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We like to harp on data errors by humans, but sometimes the opposite is true too. Here are 6 human errors by Star Trek‘s Data.

6. Succumbing to Emotions

Data's Emotion ChipThis is about as human an error as it gets. In episode “Brothers,” Data got a hardware upgrade [Ed. note: downgrade?] from Dr. Soong in the form of an emotion chip that gave the usually stoic android access to what can be considered the essence of what makes humans human.

Of course, as emotions are wont to do, they usually led to Data becoming confused, manipulated, murderous, and worst of all, annoying.

Data Laughing

"Another Trek movie after Generations? Hahaha!"

 

In fact, in Star Trek Generations, Data’s emotion chip caused him to feel so much fear during an attack that his best friend Geordi was taken hostage as he cowered in a corner. Data spent the rest of the movie feeling sorry for himself and in a depression. This would have been interesting if it hadn’t already been done much, much better.

5. Trusting an Obviously Terrible Family Member

Data and Lore

Most of us can relate to this mistake, right? Everyone has that blacksheep of the family (if you don’t know who it is, it is probably you) who needs to borrow cash all the time, or makes terrible decisions that somehow involve you, but you just can’t help helping him/her because hey, it’s family.

Data can relate. His older-but-identical android brother Lore always made a mess of things when he came to visit. In “Descent, Part I” and “Descent, Part II,” Lore showed up and via some wacky 24th century antics convinced Data to turn against StarFleet and join his cause…that involved the Borg too, because it was probably sweeps week.

Typical for a deadbeat older brother, right? Somehow, we always end up getting involved when we don’t want to. We’ll swear that this is the last time we’ll bail him out of jail, or help him move out of that apartment where he never quite signed a lease, or get impersonated by him so he could use your spaceship’s communications to speak with a highly powerful crystalline entity in order to destroy organic life, but let’s be honest: blood is thicker than water, or positrons, and we’ll always be a sucker for our family.

Lore

Putting abs on his body armor shows that Lore's a real jerk.

 

4. Getting Involved in Someone Else’s Relationship

Data's DayYou know you shouldn’t. You know it. But you can’t help yourself. You stick your nose where it doesn’t belong, and you get in the middle of someone else’s relationship problems and you inevitably make things worse. There’s a reason Dear Abby only helps strangers out. Via letters. Anonymously.

No, it’s never smooth. You try to “be a bro” and tell your best friend that his relationship with an early-twenties girlfriend who wants to be an actress probably won’t work out, and the next thing you know, you’re no longer on speaking terms. Just don’t get involved.

In “Data’s Day,” he got involved. Miles O’Brien (yes, he was on TNG before DSN) and his fiance Keiko were on the verge of getting married. Then Keiko got cold feet and convinced Data to tell O’Brien that the wedding was off.

Miles and Keiko

Breaking up via android is breaking up via text for the 24th century.

 

That made things awful, so O’Brien (because as an engineer, his ability to talk to women is about on par with an android) implored Data to talk his fiance into changing her mind. Data did, which of course made things even worse, though eventually this Three’s Company episode of TNG ended with a happy wedding and a lesson learned: dude, just don’t get involved.

On the upside though, Data learned to tap dance.

3. Trying Too Hard to Be Funny

Data Being FunnyKilling red shirts is easy; comedy is hard. Everyone’s been embarrassed by trying to be the funniest person in the room, just to land a punchline on silence and an awkward cough.

Vulcans generally evolved past humor, except for some occasional sly, sardonic wit, but androids are all about it apparently. Sarcasm and jokes always confused Data, and he never really “got it” until he had his aforementioned emotion chip installed. And the results weren’t all that hilarious.

What made him finally risk installing the chip in Generations, however was fairly hilarious. At a ceremony for Worf’s promotion, the surly Klingon was dumped into “water” (it’s on the Holodeck, after all) to the merriment of all because it’s funny to tick off someone who has no sense of humor. But Data wanted in on the fun too, and this happened.

Crusher_Data_dancing

"I taught you to salsa! I trusted you!!"

 

Whoops, no one thought that was funny, just mean, though it was arguably the best part of Generations. Data learned the hard way that comedy, unlike astrophysics, is not easy.

2. Getting Bluffed in Poker

Data Playing PokerThere’s a reason computers still lose to top poker players; there is a human element in it that encompasses lying, bravado, confidence, intimidation, and risk that computers can’t really replicate yet. Plus, computers are probably too smart to gamble away rent money.

In “Measure of a Man,” the senior staff was gathered for a friendly game of poker (friendly because the jury is out on whether money actually exists in this universe). Eventually, just Riker and Data was left with skin/silicone in the game. Riker raised. Data folded. And like a jerk, Riker showed his cards to prove he was bluffing.

The teaser served to set up one of the best episodes of TNG ever, but it also showed Data having a very human flaw of being overconfident. We’ve all been swindled before because we thought we knew more than we did, and while the show tried to paint this to show the difference between man and machine, it was also a very common mistake for any human to make.

And Data learned from then on that he has a better chance of winning fake money playing against fake people.

Data Poker

"Come on, Hawking. We all know your speech box is full of aces."

 

1. Taking the Wrong Person to Bed

Data & Borg QueenYou catch eyes across the bar. Smiles are exchanged. Small talk. “Let’s get out of here.” Flirty cab ride home. Things happen. Then the next morning you realize that person was the Borg Queen trying to assimilate your entire world into the collective and you gave her the keys to Earth just for a wild night.

Totally worth it.

Sure, in that case, it worked out all right. Data was in full control the whole time during First Contact, and only really considered joining the Borg for 0.68 seconds (though, yes, an “eternity” for an android). But he made a much more human mistake when it came to one Tasha Yar.

In “The Naked Now,” the crew of the Enterprise was intoxicated by a plot point and started acting like college co-eds. Yar, infected, seduced an uninfected Data, and then this happened. So due to his poor decisions a whinny Wesley had to trick Data into fixing the Enterprise so it could escape destruction.

To recap: this intimate relationship occurred while Data was on duty, during work hours, with a coworker, who was clearly infected (and in fact, intoxicated), which nearly led to everyone’s death. Yeah, we’d consider that a pretty big mistake. But, you’ve got to admit, an exceedingly human one.

Data & Tasha

And in his defense...

 

There’s nothing we can do about Data’s human errors, but we’ve got you covered for your human data errors.

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Samuel Clemens
Sam is founder and chief of product & marketing for InsightSquared. Previously, Sam was VP Product at HubSpot, VP Product at BzzAgent, and on the founding team at Elance.com. His background also includes venture capital with Greylock Partners, the Algorithms group at Amazon.com, and management consulting with Booz Allen Hamilton. Sam has an MBA from Harvard Business School and a B.S. in Applied Math from Yale. In his off time he dives shipwrecks in the New England area.
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