Saturday, February 9, 2019

The Ultimate Computer

TOS Season 2 Episode 24
Air Date: March 8th, 1968

The Enterprise is called to a star base where the crew of the Enterprise is to be confined to a security bay. Commodore Wesley transports to the Enterprise and explains that Enterprise will be involved in a war game, a simulation, where the Enterprise will be fully automated by an AI computer called M-5 designed by Dr. Richard Daystrom and be attacked by a Federation fleet. Kirk would still be in command, but with a skeleton crew of 20 people.

The beginnings of the episodes asks the questions of the moral and societal issues surrounding replacing people with computers. An issue that was rudimentary in the 60s but very much a concern people have today.

When the Enterprise arrives at a class M planet, Kirk defines his landing party and M-5 provides its. What was interesting is M-5 chose to exclude Kirk and McCoy saying they are non essential to the task.

Two Federation ships appear on sensors and attack the Enterprise. M-5 performs all actions just before Kirk asks for them. Things like declaring red alert. M-5 performs efficiently and with minimal simulated damage, but was able to do severe damage to the two attacking ships with extreme precision.

Later another ship, an unmanned freighter shows up and M-5 takes over. The crew try to stop it but the cutoff switches don't work. M-5 destroys the ship. Kirk orders the computer shutdown, but when they go to the computer, there is a force field around it. Dr Daystrom claims to know nothing about a force field. Scotty attempts to turn off the computer by disengaging it from the power source, and the computer kills an engineer by running the power directly from the warp engines creating a power beam.

Scotty and Spock disengage the computer from navigation but when they try to change direction, but M-5 figures out what they were doing and already bypassed navigation itself. Spock realizes that the computer is acting more like a human then a machine, which Dr Daystrom confirms. This could be a precursor to the positronic net that is used in Lt. Cmdr. Data.

The USS Lexington shows up with the USS Excelsior again to perform another drill only M-5 uses full phaser power and does severe damage to the other ships. Commodore Wesley sends a message to Starfleet to let them know they need to destroy the Enterprise. Kirk convinces Daystrom to talk to M-5 to stop it from killing but M-5 refuses. Kirk tells M-5 that it committed murder and that it should pay the price for this. M-5 agrees and disables the Enterprise so the Lexington and destroy it.

Scotty is able to disengage M-5 and cuts power which tells the Lexington that the Enterprise is no longer aggressive.

"The most unfortunate lack in current computer programming is that there is nothing available to immediately replace the starship surgeon." - Spock
"Very funny. If it could, they wouldn't have to replace me. I'd resign because everybody else aboard would be nothing but circuits and memory banks. You know the type, Spock." - McCoy

"Am I afraid of losing my job to that computer?" - Kirk

"Machine over man, Spock? It was impressive. It might even be practical." - Kirk
"Practical, Captain? Perhaps. But not desirable. Computers make excellent and efficient servants, but I have no wish to serve under them. Captain the star ship also runs on loyalty to one man, and nothing can replace it, or him." - Spock

"'All I ask is a tall ship, and a star to steer by'. You could feel the wind at your back in those days. The sounds of the sea beneath you. And even if you take away the wind and the water, it's still the same. The ship is yours. You can feel her. And the stars are still there, Bones." - Kirk

"One machine can do all those things they send men out to do now. Men no longer need die in space or on some alien world. Men can live and go on to achieve greater things than fact-finding and dying for galactic space, which is neither ours to give or to take." - Daystrom

"It appears, Captain, we've been doing what used to be called pursuing a wild goose." - Spock

"Jim, he's on the edge of a nervous breakdown, if not insanity." - McCoy

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