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FlyingSquirrel
Fri, Feb 10, 2017, 11:39am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: Who Watches the Watchers

Mussolini's views on religion seem to have been somewhat ambiguous and perhaps shifting over time:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benito_Mussolini#Religious_views

It seems clear that he wasn't a practicing Catholic for his entire life, though.
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FlyingSquirrel
Fri, Feb 10, 2017, 11:06am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S7: Masks

It isn't a terrible episode, but it seems kind of pointless. Jammer, I think, once said that smart people solving problems is the central ethos of TNG, but I'd argue that the episodes are still better when the problem-solving gives rise to an interesting dilemma for one or more of the characters or when it somehow parallels a real-life issue. I'm not sure "Masks" really does either. What exactly is the problem being solved - "what happens if an alien intelligence transforms your home/vehicle/workplace into a museum of obscure mythology"?
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FlyingSquirrel
Wed, Jan 11, 2017, 11:18am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S5: In Purgatory's Shadow

Maybe they just haven't gotten close to the Dominion yet? It's unclear how quickly they try to expand and assimilate new species. I always had the impression that they attacked the Federation sooner than they otherwise might have because Q threw the Enterprise into the Delta Quadrant and put the Federation on the Borg's radar. (Though I guess there was some implication that they were responsible for the attacks in "The Neutral Zone"?)
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FlyingSquirrel
Wed, Dec 14, 2016, 10:55am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: Chain of Command, Part I

@Smith - Maybe Starfleet culture is a little more lax, and more tolerant of officers challenging the CO directly, than contemporary military culture? While Starfleet serves as the Federation's military, it also functions as a scientific and diplomatic arm to an extent that modern-day militaries probably don't for the most part, and I'm guessing that there's more freedom to challenge, for example, the lead scientist on an expedition than the CO of a military unit. So perhaps a sort of hybrid culture developed because of the multiple hats that Starfleet wears.
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FlyingSquirrel
Tue, Dec 6, 2016, 2:57pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: Chain of Command, Part I

"So maybe I'm wrong but Nechayev helped to create the situation but introducing "an unstable element to a critical situation"."

I seem to recall Tim Lynch judging Part I a little more harshly than Jammer did, partly because of this issue - while the payoff was worth it, pulling Picard off the Enterprise and assigning him, Crusher, and Worf to this mission doesn't really make a whole lot of sense. Doesn't Starfleet have the equivalent of "special forces," and wouldn't there be someone among them who knows enough about metagenic weapons to handle the mission? Or if not, couldn't they be briefed on the issue sufficiently? I could buy the notion of Worf as one of Starfleet's most proficient practitioners of stealth and combat, but not so much Picard or Crusher.

As for the military culture issue, I could imagine that Starfleet's culture might be a little more lax and free-wheeling compared to that of present-day human militaries. I'm not saying that entirely excuses Riker's behavior, but maybe it doesn't cross the line of unprofessionalism the same way that it might in a contemporary setting. Also, while it may not have taken shape in the writers' heads at this point, his history with the Pegasus might have engendered a certain skepticism of the "pipe down and just follow my orders" command style.
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FlyingSquirrel
Wed, Oct 5, 2016, 1:27pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S2: Samaritan Snare

His campaign is broken. Can you make it go?
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FlyingSquirrel
Tue, Oct 4, 2016, 2:45pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S2: Samaritan Snare

A more basic question - how far is the Enterprise from where Picard is having his procedure and how fast is Warp 9-point-whatever? They receive a message that Picard is near death, and somehow they have time to get LaForge back from the Pakleds and race off to the medical facility for Pulaski to finish the procedure? And there wasn't any other Starfleet medical officer closer to the starbase who could step in? If it was that close, why didn't the Enterprise just drop Picard and Wesley off by transporter in the first place?
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FlyingSquirrel
Tue, Oct 4, 2016, 2:39pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek (2009)

While I enjoyed this movie, I agree with many of Outsider65's criticisms. I'm glad I wasn't the only one who did a double-take at Spock having Kirk thrown off the ship and left on that ice planet. Since when are Starfleet officers allowed to just kick their subordinates off a ship, and why doesn't at least one of the other officers object to something so clearly illegal and disproportionate? I was more confused than anything else when that happened, thinking that I must have missed something and Spock didn't actually order that, or there was some additional reason that Kirk wasn't just relieved of duty and sent to his quarters or to the brig. Between that and the "KHAAAAAAAN" scene in Into Darkness with him beating the living crap out of Khan after that, I really don't like New Spock much at all.

I imagine that the time travel shenanigans were an attempt to pay respect to the Trek franchise's origins, with somebody (I think Spock) explicitly saying that this is now an "alternate reality." But they run into a couple of big problems here: (1) the technology looks fancier than what we saw on TNG, DS9, and Voyager, and (2) some of the characters still seem too different to be believable as just younger versions of the characters we knew from TOS and movies 1-7. I suppose (1) is unavoidable - nobody wants to go back to '80s/'90s TV-level special effects. But (2) could have been avoided - and the impact of (1) somewhat alleviated - if they'd just done a clean reboot instead of messing around with established continuity.
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FlyingSquirrel
Tue, Oct 4, 2016, 2:08pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S2: A Matter of Honor

I wonder if the writers hadn't fully thought through how they wanted to portray the Klingon Empire and its political and military structures at this point. Even if you accept that the Klingon captain isn't the brightest bulb in the fleet and prone to overreaction, I have to think that all Klingon officers would understand that you don't just go attacking a Federation vessel based on suspicion of a single incident without even contacting their High Command or considering alternative explanations first.
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FlyingSquirrel
Wed, Sep 28, 2016, 10:52am (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S3: Basics, Part II

Is it possible that Dourif had enough of a career outside of Trek that they weren't sure he'd be available for future appearances as Suder? I agree that keeping the character around would have been preferable, but I'm wondering if they'd have been able to have him appear regularly after this.
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FlyingSquirrel
Wed, Sep 28, 2016, 10:11am (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S1: Shuttlepod One

"What is more boring than two people stranded on a shuttle/planet for 45 minutes?"

Two people stranded in a corny Irish village holodeck program?
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FlyingSquirrel
Mon, Sep 19, 2016, 3:15pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S4: For the Cause

If there's a benefit to Godwin's Law, it's perhaps that it sometimes pre-empts unproductive discussions about Hitler. It's not necessary to compare Trump or anyone else to Hitler to criticize them, because the result will inevitably be a long argument about how Hitler did horrible things X, Y, and Z and Trump (or whoever) has not done anything analogous to horrible things X, Y, and Z.

I don't see the U.S. literally turning into Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia under Trump or anybody else, but I do worry that our democracy is more fragile than people might realize. I could see us ending up in a sort of limited pseudo-democracy where we still get to vote and free speech hasn't been banned outright, but where we have a "rogue presidency" that skirts the rule of law and people are intimidated into keeping their criticisms quiet.

Hitler probably tends to get mentioned a lot simply because he's the most infamous example of a dictatorship. The fact that he was also one of the most extreme means that many of the comparisons to him will inevitably come off as overwrought and hyperbolic.
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FlyingSquirrel
Mon, Sep 12, 2016, 1:25pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S6: Fury

The more I think about it, the more the time paradox issues just destroy any credibility this episode might have had. I mean, clearly the crew aren't concerned about paradoxes, so why doesn't Young Kes just write herself a note along the lines of, "Reminder: After going through a weird transformation that forces you to leave Voyager, do not go insane and attempt to kill your friends over something that isn't their fault." Or, heck, just set a course for Ocampa immediately after leaving the ship. After all, according to this episode's continuity, she already knows that all this is going to happen at the time of "The Gift," because she experienced it as Young Kes too. Why would she willingly set off on a journey that she knows is going to bring her nothing but grief?

Unless she doesn't remember, but that brings me to perhaps the most ridiculous part of the episode. From the transcript, when we're back in the "present":

CHAKOTAY: We're receiving a distress call. A small vessel on an intercept course.
JANEWAY: Life signs?
KIM: One. It's Ocampan.
(Janeway turns and looks at Tuvok.)
JANEWAY: I'd almost forgotten.

You'd...almost forgotten? You'd almost forgotten that a former crew member is on schedule to travel back in time and try to murder everybody? How the hell do you "almost forget" that?! This is almost enough for me to join the "Janeway should be court-martialed when the crew gets home" crowd.

And then there's Kes herself, also suffering selective amnesia, after viewing the holo-recording of her younger self urging her not to go through with this:

JANEWAY: You told me you had the ability to get home, but you were afraid the Ocampans wouldn't accept you. Why?
KES: I remember.
JANEWAY: What? What do you remember?
KES: The holo-recording. I remember making it. You asked me to help you, to help myself. You wanted me to remember who I was. These years were so filled with confusion and anger. I buried the memory. I'd almost forgotten.

: sigh: Seriously, Kes? We're talking about SEEING YOUR OWN FUTURE SELF TRY TO MURDER YOUR FRIENDS. Now, in a sense, I could *sort of* understand this if they'd established that, for example, they had to erase Young Kes's memory after she made the holo-recording because she was just too disturbed and distraught by all this, or that she developed full-blown psychosis during whatever happened to her after leaving the ship. But the episode doesn't even address this. As I mentioned in my earlier post, it's as if Kes simply put up a "front" all through the rest of S1-S3 and acted like she didn't know that any of this was going to happen. Or at least we have to assume she did - if her behavior was any different, it evidently wasn't enough to change anything else of significance in the timeline.
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FlyingSquirrel
Mon, Aug 29, 2016, 9:28am (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek: Discovery

Re: "Family friendly" - I think the distinction is that most of the current Star Trek material is something that adults can watch with their kids even if some of the themes and subtext will go over the kids' heads. I vaguely recall watching Star Trek I on TV or video at home with my parents (I was born in 1977) and seeing all the movies from at least ST3 on in the theater. (I know I saw Wrath of Khan somewhere in there, can't remember if it was at home or in the theater.) My family and I also watched TNG together from Day 1.

In retrospect, did I "get" everything that was being conveyed? Probably not. I remember that when I first saw "The Outcast," I viewed it as a general "be respectful of people who were different" message as opposed to a gay rights allegory specifically. But for the most part, Star Trek wasn't something where my mom and dad would have to worry that I'd either be freaked out by the level of violence and horror or would have a bunch of uncomfortable questions for them when it was over.
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FlyingSquirrel
Fri, Aug 26, 2016, 3:51pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek: Discovery

I think a serialized prequel has potential. Part of Enterprise's problem in the first two years was that, aside from the crew betraying signs of inexperience at times, some of the stories could have easily been on TOS, TNG, or Voyager - they were just alien/anomaly of the week episodes. When they actually explored issues like how the crew might have reacted to situations in the pre-Prime Directive era or fleshed out some of the history that had been previously left vague, it could be pretty interesting. If nothing else, a serialized 13-episode run doesn't sound like it will be about aliens and anomalies of the week. Hopefully, Fuller and company have specific aspects of Trek history that they want to explore in more detail.
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FlyingSquirrel
Fri, Aug 26, 2016, 9:02am (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S5: Darmok

@Sam - Regarding the universal translator, I suspect that's kind of like warp drive and transporters - the writers will never try to explain it in all its details and nuances, because they can't and it might not be possible even with futuristic science and technology.

As for why it fails with this language, my impression was that it wasn't actually failing in the sense of translating words literally into English or whatever language any crew members might understand. I assume that when Dathon says "Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra" or "Sokath, his eyes uncovered," he's actually speaking the Tamarian words for "and," "at," and "his eyes uncovered," and we're just hearing those words in English as Picard does through the universal translator.

While you're correct that every language has idioms and references that a simple literal translation doesn't capture, I think the problem here is that the Tamarians use them in much greater frequency than any other Trek species, with a lot of proper names thrown in that don't mean anything to other species that don't know the stories. Furthermore, when other species get confused, it appears that they just keep plugging away at it instead of trying to speak in more literal terms, thus giving the Universal Translator little in terms of further useful "data" to extrapolate meanings.

For example, I just used the idiom "keep plugging away." If a non-native English speaker asked me what that meant, I don't think I'd respond, "The Cardinals, World Series 2011." If I did, and the other person was still confused, that certainly at that point I'd say "it means they continue trying even though it's difficult" rather than use another metaphor or cultural reference. The Tamarians' MO when someone doesn't understand one of their references seems to be to declare, "Shaka, when the walls fell" and then try another one.

This is actually where I think one could really take issue with the episode's logic - even if Tamarian culture dictates that they speak in references and metaphors most of the time, they must still at least understand more literal communication to be able to have all these myths and stories in the first place (or to carry out more detailed and specific tasks like building spaceships). So why doesn't it occur to them that they might communicate better with other species if they spoke to them more literally? On the other hand, I sometimes think sci-fi underplays the extent to which intelligent aliens might be very different from us psychologically. So perhaps it makes sense that the Tamarians are smart enough to build spaceships but can't initially figure out why they have trouble communicating with other species.
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FlyingSquirrel
Wed, Aug 24, 2016, 3:50pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek Beyond

I'm not sure that the conflict between Kirk and Krall is that close of a parallel to any RL conflicts, aside from the general idea of whether peaceful cooperation among different species and political units is possible. My problem was more that Krall's motivation was awfully thin.

It seems likely that Starfleet didn't purposely "abandon" the Franklin - rather, they just didn't know what had happened to it and didn't have the resources or the capacity to track it down. It reminded me a bit of Voyager making a complete hash of Kes's character by having her seek "revenge" against the crew for something that she shouldn't have held them responsible for in the first place, at least not if she'd been thinking rationally and consistently with her established characterization. You can surmise that Krall had simply lost his mind after a while (same with Kes too, I suppose), but "it doesn't really make sense because the character is insane" is pretty weak when it comes to explaining a villain's motivation.

It was also unclear to me what exactly Krall's endgame was. Did he simply want to kill as many Federation citizens as possible? Did he think that all this destruction and death would somehow revitalize the Federation and/or humanity by forcing them to find strength through conflict and adversity? The female alien who had staged the whole thing to lure them there said that Krall wanted to "save them from themselves," but this was never really explained - I'm not sure if she was making this up, if she thought it was true but Krall had lied to her, if Krall told her this and really meant it, or what.
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FlyingSquirrel
Wed, Aug 24, 2016, 10:32am (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek Into Darkness

@Jammer:

I didn't exactly see the engineering scene as "heresy." I just found it a little too self-conscious and not entirely justified in story or character terms. It bore the fingerprints of some writers and producers sitting around thinking, "Hey, what if *Kirk* is the one who sacrifices himself and then *Spock* is the one that yells 'KHAAAAAAAAN!' like Shatner did in the original?" Well, OK, it's an interesting idea, but there needs to be a reason for it.

Kirk sacrificing himself is fine as far as I'm concerned. Spock losing it and screaming like that? Eh, not so sure about that. We know that Vulcans do in fact have strong emotions and are simply better at controlling them and not relying on them to make decisions. Is Kirk's apparent death enough to push Spock over the edge? Maybe, but having him then start beating the crap out of Khan, possibly to the point of killing him if Uhura hadn't intervened, seemed excessive and indicative of the movie not really "getting" what Trek and its characters are supposed to be about. Maybe it could have worked if the movie had checked in on Spock later and he was disturbed by his own loss of control, but IIRC it's left entirely unaddressed after that.

Personally, these "reboot" movies have reinforced for me something along the lines of what you said during some of the weaker moments of (I think) Voyager and/or Enterprise - there's a ton of Star Trek out there and it doesn't need to keep going and going and going. If the only ideas for big-screen Trek movies (or, at least, the only ideas that the studios are willing to fund) involve turning it into a wham-whizz-bang sci-fi action franchise, then what's the point? Why not just let Star Trek rest in peace and put the money that it costs to make these movies towards the Star Wars franchise or some other new property?
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FlyingSquirrel
Wed, Aug 24, 2016, 9:20am (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek Beyond

Anyway, if I have one lingering problem with this movie, it's that at times it still feels more like a generic sci-fi action movie than a Star Trek movie per se. An example is the scene where they tip the Franklin off the cliff in order to gain enough velocity to take off. Someone (Chekov, maybe?) asks Sulu if the distance is long enough for this to work, and his response is something like "We're about to find out."

Now, OK, the Franklin is old and damaged, but IIRC, it was functioning well enough that some sort of "distance until impact" indicator was visible. In which case, unless gravity has somehow started working differently, they should pretty much know whether the distance to the bottom allowed for enough acceleration - the only "wild cards" would be any air resistance or slowdowns due to impacts against the cliffsides while they're falling. Admittedly, *I* don't know exactly how to calculate the exact effects of these wild cards on the Franklin's acceleration, but Sulu ought to know how to do that. (Heck, Data probably would have done it in his head in about two seconds.) And I don't think that the intention here was to portray Sulu or anybody else as dumb - rather, I imagine they just took the standard formula of "our heroes attempt some death-defying stunt to save the day" from plenty of other action movies and plugged it in.

But a Starfleet crew doesn't really fit the bill of the action heroes who improvise and scrap their way out of tough situations. They're supposed to be trained professionals with a strong science background who wouldn't just be guessing at whether something like that is going to work. If they had even just taken a second to establish that there was some reason they couldn't be sure (uncertainty about the rock formations and possible instructions, maybe), it probably wouldn't bother me. (And in fact, it didn't bother me until I thought about it later.) But they shouldn't give Sulu a generic line like "We're about to find out." Even something as simple as "We should have enough room to accelerate, but if we hit a ridge on the way down, all bets are off" would have been preferable.
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FlyingSquirrel
Wed, Aug 24, 2016, 8:57am (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek Beyond

Finally got around to seeing this last night. It's probably my favorite of the three Abramsverse movies, though still not at the top of my list for Trek in general. As somebody who really grew up on TNG and saw (I think) every episode of DS9 and most of Voyager, I suppose I have a little trouble accepting this much "sound and fury" from Star Trek. Not even just the higher action quota, but the visual design and how "busy" the screen is in some of the outer space shots. I guess this is inevitable with long-running sci-fi franchises that don't always move "forward" in the timeline, but I had a similar reaction to the Star Wars prequels - the design and detail is much more impressive in Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith than in A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, or Return of the Jedi, even though the prequels were supposed to be taking place at an earlier time. Trek is now in a similar situation - the tech in these movies looks more impressive than what Starfleet is supposedly using 70 or 80 years later. (Enterprise, for all its faults, avoided this problem - the NX-01 didn't look like it could or should outclass the NCC-1701s.)
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FlyingSquirrel
Fri, Jul 1, 2016, 2:50pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S7: Genesis

I actually watched the first half of this on Netflix out of curiosity after the discussion here. At some point Data says something to the effect that people have excess or unused DNA that accounts for why they turn into species that aren't part of human evolutionary history. Obviously the whole "fun with DNA" concept is silly in the first place, but I don't know enough to say whether Data's explanation makes sense in context or not.

I don't disagree that the episode is OK as just goofy fun, though a few parts aside from the bogus science seemed especially sloppy:

1) Data commenting that Troi is "no longer human" - but she's only half-human in the first place, and Data of all crew members should not make a mistake like that out of absent-mindedness.

2) I think at one point they discovered corrosion in a Jefferies tube that was supposedly from Worf spewing acidic venom, but this was before Worf lost it and attacked Troi. Did he just go wandering through a Jefferies tube for fun or something?

3) The whole thing might have been brought under control much more quickly if Ogawa, who wasn't suffering major symptoms, had thought to stay with Riker, who was, while he sends the message to Starfleet. (At least, the implication seemed to be that he never sent it because of his deteriorating intelligence.) For that matter, I'm surprised that Starfleet doesn't program its ships' computers to send some sort of automated distress signal if a ship is damaged or adrift and no input is received from the crew.
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FlyingSquirrel
Thu, Jun 23, 2016, 2:12pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S2: The Measure of a Man

@ Peter G.

"Emergence" was goofy, but wasn't there a scene where they discussed what sort of action to take in light of the fact that they might be dealing with a sentient entity that was trying to communicate? Also, I think the idea was that while a sentient mind seemed to have somehow developed from the ship's computer, the computer in its normal state was not sentient or self-aware.

My own view on AIs, incidentally, is that we probably shouldn't create them if we aren't prepared to grant them individual rights, precisely because we'll end up with these potentially unanswerable questions. I don't know enough about computer science to answer your question about writing and deleting a program, just because I'd need to know more about what would go into the potential process of creating an AI and what kind of testing could be done before activation.

If Data were contained in a box instead of an android body, I actually don't have much trouble saying yes, he should have the same rights. Obviously he wouldn't be able to move around, but I'd impose the same prohibitions against turning him off without his consent or otherwise messing with his programming.
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FlyingSquirrel
Thu, Jun 23, 2016, 1:52pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S6: Schisms

I was pretty young at the time, but I literally couldn't watch the holodeck recreation scene when I first saw it - it was so intense I had to change the channel.
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FlyingSquirrel
Thu, Jun 23, 2016, 1:45pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S7: Genesis

Even if you accept the premise at face value, I have trouble understanding why - if what's happening is a sort of rapid evolution in reverse - any of the human crew would devolve into anything *but* some sort of apelike primate. I can give them some leeway with Troi and Worf, in that I don't think we've ever been told much about how Betazoids and Klingons evolved, but Barclay becoming a spider and Spot a lizard? That's absurd pseudoscience even by the standards of absurd pseudoscience.
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FlyingSquirrel
Thu, Jun 23, 2016, 1:28pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S2: The Measure of a Man

I'm not sure the Enterprise computer would really be considered an AI. My recollection is that it does have certain "canned" responses when asked a question it doesn't understand, suggesting that it is programmed to understand a variety of speech patterns but doesn't actually think on its own. It's perhaps closer to what would be called a virtual intelligence in the Mass Effect universe:

masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Virtual_Intelligence

As for Data and the question of AI sentience, I'm not sure that's a question that anyone, no matter how far in the future, can answer, simply because consciousness is a subjective experience. You can't prove that Data is actually self-aware and conscious, but you can't prove that about anyone other than yourself either. Yes, he's vulnerable to being reprogrammed, but humans have been known to exhibit personality changes due to brain injuries, and nobody would argue that they're no longer sentient or conscious at that point. My feeling is that any AIs with the same range of behavior as what Data (or the Doctor on Voyager) exhibits should have the same rights as humans out of a principle of erring on the side of caution - I'd rather grant human rights to non-sentient beings than deny them to sentient beings.
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