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In the Enterprise episode "Dead Stop", T'Pol says:

The cerebral cortex is the most sophisticated computer known to exist.

When I first heard this, it took me back a little because of the franchise's propensity to show us notably advanced technology. Swiftly realising that T'Pol's statement was apparently nonetheless accurate, at least at the time of Enterprise, I came to wonder: did this ever change in canon?


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  • 21
    Um, Data, Lore, Tainer, Moriarty, Exocomps, EMH – ThePopMachine Oct 24 '15 at 21:46
  • Admittedly I'd managed to forget all about androids and whatnot. I'm tempted to clarify that I'm interested in computers that manage stuff, like ship computers (as that was the real crux of my question) but I'm not sure there's much point. – Lightness Races in Orbit Oct 24 '15 at 23:48
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    I would argue that the Enterprise D's independent (not commanded/instructed) use of the holodeck to amass enough connections (which Data tried disconnecting, holding up a taxi by the bumper, if I recall correctly) in order to seek out a pulsar to acquire sufficient energy to reproduce, I would say yes. Memory alpha link to TNG ep. "Emergence". – Eric McCormick Oct 25 '15 at 1:48
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    @EricMcCormick: Refreshing my memory of that episode, I always had a bit of a problem with it, in that it seemed unlikely that this emergent intelligence would just spontaneously form from the ship's systems and then die after reproducing, with such an occurrence never again taking place even on more advanced starships. I concede that this is not a million miles from how life on Earth started: by chance. Still, I always liked to think that something at the ship's original destination provided the spark; certainly, at the conclusion of the episode, its increased "will" seemed to be gone. – Lightness Races in Orbit Oct 25 '15 at 1:59
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    @EricMcCormick: Me too. In that light, I personally preferred the sort of "consciousness" that the Destiny was (and wasn't) developing after hundreds of thousands of years steaming endlessly into the void, in SGU. It seemed like a far more consistent and believable portrayal of how a sophisticated computer system might reasonably evolve over a great deal of time. – Lightness Races in Orbit Oct 25 '15 at 2:06
17

Yes!

It could be argued that this had been accomplished as early as 2268 (some 116 years after "Dead Stop", by the M-5 multitronic unit. The M-5 was said to have circuity resembling the human brain's neural network, and to be able to think and reason like a human.

By the 23rd Century, of course, the positronic brains of Soong-type androids (Data, Lore and Tainer) were a clear match for the complexities of the human brain. It is less clear which holographic characters counted as having truly sophisticated brains, as distinct from simply being excellent facsimiles of human behaviour, but Voyager's Emergency Medical Hologram at least was generally considered to have programming sufficiently sophisticated to allow for self-awareness.

12

Yes: look at Data.

Data is an artifical intelligence, defined here as:

computer hardware and software sophisticated enough to reason independently, form new conclusions, and alter its own responses.

His positronic brain is considerered at least the equivalent of a human brain in intelligence. There is a TNG episode devoted to the issue of whether Data is truly a sentient being, and the conclusion is that yes, he is. He appears to be fully as capable as a human being.

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    "Equivalent"? I'd say he's far surpassed human intelligence. Okay, lack of emotions might be a bit of a down-side, but apparently that can be fixed with just one tiny chip, not to mention Lore never suffered from the same drawback (and he actually came first I believe?) – Darrel Hoffman Oct 25 '15 at 14:56
  • @DarrelHoffman Edited! – Rand al'Thor Oct 25 '15 at 14:57
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In addition to those already spoken of, we also have Rayna Kapec, the android made by Flint that we see in 'Requiem for Methuselah' in TOS.

Another instance (and possibly the earliest we see in canon) are the androids on Exo III manufactured by the Old Ones in 'What are little girls made of?'

  • 2
    Both excellent points, but I think they both fall short for the same reason: They were demonstrated, in the episodes in question, to not quite be able to manage fully human-complex behavior. Rayna couldn't handle her conflicting feelings for Flint and Kirk. (That said, tragically, this happens to humans as well.) The Korby android at the end, trying to convince Chapel that he was really Korby, kept falling back to computer-like behavior: "I'm not a computer. Test me. Ask me to solve any....equate...transmit..." Still, Rayna seems pretty darned close. – T.J. Crowder Oct 25 '15 at 11:59
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    @T.J.Crowder oh I agree that they fall short of Data, I just thought I'd add these for consideration! – Often Right Oct 25 '15 at 21:54
  • As of Kirk's time, the computers weren't very sophisticated (or maybe the script writers weren't) as evidenced by the Enterprise's computer actually trying to calculate pi to the last digit. ("Wolf in the Fold") – ab2 Oct 28 '15 at 0:06

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