Thursday, April 11, 2019

The Measure of a Man

Season 2 Episode 9
Air Date: February 13th, 1989


Commander Bruce Maddox, a cyberneticist, wants to take Data apart, download his memory banks and figure out what makes him work in hopes of making more androids. Data refuses as he doesn't feel Maddox is ready and might actually damage him in the process. Maddox presents a transfer order and say s Data doesn't have a choice. When Data tries to resign from Starfleet to avoid being forced to subject to Maddox, Maddox says that Data is property and therefore can't resign. Picard challenges this and forces a trial to decide if Data is indeed property.

Since they were at a starbase with no lawyers available, Picard is selected to represent Data and Riker has to prosecute. He doesn't want to but is given no choice as with no prosecutor, the Judge Advocate General for the sector Captain Philippa Louvois would rule in favor of Maddox.

Riker provides a pretty strong prosecution showing Data is a machine much like a ship computer which is clearly property and using his appearance as humanoid to treat him different is an invalid argument. When cross-examined, Picard shows that Data is different then a computer using examples like the book he was going to take after resigning which was a gift from Picard, or a hologram of Lt. Tasha Yar whom he was intimate with.

Even with Picards counter arguments, he felt that Riker's arguments were too good and only after talking to Guinan where she hinted that the issue isn't about Data, but about androids and if they have rights, and if not that they would be doomed to servitude. Riker questions Maddox to find out what makes a human have rights vs Data to have none and shows the court that if Data is considered property they would be dooming all the ones Maddox wants to create to slavery. Louvois agrees and gives Data the right to choose.


This episode is one of the best episodes of TNG and in my opinion in the top 10 of all Star Trek episodes. I still feel moved watching the speech that Picard has at the end of the episode. It is so good that I am going to link to it here.

An interesting look into the future of Star Trek, in Voyager there is a scene that shows a few dozen holographic doctors re-purposed to do asteroid mining work, effectively being forced into servitude in the same way they wanted to do with androids.


"I will not submit to the procedure, sir." - Data
"Data, I understand your objections, but I have to consider Starfleet's interests. What if Commander Maddox is correct, there is a possibility that many more beings like yourself could be constructed." - Picard
"Sir, Lieutenant La Forge's eyes are far superior to human biological eyes. True? Then why are not all human officers required to have their eyes replaced with cybernetic implants? I see. It is precisely because I am not human." - Data

"That will be all, Mister Data." - Picard

"I am the culmination of one man's dream. This is not ego, or vanity. But when Dr. Soong created me, he added to the substance of the universe. If, by your experiments, I am destroyed, something unique, something wonderful will be lost. I cannot permit that. I must protect his dream." - Data

"The Commander is a physical representation of a dream, an idea, conceived of by the mind of a man. Its purpose, to serve human needs and interests. It's a collection of neural nets and heuristic algorithms. Its responses dictated by an elaborate software written by a man, its hardware built by a man. And now a man will shut it off. Pinocchio is broken. Its strings have been cut." - Riker

"Consider that in the history of many worlds, there have always been disposable creatures. They do the dirty work. They do the work that no one else wants to do because it's too difficult or too hazardous. And an army of Datas, all disposable... You don't have to think about their welfare, you don't think about how they feel. Whole generations of disposable people." - Guinan
"You're talking about slavery." - Picard
"Oh, I think that's a little harsh." - Guinan
"I don't think that's a little harsh, I think that's the truth. But that's a truth that we have obscured behind a comfortable, easy euphemism, property. But that's not the issue at all, is it?" - Picard

"Sir, there is a celebration on the Holodeck." - Data
"I have no right to be there." - Riker
"Because you failed in your task?" - Data
"No, God, no. I came that close to winning, Data." - Riker
"Yes, sir." - Data
"I almost cost you your life!" - Riker
"Is it not true that had you refused to prosecute, Captain Louvois would have ruled summarily against me?" - Data
"Yes." - Riker
"That action injured you, and saved me. I will not forget it." - Data
"You're a wise man, my friend." - Riker
"Not yet, sir. But with your help, I am learning." - Data

No comments:

Post a Comment