Settled in the 24th century and 78 years after the adventures of the original crew of the starship Enterprise, under the command of Captain Jean-Luc Picard the all new Enterprise NCC 1701-D travels out to distant planets to seek out new life and to boldly go where no one has gone before.
Farallon began working on an exocomp prototype several years before 2369, until she had three working units in operation at the Particle Fountain Project for maintenance purposes. The exocomp was intended to be a problem solver, but due to this adaptive nature it evolved also gaining sentience.
The exocomp consisted of a micro replicator, a boridium power converter and axionic chip network. Giving the exocomp formidable computational power. The micro replicator not only created tools which the exocomp could use to solve problems but also created new circuit pathways in the exocomps memory when it performed new tasks. This gave the exocomp the ability to learn.
Problems to be solved were entered through a command-pad, after which it was down to the exocomp.
Lieutenant Commander Data was testing an exocomp on the particle fountain and completed thirty four separate tests when the device was sent into an access tunnel to seal a plasma conduit aboard the Enterprise. The exocomp returned without finishing its task. When Dr. Farallon tried to send it back into the access tunnel by overriding the exocomp commands, her control pad overloaded. Then the plasma conduit exploded had the exocomp been there it would have been destroyed.
When Data brought the exocomp back to the USS Enterprise-D for analysis, it was found that the exocomp had shut down and that the interface circuitry which connected the exocomp to the control pad was completely burned out. Further investigation revealed that the number of new circuit pathways had increased by 632 percent. Dr. Farallon explained that sometimes an exocomp randomly generated large numbers of new pathways, which ultimately led to a total shutdown. When this happened the exocomp had to be reprogrammed. Data mentioned that the new pathways did not to appear to interfere with the original circuitry. This led Lieutenant Commander La Forge to comment that somehow the exocomp knew that the conduit would explode and therefore it had to leave the access tunnel. This could imply self-preservation so Data took it upon himself to perform a level one diagnostic on the exocomp.
The diagnostic Data performed revealed that the command module was working normally. When checking the exocomp's sensor logs it turned out that the exocomp had burned out its own command interface circuitry and then repaired it later. In a short briefing it was decided to test whether the exocomp possessed a survival instinct or not.
A test was created where an exocomp had to repair a small conduit breach in a Jefferies tube in which a plasma cascade failure was simulated by means of a transient overload signal. The exocomp performed the repair and was returned after the plasma overload simulation would have destroyed it. Data performed thirty-four additional tests and all tests had the same outcome. Every single time the exocomp would complete the repairs. Because Doctor Crusher distracted Data from his latest test, the exocomp returned automatically and Data noticed it had a different tool than when it entered the tube. In the previous tests the exocomp was recalled when the simulated plasma overload would have occurred. When Data checked the sensor logs he discovered that the exocomp had deactivated the overload signal. It had not failed the test; it had seen right through it.
When the situation on the particle fountain went critical the decision was made to reconfigure the exocomps so their power cells would explode when beamed into the particle matter stream but because of their survival instincts the command pathways would have to be disconnected. Data locked out the transporter controls preventing the exocomps from being transported because he did not believe that it was justified to sacrifice one lifeform for another. Commander Riker proposed to ask the exocomps if they were willing to perform this mission, when their command pathways were reconnected they reprogrammed the commands Data had entered and altered the transporter coordinates to send them inside the station core, instead of the matter stream. Unfortunately, one of the exocomps did not survive, as it had to stay behind to disrupt the particle stream so the other two could safely be beamed back to the Enterprise.
At last report, Dr. Farallon was trying to find out what the exocomps really were without treating them as simple tools.
(TNG: "The Quality of Life")
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