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Sat, Nov 17, 2012, 9:01pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: The Quality of Life

I agree with William B that, while the argument could have been laid out more clearly and is not always convincing, Data's position is less coldly-detached and more uniquely subjectivist towards machines and the potential of recognition. I think his quick dialogue with Picard at the end states the point pretty well: he felt these machines needed a form of representation that they would never get from those viewing them merely as tools. He was trying to live up to the standards Picard set in Measure of a Man.

I am not sure I find his argument for sentience convincing, since it is based on: a) flexible problem solving ability; and b) self-preservation. The latter is fine, but the robots do not ever seem to do anything beyond their primary function in the episode, so it is hard to disagree with Jammer's claim that they are mostly presented as very advanced tools.

Still, it raises an interesting point left untouched in Measure of a Man: how much of our willingness to accept Data is based on his walking and talking like a man, and how much on legitimate respect for his sentience? I think the episode is flawed, but has some interesting new insights for this ongoing TNG debate.
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