Truth Or Myth – Holodecks and Holograms

Hello and welcome to Truth OR Myth. In today’s episode we take a look at Holodecks and Holograms and ask ourselves, does this make sense?

Since the beginning of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Holodecks have both Amazed and Confounded the Star Trek Fanbase…

(CBS) Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes) enters the Holodeck for the first time – “Encounter at Farpoint”

In 1987 when Star Trek: The Next Generation Premiered with the Episode “Encounter at Farpoint” one of the most imaginative takeaways for fans was the holodeck. A self-contained virtual environment, the holodeck was a new concept that promised to provide new stories and adventures to the audience at large.

So the first question we must ask ourselves is, was it a new concept? In actuality no it wasn’t. back in 1974 in the Star Trek: The Animated Series Episode, “The Practical Joker,” The Rec Area aboard the Enterprise was actually shown to have holodeck technology installed. The problem, of course, being that a lot of Star Trek fans didn’t bother with watching the animated series, thinking it to be a Saturday Morning Cartoon for children so TNG was generally the fans first taste of the holodeck and what it could or couldn’t do.

Canon Wise, the first appearance of a holodeck was in 2151, when the NX- 01 encountered a Xyrillian Vessel that had one installed aboard her. This holodeck once activated seemed as good, if not better at recreating environments as the one seen in Encounter at Farpoint. It’s unknown if the Xyrillians ever joined Starfleet, or if when they did they helped Starfleet develop the Holodeck Tech, but given that almost 100 years had passed since we would see a holodeck on a Federation Starship, it’s safe to assume that Starfleet developed the technology on its own.

(CBS) Cpt Lorca (Jason Isaacs) & Lt Tyler (Shazad Latif) during a holo-simulation – “Lethe” – DSC Season 1×6

The Next appearance of the holodeck was of course in the Star Trek: Discovery Episode, “Lethe,” Where Lorca and Tyler were using one for combat training. Given the TAS Episode having one only 10 years later, it’s safe to assume Starfleet had them and used them for a such a purpose before they became widely used as recreation device, and of course plot point.

This inclusion of the Holodeck in Discovery though created a huge stir in the fan base and rightfully so. As these Holodecks again appeared better than the ones seen in the TNG. If you watch Encounter At Farpoint, it’s clear that Riker had never been in a holodeck. And that just doesn’t seem logical at all.

Even if we accept that Holo-tech was only used as a combat training device up to the point where we see it in TNG, it seems highly unlikely that the Federation Flag ship’s first officer wouldn’t have spent at least a few days training in one. So this point by the Discovery haters is not only valid but very accurate. None the less it IS canon, so we by the Era of Discovery there was at least 1 holodeck in full use as a combat training device.

The holodeck and alike used photons and forcefields, as well as other tricks, to create whatever environment and characters the users wished to participate in. This included scenery, simulations, novels and training environments.

(CBS) Data proves that they are still on the holodeck – “Ship in a Bottle” TNG Season 6×12

Also using replicator technology it was possible to remove certain items from the holographic environment. Though a clear an understanding of what could and couldn’t be removed was never given. For example, in the TNG Episode, Elementary my dear Data,” Data and LaForge removed a Drawing of the Enterprise done by Moriarty, yet in the TNG episode, “Ship in a Bottle,” Picard throws a Book outside the Holodeck environment at it vanishes immediately.

Though a fun and diverting device, the Holodeck was plagued with problems. As early as TNG’s season 1 Episode, “The Big Goodbye,” the audience got to see exactly how the holodeck would fit in the Star Trek Story Universe. The malfunctioning holodeck, trapped crew members within its domain while at the same time having no safety protocols in place to ensure the well being of those crew members within its walls.

Holodeck safety protocols are a prime example of something holodeck related that makes no sense. Why would Starfleet, designing a device for fun and entertainment, even have the option of not having those protocols in place? Think about it. This is a ship filled with civilians and children, and if the holodeck malfunctions it could kill said civilians in an instant. It seems highly illogical. Shouldn’t it have been programmed from the ground up to make sure those safety protocols could NEVER fail?

Sure I could see Starfleet designing a holodeck for specific simulations where safety protocols could taint the evaluations of said simulations, but those types of Holodecks should be at testing facilities NOT on board a Starship. It seems like all the safety protocols are is a line a line of code with an off switch that a senior officer, or 2, depending on who you believe, can deactivate.

(CBS) Geordi and Data about to enter the Holodeck

Another unbelievable holodeck point is the computers ability to create sentience within one of its character with a simple sentence. Again in the TNG Episode, “Elementary, Dear Data,” LaForge helps the computer bring Moriarty to life by simply saying create a holographic character capable of outwitting Data. Does this seem logical? And if it is possible, why aren’t there people in Holodecks all over the Federation simply saying, ” Computer create my Dead spouse, incorporate their personality profile, psych evaluations etc into the hologram and then make it capable of outwitting Data.”

I know it seems a stretch, but at the very least someone would have tried it. And it’s made even worse when we find out in the episode, “Ship in a Bottle,” that Moriarty, as bit’s of coded Data in the computer system, actually experiences the passage of time. Makes me saddened for my NES Super Mario Brothers and what they must be feeling now…

Deep Space Nine introduced the concept of Holosuites. basically, a holodeck with the option that every fanboy and some fangirls I’m sure would love to have, Holo-porn. It’s easy to see how addictive Holodecks could be. You could create the perfect mate such as Janeway did in the Star Trek: Voyager episode, “Fair Haven,” and not have to experience any downsides as you would have to in a real relationship.

The number of cases in which people experienced this sort of psychosis cause a whole new term to be introduced into psychology, terming the affliction, Holo-diction. Basically, a person, who like Lt Barkley in the TNG Episode, “Hollow Pursuits,” is addicted to the reality like fantasies the holodeck creates and retreats inside one to become the person they wish they were.

(Paramount) EMH -Star Trek: First Contact

By the Voyager Holodecks had been refined to the point of not only having programs called Holo-novels but also having a holographic doctor that could be utilized in case of a medical emergency.

This of course eventually lead to the issue of holographic rights. And a long debate as to whether a hologram is alive or not, again poor Mario Brothers…

We know that by the 26th Century Starfleet had developed the mobile emitter. Essentially a portable holographic emitter, this device would allow Voyager’s doctor to travel around the ship and on away missions just like any one of the crew.

Voyager’s Holodecks themselves are an enigma. In numerous episodes were told that the Holodecks and all holographic generations are run off of a different power supply… Why exactly? I don’t know. Since in the TNG episode, “Booby Trap,” we see the Holodecks being turned off to conserve ships power after LaForge creates a simulation to help the Enterprise out of that week’s problem. Yet on Voyager, Holodecks have a separate power core. Add to that the fact that no one can figure out how to make Starfleet’s own Holo power core compatible with other ships systems you have something of an unbelievable mystery as to what the heck Starfleet is doing to its holodeck… After all, why would you NEED a holodeck that runs off of its own power core in the first place? I can understand the Doctor having a backup power system installed in Sickbay, but not the fun and adventure Holodecks themselves.

And although unbelievable we can assume that Voyager’s Holodecks incorporate transporter technology into its systems, as in the Episode, “Heroes and Demons,” everyone’s worried about the idea that crew members were dematerialized by the program itself. All of that simply doesn’t make sense from a logical, Starfleet engineering standpoint but makes for great storytelling doesn’t it?

At this point id like to bring up one other little-known fact about Holodecks. It wasn’t a Gene Roddenberry invention. In fact, it was a Ray Bradbury invention from a 1950 story he wrote called, “The Veldt.” Where a technology-driven simulation was used as a nursery for some children that ends in an interesting tragedy. If you haven’t read it, you might want too, it’s a great little story.

(CBS) Hologrid TNG

Given the need for diversion from the daily life of a starship in deep space, it DOES make sense that Starfleet would invent and develop this type of technology, but again, what doesn’t make sense is the fact that Starfleet would develop it without safety in mind forefront and foremost. A technology that can kill you with a slight malfunction doesn’t seem very Federation standard to me.

And before you say well the same could be said about warp technology I offer this, Warp Tech has endless backups to prevent catastrophic failures. And yes they do happen and subsequently, a ship is destroyed. But where are all the backups on the Holodecks? Why when the safeties go off-line doesn’t a primary or a secondary back up kick in? The answer? Wouldn’t make for a good a story to put our crew in.

Virtual Reality IS the way of the future, however. Owning A PSVR I was blown away by it’s immersiveness and how different it was comparatively speaking. I got the same feeling of wonder with it that I had gotten playing my first game Asteroid on the Atari System. And when I played Star Trek Bridge Crew, I simply can’t describe the feeling that overtook me, if you ever have a chance to experience it in VR take it, it will change your perception of video games.

That being said, however, holodecks are still a ways away for us and maybe that’s a good thing. There are a LOT of people in our time that would use such a technology as an escape rather then facing life. The temptations a holodeck could provide are just numerous for a humanity at our stage of development, and personally, I don’t want to be killed by one…


Thanks for watching today’s episode of Truth OR Myth. Don’t for to like the video and subscribe to channel so you don’t miss any of the weekly videos we release. Thanks again for watching, live long and prosper…


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