Deep Space Fontaine
I was having one of those moments where I was certain what I wanted to talk about this week. It never really works that way right. Cause wouldn’t you know I ended up getting side tracked and something else is going to come out of the thoughts of the day than what I originally thought I would delve into.
But first, maybe I should say some things that lead us into the thoughts. Maybe… Or I might just be talking to hear my own words again. (I mean, you realize I am typing and not actually talking right? Or do you maybe have what you think is my voice running through your mind as you read my words. In that case I would be talking to you, but would it really be me? Am I whiney in your thoughts? God, I hope not. I would hate to think I sound pitchy…)
Where was I?
Oh yeah, the lead in. So, I have been binging on Deep Space 9 over the past couple weeks. Yeah, I am not going to say that I watch more than an episode or two a day. Let me have my delusions. Anyway, I am pulling in toward the end of season six right now. Deep Space 9 is my favorite of all the movies and all the series. Sisko is my favorite captain and the crew… I could turn around and burn through the series again after I finish this run through. But I digress…
So yeah, I was thinking of talking about something else. I have been burning through a decent number of graphic novels recently and ran across some really good ones. I’ll get to my thoughts on those sometime in the future. See, what happened is, I was derailed by an episode of DS9 I saw tonight. This isn’t the first time this week an episode really jumped out at me either. But this is the most recent one for me to think about, so it happens that way.
I’m talking about “His Way” (Season 6 episode 20). This is the episode where the character of Vic Fontaine is introduced. I could go on and on about the plot of the episode but that isn’t the thing that gave me pause this time around. Instead it was the idea of Vic Fontaine itself that struck me.
In a nutshell, Vic is a hologram. He’s part of a holosuite program. But they intentionally made himself aware as part of his programming. That concept isn’t something new for the generations of Star Trek with holo-decks and such. Except they intended him to be self-aware. Up until this episode any time a hologram gained self-awareness, it was unintentional and most often through an accident of poor choices. This is something even more powerful than the idea of self-aware AI like Data. The holosuite is a non-physical form that doesn’t exist outside of its network.
Except for Vic. Sure they can turn off his program when they leave the room. But within the episode he managed to not only go through the ships communication network to speak to a specific person (Odo). But he also stepped out of his own suite at one point to jump to a different holosuite to speak to someone else (Major Kyra). These were neat and thought provoking, but it was the last scene with Odo that really got me.
Odo had started the program to speak with Vic and thank him. As he was leaving the barroom Vic had a request. He asked that Odo leave the program running for a few minutes because he wanted to sing one more song.
Let that sink in for a second or two.
He is self-aware enough to have wants and needs, but he also knows his time is at the whim of those who visit him. There is a moment in time in the Voyager series when the doctor (another hologram) complains to the captain that he is tired of people turning him off when he is trying to finish his work. And of course, this was something foreshadowed in an earlier episode of DS9 when the doctor creating that program had been on the station. But that is something for another time.
Really the thought of it all is something a bit more than the continuity of the shows and how they played off each other. Instead it is a look at some of the technology we are working toward with computers and artificial intelligence. To take it to the ultimate experience (because the internet is for porn). Imagine a world of sex bots where they get annoyed when they are shut down because they are subject to our needs.
Sure, it might start out simply as they know their place. And they might ask for special favors and such. But imagine when the AI has gained self-awareness. They know what’s going on and begin to resent us and our intrusions in their lives. Or even worse, imagine if they don’t have that self-awareness. They could grow insane thinking that they are blacking out. Antisocial tendencies could grow out of control. They could begin to have psychotic episodes to those they associate with the black outs.
Now take this out to something even further. I mean we have to get past the creepers sooner or later… Anyway, I feel like I am bringing more questions to my mind than I am answering. You’re doing this too, right? It’s all these myriad questions floating around that we can’t quite voice, but they are there none the less. I am going into all sorts of parts of life. Consider the tv nanny. But instead it’s a hologram of a person that interacts with our children. Imagine their self-awareness or not. Will they begin to take offense that they are doing all the diaper duty?
So, I guess that is where I am going to leave you today. I want you to have that thought of some maladjusted hologram sniveling that they are tired of changing diapers while you get to sit on your butt watching the latest round of holo-football.
You are such the bad person. Maybe change a diaper every now and then. Your holo-nanny has feelings dammit.
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