68

The Borg tend to justify their actions by claiming that they are "improving" species, bringing them closer to perfection. They are bringing order to chaos. Basically they reckon they're the good guys.

Yet, everywhere they go they face as much resistance as their opponents can muster.

Do the Borg ever express surprise at this? Do they ever wonder out loud why literally nobody wants their gift? I'm thinking mainly of statements the Queen might have made.

I suppose perhaps they realise that the "gift" of assimilation is not something people naturally want, but have come to accept that instilling this "greater good" on the galaxy will be worth it in the end.

  • 105
    Hate is irrelevant. – miltonaut Feb 3 '17 at 14:15
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    They've probably noticed all the hate, but they've also noticed that after people are assimilated, they never complain! So obviously the dislike is just irrational biological distrust for anyone superior to them and the most reasonable way to remove it is assimilation. Resistance is futile. – starpilotsix Feb 3 '17 at 14:34
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    They don't care about anyone's opinion, they will be assimilated. – Seeds Feb 3 '17 at 14:44
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    This has left me thinking of a hypothetical species the Borg encounter that jump at the opportunity to be assimilated. Like a species that wants to be rulers of the galaxy but know they don't have the strength or technology and are envious of those who do. Interesting. – David Rouse Feb 3 '17 at 18:24
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    Question improvement suggestion: replace "wonder" with "care" – Mindwin Feb 3 '17 at 19:05
117

A refusal to submit to assimilation is prima facie evidence that the individuals involved are acting like stupid, spoiled children. I've selectively quoted the Borg Queen to give an overview of their thought process when dealing with those who express a desire not to be assimilated.

Do they empathise with their victims? Hell no.

You're experiencing compassion. A human impulse. You've forgotten what it means to be Borg. - Voy: Dark Frontier

and

They've left behind their trivial, selfish lives and they've been reborn with a greater purpose. We've delivered them from chaos into order. - Voy: Dark Frontier

So, do the Borg care what others think about them? Hell no.

Compassion, guilt, empathy. They're irrelevant. - Voy: Dark Frontier

and

All of your emotions, grief, guilt, remorse, compassion, will be irrelevant once humanity is assimilated. - Voy: Dark Frontier

But what about people who're afraid of being assimilated?

Assimilation turns us all into friends. - Voy: Unimatrix Zero

and

I was just about your age when I was assimilated. I was worried then, too. But when I began to hear the others, hear their thoughts, I wasn't afraid anymore. - Voy: Unimatrix Zero

But what about people who prefer their old lives?

I don't understand how anyone could prefer a crude environment to Borg perfection. - Voy: Unimatrix Zero

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    +1 for being the only answer so far to actually quote anything. – jpmc26 Feb 3 '17 at 16:35
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    Perfect, unsurprisingly :) – Lightness Races in Orbit Feb 3 '17 at 16:44
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    Knowing Valorum he probably quoted it from memory, too. – corsiKa Feb 3 '17 at 21:50
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    @DeadMG - Once they've been assimilated, they'll see how great it is. Every dissenting opinion is therefore flawed. – Valorum Feb 4 '17 at 13:10
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    @DeadMG: Well, that's what the West has been doing for a few hundred years. It may not be good logic but it's certainly realistic to expect civilisations to employ it. – Lightness Races in Orbit Feb 4 '17 at 16:06
23

Everyone is the hero of their own story. The Borg are no exception.

A true hero says " I have good in me and evil in me, I need to suppress the evil and elevate the good.

A villain says "I only have good in me, so everything I do is right."

In this case, the Borg are the latter.

So do the Borg question themselves when meeting opposition?

No, because everything they do is just and right, because they are the hero.

It is natural for villains to oppose the hero. From their perspective all other life is the villain.

  • 4
    I really like your point, but it doesn't seem to actually answer the question asked. Right? – bitmask Feb 3 '17 at 15:00
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    @bitmask I added to it, but my point is that as the perceived hero, they don't question their own motives, everything they do is moral and just, and anyone who opposes them is the villain. Which is why they are blind to the criticism of other species. – Jack B Nimble Feb 3 '17 at 15:34
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    What is this "good" and "evil" your answer speaks of? How inefficient must a species be that wastes valuable processing power on such irrelevant questions. – CodesInChaos Feb 4 '17 at 16:43
6

In the films and series there are no indications that the borg ever question their way of doing things or why others don't want to be assimilated.

But we can take guesses there as to why....so lets start with a rundown.

The borg see the collective as the ultimate state of being. And that despite its griveous downsides (stagnation instead of evolving naturally). So they are elevating others who are less than them. Furthermore they themselves need to evolve more but BORG can only achieve this by assimilating others to gain new knowledge....as finding it by themselves it not the Borg way.

So the borg see others as less than themselves. That not only gives them a reason for doing what they do BUT also a reason why the others may resist. They are not advanced / evolved enough to understand that they are becoming more than they ever were.So that they resist this is understandable as most species fear changes. Especially such drastic ones.

Furthermore the borg as a species want to survive. And for that they need to evolve. Thus by assimilating others they are protecting themselves.

So all in all there are only advantages and minor (individual) disadvantages. In addition for the assimilation to be necessary for the borg to survive (before others become powerful enough to seek revenge on them....see what happens then with a specific fluid space race).

So even if an individual would be questioning their way.....the borg as a whole KNOW they have to stick to it in order to survive. Thus questining it would be inefficient and if the borg are anything then it is efficient.

One last thing here though. MAYBE if enough beings with remorse are assimilated at the same time the borg collective would change....but aside from this the Borg are very unlikely to change in their behavious.

  • 1
    This answer is great until the last piece. Is there any evidence that the Borg adopt any of an assimilated individuals feelings or point of view other than their knowledge? If not, I would consider dropping that sentence. – Kosmos Feb 3 '17 at 17:30
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    It is indicated by their hive like nature. At least until late voyager and films when the Queen was introduced it was indicated time and again that the borg are "just" the sum of their components. Thus also their point of view so to say. With the queens introduction it became hypothetical though...as she brings order into the chaos. Thus it is unclear begining with that if the borgs oppinion could be swayed by a mass (before that even the Voyager episode with the protoborg indicated such a thing). At least if I got those episodes right. Corect me if I'm wrong there. – Thomas Feb 3 '17 at 20:30
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    It's very much evidenced by the matter of Hugh on TNG- the Borg cut him off and a bunch of others because his individualist nature was threatening their collective – DeadMG Feb 4 '17 at 12:54
5

A species or people only justify their actions when they need to rationalize an action they recognize as violating their ethical code. For instance, we justify killing people in war as "we are protecting ourselves or our land." Assimilating other species does not violate the ethics of the Borg.

Lacking empathy, they do not take notice of hatred. As starpilotsix commented, nobody complains once they have been assimlated.

IMO, the Queen only tried to convince Data because the Borg saw Data as potential for huge improvement and perhaps feared that he would be destroyed if they simply converted him with implants.

  • There was also an implication that the Queen wanted more than a drone, or to simply absorb Data's technology. She wanted, for lack of a better term, a consort, just as she had tried with Locutus. – ench Feb 3 '17 at 15:50
  • I would disagree with your first sentence. All actions require justification. Quotes such as 'we are protecting our ____' only arise when the perpetrator is challenged. Killing can be used for good or bad purposes, though certainly should not be desired within utopia. – DeepDeadpool Feb 3 '17 at 16:30
1

In AI coding we have a property called Orthogonality.

It's the same as orthogonality in math. If you have an equation that only gives points on a plane, it will not move the projection of a point on an orthogonal line to that plane no matter what the inputs are.

Likewise if we make an AI, and it's purpose is say, to keep all the rooms in a building at a comfortable temperature, it will do that no matter how much energy it has to waste. In reality if it had control of the doors there would be simple limits in there like "don't close a door while someone is standing in it", but if the only thing you tell that AI to do is "keep the rooms at 72 degrees" it will waste all the power it has to in order to do that. If that AI became super intelligent, it wouldn't suddenly care about self preservation, or love, or all the stuff AIs in movies decide they care about. Those things are orthogonal, to it's goal. If it's not "three laws safe" and some fool made a learning AI with only the goals of keeping the rooms comfortable, it probably wouldn't kill anyone, but only because it knows that if it does they'll probably cut off it's power and then it can't keep the rooms at 72 degrees.

What I'm saying is, their goal isn't necessarily what we would consider a good goal, like happiness. Their goal as most often stated is perfection, a secondary goal seems to be power, but that's probably to help toward the goal of perfection. So it's not necessarily that they think beings are happier once assimilated, but happiness is probably just something they don't consider to be crucial to their goal of perfection. It would really depend on where their definition of perfection came from. It probably involves everything being efficient, organized, and under one unified goal. If they could make everyone happy to be assimilated that might make things easier on them, but they probably calculated that trying to understand each one of billions of vastly different cultures well enough to persuade them to want to be assimilated would be far less efficient than just overpowering them.

  • 1
    The Borg are quite clearly sentient and self-aware, even if we only consider the Queen. – Lightness Races in Orbit Feb 5 '17 at 12:48
  • I didn't mean they aren't self aware, I meant that if their values don't take into account happiness that no amount of unhappiness will effect their decisions. An intelligence doesn't have to be artificial for different values to cause it to do things that make no sense to humans. – Paul S Feb 6 '17 at 1:16
  • Right, then I don't understand the relevance of your answer ;p – Lightness Races in Orbit Feb 6 '17 at 10:19
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    It's relevant because we tend to anthropomorphize everything. Just because a thing is as intelligent as a human doesn't mean it thinks like a human. I mention AI because it's something I work with and it involves a lot of study of intelligence, but it leads you to realize that alien intelligence could be truly "alien". Things like love, friendship, and happiness don't matter more because your IQ is above 100. If a spider, for example, gained human level intellect it still would have the same goals, it would just be better at achieving them. – Paul S Feb 6 '17 at 15:54
  • @P​​​​​​​​​​​​​aulS: Conversely, just because they're not human doesn't mean they don't think like a human, which you are assuming :) I work with AI too but the AI we create today has basically nothing to do with the Borg. Drones' bodies are augmented with technology but, fundamentally, the Borg are a mind-linked collective of biological, sentient organisms. That is, they're not AI. – Lightness Races in Orbit Feb 6 '17 at 16:03
0

Besides “irrelevence,” another term the Borg like to throw around is “inevitability.” The key feature of what Iain Banks called a "hegemonising swarm", after all, is self-replication. It is then useful to think of the Borg as a cancerous cluster of cells that will replicate until all matter is eaten. From the perspective of the cancer, this fate is inevitable.

It's also worthwhile to take the Borg's view of perfection. The non-Borg life cycle is one of endless birth, life, and death — the Hindu wheel of karma. But the Hindu religion believes that this cycle is one of pain, and the ultimate goal of any sane person is an escape from that cycle. The end result is an empty universe, devoid of life.

The Borg are pursuing another escape from the wheel of Karma — one of perfect, eternal, ordered life. Whether that is life or un-life is a fair argument, I suppose, but as an alternative to the void they might have a point.

  • Except that the Borg aren't indiscriminately swarming. They absorb that which makes them more perfect and merely observe that which does not for signs of future improvement. – Valorum Feb 6 '17 at 15:43
-2

Everybody loves the Borg

Seriously. The Federation may be ideologically opposed to the Borg, but they don't represent everyone. We, the viewers, are meant to identify with the Federation, and are often shown the plight of rebel groups and opposed factions.

Worse, we are conditioned to dogmatically dismiss all evidence of factions that welcome being assimilated into the Borg — after all, those factions are now Borg themselves, so how can we trust their opinions?

(yes, the title is sensationalism; by the very issues I bring up in my answer I can't trust myself to be a fair judge of the Borg)

  • 2
    You can't be a fair judge of the Borg, but you can examine the opinions of the people within the Star Trek universe. This answer is completely unsupported. Numerous races have expressed their fear of, disdain for, and/or resistance to assimilation. I certainly don't know of any canon examples of races that welcomed the Borg. And while a number of Borg have experienced anxiety and depression at having been cut off or de-Borg-ified, it typically doesn't take them that long to start redeveloping a view of opposition. (Even Hugh started wanting to defy the collective's directives.) – jpmc26 Feb 5 '17 at 6:32
  • +1 for standing up to mass ire and scolding by posting this answer :-) – einpoklum Feb 6 '17 at 8:40

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