Synopsis of the Star Trek Episode: The Measure of a Man

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  • Topic: Star Trek: The Next Generation, Starfleet, Star Trek
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  • Published : May 28, 2013
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Synopsis: Star Trek Episode
“The Measure of a Man” [1]
Most of us are aware that the television series Star Trek was about a starship, the Enterprise, whose mission was to explore the galaxy. This ship was part of a larger organization known as Starfleet. Serving as a Lt. Commander on board the ship was an android named Data. Data was an extremely advanced and unique android even by the standards of 24th century science. He had a special processor known as a “positronic brain” that allowed him to mimic human behavior in an extremely accurate manner. As a result, not only could he process information at lightning speed and arrive at rational conclusions, he also seemed to have desires, interests, and inclinations. He could formulate relationships and make free choices. In this episode, Commander Bruce Maddox, a member of the scientific research division of Starfleet, arrives on board the Enterprise with orders for Data to be transferred to him for the purpose of being disassembled with the goal of learning more about “it” (Maddox refers to Data as “it”, not “him”, throughout the entire episode). His ultimate goal is to create an army of androids like Data which can serve the needs of Starfleet in space exploration. When Data learns that Maddox may not be able to reassemble him, he refuses to submit to the orders and is supported by Captain Picard, captain of the Enterprise and Data’s commanding officer. Picard argues that, as an officer on the Enterprise, Data has rights—among them the right to refuse to undergo an experimental procedure such as this. However, Picard is unsuccessful in getting the transfer orders rescinded and so Data resigns from Starfleet. Maddox takes legal action with the local JAG (Judge Advocate General) officer challenging Data’s resignation and arguing that Data is not a person with a right to resign, but, being a machine, “it” is the property of Starfleet. He argues “Would you permit the computer of the Enterprise to refuse a refit?”...
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