Trekkies: Your advice about the holodeck, please.

One of the things that fascinates me the most about Star Trek is the concept of the holodeck.

First, how far-fetched is the holodeck? I used to think it was impossible fiction. But stop and consider these facts. The HD is a method of artificially reproducing reality to the human senses. Let us call it Artificially Reproduced Reality (ARR for short).

Now, ARR began with carving and paintings about 40,000 years ago. A piece of horn was carved to look like a horse. Charcoal lines on a cave wall became a bison.

ARR imrpoved its techniques over the centuries, but not that much. When someone like Henry VIII in the 1500s wanted to see what prospective bride Anne of Cleves looked like, he saw a painting. The painting was a pretty good ARR, but in the case of Henry VIII, the artist had not conveyed the fact that she was a very BIG lady (i.e. tall and big-boned). When Henry saw her in the flesh he dubed her the “Flanders Mare” and refused to consumate their marriage. They were divorced, and Anne settled down in a comfortable castle in England to live out her days. But I digress.

Anyhow, ARR remained limited to sculpture, painting and drawing until 1845, when suddenly, the explosion of new ARR techniques began with the invention of photography by a French inventor. Suddenly, ARR could reproduce a picture with a camera that was far more accurate than the most skilled painter. But it was a still, two-dimensional and black-and white representation of reality. Progress, but no holodeck.

But then consider what happened between 1845 and 2006.

Motion pictures. Sound recording with Motion Pictues. Colour in motion pictures. Digital filming that does not even use silver nitrate and films. Virtual reality. Interactive videos. Video games where one thing happens after a human player does something else.

Right now I am communicating and discussing with any number of people anywhere in the world on the Internet.

So, if ARR can make that kind of progress in 161 years, and if Star Trek is set about 400 years into the future, is the kind of holodeck depicted there all that impossible? I think not.

Now I have some questions for the Trekkies.

  1. What if I go into the holodeck for an day and while I am there I need to take a crap? The people in the holodeck can see and touch the stuff that is there, but it is just a compter-generated form of ARR. So, what if I use a toilet that is there? Sorry to be crude, but the you-know-what that coimes out of me is NOT computer-generated, even if the toilet is. So if I suddenly say “Computer, program off!” would there be a pile of (you know) lying there stinking up the holodeck room?

  2. Can you use the holodeck for sex? Look, even today, a lot of people “have sex” with images of people they have never met on videotapes and DVDs, by stimulating themselves while viewing these represntations of reality. If you can feel things on the holodeck, and if we have videogames and other interactive modes today, could there be programs where you could actually have sex with holodeck creations and it would feel just like the real thing? With incredibly beautiful partners who would not give you the time of day if they were real?

If I really like a sex partner in the holodeck, could I spend the rest of my life with them? Just buy programs so that I could come home every night to that perfect, sexy, even-tempered partner?

Could a man using the holodeck use a program that would allow him to have children with this wonderful partner? They would only exist in the holodeck, but they would be wonderful kids!

  1. Could the holodeck become a sick addiction? Could some people unhappy with their lives take to living there most of the time in an ideal but artificial world? Just like I am wasting hours and hours of my time posting stuff on Straight Dope for strangers to read? Would we need treatment strategies like HA (holodek anonymous) for people who have become utterly dependant on the false escape-from-reality happiness produced by holodecks? (You think I am joking? What do you think alcoholics and drug addicts are?)

I would love to hear the opinions of Trekkies and others on this. If there is one useful thing about Sci-Fi, it is its ability to make us look at reality and our own humanity from different an refreshing viewpoits.

I read somwhere that the holodeck is based on transporter technology. I’d guess that every single molecule that isn’t important to the story is removed. Including huge steaming piles.

That feature was prolly test about three seconds after a working prototype was first turned on. (No pun intended)

The first case of addiction prolly happened about three minutes later.

I really hope that nothing like the holodeck is ever invented. It would be the end of human productivity.

As depicted?

**Very ** far-fetched.

The holodeck is supposed to work on transporter technology, with stuff constantly being beamed in and out of existence. Transporter technology has about as much basis in reality as Harry Potter’s magic wand. It’s a convenient plot device, not a reasonable extrapolation of possible technology.

If you want a holodeck-like experience (seamless virtual reality) a better approach would be to tap directly into the brain, intercepting the incoming and outgoing neural signals. This is still very far-fetched and may be impossible, but there are at least a few promising technologies that lead in that direction: We can interface with neurons on a very crude level, we can create computer-generated images and sounds that are almost indistinguishable from the real thing, and so on … .

Didn’t one of the Next Generation episodes revolve around a junior officer who had become addicted to the holodeck and was using it for creepy purposes?

Yeah, good ol’ Lt. Broccoli.

That would be Lt Barclay, known to the crew as Broccoli. He had a serious thing for Deanna.

Quark’s “holosuites” on Deep Space Nine were primarily for erotic purposes, as I recall.

as I remember it from my trek days… it is based on Transporter tech but mostly based on simple tractor beams and holograms. You feel things in the holodek because you see the hologram of it and the tractor beams create the artifical density of the particles.

Someone pushes you in the holodek its the tractor beams pushing you in a way that your body recognizes as a person pushing you. You push someone the tractor beams dissipate the the density in matching with your push.

The holodeck also uses replicator tech to create solid objects, I believe.

Read the Next Gen. Tech manual as a kid for fun

If you’re going to use it for sex, first you’re gonna want to hire some guys called Binars.

Some Vulcan dude, not Tuvok, used the holodeck to relieve his pon farr urges (with less than total success). He was more interested in Torres, but she wouldn’t put out. Later she got a dose of the uncontrollable hots herself, and I remember thinking the boot was on the other foot. Details sketchy, it’s years since I saw either episode.

I can’t answer, since I’m not a Trekkie.

I’m a Trekker. :stuck_out_tongue:
1: Since it’s based on several Trek-nologies, including transporters and replicators, I would assume the shit would be beamed out or turned into energy.

2: By implication of Brocolli’s programs, plus Quark’s Holosuites, I would assume yes.

2b: I don’t see why not, but the kids would be limited by AI and computing power. Still, long running programs were used by others, notably Data, Dr Ugly, and Geordi who created an AI lifeform out of thin air, Janeway, who had a very long running program with DaVinci. And the Binars created a very believable AI in Minuet. She was HOT!

3: Yes. As mentioned already, Lt Barclay (Brocolli) had a problem. I believe someone on DS9 also had a problem, a darker one.

I can’t help but be reminded of this quote from Futurama.

Kif: The Holo-Shed’s on the fritz again! The characters turned real!

Zapp: Damn. The last time that happened I got slapped with three paternity suits!

My favorite part of the Barclay holo-addiction episode (TNG “Hollow Pursuits,” IIRC) was Wesley dressed as Little Boy Blue, eating pie with his hands. :smiley:

The Doctor on VGR had a holofamily that was, at first, too damned perky to be true (in a ‘50s sitcom way). Then he tried a program that was more “realistic,” and one of the kids died of some horrible disease. I’m thinkin’… isn’t there some middle ground here?

Dennis Miller once said something like, “When virtual reality lets Joe Sixpack make love to Claudia Schiffer in his den whenever he wants, it’s gonna make crack look like Sanka.”

You forgot about the program Paris ran, which was not only long running, but constantly running–well, up until the point where the program started to malfunction due to never being turned off.

Who had a holo additcion in Voyager? The only addict I remember was Brocolli in one of his guest appearances. Granted, I missed most of hte last three seasons.

As with most things Trek, consistency isn’t even a consideration with the holodeck. The variation with how “real” things were, the “safeguards” and even the explanation behind the technology varied from moment to moment.

Could you approach the holodack with utility fog?

I didn’t say VOY, I said DS9, but I’m not sure now even about that, after having looked for it. I’m not that fond of DS9 overall, you see, but I thought there was a holoproblem somewhere in that branch of the franchise. I may be mixing up shows with some other venue, like novels. Too bad Aes hasn’t stopped in yet. He knows DS9 backwards.

But, it’s not really that important (except for curiosity). The main point was that while the holodeck apparantly could even create a sentient entity (Moriarty) by accident, it required some real computing know how to purposefully make a realisticly interactive program (Minuet).

But, when you add in teh EMH, Janeway’s and Paris’ long running programs, Brocolli’s emotional disturbances, and things like holosuites, which seem to be capable of satisfying certain sensual desires, well… Well, it ends up being a very good question about raising holokids. Lots of discontinuity available for us to play with. :dubious:

OK, I have a different question:

An Away Team enters the holodeck to simulate a mission; the environment being simulated is a vast, flat piece of terrain - say a desert plain or some such.

The four members of the team split up and set out walking in the cardinal compass directions (or if their equivalent; anyway, they are walking away from each other along two perpendicularly bisecting axes).
Can they continue doing this in the confined space of the holodeck? How?

Tractor beams hold the members in place - while they feel as though they’re walking, and the scenery moves by, they aren’t actually going anywhere.

I’m not sure how they make it look as if they’re moving further apart, though.

OK, while you’re thinking about that one; the fifth member of the Away Team enters, wheeling a large trolley behind him. On the trolley is a complete, packed-up hot air balloon. Yoiu can guess what he’s going to try, but what happens?