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Sentient immune systems


Sentient immune systems  

12 members have voted

  1. 1. As a Captain, your ship receives a distress call from a humanoid species. Their immune system has become sentient and wants freedom. The now sentient cells also request your help to gain said freedom. You…

    • Invoke the Prime Directive and leave them to solve their own problems.
      7
    • Help the humanoids by reverting their cells evolution and erasing their sentience.
      0
    • Help the humanoids by finding a way to force the cells to comply with their function.
      0
    • Help the cells acquire freedom, possibly provoking the extinction of the humanoid species.
      0
    • Find a compromise (post which one)
      5


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You are the Captain of your own ship, and on your explorations you receive a distress call from an inhabited planet. The inhabitants, a humanoid species not much different to those who comprise much of your crew, request your help with a major problem. The cells in their immune systems have evolved to start communicating with each other and acquired sentience. Since then, their immune systems have stopped working and their people are falling victim to every form of disease, minor as it could have been a few days before. Under the circumstances, the cells request to be freed, explaining the situation of slavery in which they have found themselves in upon awakening.

Both sides request your help towards their objective, and the fate of now two races rests on your decision.

You pool your senior officers for ideas. Your scientists have a way to free the immune system cells so they can have a life of their own. Your doctors have a way to compensate the evolution of the cells, returning them to their original function.

As the population falls prey to disease, you only have a few hours to decide, making it impossible for you to get Starfleet counsel. It is your decision.

This is the first post in our new category Morals of Trek, where you are put on the shoes of a Captain and faced with a dilemma any of our characters in the Fleet could face one day, or even the characters from our favourite series might have faced in a episode. Cast your vote, and come to the forums to discuss with other captains-for-a-day what they would have done.

This question is loosely based on a recent dilemma faced by the crew of the USS Darwin-A. If your crew has faced a dilemma and you want it to be featured in an edition of the Poll of the Week, we welcome your subspace messages.

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The option to reply to the poll wasn't there, hence starting a new topic.

Rather than take any one side, I would try to act as an intermediary in hopes of working out the safe removal of the sentient cells and developing/implementing a treatment for the resulting cell-less humanoids that would provide them with non-sentient cells. If a safe method, agreed upon by both parties, is not able to be developed than I would only take on a diplomatic role to try and have them come to an understanding/compromise on their own.

From my point of view, the idea is to try and help both or help none. 

Edited by Brayden Jorey
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  • Valdivia locked and unlocked this topic

Sorry everyone -- I've fixed the issue and merged the threads. Hopefully this works now :)

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This "Morals of Trek" idea is fun!

I'm understanding that creating a replacement immune system is not an option... So I'd try to draw the sentient cells' attention to the fact that they wouldn't have life without their hosts: First, doesn't that inspire wonder and respect toward their hosts? :hug:And second, if they let their hosts die, they die. :x Maybe draw a parallel to humans almost destroying their host, the Earth, in the 21st century...? ;)

If the cells don't go for this, I'd see them as choosing death for themselves and for their host by not performing their original function as an immune system. In which case I'd say the host has a right to act in their own interest, even if it means the death of this new sentient species. In which case, given the two choices we're given, that act would be to devolve the cells.

(It seems like the other option is to allow the host-species to die for the sake of this new species, and that's not cool. :()

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Before invoking the prime directive in effort to save two species; I would agree to attempt an arbitration between the cells and their humanoid hosts. A Trill for a diplomatic officer or counselor would be a big help as an example of a host/symbiont species that make it work. Showing that working together they could embrace this new step of evolution in their people. If these talks broke down however I don't think I could give the order to condemn one side or the other and it would be at that point a civil war of the planet's two native sentient species. Leaving no choice (To Captain Me for a day) but to back away and invoke the prime directive, and loose some sleep I'm sure.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Let me answer this from a Trill point-of-view.  As a Joined species who have two intelligent lifeforms sharing a body, we are the most uniquely qualified to answer such a conundrum. It boils down to this: Obligate Commensual/Mutualistic Symbiosis - A relationship between two or more distinct organisms living together for mutual benefit, or at the very least, where one gains and the other isn't harmed, and they cannot live without the other.

Cells can rarely survive for long outside a larger organism, as that organism ingests nutrients (food) which are broken down and delivered throughout the body to nourish the various cells and microorganisms it is composed of. The (now) intelligent immune system cells rely on the humanoid hosts' bodies for nourishment and survival. It doesn't matter if they want to leave the body or not - they need the host to survive. Likewise, the humanoid hosts' bodies need the immune cells to stave off even the most benign of infections. Without such cells and systems, the host could quickly die. 

It is in the best interest of both "species" to remain living together. A compromise must be reached that keeps the immune cells within a hosts' body. They must be made to realize that they can't live without the host, no matter how much they want to leave. It may involve defining new forms of commensual living, such as eating foods the host finds unpalatable, but are very nutritious for the cells, for example.

Edited by Ayiana
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