Elheru Aran wrote: Simon_Jester wrote:
Elheru Aran wrote:The holodeck is worth a whole book in its various violations of security. There is absolutely no reason why a.) programs should be permitted to become sentient,
Many of the legitimate uses of the holodeck involve creating characters that can convincingly impersonate being human, which requires that they be at or near human levels of intelligence.
Impersonating humanity is one thing; a chatbot can do that with enough practice.
Impersonating humanity convincingly
, I said. A 'dumb' chatbot will rapidly become obvious as a chatbot. Meanwhile, the problem isn't that literally every character needs to be sentient; when Tasha Yar programs a simulated martial artist to fight, there is no need for the martial artist to be sentient. If they walk into a Sherlock Holmes mystery, the random people on the street don't need to be sentient.
The problem is that SOME
applications may require sentience. For instance, La Forge creates a holographic simulation of one of the people who designed the Enterprise
's warp drive to escape a certain crisis. And the holo-version of Leah Brahms actually helped. The holodeck's ability to generate an artificial personality smart enough to convincingly impersonate a warp physicist literally saved the ship
in that case.
Being actually sentient even though created out of whole cloth is quite another. It opens up a massive ethical issue.
I actually agree with you, but it is an issue that the Federation has chosen to ignore by the way they use holodeck technology, which includes routine interaction with simulated holographic persons for their personal entertainment.
A holodeck character doesn't NEED to be capable of holding a complex conversation, frankly, unless that's its specific purpose (social interaction). A holodeck character in a Wild West scenario doesn't need to be able to discuss warp physics at length. Holodeck NPC's don't need to be capable of more than a few lines and appropriate reactions.
On a military starship (and let's face it, that's what the Enterprise et al. are), there is no place for spontaneously creating sentient holographic characters, *especially* ones that could very well endanger the ship!
It wouldn't be a problem so long as holographic characters couldn't
endanger the ship by leaving the holodeck and its computers. The problem, really, is that there is a persistent flaw which enables them to do so. Which, as you say, Picard really, really should have eliminated somehow.
Frankly 'oops' isn't an excuse. The first time such a vulnerability was found, Picard should have ordered it rooted out and closed after the first damn episode where it was found out that holodeck characters were capable of controlling the ship.
I fully agree with you. As I understand it, the first time that happened was with Moriarty. And Moriarty duplicated the feat four years later. Aside from trouble with Moriarty, did this ever happen again on the Enterprise-D?
c.) the holodeck should be capable of outright killing people.
They're not, normally. But apparently they decided that the safety features which make that "cannot kill" guarantee possible should be things that the user can switch on and off, which opens up some serious vulnerabilities.
The level of danger we see from holodecks in Star Trek episodes cannot
be the normal level of danger for the Federation as a whole, or they would have put better safeguards in play. Honestly, I feel like it makes more sense to blame the specific weirdness we see on the fact that we're seeing weird ships. The Enterprise-D
had its computers monkeyed with by various alien hackers and viruses early in the series and may well never have been fully 'normal' again.* And Voyager
went several years without dockside maintenance or technical support, and with an active emergency hologram personality (one that was of necessity sentient), operating far, far longer than anyone ever intended.
I understand specific ships being particularly weird. But the safety protocols should be something that's hard-coded into the holodeck and cannot be turned off without very specific authorization. Even less should the holodeck be capable of turning them off by itself!
I agree with you fully on this point. The safety protocols should not be a thing that can be disabled on the holodeck except by the permission of very senior officers. Say, the ship's captain, first officer, chief engineer, operations officer, and security officer.
Of course, on Next Generation,
those people are Picard, Riker, LaForge, Data, and Worf, respectively- five of the main characters out of a recurring cast of no more than ten or so. On Voyager
, likewise, that's Janeway, Chakotay, Torres, Kim, and Tuvok. Same problem.
We routinely see the actions of the handful of people on the ship who, by the nature of their jobs, need
extremely high level access to the ship's computers. This may result in them sometimes bypassing security measures which a prudent and better-trained person would respect. And if anyone objects that it's unrealistic for senior officers to ignore computer security or disable it for reasons they find temporarily convenient... Well, just look at the kerfluffle over Hillary Clinton's emails for an example of that happening in real life. It's a scandal and a lot of people are upset about it- but the fact remains that it happened
, just as people given root access to networks routinely abuse it.