I recently watched all of Star Trek: Picard, and while I was definitely on board with the vast majority of it, and extremely pleased with certain elements of it, some things kind of bothered me.
And so, as with much of the pop culture I love, I want to spend some time with the more critical perspective, in hopes that it’ll be taken as an opportunity to make it even better.
[Promotional image for Star Trek: Picard, featuring all of the series main cast.]
This will be filled
with spoilers, so. Heads up.
Late last month, I was at Theorizing the Web, in NYC, to moderate Panel B3, “Bot Phenomenology,” in which I was very grateful to moderate a panel of people I was very lucky to be able to bring together. Johnathan Flowers, Emma Stamm, and Robin Zebrowski were my interlocutors in a discussion about the potential nature of nonbiological phenomenology. Machine consciousness. What robots might feel.
I led them through with questions like “What do you take phenomenology to mean?” and “what do you think of the possibility of a machine having a phenomenology of its own?” We discussed different definitions of “language” and “communication” and “body,” and unfortunately didn’t have a conversation about how certain definitions of those terms mean that what would be considered language between cats would be a cat communicating via signalling to humans.
It was a really great conversation and the Live Stream video for this is here, and linked below (for now, but it may go away at some point, to be replaced by a static youtube link; when I know that that’s happened, I will update links and embeds, here).