Measure of a Man: The solution.

Discussion in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' started by Trekker4747, Mar 25, 2021.

  1. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    Measure of a Man is one of TNG's best episodes and, certainly, one of the best of Season 2.

    But parts of it never really made a whole lot of sense to me. Riker's argument in the hearing seemed to mostly just be, "Yes, Data is a machine," which.... Wasn't in dispute. So what point is there in showing he has strength, can be taken apart and turned off? The question is does Data have or have not the ability to make a decision for his actions and future?

    Picard's argument makes a bit more sense but pretty much boils down to "of we allow this to happen then we pretty much are going to create slaves." (And then he wins the case and 30 years later "PIC" pisses all over this win by having humans do just that: Create android slaves.)

    Anyway, all of the argument made in Data's favor seems to be a bit too complex and heavy. It seems like the argument could be as simple as:

    "Mr. Data, how did you come to be in Starfleet?"

    And the answer would be he chose to be in Starfleet and was made to go through the Academy, all of training, and work on various ships to reach his current rank and position. He was even awarded medals and such, would one do this for a "thing." So, clearly, at some point Data was seen as an independent being who was "allowed" to join Starfleet and go through it like any other being but *now* it's called into question if he can be allowed to quit?
     
  2. Tosk

    Tosk Vice Admiral Admiral

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    A dog can join the military, and even earn medals. (Horses and pigeons have also been awarded for their service.) But the military doesn't grant them personhood.
     
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  3. NCC-73515

    NCC-73515 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It was the first time a court had to decide. The Academy was debating whether to accept him back then, and Maddox opposed, IIRC.
     
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  4. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Apparently, being or not being a citizen is no big deal for Starfleet. Or then being or not being sentient is no big deal for the UFP when appointing citizenship. Which only makes sense, considering the wide range of sentience demonstrated by Trek critters: having a lower limit would be as illogical as having an upper limit. If a bot or a cat cat wants to join, she's welcome. And conversely, if a supergenius or a BEM or a god does not want to, he can't plead automatic exception but must get to the end of the complaints queue.

    What's weird here is that Judge Louvois wants to shy away from making a strong precedent - but ends up establishing that anybody who asks to choose is worthy of getting to choose, which is WAY bigger than defining the possible sentience of this particular toaster.

    If this is the first time this comes up, Louvois has now determined that any starship can choose to turn away from the enemy, or any toaster can choose to char the bread beyond edibility out of spite. If it's not, then this trial should never have been held: not only can Data choose as much as any Starfleet member or piece of property, but precedent of this sort would negate all Starfleet rules and regulations and allow Data to say "Admiral, I choose to deposit this spit on your face and then grind it in because that's the right of any inanimate object and corporate creature and noncorporeal deity alike".

    If Louvois' precedent doesn't cover that, then the trial is worthless: the verdict carries no weight the next time somebody comes up with the same argument...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  5. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    Well, just because someone has the right to choose doesn't mean they're free from consequences of that choice. So, yeah, Data can "choose" to spit in her face and then she can "choose" to discipline him for it.
     
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  6. Mojochi

    Mojochi Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    IMHO Louvois is just an idiot, that this even got as far as an official hearing, because the only other alternative would seem to be she was secretly in support of Maddox, which is hard to prove, even though she admitted to him that he was "Preaching to the choir". It's even possible Maddox staged this little stunt right when he did, because they were going to be in an area with no real legal infrastructure in place.

    So either she's a complete idiot, some kind of sucker, or an inside man. Otherwise, the moment Maddox said "He can't be allowed to resign" she should've laughed in his face. He JOINED. Every other entity that has EVER joined did so with the understanding that it was their choice to serve or not. That's what "joining" means.

    His rights, his sentience/sapience, who or what or how many objected to his enrollment but got outvoted, none of it matters relative to the real issue... of what Starfleet service IS... & what it is, is bloody voluntary for everyone who volunteers. Declaring otherwise literally undermines the integrity of the institution.

    Whatever archaic precedents she dredges up about declaring him property almost certainly came from Starfleet property legislation about AI, not relative to service IN Starfleet.

    Point being, the whole issue isn't about Data at all, it's about a crook trying to redefine what Starfleet service is, in order to further his personal ambitions, & she ruled wrong from the get go.
     
  7. Tosk

    Tosk Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The crew of the Val Jean might object to the idea that all Starfleet officers are volunteers.
     
  8. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Well, everybody here is trying to change the terms of what it meant for Data to join, retroactively - some for the better, others for the worse. If this is possible even in theory, then Data once having been allowed to join doesn't have much impact.

    It does sound reasonable for Louvois to be cheering for the team that

    1) wants good for the many via risk to the one, in this "risk is our business" organization
    2) rides on good old values such as AI hatred
    3) wishes those in Starfleet would follow orders

    even if it also places her in the camp that

    4) wants to stop people from resigning when they so desire.

    And yes, this is a setup. Although whether Maddox could have set it up on his own, or only with very active help from Louvois, is less clear. Quite a bit hinges on Maddox pitching Picard against a hostile judge. He can follow the adventures of Picard easily enough; Louvois choosing where to be assigned is more complicated.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  9. Dr. San Guinary

    Dr. San Guinary Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    But dogs don't put on a uniform, grab a weapon and serve on the front lines. They don't stand watch on a ship or anything like that. Data pretty much DID do all of these things. So his sentience, and his right to choose his own career, should have been a foregone conclusion.
     
  10. Mojochi

    Mojochi Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    They might... but they'd be overlooking the fact that they were invited to join & accepted. I suppose they could've refused & been left behind, or been willingly taken into custody.

    Admittedly, their best chance of getting home safely was to accept the invitation & join/contribute, & while Janeway does hold some accountability for assuming the right to strand them out there, she ultimately had no responsibility to safeguard them, given they were outlaws she was hunting,

    I really don't see how Chakotay's people could be considered anything less than volunteers. They just had much graver & more inflexible reasons to do so, but nevertheless, any of them could've resigned & left, or possibly found some other arrangements on board

    They're certainly not comparable to being declared property, or wards of the state or whatever. They're choosing to serve.
     
  11. Tosk

    Tosk Vice Admiral Admiral

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    They volunteered to be in the Maquis, and then their asshole captain blew up their ship and forced them to serve another captain. They chose to stay on board rather than have nowhere to live and no resources to do so anyway...so they did make a choice, but it's barely a choice.

    I never said they did.
     
  12. Oddish

    Oddish Rear Admiral Commodore

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    Had "The 37's" not occured, I might agree with you. But it did. And every surviving ex-Maquis made the choice to remain a part of Voyager's crew.
     
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  13. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    Dogs also don't "join" the military. They don't say "I'm going to serve my country, that legally sees me as property, and die for it!" Dogs are, effectively, drafted. That they get medals and all if that is silly feel-good PR stuff to make the easily awed masses think the military is a "positive" thing.

    A person chooses to do something in the military because he thinks it's good for the unit, his country, or whatever. A dog does it because he thinks he'll get a treat later on.

    Data chose to enter Starfleet and had to work through it like anyone else. If he can choose to enter he can choose to leave.
     
  14. Qonundrum

    Qonundrum Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It's a mixed bag, but still highly enjoyable. The Riker/Picard animosity as forced upon was fantastic. Data is worthy of rights as well, but 90s Trek went so overboard with it in later episodes when bobbing for apples in the "well of plot ideas". Which only makes sense, good tropes get reused and innovated upon... but I digress.

    Excellent point! :like:

    If Riker talked about programmed responses to algorithms, he would have had a much stronger case. Even then, Picard mulling wax poetic over theories almost won me over too...

    Still, this is a sheer 180 from TOS that didn't anthropomorphize. :)

    Or PIC reminds that TOS was still making a not-unreasonable point that they are still just machines? (that's not a perfect 100% fit of an allegory, or a total reversion, just a different nuance and carrying the theme in a new direction. If nothing else.)

    "Some Starfleet people found me on a rock on the planet and I felt an obligation to be nice in return." in the same way Siri tells us the weather when the voice interface is asked.

    Because Data was "uncharted waters" as the allusion goes... and we never saw a backstory diving into the possibility of any melodrama involving letting a walking computer sign up in the way their starship computers can't at the time. He was "allowed", but why was that? Maybe the Starfleet people who found him were curious about the possibility he was sentient and thought he was Academy-worthy and simply left it at that?
     
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  15. Qonundrum

    Qonundrum Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    ^^this
    (but then there wouldn't be a 45 minute story. :devil: )
     
  16. Tosk

    Tosk Vice Admiral Admiral

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    One year later. Clearly Stockholm Syndrome. ;)
     
  17. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    And, as I said, it's a fine and great story. It's just fun to pick nits.
     
  18. Oddish

    Oddish Rear Admiral Commodore

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    It is interesting to consider dogs, though. I read a book about dogs being bred with near human intelligence, including the ability (with certain technology) to communicate with speech. Where would the line be drawn between "mere animal" and "sentient"? 3rd-grade level? 5th? Middle school?

    No, Janeway's cult leader magnetism. Even the ship blows up when she tells it to (as opposed to waiting for additional authorization like it's supposed to).
     
  19. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    FWIW Trek often confused sentience with sapience. Dogs, and pretty much all mammal life, are sentient. They're not, however, sapient. Only one creature in this planet are that for sure (humans (or homo sapiens)) and a handful who might be.
     
  20. Oddish

    Oddish Rear Admiral Commodore

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    The overall issue still applies. How intelligent would these genetically modified creatures have to be before being declared sapient? Could one of them join Starfleet?