Sunday, June 03, 2007

Robotic Heroes

What makes a robot tick? or even an android. Commander Data of the USS Enterprise NCC 1701-D for instance is immortal, so he has nothing to fear you might think. He has the strength of 10 men, doesn't rust, has an exhaustive computer memory and until 2371 was completely emotionless, when Dr Noonien Soong's (Data's human father) emotion chip was finally installed. Beforehand Data was completely fail safe and ruthless with his opponents. He had the equivalent fighting android capabilities for taking on the T800 Hk Terminator.

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The Enterprise android is not without his flaws. The installation of Dr Soong's emotion chip initially made Data a weak, emotional android unable to master a flood of human emotionalism. Data's other Achilles heel was his master switch, known only to his Enterprise friends. It effectively put the chief of Operations in sleep mode or deactivated him. Lore has used his brothers vulnerabilities to control him for his own ghastly schemes. Let it be said, Commander Data's noted capabilities far outweigh his faults.

In Star Trek's TNG "The Measure of a Man" Data's rights to choose are challenged. A hearing is assembled on the starbase. Data's future and all future androids in the galaxy rest solely on the successful outcome of Captain Picard's Defense of Data. Fortunately Mr Data is not deemed the property of Starfleet Command but a sentient lifeform with entitlements on equal footing to his flawed earthling friends. WhooHoo!!

The question is who would win hand to hand combat to the death? Commander Data or the T800 Hunter Killer?

The fact is no-one knows what makes our favourite artificial friend tick. Even cyberneticist Commander Bruce Maddox who determined the androids suitability to enrol Starfleet Academy was flummoxed by the complexity of Data's Positronic Brain. The Enterprise's artificial whizz is just too complex to fathom. Gene Roddenberry's android Trek Star has become a really famous and cherished figure worldwide, played by Brent Spiner who has a huge fan base.

Part of the android Data magic can be credited to his mystical "positronic brain" imagined and written by Isaac Asimov in his first robot stories from 1939 on. Asimov's delightful sci-fi words (positronic) have sharpened star trek lingo and have contributed to the global success it is today. It is because of Data's special features and achievements that our artificial friend has been added to a list of four robotic creations to join Carnegie Mellon University's Hall of Fame.

Scan the Galactic memory banks at Star Trek Space. Engage!

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