial memory might be easier to dismiss over the long run. On the other hand, putting him mentally in a controlled environment and driving him to desperation as part of an organic growth of his character might be more damaging. In Ex Post Facto, Paris maintained his innocence, even though the memory of the victim's death was implanted in him. O'Brien believed he killed E'char over bread, something which had no reality.

    I think we need to imagine that there is something between book-learning and real experience. The tin whistle can be an easy instrument to pick up, but the Resikan flute isn't necessarily a tin whistle. It might require special techniques: half-holing, over-blowing, tonguing, embouchure, sliding. I believe that the classical pieces that Picard tried to tackle in Fistful of Datas weren't no strictly diatonic, so some additional technique would be necessary.