Sunday, March 8, 2015

Character Insight No. 135: Data Clones (Soong androids)

This is the latest installment in a series of "Character Insight" articles regarding the rich history of characters in the Star Trek universe.  An audio version will appear on the This Week in Trek podcast, available for direct download here.
Welcome back to Character Insight! This week, we review the various Soong-type androids similar to Data shown in TNG.
  Lal female.jpg
 (Data's daughter Lal, courtesy 
Data encounters or creates several Soong-type androids during his time on Enterprise, and they all have something to teach Data and the viewer about his own development as a life form. 

In order to recreate the work of his father and experience procreation, Data creates a daughter Lal in the episode The Offsping. Lal was able to improve on Data's own specifications, both in calculation power and in the ability to feel emotions, but this led to a cascade failure that terminated her neural net. This would foreshadow Data's own similar problems with adjusting to the emotion chip in the movies.

Lal quote
Lt. Cmdr. Data: What do you feel, Lal?
Lal: ...I love you, Father.
Lt. Cmdr. Data: [after a pause] I wish I could feel it with you.
Lal: I will feel it for both of us. Thank you for my life.
We also see previous models that did not work as well as Data. In the case of Lore, who was made right before Data, Dr. Soong failed to have a positronic brain that could handle and control emotions, therefore leading to a malevolent superiority complex in Lore. Lore has intense jealousy of Data, and he tries everything to try and kill him. Lore teaches Data the delicate balance between achieving emotions and losing control.

Lore quote from Brothers
 Lore: You'd be surprised, Data. Feelings do funny things. You may even learn to... understand your "evil" brother. To forgive him.  
An even earlier android model called B-4 was discovered during the Star Trek Nemesis movie. His brain and programming is very rudimentary, and Data and La Forge must work with him just to bring him up to speed to potentially be helpful. We are left not knowing how B-4 turns out, although the implication is that he could eventually replace Data, who perished in this movie.
B4 Quote from Star Trek Nemesis
Data: B-4, do you know where you are?
B-4: I am in a room... with lights.
B-4: [observing Riker] Why does the tall man have a furry face? 

Finally, we also see Juliana Tainer, an android replica of Data's mother who was created by Dr. Soong when the real Juliana was about to die. Juliana is unaware that she is an android and is programmed to self-destruct her positronic matrix if she ever finds out, giving her a natural death. Data bonds with her and discovers his affinity for music and art comes from her, valuable assets on the road to becoming more human-like.
Juliana Quote from Inheritance Dr. Juliana Tainer: And considering that giving you a creative aspect was my idea. Oh, your father didn't really see the point. He thought that since you didn't have emotions, there would be no real need for you to express yourself. Somehow, I had the feeling the opposite would be true.
Lt. Commander Data: I do not know for certain. But I believe it is during my creative endeavors that I come closest to experiencing what it must be like to be human.
Dr. Juliana Tainer: Well... I'm glad I insisted.


Each of these characters teaches us vital aspects of Data to help develop his character, building what may have been the most interesting character other than Spock in Star Trek history.
Feedback can be sent to me with future segment suggestions on Twitter @BuckeyeFitzy. Until next time, live long and prosper...

No comments:

Post a Comment