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m5 Passes The Turing Test
From: Marc Thomas
Hi Trek TV Friends, I followed Collin on twitter. Did I notice that quite a few Star Trek and Sci Fi podcast personalities are also following him? I don't quite understand Twitter but it's really cool that he's in some sort of communication with all those people. I find my self wondering if you, the Trek TV hosts and guest hosts, listened to a lot of podcasts before you started producing one. I wish Collin would send an audio eMail to Trek TV. Or is that the sort of musing best consigned to Twitter? Hey, remember that TOS episode The Ultimate Computer? Did everyone recognized Commodore Wesley as played by the same silver man-fox who gave us Lieutenant Commander Giotto in the first season episode Devil in the Dark ? That's right! Barry Russo, who will not reprise his role in an upcoming animated episode in which Commodore Wesley (retired) returns as a Federation planetary governor. You see how I'm trying to instill a marginal spirit of enthusiasm for the next series on the Trek TV's docket? I think Julian knows the cartoon Trek too, because he has an Edosian on the bridge, that's a TAS only alien. Am I wrong Julian? Isn't it funny how us eMailers use Trek TV to talk to each other? Nothing funny about it at all, okay. Okaydoke. A high ranking Fed officer is not, for once, a full on dick! Sure, Westley's "...dunsel" remark may have been a tad insensitive but Kirk was such fucking drama queen about it. He's sure lucky to have codependent Bone-Bone around to get him good and hammered afterwords. Gene's Utopian vision of the future....Booze is the answer. Is 'dunce'l a real word? Navy slang or something? I couldn't find the answer in one quick googling, so I quit trying for now. I'm asking too many questions. Did you all know that "Westley" was Genie Rodd's middle howdy-do, and that's why the name appears with inordinate hailing frequently through out the franchise? Ok pencil's down,the quiz is over. So, Kirk strikes a luddite pose this week, wants to be Horatio Hornblower now. I wasn't too sympathetic, frankly. Most of the time when a significant portion of ones vocation is outsourced or automated one is summarily dismissed. He's still getting paid. Get over you existential crisis and have some more essential oil. What's really unsatisfying about this episode is the failure to show m5 doing anything I wouldn't already expect the computer to do. Flying, and targeting would seem the natural purview of the machine. Much of the most awe inspiring science performed in space has been the handiwork of automata. Check out the NASA web site's 'Current Missions" link and read the list of space crafts and corresponding objectives. Computer guided ships are getting plenty done. Of Course, as successful as, for example, the Spirit and Opportunity rovers were, a geologist on Mars would have left them in the dust. I wish there was more astronaut action, but robots are nothing to sneeze at. In the Trek era, an m5 computer probably would make sense, it seems unlikely they would scrap the whole concept after one mishap. Interesting sociological consequences might result from having a smaller crew but The Ultimate Computer is about one Captain's self-esteem issues. That is certainly an easier story to tell in 48 minutes. Accusations have been made that this is piece of stealth Diabetics propaganda. I think this all comes down to the use of engrams as the pivotal distinction between Dr. Day's m5 and the conventional duotronic computer already in use (does 'duotronic' mean binary coded?) Engrams were the hypothetical human memory banks of proto-neuropsychologist Richard Sermon, a concept then loosely adapted by L Ron Hubbard for his sci-fi cult. I don't know if there is anything more to it than that, or if the author of this episode had any affiliation with Scientology. I sort of don't care, and yet I'm talking about it, fascinating. I think this may be the last time Kirk talks a computer to death. I have programmed my computers to absolutely not self destruct under any circumstance, no matter how many people they kill. I simply can't afford a new one. The Federation has a death penalty for murder on the books? It seems rather unprogressive, but in fairness to Star Trek, capital punishment was still a going concern in Britain and Canada in 1967 was it not? I don't know if my country will ever catch up to the rest of the western democracies on this issue. Justice and vengeance are concepts blurred together here. Wow, that's a grim subject, moving on.... Computers on Star Trek and sci fi generally fascinated me when I was little. To see a real computer, my folks had to drive a handful of miles uphill to the local community college, where a behemoth calculator presided over a few electric typewriters. I was disappointed that no asymmetrical primary colors were to seen dancing beneath a glossy black transparency. The reel to reel tapes and punch cards were cool though. I missed the early days of the PC and internet revolution of the 80's, due in part to financial considerations but also my tendency to cloak my nurditude for social purposes. I was a late adapter, finally being given an iMac by my boss in 1999. I have a newish mac now as well as an old and rusty windows based PC, but I hope to be a linex user like Vaughn when I grow up. These computer-gone-wild episodes always spur my curiosity toward the subject. There is so much to learn. Oh by the way, the 7 year old boy of last weeks anecdote was looking at the Fan Art page and he really loved the Vulcan kitty. He thought it was hilarious. He also liked The Gaspire after I put it into context, and he too, now eagerly awaits the next USS Julep, so taken was he with Oboe. Don't worry your cynical little heads about me inserting too many cute kid stories in future eMails you hipsters, I just wanted the fan artists concerned to get some props. And don't worry about Julian taking his comic into a bluer direction, I'll always catch it first. Oh one last thing, I really am, if not clinically, then temperamentally, an agoraphobe, just not a successful one. My travels having been compelled by circumstance, vocation and before my well earned decline of mojo, girlfriends. Pasty and bloated unworldliness is a condition I aspire to, and some day it will be mine. I'd love to expound on the junk food conversation from last week, but this letter has been long enough. Oh what the Hell, I was in Wales about ten years ago (work) after about 6 months I came home and was thrilled to get a Corn-Dog and and Slurpie at 7/11 but within days I was jonesing hard for jaffa cakes, flake bars, those boxes of little apple pies...oh the list goes on. Someone invent teleportation please. Engorged with sucrose and polyunsaturates, Marc Thomas