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In S02E12 of Star Trek: Discovery it is found to be impossible to delete some recently acquired data from the ship's memory. The data seems to resist being deleted, and cancels a self-destruct sequence to prevent it's own demise.

How can data in a computer memory do this? I'm looking for in-universe explanations.


Note: Not a duplicate of Why can't Discovery's Data Core be separated from the ship?. The question there is why, not how. The answer says that the data can "take over the ship", I'm asking how that is even possible given what we know about computers in Trek.

marked as duplicate by TheLethalCarrot, Jenayah, DavidW, Edlothiad, Mat Cauthon Aug 14 at 11:54

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    In the real world most malware is data that (with varying degrees of success) stops itself being deleted. – OrangeDog Aug 14 at 10:50
  • @OrangeDog that's an interesting point, although they never refer to it as malware but that could be just an oversight. – user Aug 14 at 11:13
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    Lol. There are files on my PC that I can't delete. I've no idea why – Valorum Aug 14 at 11:31
  • Question edited to explain why it's not a dupe, please re-open. – user Aug 14 at 13:49
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In both DS9 S01E17 The Forsaken and TNG S02E11 Contagion, we see downloaded data that manages to operate as a program without being deliberately run.

As such, it would seem that the "recently acquired data" contains-or-is a computer program of sorts, which seeks to preserve itself and is now running on Discovery's computer system.

That said, it should be possible for the crew to cut power to the computer, physically remove the data core, and/or purge it by connecting an uninfected terminal with a suitable firewall and then deleting the data. Or, you know, stop allowing strange code to run on their computers without permission - otherwise they could potentially fall victim to a program encoded in the an object to be scanned, similar to the visual paradox virus in I, Borg (TNG S05E23)

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    Clearly their Norton Antivirus subscription expired. – user Aug 14 at 13:49
  • So basically, the "data" removed all privileges to remove it from other users and had a trigger on it to cancel out any threatening executables against it........this exists today. It's called a virus. – MissouriSpartan Aug 14 at 17:03
  • It comes down to the blurry line between data and programs. At the end of the day, the latter is just a subset of the former. In fiction, and (under the right conditions and with help) occasionally in reality, the line can be crossed. However, I will say that this storyline kind of rubbed me the wrong way as well because it seemed a bit hinky. – Lightness Races in Orbit Aug 14 at 23:48

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