Star Trek: Season 2, Episode 24

The Ultimate Computer (8 Mar. 1968)

TV Episode  |   |  Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
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Reviews: 13 user | 5 critic

Kirk and a sub-skeleton crew are ordered to test out an advanced artificially intelligent control system that could potentially render them all redundant.

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Title: The Ultimate Computer (08 Mar 1968)

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Scott / M-5 / Starbase Officer
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Sean Morgan ...
Barry Russo ...
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Storyline

Kirk is none too impressed when he's told that the Enterprise is to compete in simulated war games but under the control of a new computer. The M-5 computer is the latest invention of the brilliant Dr. Richard Daystrom, who is confidant that his unit can not only take control of the starship but do a better job than humans can. In its first simulated encounter, the Enterprise under M-5's control easily defeats two other starships. Soon, however, it begins to act independently of its human masters, tapping directly into the warp engines for its power and erecting a force field to protect itself. Daystrom has little interest in disconnecting the M-5 and treats it more like an errant child than a machine. For Kirk and the few crew members still aboard, it becomes a matter of life and death when Starfleet Command orders the Enterprise destroyed. Written by garykmcd

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8 March 1968 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Trivia

In his 1999 essay "Welcome Aboard the Enterprise," science fiction author Robert J. Sawyer writes, "...the ship's computers, as seen in "The Ultimate Computer," were designed by a Nobel-prize-winning black cyberneticist, played with equal dignity by William Marshall. During the era of Martin Luther King and the Watts Riots, it was a powerful, important statement to have the white captain of the Enterprise deferring to black people; as Marshall observed thirty years later, the single most significant thing about his guest-starring role was that he, an African-American, was referred to as "Sir" throughout the episode." See more »

Goofs

When Lieutenant Uhura informs Captain Kirk that the M5 had already acknowledged a transmission from Commodore Wesley, her left hand is holding the earpiece in her left ear. As the camera cuts to Kirk for his reaction, her hand is at her side. See more »

Quotes

Captain James T. Kirk: You know, I have... I have never felt this way before - at odds with... the ship. I sat there and watched my ship perform for a mass of circuits and relays, and felt... useless. Unneeded. To Captain Dunsel.
Dr. McCoy: To James T. Kirk, Captain of the Enterprise.
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Referenced in Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Daystrom's Dilemma
3 May 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This is a rather complex episode. It has the classic question as to whether complete mechanization (including a master computer) is preferable to a human (or non-human) crew. A man named Dr. Daystrom is one of the pioneers in the development of space technology. He was once lauded but, like so many pioneers, has become the object of the public's malaise over past accomplishments. He uses the Enterprise as his Guinea pig, installing his ultimate computer and putting the crew in menial positions. To test out his baby, Daystrom has arranged war games with other starships. The computer does a masterful job of running the ship, but because artificial intelligence lacks imagination, when the games commence, the thing can't distinguish the game from reality. It believes these ships are actually attacking it. Daystrom goes mad when efforts are made to stop his creation. Another issue is if Daystrom has his way, there will be no more crews, no more explorations. Would it spell the end of the need for looking into the unknown.


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