Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Data vs. Westworld


HBO’s weird new science fiction western ‘Westworld’ explores the rights and morality of artificial intelligence, but Star Trek covered that twenty seven years ago in “The Measure of a Man.”

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HBO’s new hit show Westworld is about a futuristic theme park filled with robots called “hosts” who are there to serve and satisfy the whims of its guests. Even after just one episode the show is already diving deep into the morality issues surrounding what makes a person a person. If Westworld‘s hosts think, feel, and look like a human are they a human?

There have been many science fiction franchises that have touched on this issue, but few have done so as well as Star Trek: The Next Generation. There are many examples of Data’s humanity being considered and questioned, but the seminal episode is “The Measure of a Man.”

In “The Measure of a Man” Captain Picard faces off against a starfleet officer who wants to tear Data apart to see how he is made. In typical Star Trek style this faceoff isn’t a fight on a battlefield, but in a courtroom.

Picard’s arguments are both interesting and convincing, and as I watched Westworld this week I found myself looking back on them.

Westworld looks absolutely fantastic, and I’m excited to see where it goes, but it will be hard to do better than Jean-Luc Picard in “The Measure of a Man.”

If you want more on Westworld check out Beyond Westworld on Facebook and give the page a follow. I’ll be posting my bizarre fan theories and nerdy facts and updates on everything Westworld there.

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So what do you think? Are you excited to Westworld’s take on artificial intelligence? Let us know on Facebook or in the comments below.