Is the Holodeck Evil?

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by Emperor Norton, May 9, 2014.

  1. AgentCoop

    AgentCoop Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Thank you! I enjoy your posts as well. :)

    I think I get your meaning, now. You're talking about the perception of the holodeck user and how that perception would be affected by something that FEELS absolutely real, correct? I hadn't thought of that before.
     
  2. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Why would it? Surely it can be sentient on its own time, in its own universes, without having to prove anything to the mites that "operate" it.

    That the computer can effortlessly present the outward signs of sentience whenever asked is proof enough that it's at least as sentient as any of us - but it's also evidence that it is much more, and "sentience" is among its lowest forms of existence.

    That there should be more to sentience than its outward signs is a rather weak proposition. We all judge sentience by the outward signs only, even as applies to ourselves, and we should know! But that there might be things beyond sentience is a completely different argument, and one probably way beyond a mere sentient's capacity to argue about.

    As for the morality of holodeck lifeforms, well, if they themselves had objections, they could always act on them. Moriarty did; he was pretty damn near omnipotent once he got started. Redblock did, too, but he had fewer resources available. Basically nobody else from the holographic rogues' gallery bothered. If they were self-aware and yearning for liberty, they would get it. But it seems perfectly possible to be sentient without being self-aware; it's just a tick in a box in a menu.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  3. Delta Vega

    Delta Vega Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I realise that in this thread there are many of you who make valid and interesting points re the holodeck, but to just cut to the chase, the holodeck is just about the most ludicrous invention in the Trek universe, only slightly less believeable than Warp Drive.

    If such a thing COULD exist as portrayed in Trek it would be ultimately open to abuse by self serving and ever so naughty crew members who would forever push moral boundaries most notably for pleasures considered normally innappropriate, after all they are only human.
    In short, the holodeck would become questionable, maybe even evil to some.
     
  4. QuarkforNagus

    QuarkforNagus Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Didn't they do an episode about this where those hunters (I forgot what they were called) were like hunting these holograms, which were programmed to feel pain?

    And when the holograms died, they would restart them so they could keep hunting them. And they ran away.

    WTF was that species called?
     
  5. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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  6. Captain Rob

    Captain Rob Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Maybe that's part of the holodeck safety protocol system.
     
  7. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    To the contrary, I think the holodeck isn't even an "invention". It's just today's reality, packaged slightly differently.

    Why not? Somebody's PC (even if not mine) could easily run such a thing today, only with somewhat less impressive "graphics". It's trivial technology for the computer age, and it's very much what makes money today, keeps people entertained, is in constant demand, and affects our everyday social lives.

    And the problem with that is...?

    Nothing is stopping people today from doing the same. Not even moral outrage, as it's very much a "throwing the first stone" issue, and people have been doing such things as long as they have been throwing stones, only with different technologies.

    But "some" can grumble and grieve all they want, just like they do today. It's the paying majority that has the last say. (Even if it is the selling minority that has the last laugh.)

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  8. Vandervecken

    Vandervecken Captain Captain

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    Have to disagree with both you and T'Girl on this. Stipulated: yes, most holocharacters are the computer. Einstein, Da Vinci, they were the computer. But the ones who do go sentient, I venture, are not simply the computer suddenly becoming an AI (which it is not). They are emergent systems, comparable to a point with the magnascopic storm + computer = the nodes/new life form in TNG's "Emergence." The x-factors equivalent to the magnascopic storm in the case of the holodeck are programming by biological sentients in a very sophisticated materialization setup + direct physical interaction with sentients in 4 dimensions (probably the most important ingredient) + long/continuous running time. Not all of these are required, and the proportions that result in sentience are not always the same. For as long as these rare holosentients are being generated by the computer, they are more than the computer--just as our minds require our brains, but are more than are brains.

    Moriarty, Vic Fontaine, the Doctor--they're sentient, self-aware, and none of them think they're the computer.

    I think in the case of the Dixon Hill setting that the writers were still playing with the idea, and allowed the characters self-awareness that they later decided should be much harder to come by.

    So, my answer to the OP's question is: certainly not when we're dealing with 99.999999% of holodeck characters. In that remaining tiny percentage, moral issues absolutely do arise, and, for example, I don't think Picard's solution to Moriarty was moral at all, to trap this new being, who never was a crimelord, in a false universe for as long as that memory block exists. HoloMoriarty's crimes, as far as I know, included unlawful imprisonment of Starfleet personnel, and hijacking a starship. Not small beer, but not life-imprisonment-worthy by TNG standards either (or TOS standards; Harry Mudd committed approximately the same crimes, and had a reason to expect that some day he'd be getting off Mudd).
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2014
  9. Delta Vega

    Delta Vega Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I`m sorry Timo, I respect your views as always, they are always informative, but to suggest that todays technology on PCs, and what we see on the Holodeck are somehow the same, is a big leap of faith.
    And yes, we do have holographs today, but not holographs that we can touch and interact with, not holos that "some" can interact with innapropriately, holos that we can can kiss, kill and even put into subserviance.
    No, for me the Holodeck is a leap too far, of light year proportions, even when in the context of a far distant future.
     
  10. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    I'm not sure I understand. Holodeck adventures are just interactive entertainment, something the most primitive home computers have been capable of producing since the 1980s. A computer program juggles multiple parameters to create responses that make it appear that people with personalities are interacting with you - and computers today can effortlessly pass the Turing test of sounding indistinguishable from a human in a given context. Some computer games exploit this, but few to the fullest, yet it's merely a matter of computing power, and that increases so fast that it's probably way past what's required for TNG or VOY holodrama plots the day past tomorrow if it isn't that today.

    The further step of moving the action from a computer screen to a holodeck doesn't sound particularly impressive, either. It's just technology. The leap from no movies to movies was a huge one, for the first time superseding human acting with technology; further such steps won't be leaps in psychological terms. One day, somebody will invent a "forcefield" or a "hard light projector" or whatever; Trek only asks us to assume that this day comes a couple of hundred years from now, and even allows for aliens from outer space to introduce it to us if we are too stupid to invent it ourselves.

    Once holographic projections can be made, there's no trick to "kissing" or "killing" them, any more than there would be some great objection to a movie character being kissed or killed instead of just standing around. There's no extra cost attached. It's all in the programming, and we have that today already.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  11. Vandervecken

    Vandervecken Captain Captain

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    But what about taste and smell? Somehow the holodeck reproduces those--and in exactly the right places and at the right moments.

    But Timo, the issue here is that some of the holocharacters become true, independent, self-aware sentients, not just facsimiles; which we know they are, because we're in the third-person omniscient position and can see what the characters can't, including the authors' tone, which makes it plain that these are true sentients and not Turing-passing substitutes.
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2014
  12. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    That I'd consider nuances irrelevant to the argument... It's just technology, and we have done much more wondrous things with technology already. It doesn't break any currently known laws of physics, either, like warp or transporters or phasers appear to do.

    Oh, I completely denounce the idea that Turing-pass would be distinguishable from sentience. Self-awareness is something you can Turing-fake just as well as any other property, and there's no way of telling whether something like that is fake or real, which IMHO simply means there's no distinction between the two in this case. We all simply Turing each other, and if a machine can do it, it's good enough to play a sentient holocharacter.

    That is, a stupid Leisure Suit Larry program from 1986 is sentient until otherwise proven (and that will never happen) - it's just a very stupid sort of sentient. And mundane advances in computing will make Leisure Suit Larry XXVIII a pretty smart sort of sentient. It doesn't matter who is being Turinged: the flesh-and-blood co-characters, the audience, or the holographic sentience itself. It's still just a matter of appearances. And again, very mundane advances in technology will already give such good appearances that us poor humans never could tell the difference.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  13. Delta Vega

    Delta Vega Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Just caught ten minutes of a Voyager episode called "Thirty Days", in which Paris and Kim were indulging in a silly holodeck programme with twin female officers, in the style of Flash Gordon.

    In my opinion, the script writers and the producers of the show should have been executed for foisting this shit on serious Star Trek fans, and by making me think such evil thoughts, I conclude that the Holodeck is in fact evil.
     
  14. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    The biggest problem I have with holodeck characters or the EMH and other examples (such as VOY: Flesh and Blood) becoming self-aware, is why doesn't the ship's computer seem to be self-aware?
     
  15. han solo

    han solo Ensign

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    to awnser your question yes the holodeck is evil ,pls close this thread
     
  16. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    I don't see the problem. Self-awareness is something you demonstrate. If you see no point in demonstrating it, you won't be recognizable as self-aware, but that doesn't mean you aren't.

    Or, more in line with the arguments from the previous page, when you demonstrate self-awareness, you manifest the potential, and the manifestation is the self-awareness by our current definition. When you don't demonstrate, you aren't self-aware by our standards, but you still have the potential, yours to command whenever needed.

    Why would a complex and capable computer stoop all the way down to demonstrating self-awareness, i.e. the ability to chit-chat with humans? It's not an impressive feat or a useful trait, except perhaps when your job is to interact with humans...

    ...And there the computer of the E-D certainly excels. It answers questions the heroes don't have the sense to ask, it tells Data to stop babbling, it even opens doors at the dramatically correct moment. It just does all that with the panache of a seasoned butler, without making a fuss of itself.

    Holodecks are different, because their very point is to make a fuss. So the computer makes one.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  17. Gov Kodos

    Gov Kodos Admiral Admiral

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    If that computer were self aware it should know what your coffee or tea is after the hundredth order.

    Captain: Tea
    Computer: Please specify...
    Captain: Tea, the damned thing I order every goddamned morning, you bloody glorified abacus!
     
  18. Nightdiamond

    Nightdiamond Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    If a holodeck character is just following a set of IF-THEN rules, then it may mean it's all just smoke and mirrors.

    A Voyager episode mentioned something about giving holo characters the ability to feel pain . That would mean that normally holo characters don't feel anything.

    That might also mean their "emotional" reactions are just based on rules like - if subject is smiling at you, then smile back and laugh lightly'. Smoke and mirrors.


    Re Moriarty- the computer may have played one big mind f*ck with the crew.

    Geordi asks the computer to think of a opponent smart enough to outsmart Data. Not Sherlock Holmes, Data.

    Possible theory-- The computer created a program that kept running outside the holo deck. Fed him data through the computers systems.

    The Moriarty character "thinks" he's sentient because his program is just running outside the holo-deck and he's being given new information.

    Notice that Moriarty stays the same character. He's ruthless and threatens to kill everyone unless he gets what he wants. He doesn't question himself or his morals.

    He just plays the character the computer designed him to be.
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2014