Thanks to Netflix, I've been watching "Elementary, Dear Data" and "Ship In A Bottle". Major spoilers to follow.
|Posted: 23 August 2017 at 11:44pm | IP Logged | 1
In "Elementary, Dear Data", a holodeck simulation of Professor Moriarty becomes self-aware. Geordi and Data have been playing "Sherlock Holmes" and "Watson" in various tales, but Data has been solving the mysteries too quickly. Geordi instructs the computer to create a character capable of challenging Data. The computer does that - literally. The simulated Moriarty progresses beyond his original programming, becoming self-aware. Moriarty eventually becomes de-activated.
In "Ship In A Bottle", Moriarty is re-activated. He is self-aware still. He leaves the holodeck (or so it seems). Eventually, as part of a ruse by Picard and crew, he and a lover go on a journey away from the Enterprise, although they are really part of a holodeck memory cube. They think they have left the Enterprise. They haven't, but from their perspective, they have. They never left the holodeck.
As far as my topic title, this is an episode that raises interesting questions.
Suspension of disbelief is fine. I enjoyed the episodes for what they are. The performance by Daniel Davis as Moriarty was touching. One felt sorry for him. On an entertainment level, and with suspension of disbelief, it's good sci-fi.
However, the suspension of disbelief is important: perhaps I am over-thinking it, but exactly how did he become self-aware? It never made sense. How did he progress beyond his programming? How can a careless comment by Geordi result in a simulated character becoming far more than his original programming? I confess I know zero about artificial intelligence.
It feels like a leap. A big one. A leap that tests the limits of suspension of disbelief. I mean, could a very advanced toaster become sentient by accident? Could a careless act by a Microsoft employee result in Cortana (the virtual assistant) going beyond her programming and becoming self-aware?
"Elementary, Dear Data" and "Ship In A Bottle" have always entertained me - and I wish that Daniel Davis had won some sort of award for his performances in both episodes. But I'm a curious soul, one who has tried to take an interest in science - and one who likes to look at the science in a sci-fi film/TV episode.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely is that a holographic character, in the real world, could ever progress beyond their original programming? Perhaps I really should enjoy these episodes for what they are. Maybe I am over-thinking it all. But I thought it might make for a good discussion.