Discussion in 'Star Trek: Picard' started by Felderburg, May 16, 2020.
That's a debate for the Sci-tech forum but right now it's about as likely as the Tooth Fairy.
No. Meanings do change and people do take different meanings out of the same thing. But they take a stance. They have a position. Not having a viewpoint is sitting on the sidelines.
There's no actual reason to believe this as likely, much less certain, other than the same kind of wishful thinking that invented Heaven.
These are topics that are not really germane to the subject at hand. They would be under the heading, “What would you do, and how would you sustain yourself, if you were immortal?” The thread subject pertains to the affect immortality would have on the meaning off life.
If you're immortal you have enough time to make the perfect grilled cheese sandwich recipe. From there you could start a fast food empire. Then start branching out into other industries. Before you know it everything has your logo on it.
If everyone is immortal they can extend college years to like 500 and charge massive tuition
Looking at Picard in "Tapestry" where he's more or less slagging off anyone who isn't a cap'n just like him as being dreary... Kirk wouldn't talk of his crew like that...
(And yet, nobody's been more "by the book" and unimaginative than Picard has and ever would be; using the prime directive (found there on page 001) as an excuse to let countless die... it even took a robot to get him to budge for even one moment in "Pen Pals"... but thankfully we had the comparative sledgehammer of "The Masterpiece Society" to show us an even more contrived situation (though some of the side plots were good)... )
4 quadrillion bits or something like that... I'm sure there's a RAM expansion socket somewhere...
I agree that the Ray Kurzweil-style view of life extension is wishful thinking. We have know way of knowing - even if making a perfect simulation of a human consciousness is possible - if it would actually experience continuity of consciousness with the deceased human - or even be self aware for that matter.
However, I see no particular reason why the more narrow question - slowing down or even ceasing aging - wouldn't be possible. Species vary in lifespans, and although humans are on the longer side when it comes to life expectancy, some animals live longer, and even may be viewed as functionally immortal (if they don't get eaten or something).
Whether it will happen quickly is another matter entirely. Scientists are split on whether aging is largely controlled by one or a small number of factors, or it's basically thousands of individual genetic issues which only crop up after reproduction ends (meaning past the point of natural selection). If the latter is true we may need to genetically modify ourselves for generations to cure old age.
It's interesting that this concept should have had religious input, but it's totally left out of it, especially on the show itself.
I think one problem is whether the philosophy in Picard and TNG was so extreme and absolute, that it was heading into fatalism.
I mean Picard could have requested a younger looking body, with hair, and an indefinite life span or a much longer one.
But if I'm not mistaken they assumed Picard would have objected to having all those things, so just gave him a replacement body without the disease, but still limited.
Data could have inquired if they could upload him into one of the Synth bodies complete with stable emotions, indefinite life span. Instead he chooses to be shut down permanently, so he could know "the experience" of it.
But one of the things to be human, (especially in TNG and real life) is to strive to live, have excellent mental and physical health, be disease free without deformities.
And to spend a career and life trying to solve those problems and achieve that on behalf of humanity. The Synth bodies could have been designed to do all of that.
So it's like they took the philosophy of mortality defining humanity, and taking it to such an extreme level, that if all these things were offered to people like Picard or Data, they would reject them outright. As if it were wrong,
I'd be more than happy to chime in with a religious perspective, but the forums tend to get extra feisty when that comes up. It's been an interesting discussion here so far, though.
· Data’s Storage: 800 x 1024^5 bits <- Short scale
= 900,719,925,474,099,200 bits
= 112,589,990,684,262,400 bytes
= 100 ExBiBytes (Binary Scale)
And they all seem to be soldered onto his Positronic Brain. Damn you Noonien Soong, pulling a Apple with Soldering everything onto the PCB.
I think the death giving life meaning angle is pretty simplistic, just as much as immortality being bad. It could be looked at more mechanically and seen as death as a way to clear out the old to make way for new ways, but while that is true of species and societies it is no comfort for individuals. Death is often random, pointless, and detrimental.
True immortality where a person cannot die under any circumstance would be bad, and Data is forced into this in the end of Picard. He is somehow imprisoned as a shadow of his true self and can only free himself thanks to the coincidence of Picard getting hooked up and respecting his wishes. In that situation the meaning of life is only a life which can be lived. Data cannot live a life of meaning in that box. If anything the death giving life meaning angle might be a way to convince Picard to free Dats by the only means available (for some unknown reason) death.
I wish Data’s logic had been a little more straight forward. Data’s goals were to be human and carry on Soong’s legacy. Data had become as human as he could and suffered a very human fate saving his friends. Thanks to work started by Data and carried on by Maddox the legacy of Soong is secured with the creation of a mentally stable species of android.
Data could have said he had achieved his goals in life and felt no need to continue as a simulated facsimile of his true self with no agency. His legacy had outlived and outgrown him and had become more than himself.
There were several good notes in your post, but since it's late I'll address this one: I'm not entirely sure that "without deformities" is necessarily a goal in any version of Star Trek. It's debated, to be sure, but any time it explicitly comes up, the overriding philosophy of Star Trek is that you strive to be your best self, to better yourself, to live up to the best ideals of the Federation, regardless of personal situation. Three instances immediately come to mind: Alexander in Plato's Stepchildren, Geordi's eyes, and Melora in Melora. I think most of the time it comes up, it's a doctor saying "we have magic 24th century medicine" in their misguided attempt to "fix someone, and the afflicted saying "nah, I'm good."
A missed opportunity. It would be interesting.
I know Rodenberry's humanism, and some fan's atheism or agnosticism have kind of pushed it out the way. For the most part, Trek doesn't even bother with a religious or mystical viewpoint on this. I do kind of side with the humanist pov, but it is refreshing to hear a different viewpoint if it has evidence to back it up.
Trek's pure science Pov seems kind of hallow.
I've seen those types of examples quite a few times. With reverse aging, time travel to fix something, replacing a body part, or healing a disease.
It's a nice philosophy (sort of) but I wonder if it gets taken to an extreme in Trek. To a point where it stops being enthusiastic to live and starts being fatalistic, as in something like, "even though this can be fixed, don't bother, I'll stay like this". Because this idea is somehow more noble.
I mean for example, if a person lost or was born without a left arm, and there was no tech available to replace it, you can understand how this type of thinking can be good.
But if there was tech readily available to completely replace the arm, with full motion and perfectly life-like, and the person still rejects it, it seems almost like a type of fatalism. Like the idea is so noble, that you feel guilty if you go ahead and take that pill to reverse aging.
It can be argued that if Data's goal was to become human, then that would involve having a strong desire to survive indefinitely.
If Picard was in that simulation too, and was uploaded into a new Synth body, then Data could have been too, why not?
But this philosophy is so strong at this point, that Data doesn't try to ask if it's possible. Picard doesn't even try to suggest it. He seems ready to pull the plug.
Instead he agrees to shut Data off permanently, because, "it is our mortality that defines us". So from that point of view, it seems almost like they're worshiping fatalism. They're giving up too easy!
Well, it's not like there was a deadline and it's too late. Here is as good a spot as any to chime in with it.
I've always liked the saying: "To know you are nothing - that is wisdom. To know you are everything - that is love."
To know I'm less than even a speck in a massive universe, a universe that does not revolve around me - that puts things in perspective and that is wisdom. And conversely, to know that I am the apple of the Father's eye, and everything to Him - that is love.
But the word "love" can get thrown around so loosely, it almost loses its meaning. Some languages have very distinct words for different kinds of love, but in English we can say "I love you!" or "I love this taco!" with no distinctions in the verb. So in the same way that we say "faith without actions is dead," true love also requires more than words. Therefore the cross entered the picture to fully bridge the chasm between my sin & rebellion and God's holiness, as the perfect expression of God's love-in-action.
Love is worth focusing on here, because of how it ties in with purpose. Traditionally, many cultures focus on vocation/career as the end-all purpose. But within the grind of Wall Street, industry, etc., a person can feel like just another cog in the system. We know on some level that those career titles are irrelevant to the greater scheme of things, and that those titles don't represent the truest form of purpose for our lives, especially when we see how fleeting they can be. When people do define themselves by those titles, a real identity crisis can set it when things get turned upside down by things like lay-offs.
Someone actually asked Jesus what the most important commandment of the Bible was, and rather than saying "They are all equally important, incapable of being ranked," Jesus told him, "Love God with all your heart, all your soul, all your might." And without being asked, He made sure to add: "Love your neighbor as yourself."
There's a song that says:
"You're changing my heart
To want what you want
To love how you love
And that is enough
There's is no greater plan that I need to know..."
To me, that is purpose & meaning. Loving God is a transformative road to embark on, and is meant to touch every area of one's individual life while also seeking ways to lift up our neighbor who is also the apple of his/her Father's eye.
Getting back to PIC specifically, it's interesting that within moments of each other, Data sought meaning in mortality while Picard was (for the moment) escaping death. I wish they would have focused more on this, because I think there would've been a place for Picard to say, "For these past many years, I haven't been truly living as I've looked back at Data's death with regret. But now, I'm ready to live again as he would've wanted."
Data, on the other hand, had nothing to look forward to, beyond sitting on that simulated couch. Eternity, by itself, is not enough. Love gives me purpose in the here and now, and I also look forward to coming face-to-face with the Object of my love some day. That permeates life with purpose, and it also gives eternity purpose & meaning.
"I aspire, sir, to be better than I am."
What was wrong with that? Dying doesn't make you better. It makes you gone. Or as The Sisko once said, "Dying gets you off the hook". I like what SFDebris said in his Star Trek: Generations review.
Picard: It's our mortality that defines us Soran.
SFDebris: There's a hard case to sell. "Sure sure, but what about the good things that death gives us? Days off for Grandma's funeral? Inheritance? 70% of Janeway's hobbies?"
It's being worked on already in the world, unlike anything to do with the religious idea of Heaven. False equivalence.
I just rewatched the underrated Dr. Strange movie — I had forgotten it had this exact same theme, explored explicitly. It did it better than Picard, IMO.
Data thinks so, but he always had a romantic view of the humanity he as predicted to.
Does mortality give life meaning? No. Mortality makes life meaningless, absolutely pointless. We are born, and then we live, and then we die. And that's it. We painfully live through each day of our lives and in the end it will all be for nothing. As I'm approachiing 50, I ask myself more and more often why I do the things I do, when none of it really matters in the long run.
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