At the end of Star Trek: The Original Series episode “The Ultimate Computer” the M5 computer effectively kills itself when Captain Kirk convinces it that it has committed murder and that the proper punishment for murder is death. But times have changed since we got out first view of the 23rd century. Since Star Trek: TOS went off the air, in the US, the death penalty was first suspended, then reinstated in many states in the decades following a 1976 Supreme Court decision (though several of these 30 of 50 states states either have had the Governor declare a moratorium or have not implemented an execution in many years). Fewer than one third of UN Nations have an active death penalty (being particularly unpopular in Europe and the Americas)
All this being said, do we keep the ending of “The Ultimate Computer” the way it is, or should we alter it based on the current views and mores of the world (though that clearly depends on where in the world you are)? I suppose the line “This unit must be imprisoned for life” just isn’t as effective as “This unit must…die.”
One thought on “This Unit Must be Imprisoned for Life”
An interesting insight; the relationship between contemporary social and political policy issues and the plotting of science fiction set centuries from now.