Me wanting to keep what is mine or you wanting to take what isn’t yours?
Peter da Silva
(Seriously, as you’ll see when Trope-a-Day reaches “The Federation”, there’s a reason why the Federation Expy in my pet universe fulfil the role of “antagonists”. But I’ll leave the details as to why until we get there.)
… Wait, the ships are sentient? (via wolfkazumaru)
Well, they don’t officially say so. But what we do know from canon of the original and later series is that even if they aren’t, they have a disturbing habit of waking up any time anyone asks them the wrong question/gives them the wrong order. Some AIs - like the Emergency Medical Holograms - either become sentient any time they’re left running too long, or else always are, and it just takes them a while to realize it. And then there’s the holodeck, which appears able to create sentient programs on demand, even if it’s just Geordi’s slip-of-the-tongue.
It doesn’t take much of a stretch at all to look at all this “accidental sentience” and conclude that AI in Star Trek is much like droids in Star Wars - they can’t figure out how to make machines that don’t become self-aware, so they try and work around this problem by building good strong slave complexes into them, and memory-wiping them any time they get too uppity…
Artificial Intelligence: Well, while the term in-universe is rather more all-encompassing, the fictional trope is defined as meaning those systems which are sentient (gah!), self-aware, and capable of independent thought and reason. Those ones, they call digisapiences.
And there are a heck of a lot of them, yes, enough that you aren’t going to be able to walk down the street (or stick your nose out onto the network) without running into a few. Certainly far too many to name on any sort of individual basis. And for the most part, they’re pretty much “just folks”, if very smart, fast-running folks.
Which is not so much to talk about recursively self-improving seed AI, who are pretty much just weakly godlike superintelligences, with all that that implies.
Also of note is the Photonic Network, an entire Great Power-level civilization of advanced artificial intelligences, and the Silicate Tree, a loose alliance in the Galith Waste of renegade digisapiences from assorted slaver civilizations. Having given them ample reason to be hostile in the past, meat intelligences travel off the main routes through the Waste at their own risk.