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The Systems on the USS Enterprise Seem to be Extremely Interconnected

Date: 2013-07-30
Tags: scifi systems startrek

I’m rewatching Star Trek: The Next Generation and am finding it to be an interesting experience. There are many things that I didn’t understand or pick up on many of the subtexts. Much of that I can leave for another blog post.

What I would like to discuss here is now interconnected the Enterprise’s systems are. I feel like the Federation has never heard of the concept of “air-gaps.” While there is a lot of the plots that I can accept for the sake of telling a story, and telling it on budget and in 45-minutes, I’m even cool with everyone speaking English. I just can’t seem to shake the feeling that so many issues come up because everything is connected to everything else.

I can even accept the ability for computers of different designs and from different species to interconnect and for programs to spontaneously activate, but one would think that basic security would still be adhered to in the 24th century.

I would expect main navigation and engine control computers/circuity to not have anything, what-so-ever to do with the replicators. Did you even check the alternatives, before going negative?

In Lonely Among Us “While transporting delegates, an alien life form wreaks havoc on the Enterprise computer – and begins to take over the minds of her crew.” While I can understand jumping from computer to person, or even computer to computer over a short air gap, the science computers shouldn’t be near the warp drive control. They should share nothing but power, and ideally not even that.

In The Big Goodbye the Enterprise is scanned and the holodeck malfunctions, trapping Capitan Picard, Crusher, Data, and Whalen inside and without the safety protocols. Wesley eventually states that he can correct the problem, but if he’s wrong the people stuck could dematerialize. I can’t help but wonder why there isn’t a way to simply pull the plug on the computer or manually open the doors, disconnecting them from power so that they don’t fight against being opened. Being able to cold shutdown systems with minimal damage to outside components would seem to be an advantageous thing to plan around. Without a computer an holo-generator, much of the world would disappear, and what is left would be inert because the computer would not be there to control them. I believe this is another case of the main computer doing too much and limiting the options available in emergency scenarios.

These are just two early episodes, but I believe they make my point. I just can’t believe that StarFleet would interconnect their systems to this degree. It seems stupid and nonsensical, as well as opens a hole for security breaches: Oh! That Klingon Bloodwine pattern is faulty? Here, let me take over your warp engines and environmental controls.