The theory that the Federation is aware that their ship computers are indeed sentient but are suppressing said sentience is a chilling one.

That is much different from Federation computers being able to simply pretend to be sentient but not actually be sentient.

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In TNG: "Measure of a Man" Guinan suggests that: "regardless of whether Data is a machine or not, Maddox's plans for reproducing him would lead to a situation tantamount to slavery."

Picard then argues that Data meets 2 out of 3 criteria that Maddox uses to define sentient life - intelligence and self-awareness and the third consciousness cannot be measured.

AFAIK, ship computers in ST have never demonstrated self-awareness but can create such beings (see TNG - Moriarty, VOY EMH).

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To me that suggests that the Federation is able to create "emergent" AAI that can become sentient but ship computers have restraints placed on them to prevent such emergence from occurring.

This to presumably avoid the consequences of having sentient ship computers with fully realized rights that every Federation citizen possesses amongst other complications like for example: the ship computer having a conscience and rejecting a order based on that.

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@guinan i once wrote up this whole theory that in fact the federation is, semi-unbeknownst to the humans, actually a post-singularity civilization rife with strong AIs who are mostly going about their own business all over the galaxy and sort of maintaining the functions of the human-level systems at a kind of autonomous-nervous-system level of functioning.

@brennen ah "strong AI", I've been reading the Wikipedia page on the Chinese Room argument and that term has come up

@guinan yeah i guess it doesn't have any fixed meaning, but i would say i have used it roughly to mean "human-level or greater intelligences". in this case, i suppose what i'm talking about are at least weakly-superhuman level intelligences and up.

as you mention, we've seen ample evidence that the TNG-era enterprise computer is capable of spawning multiple human-level intelligences and hosting other computational lifeforms. it's portrayed as a very powerful system, but there are surely...

@brennen @guinan

Would it make sense that although powerful, the "processor architecture" of Federation,etc ships is incompatible to running a sentient AI directly? They are able to emulate and model architectures capable of running a sentient mind, but potentially at a high power draw/ performance cost.

Data exists be cause Dr Singh was able to write a hypervisor/emulator so well optimised that the performance penalty for running a human mind was negligible.

@GigaByte4711 @guinan i guess that's _possible_, but i'm skeptical inasmuch as we see the enterprise computer routinely performing operations that require human-or near-human reasoning capacity, presumably many of them in parallel, given how many people are interacting with the computer at once and how many functions it must oversee, the holodecks, entities like the doctor on voyager...

@GigaByte4711 @guinan maybe there's sort of container tech that keeps those things compartmentalized, but it doesn't feel like there are actual fundamental limitations on the hardware itself.


@brennen @guinan I definitely believe in a docker equivalent, though in order to provide extra capability, one most expose the higher hardware, much the same as the EMH, when he gains ECH abilities....

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