Critical Views on the Star Trek

Since the very first episode of Star Trek, they have worked hard to introduce many new intriguing characters, species and worlds, but none has been more remarkable than the data of the Lieutenant Commander of the Enterprise in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Played by Brent Spiner, Data was a synthetic android with an artificial intelligence created by Dr. Noonien Soong (also played by Spiner) in his own image. Although he may have been artificial, Data was perhaps one of the most real characters in the series.

While some have claimed that Data is Spock’s successor, offering a unique perspective and approach from an outsider within a very human stellar fleet, there is no denying that he has quickly risen in a league of his own. In his quest to understand human emotion, Data has spent a lot of time exploring the very nature of humanity itself. From sadness and cheerfulness to anger and love, Data practiced jokes to make others laugh, tried his hand at parenting and even became a loving pet owner to spot the cat. He tried his hand at a romance or two, just to see what it might look like, and although it’s hard to say that he loved mystery and Sherlock Holmes, there’s really no other way to describe his fascination.

Throughout the series and in the films, Data has become a shining example for everyone around him. In the first season of Picard, a retired admiral Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) was often seen lamenting the absence of Data from his life. Over the years, he had come to regard him as his closest friend and confidant, and with good reason. Data’s intelligence was matched only by his wisdom and, in the end, his humanity.

Artificial intelligence is still often a terrifying concept for humanity, but data was the exception. As a character, he has left fans with many profound statements and reflections to ponder, and sometimes they are more human than human. His thoughtful comment on humanity and life lingers, leaving many wondering how much easier life could be if everyone he approached it from the same point of view as the data.

“I would gladly risk feeling bad sometimes…”

Data’s influence often extended to the children around him, such as Timothy, whom he rescued in Season 5, episode 11, “Hero Worship.”Timothy’s fascination with data prompted the boy to proclaim that he was an android himself, an effort to forget the horrors he had seen and how it made him feel. But Data stressed that being an android had equal advantages and disadvantages, saying: “I would gladly risk feeling bad sometimes, if it also meant that I could taste my dessert.”

Data’s reminder of how often humanity takes the pleasures of life for granted was not unique. In his desire to live life as a human, he could more easily see all the little things that humans inadvertently ignore. Like the chance they have to taste, touch, smell, see, hear, then process what we feel to really experience something.

“In case of ditching…”

Data spent a lot of time testing jokes and trying to make people laugh. In the movie Star Trek: Insurrection, he reminded everyone: “In case of landing on water, I was designed to serve as a flotation device.”Although hilarious, the funniest part of his little joke was that there was probably some truth to it. Dr. Soong had a weird sense of humor, and turning his deepest and most intelligent creation into a flotation device to serve the people around him well would not have been so far-fetched.

Dominic D. Bowman

Dominic D. Bowman

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