Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season 6, Episode 9

The Quality of Life (14 Nov. 1992)

TV Episode  -   -  Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 605 users  
Reviews: 4 user | 3 critic

When Geordi is assigned to survey a new mining development with Dr. Farallon, who invented an experimental mining technology, she uses a new sophisticated robot called an Exocomp to repair a power grid.



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Episode cast overview:
Dr. Farallon
Chief Kelso


The Enterprise orbits Tyras 71 to assist the experimental mining project Tyrant Partical Fountain, which Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge must evaluate for Starfleet. Dr. Farallon demonstrates the Exocomp, a revolutionary power grid repair device needed to keep the fountain operational, which creates its own tools and learns from its obstacle experience. Picard allows 48 hours more for Data to help Farallon. After performing efficiently, it suddenly burns out, later self-repairs. Data realizes this only makes sense as a self-preservation move, and therefore hopes it's now a living machine, like himself; the theory is tested... Written by KGF Vissers

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Release Date:

14 November 1992 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Having all the charisma of central heating units, the Exocomps were anthropomorphized as the story passed through several scriptwriters. In Naren Shankar's script, they were changed to look like mobile shoebox units. But they just wound up looking like footballs wearing trainers, according to the design department. When Jonathan Frakes elected to direct, they gained little dips and hesitations in movement, rather then just R2D2-like beeps and wheezes to denote emotion and thought. See more »


Data states that he is considered "alive". Actually he is not. He is considered sentient and has human rights but he is not biologically alive. See more »


[Data has theorized that the exocomps might have a survival instinct]
Dr. Farallon: You're anthropomorphizing these units. Like any mechanical devices, they occasionally malfunction. One time I saw an exocomp enter a reaction chamber for no apparent reason and vaporize itself. Is that supposed to make me think it was depressed and suicidal?
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Star Trek: The Next Generation Main Title
Composed by Jerry Goldsmith and Alexander Courage
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User Reviews

Living Machines/Data's Dilemma
25 September 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

When Geordi arrives on a mining planet, he meets a female engineer who has develop a marvelous machine, the Exocomp, that can repair and change things so humans don't have to risk their lives. The laboratory is saved because on of these things was able to adapt properly and make repairs. The issue is that these machines are beginning to think and adapt on their own. Data, who should know, begins to think of these things as sentient creatures, capable of thought and action, including self-preservation. Even though the Enterprise is in grave danger, he refuses to allow them to work. Once again, the definition of what life is comes into play. Remember a previous episode where a court found Data to be a sentient creature, a life form. The issues are unique and handled very well here. The episode is cleverly written and well presented.

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