Knowledgeable Data fans, please help me !

Discussion in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' started by TauCygna, Nov 5, 2017.

  1. TauCygna

    TauCygna Captain Captain

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    Hey there,
    As I stated in my introduction post, I'm a newbie TNG fan with endless adoration for Cmd Data ! [​IMG]
    I always loved androids in fiction, there is always a good ol' Asimov book on my bed side table, just in case I need some robotic wonder ; )
    I began working on a fanfic about Data lately, but there are many things I'm unsure about and I'd like to avoid mistakes that would make him appear as out of character.

    Currently, I am struggling on technical details about Data's sensory capacities and how close he is to humans "physiologically". I mean, he does ingest food and liquids sometimes, but does he actually eat ?? Is it the way he charged his internal batteries ? I can't remember a single episod when he seemed to use a charging device. I understood that he has no need to sleep, though.
    I remember an episod in which Guinan asks him what he thinks of a new cocktail of hers, and he analyzes the liquid's nutritional composition perfectly. Does anyone know how he achieves it ? I also wonder if his sense of taste is essentially about analyze, or if he can also feel flavours like we do ? Can he have any food preferences ?? I'd love to write a dinner scene, and I don't know how to handle it with such a lack of information.

    Now I have to confess, the fic is supposed to be a romance - and believe me : it's freaking difficult to write a love story about someone who can't feel love. So there will be physical contacts used to convey feelings (I am not thinking about frisky things here) but I have no clue about how Data's sense of touch works. He obviously feels pressure (else he couldn't work or grab objects), but can he feel warmth ? Can he feel texture and tell two materials apart based on their textures ? And does he have the ability to discriminate between nice touch inputs and nociceptive ones (pain) ?? That being said, I have no doubt he can tell weither or not a physical contact is friendly by analyzing the social context, pressure, the other person's body language, and so on.

    I'll probably come with other questions later, but that's all for now folks ! I'd be thankful to those who'd help me with those !
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2017
  2. Armus

    Armus Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Good luck! ☺
     
  3. TauCygna

    TauCygna Captain Captain

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    Thanks, I will need it XD
    That's basically the most complex fic I have been writing so far...
     
  4. Mojochi

    Mojochi Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I'm not sure much concrete facts exist in the tv show or film canon, but I always got the impression Data could similarly sense everything a human can sense, with his senses, but better, as in the acuity of his senses is more delicate, powerful or accurate, hence why he can taste & differentiate the components in his drink, listen to & differentiate between multiple sounds like the voices on Dr. Crusher's voice recording in Cause & Effect, or the multiple pieces of music in A Matter of Time, or receive a more telescopic visual feed than a human eye, in the episode Hide & Q, have a much more fine tuned visual threshold in Timescape, that allowed him to determine that time was moving forward at an infinitesimal rate, and might have even been seeing more microscopically in Thine Own Self, when he constructed a crude magnifying device out of several lenses, which he used to detect radioactive particles. I doubt a human could've seen them the same with such a crude device.

    Just like Data has limbs that do the same things as human limbs, but HIS can do more, by way of strength, speed, or accuracy, so too it would appear Soong wanted all his other physical aspects to be. His sight, hearing, smell, taste & touch senses, receive the same kind of input as a human's do, just better, very much like how his brain works like a human brain, but it has much more ability

    Now as to his perception of those similar but heightened human-like senses, It appears he does not possess the ability to interpret them the same way a human does. He can't interpret a smell or taste as sweet or bitter, any more than he can interpret a sight as beautiful, or ugly, or interpret a sound as being agreeable vs discordant, or a touch being hot or cold. He can only analyze them and suppose how a human might respond to it,

    However! This seems to be a deliberate limitation installed by Soong, which was meant to be unlocked at some point, just like his dreaming & emotional programs. In the future of the series finale, he is shown enjoying a cup of tea at his home. He seems to be a fully realized person who receives the same kind of sensory & emotional benefits as any other person

    As for perfunctory systems stuff, no he doesn't need to eat or drink or sleep, or even recharge apparently. He does ingest a lubricant type fluid now & then which is mostly maintenance related, & I'd imagine he has a waste system for the action of eating or drinking like a human, which he has been shown doing. This is probably a superficial capability, similar to having an ash tray in your car. You don't need it there for the car's benefit, but you have it there for the potential of wanting to have that amenity, because it will further enhance the "Human" experience for him, the same as the dream program, because even though he doesn't need to sleep, that program would seem to suggest that he is meant to do so, merely for the Human experience factor of it

    The most important thing to always consider when writing for Data is that while he doesn't interpret himself, his life, the universe & his experiences in the same feeling way that a human does, he is MEANT to eventually. Lore certainly was supposed to, even if it all went horribly wrong

    Data is designed to have feelings, even if blocks or programming locks have been put into place to prevent or delay them. It's always been pretty clear to me that he does in fact feel things all the time, even though he's under the impression he isn't, simply because it is not experienced in the same way as humans do. It stands to reason that if Soong could make all of Data's other attributes be similar to a human's, but stronger, more delicate, or more accurate, then that would mean he had to ability to essentially dial back Data's emotion to a point where it seemed like he didn't have any, even though he kind of does, & that is how I choose to interpret Lore's dysfunction. His emotions were dialed up too much, like all his other attributes, and the result was that of a psychopathic mind

    Interesting side note. When Geordi opts to have ocular implants replace his visor, some time after Generations & before St: 1st Contact, the model he installs are shown to have very human-like visual acuity at his disposal, in addition to all his other visual capabilities which appear more the way they did on the Tv Show. I like to think that Data's eyes were used as a template in order to design these new eyes for Geordi. In essence, Geordi wasn't ever able to see like a Human, until Data came along with his Soong-type eyes which DO see like a human, & that his tech could be adapted to be incorporated into the VISOR tech, & then installed into an ocular implant, & in doing so, maybe Data would see the benefit of refitting his own eyes to include the same capabilities

    My little fan theory is that after First Contact, Data & Geordi have the same model eyes (Maybe in different colors lol) because they'd have both concluded that a combination of both techs would be the most advanced & beneficial option for both of them
     
  5. Tosk

    Tosk Vice Admiral Admiral

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    As of Generations, he can certainly feel flavors and form food preferences. Even if he just savors the fact that he can make those choices now, regardless of what the flavor is. "I hate this, it is revolting!" ;)
     
  6. Mojochi

    Mojochi Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Right. Feeling all kind of comes to him with the unearthing of emotions. I suspect there's some actual taste interpretation going on in that scene. He don't like it, & he loves that he don't like it lol
     
  7. Tosk

    Tosk Vice Admiral Admiral

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  8. TauCygna

    TauCygna Captain Captain

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    @Mojochi : Wow. Just...thank you for the astonishing amount of useful information here ! It may take me some time to process all this and make things fall into place. Imagining how it would be not to feel exactly like a human is as interesting as it is difficult.

    I never thought about Data with that particular angle, honestly; but it definitely makes sense. Else, why would have Soong created the Emotion Chip in the first place ?

    That's always been clear to me too. It's common occurence to see Data being puzzled, confused, surprised and curious. At Tasha Yar's funerals, he did look sad and told Captain Picard: "My thoughts are not for Tasha, but for myself. I keep thinking how empty it will feel without her presence." And there's the portrait of Tasha in his quarters, too. So I think he can have a specific range of emotions that may not resemble human emotions but still serves the same purpose.

    He also seems to be capable of having desires of his own, like wanting to grow a beard, trying to play Shakespear's "Henry V", wanting to build a relationship with Jenna D'Sora in In Theory...That makes it quite difficult to write for him, actually, because I sometimes struggle to see where's the line between what Data would experience, what he would like to be/do/achieve, and my own emotional, anthropomorphic experience.

    That's what makes me so unsure about whether or not there will be the Emotion Chip in my fic...If it does appear, it will be quite late in the story, so I don't have to answer that question right away. But still...it sounds harder to me to imagine Data with the EC than without it. Maybe because I'm not done watching the whole series yet (the last episode I watched so far is S3 Ep14), so I didn't have many occasions to see him using it, except in Generations (and it was...errr...surprising ^^").
    I guess it would still be interesting to incorporate the EC in my fic, though, mainly for the sheer pleasure of writing Data's confused reaction at what love feels like XD There's fuel for a very funny scene ^^
     
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  9. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    It rather seems to me that Data is fully human in the cognitive-emotional sense from the get-go, and so was Lore - but the misadventure with that earlier android made Soong install all sorts of safeguards that deliberately make Data less than human. Furthermore, Data may be acutely aware of the safeguards, and capable of circumventing them at will - but also in agreement with his father about the need for those, and therefore unwilling to circumvent them.

    Say, Data can use any turn of phrase he wants to. But he doesn't want to speak informally, except when it helps with the task at hand, such as in "In Theory" or "Time's Arrow".

    As for the technical side:

    Dialogue in "Birthright" would seem to both confirm that and rule that out: eating is for looks, but also for "lubricating his biofunctions".

    No. In ST:Insurrection, he explains (to a child, but a clever one from an advanced culture, and he has little reason to lie) that his "batteries continually recharge themselves". This seems to specify a storage medium that gets energy from the outside. And he doesn't eat continually, so the source is something else.

    it's probably wireless. Every Starfleet ship and Federation colony out there is likely capable of wirelessly recharging the usual doodads, PADDs and tricorders and phasers and whatnot (note that phasers don't have charging devices with sockets for wires, either - they're just hung from hooks or stored in styrofoam recesses). Data could simply hook to this charging network like any random toaster.

    He says as much a couple of times, and indeed never attempts sleeping as such - but in "Birthright", he does attempt dreaming, and never once suggests that his sleep would have a recharging or even resting aspect to it.

    It is possible that Data's senses are no more acute than ours, but that he merely processes his sensory inputs with greater care, thus divining things we cannot out of the same inputs. Say, if I tasted exactly this much cinnamon and lemon, and could cross-reference all that is written about the tastes of chemicals, I might well be able to make very educated guesses as to what chemicals the thing I tasted may contain, without actually having a mass spectrometer in my mouth. But my brain isn't wired to my tongue the right way, and I can't cross-reference because I have human rather than android recall, or do accurate quantitative analysis because my brain works unlike a computer.

    How about "In Theory"? Data basically only flopped because he was too honest. It's not that he can't feel - it's just that he has not "mastered" feeling, just like he has not "mastered" the use of contractions or cusswords or whatnot. Which simply means he's better at it all than most humans alive, but is hard on himself because he could be better still.

    Yes, as per "Heart of Glory" at least.

    Supposedly, as per ST:Insurrection and the "android's bottom" analysis.

    He's probably simply extremely analytical about this. "In my experience, what you put me through with that touch is considered pleasant by 78% of the male humans in what would be my age bracket were I human, while 12% would appreciate pressure at least double that applied by you, whereas 5% would find it excessive, unpleasant and threatening. I, of course, have but these statistics to go by while attempting to formulate a proper personal reaction. But I must say I greatly appreciate the gesture."

    But no, he doesn't feel exactly like humans do, as the human skin graft in ST:First Contact was depicted as a new physical experience to him.

    As for Data's vision, and LaForge's... LaForge always insisted that human vision was greatly inferior to what he had, and for this reason alone he was unwilling to give up the VISOR despite it giving him pain. He was offered implants in the pilot episode already, and real eyes come the second season and the apparently more competent CMO. He turned those down on the inferiority argument - just like he quickly terminated any experimentation with humanlike vision, be it a gift from Q or from the Ba'ku planet.

    I doubt Data has superpowers of any sort beyond his muscular ones - it's just that he can make more analytical use of his humanlike senses.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  10. TauCygna

    TauCygna Captain Captain

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    Thanks for the interesting perspective, Timo !

    I don't exactly know what Data "felt' for Jenna, just as I dunno what he "felt" for Yar, but he never named it "love". Still, as I stated later in one of my posts, he does seem to go throught emotional responses - such as being puzzled or curious. So I personally share Mojochi's point of view that Data's got his own range of emotion-like variables, which he's reluctant to call "emotions" because they're not exacly like humans'.
    In that context, I'm not sure if we can name "love" what he displayed to Jenna, but it definitely looks like attentive and compassionate care, no doubt. Data displays loads of generous, friendly behaviours towards his favourite crew members (like Geordi); so he definitely has the ability to bond to people to a certain extent. May the bonding be run by a program instead of hormones, it still does the job !

    On a sidenote, I already watched In Theory (not so many spoilers so that's ok!) and I don't think that Data's honesty was the reason his relationship with Jenna didn't work. On contrary, the fact he tried to stay honest while attempting to emulate romantic human behaviours was the best he could do. He would probably have evolved along with the relationship if it continued, and eventually he'd have been able to interact almost perfectly with Jenna. She was actually the one who was not ready at all to deal with the ins and outs of the relationship. She made many, maaaany mistakes when interacting with Data, like using double-speech or not asking clearly for what she wanted. Since Data's not programmed to emulate social interactions perfectly (on contrary to other fictional androids, for example Persocoms in the manga Chobits), it was pretty obvious he couldn't read between the lines, so she shouldn't have asked him something he genuinly couldn't do.
    That's where my fanfic's plot came from, actually. I'd like to tell a story in which Data is loved by someone who perfectly understands who he is and how his mind works - someone who accepts him exactly as he is without asking him to change. This is intended as an allegory about what love should be in real life.
     
  11. Mojochi

    Mojochi Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I'd agree with most of that, except Data does genuinely seem clueless about himself frequently, & as we know, after the "Childhood" stages we've heard about, a lot was wiped & he has to rediscover himself & his abilities. Programming exists that makes him think he has no emotions, even though he does exhibit micro-emotions of sorts, & he thinks he can't use contractions, but clearly stuff happens where he does etc... So I think he's just finding himself to be more than the code suggests, which... I like, because it's a tale of self discovery :)
    You just have to approach it as if you're writing for an alien, because while he emulates us, & is on a journey that leads to being just like us, he isn't. The best way I can describe Data's state of being is "Micro-emotions" Clearly, when he thinks Geordi has died in The Next Phase, that has a major effect on him, & when he finds out he isn't dead, it's equally so. I SEE relief there, whether they admit it or not. It's a *wink wink* to the audience. "He doesn't have emotions" *Wink wink*. They have even used it for a joke now & then. One of my favorite Data emotional moments is in Data's Day, when he says in voice over
    Then, he stares off at them, unconsciously drumming his fingers (Nervously) on the console, and THEN he notices himself doing it, & puzzles over it. He IS nervous or concerned, to some degree or another, and it's even a surprise to him that such is the case. That to me is the essence of Data in a nutshell, that contradiction

    I too have thought about how an actual coupling with Data would work, because I agree, the stuff with Jenna wasn't like that. She was straight up rebounding in the worst way. Ultimately, it wasn't Data being too honest about how he addressed their relationship that killed it. Eventually that would've come out anyhow, when she didn't get what she needed. It was actually the best thing that could've happened for her

    She was let down by the notion that she was just another computation to be logged in his neural net, but if she was thinking clearly, she'd realize that so is his friendship with Geordi, or his duty to Starfleet, both of which go FAR beyond just being basic computations. He is choosing those things to be in his life. That is a meaningful choice

    Picard on Data's Violin playing (From Ensigns of Command)
    The fully sapient person that is Data can be found in the cracks between those two very different violinists that Data chose to combine. That combination IS the art/Humanity coming out of Data himself

    So if the goal is to explore someone in a relationship with Data, my thought immediately goes to a Vulcan being a darned good match for him, because Vulcan's suppress emotion, so the influence of having someone like Data, who is micro-emotive at best, is very conducive, but Vulcans do have emotions in there... & so does Data, & I think a Vulcan would be WAY more attuned to seeing them present themselves. Unlike Jenna, a Vulcan would very likely better know that they were more than just a computation in his neural net, and from that knowledge could blossom some kind of legitimate connection
     
  12. TauCygna

    TauCygna Captain Captain

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    That's basically what I've been thinking during the whole episode. On the one hand, I was in awe at how hard Data was trying, how involved he was. And on the other hand, I was confused at how Jenna failed to see the big picture. The worst moment for me was when Data threw that quarrel in Jenna's quarters, and then she rejected him...Geez, he was trying so hard to find an appropriate behaviour to display...He may not be able to love her back, but his efforts were very meaningful of his desire to maintain the relationship.

    Now about a Vulcan mate...I've been thinking about it. A lot. It'd make sense to choose a Vulcan for Data. But I have to say, I wasn't happy with the fact of pairing someone different with another different person (by "different" I mean: different from humans). The more I thought about it, the more it became obvious I'd prefer to write something about a "normal" person (so in that context, a human being) loving someone different. That's personal preference, of course, and there are probably loads of interesting fics out there that pair Data with someone else than a human.
     
  13. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    No idea if this'll be any help, but here's a Data cutaway from the old FASA Star Trek TNG Officer's Manual.
     
  14. TauCygna

    TauCygna Captain Captain

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    It's very helpful ! Thanks a lot, Mr King ! :techman:
     
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  15. Mojochi

    Mojochi Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Well, Humans on Star Trek are depicted as a very broadly acceptable/accepting species. Vulcans Romulans, Klingons, Betazoids etc... Have all managed to successfully mate with us. I think the idea is to present us as being open minded to varied personalities, even ones as incredibly diverse as Trek aliens

    So the notion of Data in a successful relationship with a human is certainly possible, even likely, & would probably make for more interesting storytelling as well.
     
  16. matthunter

    matthunter Vice Admiral Admiral

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    If you're willing to spend a bit, I'd recommend downloading the e-book versions of the TNG novels Immortal Coil and Cold Equations. The first deals with Data in a developing relationship - it's post emotion-chip (I think) so not quite your scenario, but the novel is also focused on androids in general - a new prototype "holotronic" android has been stolen and the Enterprise's investigation reveal links to Data's past and also other forms of android/AI we've seen in TOS. There's thus quite a bit of discussion about Data's construction here.

    The second story is a loose sequel - not focusing too much on the events of the first novel but building on them post-Nemesis and Data's death. Someone has stolen B-4, the prototype version of Data from that film, in which Data imprinted his neural net. There's quite a lot of discussion about Data's abilities as compared to:

    Those of Noonien Soong, who faked his death in the TNG ep Brothers and used a variant of the Exo III android conversion tech from the TOS ep What are little girls made of? to scan his brain into an advanced android body, looking like Data but more human - since Data was originally modeled after Soong's own looks. The newer capabilities and senses of this android are compared to Data's (and by Soong to those of his original human body), including the sensations of eating/drinking and I think the perceptions of touch - Soong hints at flirting with women but that's part of his cover identity so, whilst the body is almost certainly "fully functional" like Data, we don't get any indication of differences in sensation). Data is later "resurrected" in this body through Soong's sacrifice, since the presence of Data's neural matrix in B-4 is destroying them both and Soong won't let his "sons" die. Subsequent novels have Data in this body, so there may be more on the topic there.
     
  17. TauCygna

    TauCygna Captain Captain

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    That's what I thought. I loved the idea of describing the lucky girl's emotional perspective as long as Data's analytic point of view, for the same situation. In most scenes so far, I've been switching back and forth from raw emotions to a computational understanding of the world, and that's a lot of fun ! I am impatient to reach the moment when these two different approaches will get in tune somehow ! :hugegrin:

    [quote="matthunter]If you're willing to spend a bit, I'd recommend downloading the e-book versions of the TNG novels Immortal Coil and Cold Equations.[/quote]
    I didn't even know there were Star Trek books ! Brilliant idea, thank you ! Plus, I was searching for some new English books to read - I am a bit fed up with constantly re-reading the same ! I'll check if my local English bookshop can import those :techman:


    That's a bit off topic, but I wanted to say I watched The Offspring tonight, and...wow. I haven't been so touched by a series in a while ! Now I want to find a way to incorporate Lal in the fic :biggrin:
     
  18. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It seems like Data can eat, drink and objectively analyze taste but doesn't need to. It's not clear in the show what Data's power source is.

    I think particularly post-emotion chip Data could be capable of being in a real relationship but in my opinion at least you'd have to do some work to justify what she gets from him. The story would have to show how she is truly special to him and not just another humanity experiment like it was in In Theory.

    If you watch In Theory, Data approaches the relationship like it was a semi-improvised play. He was assigned a role and tried to learn how to play the role. For Data to be in a real reciprocal relationship he needs to learn what he wants from the relationship and how to communicate that to her while also giving her the reciprocal feelings she needs. He can't just play the part again.
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2017
  19. Mojochi

    Mojochi Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    And yet, we see he is capable of genuine social connection, in his friendship with Geordi. While that is a far cry from an intimate romantic relationship, it is still a genuine social connection he has with him. He doesn't feel the need to play roles or concoct scenarios in which to explore that relationship similarly to how he did in this episode. Perhaps at one time he DID do that with people he wanted to befriend, & with experience over time, he learned how it really works. So too could be the outcome of a romantic relationship. So I think, even without emotions, it's possible for him to have it, especially since I don't truly believe he is entirely without emotions anyhow. The groundwork is there, even still

    The hard part is your other point... justifying what the partner gets from it. Troi said it best, when the subject of Data being married came up. "You do have a lot to offer" The question is, who is the person to value him as he is? I see it being kind of hard for a Human to do so, unless that human has some kind of social disorder themselves for which Data's attributes are a good fit.

    Honestly, there are many relationships that are built that way, The Jerry Maguire "You complete me" dynamic, Rocky Balboa's "I have gaps. She has gaps. Together we fill gaps" connection. Somewhere out there is a person, maybe even a human, who might lack or require the kind of influence Data represents in their life. The challenge is, who is that, & why?
     
  20. Tosk

    Tosk Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I don't think anyone would consider Amanda or Perrin as having social disorders, and if people can fall in love with a Vulcan, they can fall in love with Data. Thinking that he has nothing to offer only seems like it's being approached from one perspective.