The Quality of Life
The Next Generation
Disc No :
First Aired :
16 Nov 1992
Data and Crusher really put up a poor showing in their discussion of life. First she claims it is "what enables plants and animals to consume food, derive energy from it, grow, adapt themselves to their surroundings and reproduce". Data quickly points out that fire meets these criteria but is not alive. Crusher says that it does not count because it is a chemical reaction, and says that you could use the same argument for growing crystals. Data then asks about himself, claiming he does not grow or reproduce yet is considered to be alive. On a strictly factual point, both have made mistakes. Data claims that he does not reproduce - yet in "The Offspring", he clearly considered Lal to be his offspring. Crusher claims that crystals are not alive, yet both the crystal from "Home Soil" and the Crystalline entity from "Datalore" and "Silicon Avatar" are (or were) alive. Crusher's ruling out of chemical reactions as being alive makes little sense also - what is a person if not a collection of chemical reactions? And whilst Data has been declared to have sentience and equal rights to others, I don't know that he has ever been stated to be alive as such.
Currently, in order to be considered alive something must grow, consume food, excrete waste, respire, reproduce, move all or part of itself and respond to stimuli. Fire does indeed meet some of these criteria, but does not respond to stimuli and so is not alive. It's unclear how the crystal life forms in Trek would fare under this definition, but Data would probably not be considered alive.
Great Moment :
I love the exocomps - they're so cute!
Body Count :
In the original script, the role of the exocomp was taken by everyday items like wall terminals and household appliances! Then these became the "metacomps", but that name was changed to "exocomps" when Metacomp was found to be the name of a real company. Only two exocomps were built for the episode - a third was added via special effects. All were controlled completely by puppeteers, who were also painted out via special effects.
Data decides that some unusual repair mechanisms are a new life form - and rather than sacrifice them he's willing to let his friends die.