In "Descent," Data wishes to explore emotions by fighting Borg Drones on the holodeck. With Geordi watching, he asks the computer to increase Borg strength by 30%. The computer refuses, stating that two senior officers are necessary to effect such a change.

Geordi doesn't really want to help, but Data states that with the holodeck safeties in place, he "knows" he isn't in danger. Yet, Geordi claims that the Borg Drone could "kill" Data, so who is correct?

It doesn't seem possible that, with the safeties engaged, Data would be in any danger whatsoever.


1 Answer 1


I think you've misread the scene. Data is trying to replicate his emotional state. At the beginning of the scene the holodeck safeties are on. He asks the computer to make the Borg stronger and it refuses for safety reasons, presumably on the grounds that making the drone super-strong could result in severe injury. Data asks Geordi to help him reset the strength calibration. Geordi demurs as that would require turning off the safeties.

Data points out that with the safeties in place (as they are now), the simulation is pointless. He wants the safeties off, please.

DATA: (to com) Computer, reset simulation to time index two point one. Increase Borg strength by thirty percent.

COMPUTER VOICE: Unable to comply. A thirty percent increase would exceed safety limits.

Data thinks about this for a moment, then turns to Geordi.

DATA: The computer will require the voice authorizations of two senior officers in order to disable the safety routine. Will you help me?

GEORDI: (concerned) Whoa, wait a minute. (re: Borg) That thing could kill you.

DATA: During the original incident the Borg presented a genuine danger to my life. With the Holodeck safety routine in place, I know that my life is not in danger. Since I am trying to duplicate the conditions of the original incident as closely as possible I must attempt to duplicate the jeopardy as well.

TNG: Decent - Original Screenplay

  • 3
    But why would a 30% increase in strength exceed safety limits if the safeties are on? May 14, 2017 at 3:08
  • 2
    Maybe there's a limit to how much energy the safeties can absorb. May 14, 2017 at 3:14
  • 13
    Because there's no meaningful way for the drone to be "stronger" than Data without also being able to overpower and thus harm him. If the safeties are on, it can't hurt him, therefore it can't be exerting more than some given maximum amount of force on him. Implicitly a request for more force must mean turning off at least one safety setting.
    – user36551
    May 14, 2017 at 3:52
  • 9
    @T-1000'sSon To put it bluntly, a 30% strength increase exceeds a safety limit, period. When "the safeties are on", the computer will refuse to simulate a drone with strength exceeding the limit. Therefore, for Data to get the 30% increase that he wants, the safety routine must be disabled.
    – David Z
    May 14, 2017 at 6:16
  • 9
    @T-1000'sSon: A 30% increase in strength means turning the safeties off. The drone's initial low strength is the safety protocol!! May 14, 2017 at 11:12

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