Life: Artificial and Organic
When the Sinful strike back
Location: Sickbay/CMO’s Office
Ziyal was still curious about Sara's races experiences with artificial intelligence. She could read the reports, but reports never had the same quality as the story. So she entered medical and rang the chime on Sara's office door.
Sitting in her office, Sara was talking with someone from the Nissari Bureau of Intellegence when she heard the chime from her door. "Hang on a sec sis" she said, standing up from her desk and walking over to see who it was. Opening the door, she was a little surprised to see Ziyal there "Commander, what can I do for you?"
"If your busy, I can come back later. I'd like to talk about that artificial intelligence war that you mentioned, when you have the time." Ziyal responded.
"No, not at all, come on in" a voice from inside the office said.
Giving a sigh, Sara took a step back, "come on in Commander, I can finish this conversation later" she said, walking back over to her desk. "Goodbye sis" she said, closing the com-channel. "So, is there anything in particular you'd like to know? Or should I just start quoting from Nissari history books?"
"I've read the history books, history books often leave out important things, like how it impacted the individuals or how people feel about the war. I'll be honest, I think that the Federation is moving towards being more accepting of artificial intelligence as being citizens. Someday, I might have to deal with not just the fact of the war that your planet had, but also the emotion and feelings that it left in it's wake." Ziyal explained.
Hearing that the Federation may one day accept Artificial Intelligence's as people sent a shiver down her spine. She did not like that idea at all, and she had her reasons. After a moment, Sara nodded, "well, you might as well take a seat. This may take some time" she said, sitting back in her chair, "tell me, what was you first reaction to finding out about Aritificial Intelligence?"
Ziyal shrugged, "There are a lot of aliens out there, a lot of ways that life can exist. From carbon based lifeforms like ourselves, to the crystal based life forms of Velara III, to the floating gas bags of Melkot. I don't think it's too much of a leap to say that we can program a computer to be like us. We already have several examples, such as Commander Data and Joe."
"I understand that, but what difference is there between an artificial lifeform and a holographic display? Both are running off of complex programming"
"Probably the same diffrence between say humans and lions. They are both running off roughly the same biological 'programming'. For me, a human can understand what rights are, respect them in others, and demand them for themselves. A lion can't." Ziyal offered, not sure if she understood where Sara was going.
"I'm sure that's true. I don't know what a lion is but I understand your point. It is clear that the Federation has never been at war with an Artificial race" Sara said, as she stood up from her chair and walked over to a nearby book shelf, "a war with another organic race has rules. Rules of honour, most races would not kill civilians and children from orbit with a neurotoxin. I cannot say the same about an Artifical race. They don't have emotions, all they have is their programming" she said, taking a deap breath to centre herself before turning around, "tell me something Commander, does the Federation endorce slavery?"
"No, we don't." Ziyal responded simply.
"What about genetic experimentation or Sterilisation? I imagine your federation council doesn't endorce them either, am I correct?"
"That's a bit more complicated. While we don't allow sterilization without the person's consent, the Federation has a much more complicated relationship with genetic engineering. There are some places where it is still legal for historical reasons or for research. However, there are many who have concerns about the ethical implications of genetic engineering due to the trouble that augments have often caused." Ziyal said, summarizing a very complex topic.
"Well Artificial races don't have such niggling concerns as morality or empathy towards the week. All they see is an enemy to be destroyed using the most efficient method avaliable to them" Sara said, her emotions starting to get the better of her. "Gas, poison, nuclear radiation, disease, famine, all of these are ways to kill organics" she explained, pausing to allow Ziyal to respond.
"Certainly, but they are also all ways that organics have used to kill organics as well. There are several species who we have fought that don't have the same concern for morality or empathy towards the weak or other species that we have. The Borg are an example, so are certain factions of the Klingons, many strains of augments, as well as several others." Ziyal responded.
She continued, "More importantly, I think is the observation that moral societies are made up of moral individuals. There are artificial intelligences who we have encountered who believe in very similar sets of moral guidelines as our own. Machines certainly can be sociopathic, but so can organics. There doesn't seem to be anything special about artificial intelligence in that regard."
Processing what Ziyal had just said, Sara took a deap breath to calm her mind. She had a good point. After a moment, a thought hit her, "you mentioned the Borg, what can you tell me about them? I've read what Starfleet files were avaliable to me but I didn't get much from them. They're some form of cybernetic race? Both organic and artificial?"
"Yes, they are a hive mind that we have encountered several times. I'm not a specialist, but from my understanding they use organic species as platforms for their technology. They integrate the technology and the biological minds into a collective which determines what the biological component does." Ziyal explained.
"Do you know anything about their origins?" Sara asked
Ziyal shook her head, "I'm not sure a specialist can answer that one with certainty. However, one argument that I find interesting is that they arose from a society that was completely linked cybernetically. The cybernet likely started as a means of communication which they began to rely on more and more until they couldn't function without it. I suspect that they evolved from an empire of sorts, which demanded that their vassals join them in their attempts to reach 'perfection'. This demand eventually became assimilation as we know it. However, that's rampant speculation."
"Not a race I would like to encounter. Well I may as well fill in the missing details. Around 200 galactic standard years ago, my people encountered an advance artificial race on the boarder of our known space. Initial contact was promising, but it didn't last. I'm not sure who fired the first shot, but it didn't matter after a few weeks. The war lasted for 20 years, we lost 15 systems to the machines along with the majority of their populations. The war ended not long after our engineers managed to find a way into their communications network."
Ziyal listened carefully, thinking. Engineers winning the war was something of an unusual twist. While the Federation valued their engineers, there could be a psychological impact of not winning a war where many had died by force of arms. "Do you think that winning the war with engineers rather then the military impacted how you see the conflict?"
Sara looked at Ziyal in confusion. To her the engineers were part of their military so her question didn't make a great deal of sence, "um I don't think so. To the Nissari, engineers, medical personel and scientists are all part of the military. We don't really have seperate devisions. It may seem rather strange to the Federation, but we're practically a military society. Every Nissari daughter is trained to fight and serves in the military for at least 100 years."
Ziyal nodded, she understood the concept of everyone serving the state well enough. However, in Cardassian culture, it was according to how one could best serve the state. If that meant being a military officer, that meant being a military officer. If it was by being a scientist, that meant being a scientist. That they made everyone into a part of the millitary was the strange part. Then there was the Federation where no one was required to serve the state, those who did did so voluntarily. "That does seem very strange. I'm not good with the relative time translations, but that would be roughly about ten years for us. That's a long time by almost any standard. How do you think it impacts their view of the Federation which doesn't have any kind of conscription?"
"Conscription seems such a harsh word, and it is also somewhat inaccurate. May I assume that you have attended several years at a school to Aquire the knowledge that you have? Part of the 100 years of service involves an education. There are alternatives avaliable to those who do not wish to give their service so early in their lives, but it is uncommon for a Nissari daughter not to choose the standard path" Sara explained, hoping she was being clear. This sort of misunderstanding would be solved far quicker between two Nissari, but Sara had been told that telepathy is considered an invasion of privacy by most Federation species.
Ziyal nodded thoughtfully, "Thanks for clarifying that. So if the Federation does go down a path that is more accepting of artificial intelligence, how do you think your people will react? More importantly, do you think that there is anything the Federation can do about their reaction?" Ziyal asked.
Sara gave a sigh, "at best, we would have little reaction. We may ask that any Artifical life forms be kept outside of our space, but nothing more than that. At worst, we would withdraw all diplomatic envoys, all Federation citizens would be deported back to a federation world and we would seal our boarder with the Federation. I cannot guarantee that we wouldn't resort to some form of military action, but as I said that would be only in a worst case scenario" she answered
Ziyal nodded, considering. "Thank you Doctor, as I said hearing it from someone is very different from just reading it in a report."
"i understand, i do hope that working with the Federation and people like yourself who are more accepting of Artificial life forms will help my people to move on" Sara said, giving a slight bow, "if there is anything else you wish to know, i am willing to answer what i can. otherwise, i don't think there is anything else i can tell you about the Nissari's experience with Artificial Life"