Control has so far shown A LOT of abilities and a huge adaptability to situations and the ability to outsmart even very intelligent organic beings and set traps for them.

What I'm wondering is if its existence contradicts the set canon.

In TOS we had a super computer once who was given control over the Enterprise during wargames....that computer (an AI in essence) was said to be the best state of the art available in the Federation. Still, though it seems very lacking compared to Control.

Then 100 years later...Data with his positronic brain. He seems to be on equal footing with Control...MAYBE a bit more capable even. Still though it was said that his very existence and that he can be so humanlike is something extremely extraordinary and unheard of for artificial intelligence.

(Control on the other hand manages to impersonate humans quite easily and even better than Data was in that area as he always seemed very stiff there).

So as it stands Control seems to be way too superior to what should be state of the art in that era and even 100 years later. Thus my question is: Does Control's very existence contradict canon (with how control currently is....sans any time travels to eliminate its existence from the start)?

  • 5
    Not quite an answer, but the reason Data was stiff and not human was because he was designed that way. His earlier-built "brother" Lore was much more realistic - dangerously so.
    – Cadence
    Apr 5, 2019 at 21:22
  • @Cadence I know still though data was adaptable but not so much. he could not escape that part of his coding....control managed to override every bit of its codingso far (especially the protect us part)
    – Thomas
    Apr 5, 2019 at 21:25
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    It seems Discovery is overwriting most of the canon in many aspects... Spore drive!? AI?! Spock has a sister!? Khaaan
    – Hans Olo
    Apr 5, 2019 at 23:37
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    To me, we aren't really sure about Control and its capabilities. For all we know, it could be slow to compute, slow to act, full of problems. We only see it from time to time. When we see it we see it usually fails. It's possible, at least, that Control isn't a very good AI. It doesn't seem to take over human bodies all that well. It doesn't think to build its own time suit. It doesn't do a lot of obvious stuff. Perhaps it is simplistic, perhaps it is a child. Perhaps it's just not all that great of an AI. Apr 16, 2019 at 15:43
  • one contradiction I see in itself is....control is not self aware but....reacts way outside its programming @JerryNixon-TOS aside from that it goes about the 2nd best star fleet has to offer and only gets surprised else it managed to completely outmaneuver them the whole time
    – Thomas
    Apr 16, 2019 at 18:42

1 Answer 1


It's extremely difficult to compare the depiction of AI, and computer technology in general, in Star Trek (1966-69) and in Star Trek: Discovery, for the simple reason that the writers of the Original Series all had far less familiarity with computers, even as they existed in the late 1960s, than any given writer in 2018 is going to have, just by virtue of using a word-processor every day. Nobody in 1966 had any idea how rapidly, or in what directions, computer technology would progress. What seemed perfectly likely and realistic to them, then, seems stilted and quaint to us, today, even though the real problems of AI, per se, mostly remain unsolved.

The other difficulty is that we, as viewers, have a natural tendency to assume that we're always being told the truth, within the context of the fictional universe we're viewing. When Daystrom says that M5 is more advanced than any other computer ever installed on a starship, we believe him. And Daystrom himself may well have believed it.

Star Trek: Discovery is working around these problems a couple of different ways. Firstly, Control comes by most of its really advanced capabilities after "contamination" by its own future self (a Grandfather Paradox that mostly blows right by us), and absorption of data form the Sphere. Before that, we don't really know that it's that much more advanced than, say, the computers aboard Discovery or Enterprise; only that it's been relied upon by people who are not as wary as Kirk (or Georgiou, for that matter) of non-biological intelligences for decision making.

Secondly, most of the events of Season 2 wind up highly classified. Spock knows about Control, but he himself advises Starfleet not to ever talk about it again (DIS: "Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2"). Spock is essentially formulating a primitive Temporal Prime Directive for Starfleet, and we're left to assume that they listen to him, at least on some level. So, he's not about to contradict Daystrom, 10 years later, by mentioning a highly classified Section 31 AI that became infected by its own future self and tried to become powerful enough to destroy all sentient life (even though Daystrom knowing about that might have made him think twice). Nobody else involved in TOS: "The Ultimate Computer" would have known about Control at all.

  • 'Nobody else involved in TOS: "The Ultimate Computer" would have known about Control at all.' - uh, let's see ... the crew of the Enterprise at the time, and many of the Discovery crew - that's ranging somewhere in the low hundreds - witnessed the chase and battles against Control first-hand, and are still around at the time of "The Ultimate Computer". In the latter episode, the full crews of five Constitution class starships, including the Enterprise, are "involved" in some way. It seems quite conceivable that at least a few more people than just Spock were present during both events. Apr 23, 2019 at 22:47
  • I mostly agree with the rest of your answer, even though one should note that while "any given writer in 2018 is going to have [more familiarity with computers than writers in the 1960s], just by virtue of using a word-processor every day", computers, notably including those during Discovery's Control arc, are still treated a lot like incomprehensible magic rather than realistic technology. Apr 23, 2019 at 22:50
  • "When Daystrom says that M5 is more advanced than any other computer ever installed on a starship, " Daystrom is right there though with his comment.....control was never installed on a starship (aside from control doing it itself).
    – Thomas
    Apr 24, 2019 at 7:08
  • @Thomas I considered that point -- Control's hardware was initially based on a space station, and might well have had more capability than even fancy-schmancy starships such as Enterprise and Discovery. It seemed like splitting too fine a hair, though, given the additional point that, as O.R.Mapper points out, even now, most writers don't really know from computers. Apr 24, 2019 at 18:14

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