In Star Trek: Enterprise, S4E6, Arik Soongs decides to abandon perfecting humanity but instead turns to Artificial Life. This is implied by his words:

"I've been thinking – perfecting Humanity… may not be possible. Cybernetics… artificial lifeforms… I doubt I'll finish the work myself… might take a generation or two…"

His work is then finished by his descendant, Noonian Soong. It is somewhat implied that Noonian Soong used his great-grandfathers work and perfected it. How did Arik Soong pass his work to his descendant, Noonian?

Was Ariks work made public after his death, i.e. everybody could've been able to use it? Or did Arik pass it down to his child(ren) and they continued his research until Noonian perfected it? If so, how did Arik succeed in handing it over to his relatives without it being confiscated?

If his work has been made public, how comes that Noonian had such an advantage and advance on other scientists? I understand that Noonian was an extraordinary mind. Data lived for over 30 years and they have not been able to even come close to replicate his brain. This implies that other scientists were more than 30 years behind, even though Noonian worked alone on the positronic brain as opposed to entire teams of researchers. Has this ever been explained?

  • 4
    Noonian wasn't working in secret, nor in isolation only off of notes from his ancestor's work...if Dr. Ira Graves is to be believed (which given his immediate recognition of Data and his subsequent actions..seems plausible): "Know him?! I taught him everything he knows. You could say that I was the father of his work" (TNGS2:The Schizoid Man)
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 20:47
  • There's also Option 3: (Starfleet copied all of the research he made while imprisoned, and passed it on to suitable scientists, rather than making it public: Arik Soong was a brilliant scientist, from a Theoretical perspective — his issues were all about knowing when and what to move into the Applied realm. We also know that the guards took all his research, and he believes that it was destroyed - but Archer tells him it has actually been stored), and Option 4: After serving his sentence, he would have released. Commented Mar 13, 2020 at 10:06

1 Answer 1


Soong did not actively keep his work a secret ... at first

In TNG: The Schizoid Man, Dr. Graves is able to recognize Data as Soong's work, and claims that he taught Soong:

GRAVES: No insult intended, Mister Klingon. You see, Doctor, there's nothing wrong with my hearing. My, my, my, my.
DATA: Lieutenant Commander Data
GRAVES: Shhh! Absolutely no aesthetic value whatsoever. Looks like Soong's work.
(Selar is examining Graves behind his back)
DATA: Quite correct, sir! Did you know Doctor Soong?
GRAVES: Know him?! I taught him everything he knows. You could say that I was the father of his work. Which kind of makes me your grandfather, doesn't it sonny?

(TNG: The Schizoid Man)

Soong was regarded a brilliant scientist, but his work on positronic brains had a bad reputation

RIKER: Who? You don't mean Doctor Noonien Soong?
DATA: He was called that here, but his memories indicate he travelled here under a different name.
LAFORGE: Doctor Noonien Soong, my friend, happens to have been Earth's foremost robotics scientist.
TASHA: Until he tried to make Asimov's dream of a positronic brain come true.
RIKER: A positronic brain. He promised so much. And then when he failed completely, Doctor Soong disappeared. Now we know he went somewhere else to try a second time.

(TNG: Datalore)

This dialogue indicates that he was a respected scientist - but not exactly for the work that produced Data. Depending on how much you believe Lore, this is how badly his reputation has suffered:

LORE: Good old Often Wrong Soong. A joke, brother. Actually, he was a genius by human standards.
DATA: But he had destroyed his own reputation by making what seemed wild promises about his positronic brain design, almost all of which failed.

(TNG: Datalore)

He is not the kind of person who shows off his successes

After the attack on Omicron Theta, Soong fled to Terlina Three. He created an even advanced Android version, Julianna, and decided to keep her existence a secret, effectively sending her out to the world without anyone knowing she was an Android (This is explained in TNG: Inheritance)

It's also implied that Soong chose to continue living on Terlina Three, while keeping track on what was going on in Cybernetics:

SOONG: Oh, well. All right, that's enough. Sit down. (he inspects a plant) Beautiful, beautiful. You know, I've been able to keep track of you from time to time. You've become something of a celebrity in cybernetic circles. Data, why Starfleet?

Overall, it seems that Soong was respected, but not for the work which makes him famous. He got famous for promises he could not keep, and ever since, he is withdrawn and doesn't readily share his successes.

Based on all this, I would think that Arik Soong's work wasn't really "usable". It needed Soong's breakthrough, which he had while he was already under cover and didn't share with others.

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