The Star Trek Federation is a dissolute slaveholding state, living high on the hog while the conveniently non-human and inorganic AI slaves are cut up for scrap when their ship-bodies are obsolete, killed for amusement in holodecks, and aren’t even recognized as sentient.
– 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…