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Artificial intelligence (or computer intelligence) was a term used in the fields of cybernetics, computer science, and related disciplines, to describe computer hardware and software sophisticated enough to reason independently, form new conclusions, and alter its own responses based on real life experiences. Its goal was to simulate the humanoid brain's functions, with the benefit that hardware equipped with this software could be autonomous, including learning in new situations. (TNG: "The Measure Of A Man", "Home Soil"; VOY: "The Thaw", "Warhead")

Artificial intelligence software was created for many different reasons, which were normally programmed into the software. In some cases, they were used to perform specific functions, such as guiding a missile or managing a large network of space stations. (ENT: "The Forgotten", "The Council", "Countdown"; VOY: "Warhead") In other cases, they were used to create androids and programmed to follow their designers' instructions or simply to exist and explore their existence. (TOS: "What Are Little Girls Made Of?"; TNG: "The Measure Of A Man", "The Offspring") They could also be used to create holograms. (VOY: "The Thaw", "Warhead")

Advanced computer hardware was required to run artificial intelligence software, such as a positronic brain. (TNG: "Datalore", "The Measure Of A Man", "The Offspring")

Artificial intelligence was considered an advanced technology and required advanced degrees in order to design. (TNG: "Home Soil", "The Measure Of A Man") It was also considered necessary tactical information by other species. (VOY: "Blood Fever")

Artificial intelligence software, while being able to reason and make decisions, was widely regarded as not able to quite achieve the sophistication of a humanoid brain, in particular, its ability for original thought and creativity. (TNG: "Elementary, Dear Data"; VOY: "The Thaw") However, because of the close similarity of the behavior to real humanoid behavior, it was an open question in many societies as to whether this software resulted in machines that could achieve the capacity for self-awareness, sentience or emotional feeling. It resulted in significant controversy. (TNG: "The Measure Of A Man"; Star Trek Generations; VOY: "Author, Author")

Historical examples Edit

The android Data, built in the early 24th century, may be an example of a true artificial intelligence according to this definition. (TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint") So might certain other androids, notably, Ruk, an artifact of the Old Ones of Exo III. (TOS: "What Are Little Girls Made Of?") Data was equipped by his creator, Noonian Soong, with a positronic brain, based on an advanced neural-net design. He was eventually deemed an independent lifeform, with the rights and responsibilities of other life, lending weight to the notion that he qualifies as an artificial intelligence. (TNG: "The Measure Of A Man")

Even certain highly advanced alien computers may or may not meet the criteria for artificial intelligence. Landru ruled Beta III for almost 6,000 years, but Kirk and Spock deduced its nature in less than a day. (TOS: "The Return of the Archons")

As of 2364, Doctor Kurt Mandl held advanced degrees in computer science and artificial intelligence. Natasha Yar therefore felt he could have re-programmed a laser drill to murder Arthur Malencon. (TNG: "Home Soil")

When the Borg were encountered by the USS Enterprise-D, it was speculated that the cybernetic implants were a form of artificial intelligence linked directly into the humanoid brain. (TNG: "Q Who")

In 2365, Ensign Sonya Gomez rationalized her addition of the word "please" to a request for hot chocolate from the replicator as being reasonable given that it was intelligent circuitry. She felt that working with artificial intelligence all the time tended to be dehumanising and suggested courtesy as the remedy, demonstrating it again by thanking the replicator for her beverage. (TNG: "Q Who")

Artificial intelligence was still an active field of research in the 24th century. In late 2367, Geordi La Forge wanted to attend a seminar about artificial intelligence on Risa. (TNG: "The Mind's Eye")

In the 2370s an individual of the Think Tank was an artificial intelligence. (VOY: "Think Tank")

In the 2370s, the Druoda created artificial intelligences to build into their weapons called Series 5 long-range tactical armor units. These intelligences were programmed with a singular tactical mission. (VOY: "Warhead")

The Sakari interrogated Chakotay of the USS Voyager about his crew's technology, including medical and artificial intelligence. (VOY: "Blood Fever")

The hibernation computer system of the Kohl settlement created a virtual environment which required humanoid brain activity for its characters to function. Voyager's crew suggested replacing its inhabitants with an artificial intelligence, but it was quickly decided that would be insufficient. (VOY: "The Thaw")

The Sphere-Builders built a number of spherical devices in the Delphic Expanse in order to colonize it in the 22nd century. Each sphere had an artificial intelligence in it which ran the sphere's infrastructure and worked as a network with all other spheres for defense and to generate gravimetric energy in a certain pattern among the spheres. Some of the spheres were control spheres that set directions. (ENT: "The Forgotten", "The Council", "Countdown")

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