STARBASE 104 — The crew of the Constitution believes that two holograms on board the ship have attained consciousness. The first is a Mark II EMH whose software was transferred from the USS Atlantis, while the second is known as the ‘holographic hair stylist’ among the crew.
While the USS Constitution (NCC-9012-B) was docked at Starbase 104 for major repairs following her previous mission, the crew took advantage of the extended shore leave to attend to other matters.
Commander Saveron was spotted entering the JAG offices of the starbase, evidently seeking legal advice, while one of the ship’s counsellors, Ensign Siance Thyar, was observed speaking with the family of one of the holograms.
The actions that led the former’s programming, often referred to as ‘Mark Two,’ to extend and exhibit sophisticated learning algorithms were complicated, including a crewmember’s consciousness momentarily stored in the EMH software and interacting with it. Those affecting the hairdresser, known as ‘Georgio,’ were less widely recognized.
There is precedent, particularly the acknowledgement in 2365 of an Android serving in Starfleet as having self-determination, and an EMH with an unexpectedly long run-time indicated the development of consciousness.
A single occurrence may be considered an aberration, but if the crew can demonstrate the consciousness of these holograms and Starfleet and the Federation formally recognize them, what does that mean for all the other holograms in use across our society? Will each EMH necessitate its own separate computing core? Will we need the holographic characters’ consent to stop a holodeck program?
“Recognized sentient species status and Federation membership would shield them from any attempts to change or delete their programming,” Saveron explained.
Is it possible that a completely new intelligent race may develop, with us as its creators? Or are we already exploiting a slave race? Such a legal precedent might have a significant impact on how we employ artificial intelligence technologies.
Written by Shrin’Tahla zh’Aim