Why is it a controversial opinion that Data is an amazing machine with a program that mimics sentience, and not a living creature?


Why is it a controversial opinion that Data is an amazing machine with a program that mimics sentience, and not a living creature?

I never realised that this was a controversial opinion.

For instance, Doctor Pulaski regards Data differently because he is a machine. I always saw that as because she isn't used to him like the rest of the crew is, but the way she regarded him was quite normal. In the season 3 episode where some scientists want to take him apart, find out how he works so that they can duplicate how he was made and then put him back together, I'm quite confused as to why that's a bad thing. Recreating hundreds or thousands of androids like Data could save the lives of so many living things, and it could enable exploration in environments where living things cannot go.

They could be used as soldiers, and unlike living things who are unique and unexpendable, their accumulated knowledge can be backed up and put into a new unit. They could be programmed as spies who relay information back instantly, and if they get caught it doesn't matter — they can't be tortured for information because they don't feel pain and they can be replaced quite simply once humans know how to build them. They can be used to view a supernova up close because they can't get radiation poisoning like a human, and again if they happen to melt they can be replaced.

I know that viewers made a connection to Data, and that he is actually human because he's played by a human, but I never understood why treating him like a machine whose purpose is to be a utility to living things, like a very advance toaster (what he is) is portrayed as something bad. All that Data is, is a bunch of metal and computer chips and wires that have been programmed to mimic sentience, it's illogical that an android (or a hologram like that ridiculous Moriarty side-story or the doctor on Voyager for that matter) should be considered to be alive, and it's offensive that owning a a piece of machinery was compared to slavery on more than one occasion.

Thoughts?

(Let's keep it civil)

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