Data (Star Trek)

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Lieutenant Commander Data (pronounced /ˈdeɪtə/ DAY-tə), is a fictional character in the Star Trek universe portrayed by actor Brent Spiner. He appears in the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation and the feature films Star Trek Generations, Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek: Insurrection, and Star Trek Nemesis.[1]

Designed and built by Doctor Noonien Soong, Data is a sentient android who serves as the second officer and chief operations officer aboard the starships USS Enterprise-D and USS Enterprise-E. His positronic brain allows him impressive computational capabilities.[2] Data experienced ongoing difficulties during the early years of his life with understanding various aspects of human behavior[3] and was unable to feel emotion or understand certain human idiosyncrasies, inspiring him to strive for his own humanity. This goal eventually led to the addition of an "emotion chip", also created by Soong, to Data's positronic net.[4]

Data is in many ways a successor to the original Star Trek's Spock (Leonard Nimoy), in that the character offers an "outsider's" perspective on humanity.[5]

Contents

Development

Gene Roddenberry told Brent Spiner that over the course of the series, Data was to become "more and more like a human until the end of the show, when he would be very close, but still not quite there. That was the idea and that's the way that the writers took it." Spiner felt that Data exhibited the Chaplinesque characteristics of a sad, tragic clown.[6] To get into his role as Data, Spiner used the character of Robbie the Robot from the film Forbidden Planet as a role model.[6] 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 so that he even called it a way of method acting.[6] Spiner also portrayed Data's evil brother Lore (a role he found much easier to play, because the character was "more like me"),[6] and Data's creator, Dr. Noonien Soong. Additionally, he portrayed another Soong-type android, B-4, in the film Star Trek: Nemesis. Spiner said his favorite Data scene takes place in "Descent", when Data plays poker on the holodeck with a re-creation of the famous physicist Stephen Hawking, played by Hawking himself.[6]

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