Star Trek: Voyager examined the concerns about AI in music

The Doctor met his match in one Star Trek: Voyager episode.

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SAG-AFTRA And WGA Strike Continues / David Livingston/GettyImages
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Star Trek has a sort of Simpson's vibe to it. Not necessarily in its tone, as The Simpsons is a light-hearted comedy, and Star Trek is, when truly done correctly a morality play. No, not in its tone, but in its almost clairvoyant way of predicting the future. There's nothing supernatural about this, however, as both shows are just paying attention to trends, and plenty of things that are put into their respective shows never come to fruition.

But the ones that do, well that's something worth talking about. In the season six episode "Virtuoso", The Doctor becomes a celebrity on the planet Qomar, when he shares with them the concept of music; something the alien race never really figured out prior to the crew of the Voyager's arrival in their space.

The Doctor, a learning and adaptive hologram program, has become far more sentient than most thought possible and is now as human as everyone else. So when he creates music, it's seen as a unique individual doing such. The Qomar, however, sees him as a computer program, that can be improved upon.

The Doctor, believing he's been accepted by the alien race as a musician and a pseudo-celebrity, plans to live among them, and plans to depart Voyager for good, only until it's discovered that the Qomar has developed their own hologram, capable of performing musical numbers The Doctor never could.

The Doctor tries to argue how his replacement isn't really making art, as he lacks the nuance that a singer should have, without realizing that he is just the same as his replacement. The Qomar eventually give The Doctor a final bow before unveiling their new toy, forcing The Doctor to return to Voyager in shame.

The whole episode focused on the idea of what constitutes real music and real art. The Qomar used The Doctor's programming to create a better version, one with great capabilities, but in doing so disregards the original. One could see this as evolution of music, one AI replaces the other AI, but it can also be seen as stealing. The Qomar didn't just upgrade the program, but used The Doctor as the baseline for their "upgrades", and dismissed the original with little regard.

It's a very real situation that we are seeing happening now, as AI threatens to end the ability to get paid for making art. Let's just hope that the conclusion to this situation in reality goes better for the creators of this world than it did for The Doctor.

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