Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by Unimatrix Q, Jul 22, 2021.
That's not tampering.
It’s tampering with food, that’s all.
It's probably worth pointing out that the confusion that the computer had regarding the word "real" might have been philosophical. Anything the food replicator produces is real: it's all really real replicated food. The replicator could never produce anything unreal (since nothing unreal exists), so from a certain point of view asking for the replicator to produce something real in contrast to what it had been producing is a non sequitur.
You realize, of course, that if Siri or Alexa could be paired with a replicator, they’d have no problem with “real chocolate sundae”? Those and similar voice assistants would generate the exact traditional dish if they could, or perhaps reply that it’s been restricted by the CMO, maybe even crack a joke about the nature of reality or simply say there is no difference on molecular level.
Speaking of the difference between the real and the unreal, this wouldn't be the only time that science fiction writers imagined computers to be limited in ways that decades later real world computers would not be.
I mean, this only item number 47 on the list of things that dates TNG, and we're just getting started, really.
Yes, so I’m saying that because the computer is so limited, we shouldn’t necessarily expect Troi’s elaboration to be understood as “Oh, you mean ‘real’ as in ‘traditionally prepared’! Why didn’t anyone call it that before or upgrade my database via the internet? Anyway, I’m sorry, but that chocolate sundae just doesn’t have acceptable nutritional value in the 24th century. Good luck trying to override if you don’t happen to be the CMO.”
Instead, the computer could’ve continued in the same philosophical vein and interpreted the request for an imperfect sundae as asking for a dish with seriously unacceptable nutritional value, which is why Troi would’ve had to override the program (and perhaps dictate a new recipe step by step).
That's not dangerous tampering but OK, sure, whatever.
My personal theory on Latinum was that it was needed for transporters/replicators. So you could make it, but it would use more than you produced.
How is it not if Troi could input an override code and dictate a recipe that leads to indigestion? I’m not saying she is authorized necessarily, only that the possibility of override exists and the computer apparently has trouble with natural language processing.
It's just not tampering if that override preexists. Tampering is trying to gain access illicitly and causing damage.
Hmm. We have never ever been told that latinum can't be replicated.
Indeed, we have only ever been told that "X can't be replicated" when there are specific limitations inherent in the situation. Sometimes power is down, sometimes the hardware isn't top-notch, sometimes the heroes go for an alternate source for unknown but no doubt perfectly valid reasons without ever saying that the replicators couldn't do it (if given enough time and other resources).
Likewise, the concept of a low-resolution cargo transporter doesn't exist in canon. All transporting is good for live people, or for antimatter or dilithium or androids, without extra preparation - it's often done blind, after all, and every era features a dedicated cargo transporter achieving this, with stowaways or in a hurry or whatnot.
But resolution is relevant. The molecules that give food its taste and texture are also relevant in making it edible rather than lethally poisonous. If replication of sandwiches allowed for the slightest error, people might die.
However, I guess it would be perfectly possible to program the replicators to 100% faithfully reproduce a dish that simply doesn't taste all that good, if this somehow resulted in savings (or, say, a safety margin as regards complexity). For extra safety and security, every rerun of a "Delicious Haute Cuisine Sixteen Course Meal" or "Perfect Apple" program might also be identical, making people grow bored of the excellent taste and interested in getting variety, even if from the inferior natural source.
Maybe we could compare it to vegetables grown outside vs those grown in a greenhouse. They’re both real, but the ones grown outside in the right season taste infinitely better. Perhaps replicated food tastes like food grown in artificial environments since, well, it is an artificial environment!
Tomatoes grown in greenhouses were discovered that lack of sunlight and UV blocking glass in off season is what affects the taste. This was easily remedied with UV-A lamps.
Also, not every crop grown in soil comes out the same or necessarily with good taste.
In Trek, the process of replication would have been perfected to such a degree where replicated foods would likely be superior in every respect to grown foods.
Its the few characters who had differently PREPARED meals (likely with slightly different recipes) who complained about replicated food not tasting the same.
I think this is in line with the general idea conveyed on screen that there are certain elements, either perceptual or present, that impact the taste. Now, for the vast majority that difference may me very little, any more than a particular vintage of wine matters to me. But, for those who are searching for such things there may indeed be a difference that makes the taste different and perhaps less appealing.
Now, replicated foods likely have a lot of positives, primarily in nutrition, but food is more than just nutrition for many and I can imagine different people really wanting that prepared food over the replicated.
Also consider that different species working aboard a starship will have radically different nutritional needs. Some can't even breathe the same atmosphere without some kind of processing or filtering , as seen with the Benzites. One species' essential nutrient might be another species' deadly poison.
Even among humans, individuals will have different dietary needs based on their physical build, physical activity level, any health issues, etc. And sometimes it's nice to just kick back and relax with a small dish of 'empty calories.' It would be rather draconian for the computer to force everyone to consume foods of the same nutritional profile all the time. That would be bad for morale in the relaxed atmosphere of a flying Hilton Hotel like the Enterprise-D. There needs to be some flexibility.
I think the basic intent in universe should be considered. Starfleet puts the well-being of its crews at a premium. I would go so far as to suppose that, given the presumed astronomical advancements of computer storage capacity (getting into the delightfully vague ‘quad’ measurement), a ships computer could store patterns of a hundred individual examples of *one* variety of apple and randomly offer one up each time someone asks for an apple. Likewise steak, caviar, bloodwine, jumja sticks, chicken sandwiches and coffee, martinis, Earl Grey tea, etc. etc. It seems to me perfectly reasonable that Starfleet would consider that expenditure of storage space every but as worthwhile as providing as many individual selections as possible of music, books, films, and so forth for the comfort of the crew.
I think the notion of the computer providing a less than authentic chocolate sundae on the basis of a crew member’s health seems misguided. Even if we don’t 100% subscribe to the idea of a Roddenberryian ‘perfect’ human, we’d probably want to figure that a person who had gone through the effort of becoming a Starfleet officer would be responsible and self-disciplined enough to enjoy an indulgence responsibly from time to time.
Now - would, say, a portion of jambalaya from the replicator be as good as one served up fresh at table at Sisko’s? Maaaaybe, but unless the original pattern was scanned from Sisko’s, I’ll bet it comes in a little under the mark. Not because it’s inherently less good, perhaps, but I suppose that the experience counts for something (atmosphere, personal touches of the chef, and so on).
Consider that even the US Navy has traditionally placed a premium on providing good food for submariners. No reason to suppose that Starfleet would fall anywhere short of two or three hundred percent of that degree of effort. The technology easily provides for that possibility well within reasonable limits of computer storage, available ship’s power, and any other variables at hand.
The notion of ‘artificial sci-fi food that falls short of expectations’ is unimaginative and betrays the spirit behind the idea of replicators. There’ll always be people who look for something to complain about, I guess, but for most Starfleet personnel I’m guessing it’s far more than sufficient.
And Picard and his caviar? He was brought up a) French and b) in a household that explicitly didn’t care for replicators. If the worst he does is get snobby about caviar, well, I suppose one must expect some points a person will be picky about. The bottom line: there’s no accounting for taste.
A far more important question in my mind? Why does an Irishman creating whiskey-flavored gum go with Scotch?
It could also be something along the lines of fast food and sit down restaurants. Fast food is produced to be pretty much exactly the same taste every single time, whereas a burger at a fancier sit down restaurant is going to change slightly every time due to human error. However, we’re probably still going to prefer the burger from the fancier place because there is the human touch going into it rather than a factory.
Replicators have been described with worse qualities as time has gone on since season 1 of TNG, but I think this isn't the replicator having weaknesses in its abilities, not completely. Replicated food is made from transporter patterns, so replicated food should be physically indistinguishable from its non-replicated originating counterpart, just as a transported person is not different at the destination.
Later with Diana ordering the chocolate sundae we find the food is engineered for health, at the cost of, presumably, experience. When Eddington describes the food it sounds artificial at its fundamental basis. My interpretation is complaints over the replicated food have their basis in the pattern, not the output. Certain people don't like replicated food, because the originating dish or scratch pattern is designed for optimized health, combined with an off screen idea that health food tastes bad.
That means there is nothing stopping a person from scanning their favorite dish and that dish coming out identically every time. Replicators just have a bad reputation among retro grouches who have cooked for themselves and liked the output, or ate at a restaurant and preferred the experience. They can't scan the meal because it's too late, they already ate it. Can't eat your cake and keep it for later. Although nothing should be stopping anyone with the inclination of getting an order specifically to make a scan. That being said there are unreplicatable things like drugs and fancy water.
Unreplicatability is a true mystery because the same items can be transported safely without loosing effectiveness, such as with unreplicatable drugs. My guess is such things are actually living, or depend on a life dependent process to achieve or maintain the final product. Anything fermented might come out wrong.
As for Latinum being unreplicatable, it's never actually stated in the show. I like to think it is replicatable, and that its worth comes from the energy it takes to make it. It's physicalized electricity.
...Or simply the paper on which zillion-dollar bills are printed. That is, the only thing that has value is the coded worth, distinguishable by taste and sound in the smaller denominations but more carefully written in the molecules for the bricks and bullions. In isolation, latinum is merely a liquid that can give an exuberant luster to pretty brooches.
Replicating of living stuff doesn't appear to be a showstopper: the EMH does it in "Emanations", and apparently it's what gives Worf back his spine in "Ethics", too. But the criteria might be more exacting than in other applications, due to the ethical aspects of something going wrong. So whole puppies are replicated for research purposes only.
Complaining in general might be based on nothing much. "It's got a gene in it!" or "There are chemicals there!" would be complaints applicable at McDonalds and a six-star Michelin alike, and indeed commonly applied... Only blind tests would be relevant, and we don't get to see those in Trek.
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