Positronic vs. holomatrix?

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by φ of π, Aug 29, 2016.

  1. φ of π

    φ of π Captain Captain

    Aug 26, 2016
    Unimatrix √-1
    What are the benefits of a positronic matrix over that of a standard holomatrix?

    Consider the difficulty of recreating positronic brains (such as Lal and Bruce Maddox's work at Starfleet) compared to that of standard holodeck programs which have been proven to capable of being both self-aware such as Moriarty and Vic Fontaine, and adding to their own programs such as Voyager's E.M.H.

    Or was a positronic brain simply more space-efficient than standard holodeck computer technology? Would it have taken a whole roomful of computer technology to house a self-aware hologram where as a positronic brain can do it all in one head-sized package?
  2. David cgc

    David cgc Vice Admiral Premium Member

    Apr 3, 2002
    As it happens, the novel "Immortal Coil," Bruce Maddox's team is working on a "holotronic" android, where they replace the notoriously tricky and failure-prone positronic brain with a stripped-down holodeck computer. It worked. It's a fun book, you might want to see if you can find a copy.

    Restricting myself to the on-screen canon, I don't see any reason why you wouldn't be able build a sapient android (or sapient anything, for that matter) using the same principles holographically-based individuals like the Doctor or Moriarty run on. The little memory-module from "Ship in a Bottle" could run two such people and an environment to amuse them, and that'd fit in a humanoid brain with room to spare. The Doctor's mobile emitter was even smaller (though probably not practical to replicate in the "present day").
  3. maneth

    maneth Captain Captain

    Feb 9, 2010
    I just wish they'd forget the positronic matrix in future Trek incarnations. Even given the standards of impossible science in Trek, like warp speed and transporter/replicator technology, the positronic matrix is another level of impossible, given the way matter and antimatter react with each other.
    I rather suspect the positronic matrix is a nod to Isaac Asimov, who wrote his first positronic robot story in 1939, a few years after the positron had first been detected. He thought it sounded cooler than merely electronic, but even he thought the idea a bit outlandish at the time. Oh well, the sins of youth (he was 19 in 1939).
    But yeah, I'd prefer sentient androids/computers based on holomatrix technology over positronic any day.
  4. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Aug 26, 2003
    That's assuming it was a self-contained unit. Alternately, it might just have been a scenario module plugged wirelessly to the mainframe that was still responsible for running the actual Moriarty routine. For all we know, Moriarty takes up a thousand times more space than the rest of (his) universe put together...

    (Also, two people? Moriarty claimed he had given consciousness to the Countess. But I'm not sure he should be trusted there.)

    I wouldn't sweat that. Antimatter is a known quantity, its properties calculable, and there's nothing to stop us from controlling it with electromagnetic fields just like ordinary matter. A computer based on juggling tiny packages of antimatter may sound silly, but it doesn't sound particularly dangerous or difficult to do, compared with what we do today with electronics.

    That aside, is there any reason to think that Data's brain would feature antimatter in any role? It's "positronic", but the word may mean anything and everything, just like any made-up technology buzzword (say, "electronic" today has zip to do with elektron).

    Timo Saloniemi
  5. Jedman67

    Jedman67 Commodore Commodore

    Jun 18, 2015
    Great book!
  6. trekshark

    trekshark Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 6, 2014
    I never took positronic with regards to Data as having anything to do with the antimatter particle
    It's just another form of computing, like duotronic, multitronic, and isolinear computing tech
    Ronald Held likes this.
  7. USS Triumphant

    USS Triumphant Vice Admiral Admiral

    Dec 29, 2008
    Go ahead, caller. I'm listening...
    I've been a huge fan of Asimov since my teens, and I believe the idea he was going for when he came up with it was that a positronic brain would be one capable of having electrons and, somehow, positrons going in both directions along the same wire paths. So really, we can dismiss the anti-matter aspect, and the idea is a computer brain that can have components talk to each other at full-duplex would be superior to one that is limited to half-duplex. Which we know to be true, because we've had full-duplex buses in computing for quite some time now, in the real world. But it hardly sounds exotic enough for sci-fi, does it?

    OTOH, I believe that the people who designed Data really *did* mean for anti-matter to be involved - one part of Data's brain is a "phase discriminator", which I don't think is just technobabble. It seems like it would allow for the detection of transmissions of electrons and positrons being kept at different phases (like Geordi and Ro experienced in "The Next Phase" only teeny-tiny) to achieve a full-duplex system like Asimov envisioned and possibly then some. (And as an aside, I've thought before that a failure of one of Data's phase discriminators or a similar component suddenly bringing some anti-matter and matter into phase with each other might have been what blew Data's head clean off in "Time's Arrow".)

    If TNG was to be rebooted today, I think I'd prefer that nuData have a "quantum holonet brain" this time. Not because it really matters *much* in the stories most of the time, but because both quantum computers and holographic data storage systems are real technologies that are still *very* preliminary and somewhat futuristic for us, and it would be good for Trek to give us reasons to discuss them - we've taken neat inspirations from other things Trek has mentioned in the past, and we should continue to do so. I'd like to think that Asimov would have liked that, too. And maybe we could make him "R. Data" this time. ;)
  8. soornge

    soornge Commander Red Shirt

    Sep 26, 2016
    as far as i know data brain is legit artificial intelligence in that its capable of not only creating new programming but assimilating turning it into information and synthesising it.the hologram doctor relies on preprogrammed sub routines that then interact based on typicl holomatrix texhnology , howver most simply inwould say the diffrence is data is able to repair and diagnostic himself where as the doctor is incabable of fixing his own matrix : holomatrix is much more like a comluter chess game all it can do is rely on sub routines created Data is able to identify the need for a sub routine or whole new program and create and implement it , additionally Data is able to reproduce
  9. matthunter

    matthunter Vice Admiral Admiral

    Feb 17, 2004
    Great Britain
    Nitpick: the holotronic brain didn't REPLACE the positronic matrix, it added the holomatrix to a positronic brain as a buffer to cope better with unusual experiences, particularly during the formative stages of the android, that might otherwise trigger a cascade failure. This had the side effect of making the android more adaptable in general, to the point that the prototype was able to successfully adopt a cover persona only days after activation.
    Idran likes this.