Star Trek Guide

Star Trek: Why Synthetics Are Banned By Starfleet In Picard

As Star Trek: Picard begins, synthetic lifeforms have been banned throughout Starfleet and the Federation - but why? The answer is dark and complicated. Star Trek, and in particular Star Trek: The Next Generation, has often been preoccupied by the nature of life, and pondering if androids and robots - like the beloved Lieutenant Commander Data - are truly alive. Data's journey in discovering his humanity was at the heart and soul of The Next Generation.

But in the two decades since Picard and the TNG crew were last seen in Star Trek: Nemesis, the politics of artificial life have changed dramatically. Somewhat primitive androids - called Synthetics - were commissioned by Starfleet, used mostly as laborers in dangerous territories, like the Utopia Planitia shipyards orbiting Mars, where a rescue fleet was being constructed to save the Romulans from an oncoming supernova that threatened to wipe out their empire.

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However, the Synthetics inexplicably turned on their Federation masters, commandeering the rescue fleet and orchestrating an attack on Mars that left thousands dead and the Federation shaken to its core. In the wake of the attack, Starfleet cancelled their plans to rescue the Romulans, leaving untold millions to a death sentence. They also banned all artificial life throughout the Federation, a major moral lapse that ultimately led to Admiral Picard's estrangement from the organization to which he'd devoted his life. This major reveal in Star Trek lore was explained in the series premiere of Star Trek: Picard.

Picard had long been a proponent of granting full rights to artificial life forms, an ideology that saw its beginnings in the classic TNG episode "The Measure Of A Man". In that episode, Commander Bruce Maddox attempted to claim Data as Starfleet property so he could disassemble him and use him as a template for an entire race of cybernetic beings. Data refused the experiment, and after a trial in which he was defended by Picard, was deemed to be a living being with the right to choose his own fate.

Eighteen years since he died saving his captain in Star Trek: Nemesis, Picard is still haunted by Data's death, and in a way has been grieving for him ever since. With the revelation that Dahj - not to mention her twin sister - are Data's offspring, seemingly engineered by Maddox, Picard once again has a mission: save the surviving android from a group of shadowy Romulans, find out why the Synthetics attacked Mars, and restore Data's legacy. It's a tall task, and he'll have to do it without most of his old crew, but if anyone is up to the challenge of saving Starfleet's soul, it's Jean-Luc Picard.


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