|Starfleet Rank Lt. Commander|
|Portrayed Brent Spiner|
Data is a character, portrayed by Brent Spiner, in the Star Trek fictional universe. Designed and built by Doctor Noonien Soong, Lieutenant Commander Data is an android who serves as the second officer and chief operations officer aboard the starships USS Enterprise-D and USS Enterprise-E. Data appears in all but one episode of the Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) television series and in the four films based on The Next Generation.
Data is a sentient artificial lifeform designed to resemble Noonien Soong, a white human. His positronic brain allows him impressive computational capabilities. However, he has ongoing difficulties understanding various aspects of human behavior, and is unable to feel emotions or understand certain human idiosyncrasies.
Dramatically, Data is a very rough counterpart to Spock from Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS) in that he has a rational, analytical mind and finds humans hard to understand, and through his attempts to understand human behavior, the series' creators comment on certain aspects of humanity. Unlike Spock, however, he is drawn to the concept of humanity, being intensely curious about humans and constantly trying to emulate them in all forms.
Data's name is properly pronounced /ˈdeɪtə/ (or day-tuh) as opposed to the alternative pronunciations /ˈdɑːtə/ (dah-ta) or /ˈdætə/ (datt-a). When Data corrects Dr. Katherine Pulaski for using the latter pronunciation, Pulaski asks, "What's the difference?" Data replies, "One is my name, the other is not".
When he talked to Gene Roddenberry, Data actor Brent Spiner recalled Roddenberry saying: "Data, as the series progresses, will become more and more like a human [but] until at the very end of the show he will be so much like a human and still not.’ That was the idea and that’s the way that the writers took it. He was a classical clown... Chaplinesque... a sad, tragic clown." To get into his role, Data's actor Brent Spiner used the film Forbidden Planet in which there is the character of Robbie The Robot: Spiner used Robbie The Robot as the main role model for Data. Commenting on Data's perpetual albino-like appearance, he said: "I spent more hours of the day in make-up than out of make-up", so much that he even called it a way of method acting. Spiner also portrayed Data's evil brother Lore, which he found much easier to play, because he "was more like me".
Spiner has noted that he has visibly aged out of the role and that it would be implausible for him to continue playing an android whose appearance should not change with time (although the seventh-season episode "Inheritance" establishes that Data has an aging program that can change his appearance). While Spiner has often expressed affection for Data and appreciation for his career within Star Trek, he has also made it quite clear he is ready to move on.
Finally, Spiner's favourite Data scene is when Data is playing poker with famous scientist Stephen Hawking, who played himself: "Certainly my most memorable moment was sitting opposite Stephen Hawking and acting with him in the TV series. That was just unbelievable
At the beginning of The Next Generation, Data is aware of some of his backstory: He had been deactivated on Omicron Theta after an attack by the Crystalline Entity on October 29th, 2336, and was found and reactivated by Starfleet personnel two years later on February 2nd, 2338. Data went to Starfleet Academy from 2341-45 and then served in Starfleet, where he would serve until his death. He was assigned to the Enterprise under Capt. Picard in 2364, after two prior ship assignments.
Data was seduced by and had a sexual encounter with Tasha Yar in the episode "The Naked Now", as a result of polywater intoxication (the Tsiolkovsky virus). Data implicitly agreed not to discuss the incident with anyone, a commitment he was later forced to break in "The Measure of a Man."
In "Datalore" he discovers his amoral brother Lore, and learns he was not the first android constructed by their "father," Dr Noonien Soong. Lore impersonates Data and attempts to betray the Enterprise to the Crystalline Entity, a spaceborne creature which absorbs life forms for sustenance and was responsible for the destruction of the colony on Omicron Theta. Eventually Lore is exposed, and Data is forced to fight him in order to prevent the destruction of the ship. At the climax of a short but intense android-on-android battle, Data beams Lore into space by means of a cargo transporter pad, leaving him to drift.
In "The Measure of a Man", Data is legally declared an autonomous individual, as opposed to Starfleet property (like "a toaster"). His storage capacity is stated as "800 quadrillion bits" or 88.817842 petabytes or 93,132,257.5 gigabytes, and his processing speed is stated as "60 trillion operations per second" or 60 teraflops. He is not named a full sentient being, merely a free officer, but this is enough for him to be able to choose not to get disassembled as a test subject for his positronic brain by Cmdr Maddox. During the struggle for his rights, when it appears he will be forced to undergo the dangerous experiment, Data attempts unsuccessfully to resign from Starfleet.
Data attempted to reproduce in the episode "The Offspring" by creating an android daughter, Lal, from his own neural net matrix. She dies by the end of the episode, because of an emotional overload in the face of having to be taken away from Data on the order of Starfleet. Data transfers her memories in their entirety into his own.
In the episode "Brothers", Data finally is united with his creator Dr. Soong, after the Doctor activates his homing device, forcing Data to unwittingly steal the Enterprise to get to his lab. There he meets again with Lore (who was believed dead), and watches him steal the emotion chip made by Soong and meant for Data. Following Lore's escape after having injured their father while Data was incapacitated, Data is recovered by an Away Team. Data is then able to say farewell to Dr. Soong, calling him father for the first and last time.
In the two-parter "Redemption" Data assumes his first command as captain of the Sutherland during an engagement with the Romulans, where he is met by a prejudiced first officer. The first officer thinks Data to be an incapable officer for commanding a Starship, due to being an android. Data overcomes this prejudice by exposing the enemy tactics through his daring and superior thinking.
Data experiences dreaming for the first time in the first part of the double episode "Birthright", generated by a plasma shock to his system, during which he sees his younger father again, telling him, 'to be as free as a bird'. But would not be the last time he dreams. Later, in "Phantasms", he experiences equally surreal nightmares which enable him to eliminate a life-threatening parasite from the ship.
In "Inheritance" he meets Dr Juliana Tainer, who believes herself to be Data's mother. However, she is eventually revealed to be another "Soong-type" android created by his father on the death of his real wife, and Data finds it hard not to tell her, a difficulty made worse by his desire to find another of his kind. But after meeting with a holodeck version of Dr. Soong (produced by an interface chip in Dr Tainer's brain), he complies with Soong's wishes that she not be told, and bids her farewell. This episode also establishes that Data had been furnished with an "aging program", like hers.
Later in "Descent" (Part II) he unintentionally reunites with Lore and experiences aggressive and "pleasurable" emotions, produced by Lore tapping into the stolen emotion chip to corrupt his ethical program. Under the influence of these purely "negative" emotions, Data is persuaded to "destroy the Federation" and made to cause harm to his friends. Eventually, after facing Lore's command to kill Captain Picard, Data regains his sense of right and wrong fast as his ethical programming is restored by a kedion pulse. Data's refusal prompts Lore to try to kill him, which Data stops during an ensuing short fight. To stop his escape, Data is forced to fire on Lore. Data then deactivates Lore who states, "Without me, you will never feel emotions again".
In the film, Star Trek Generations, Data finally installs the still-damaged emotion chip he retrieved from Lore, and experiences the fuller scope of emotions: joy,( In which Data invents the "Life Forms Song") humor, crippling fear in the face of danger, and overwhelming guilt at his sudden failure to save his friend Geordi. This causes the chip to overload and fuse into his neural net. Later on however, he seems to be able to control his emotions much better, even though he cries the first time on finding his pet cat safe and sound, after their ship's devastating crash at the end.
The Borg tried to use Data's emotion chip to manipulate him in the film, Star Trek: First Contact, in which the Borg Queen could activate it against his will (he could not deactivate it), before she tempted him with "live flesh" grafted onto his arm to generate physical sensations, to force him to comply with her while still her unwilling captive. She then seduces him more successfully after his failed escape attempt by turning him into a full 'human', with later even more skin grafted onto his face. Data is eventually forced to take her life to end his captivity, and declares to have been tempted to join her, for a mere "0.68" seconds; an "eternity" for an android.
In the film, Star Trek: Insurrection, Data malfunctions after been shot at during a duck blind mission, causing his safety protocols to take over his cognitive functions, running amok. He is eventually safely retrieved by Capt Picard, by "singing" him into surrender, in the face of an entire attack force, and is returned to his usual functioning self. Data also states that, in case of a water landing, he was designed "to serve as an emergency flotation device".
In the film, Star Trek Nemesis, Data discovers another older brother, the childlike B-4. To this character he transfers his entire memory engrams to help him evolve. Near the end of the film, after Shinzon has been killed by Picard, Data beams the captain off the enemy Reman ship, the Scimitar, to safety using the only "ETU" he has. Data destroys the Scimitar and in the process sacrifices himself, saving the captain and crew of the Enterprise. Data, as a result, effectively reached his ultimate goal of becoming completely "human", by giving his own life. At the end of the film Data's brother B-4 is heard attempting to sing the song Data performed for Commander Riker and Deanna Troi's wedding reception, with some assistance from Captain Picard