Holotechnology


Section 31 Disinformation on Holotechnology

The tertiary junior adjutant has this to say:

Holodecks

The Federation holodeck is an energy-intensive entertainment facility which is installed on most combat vessels. The logic of putting energy-intensive entertainment facilities on military starships is incomprehensible

Look closely at how he redefines the purpose of the training, simulation, and crew support facility, instead referring to it as some sort of Disneyland.  He then acts dumbfounded at the senselessness of his redefined version of things.

, but the Federation has a long-standing history of deliberately sacrificing military efficiency in the name of luxury and convenience. According to the TM, holodecks have two primary components:

1. Replicated matter: replicators manufacture physical objects inside the holodeck, which can be carried around, touched, thrown, or even carried outside the holodeck (as seen when children aboard the Enterprise-D threw snow into the hallway outside the holodeck). This is highly energy-intensive, and is only used for objects which the user is likely to carry outside the holodeck, based on computer projections and past behavior. A good example would be food, which is ingested by the user and carried outside the holodeck in partially-digested form.

2. Force-field-assisted holographic images: the system uses force fields to simulate tactile sensations and solidity in holographic objects. These objects cannot be eaten or carried outside the holodeck, but they can be felt, and they can even be dangerous if the holodeck's safety interlocks are disabled. As Captain Picard noted in ST:FC, "even a holographic bullet can kill."

 

It is noteworthy that holodecks are very similar to Lando Calrissian's "Hologram Fun World" amusement park, and the hologram "adventure rooms" on the Coral Vanda undersea casino ship. Those adventure rooms use "a combination of holographic generators, tactile arrays, and olfactory emitters to create a stunningly realistic simulation" (ref. SWEGVV), which essentially means that they are functionally identical to the holographic portion of a holodeck system. However, while both technologies create an environment where the user can see, touch, hear, and smell the simulated environment, the Federation holodeck can potentially create a superior experience because of the replicated-matter system which augments its holographic system. Those replicated objects can be eaten or carried away from the facility.

However, the replication-portion of the Federation holodeck is highly energy-intensive, so much so that holodecks are routinely declared off-limits under high-load or low-fuel conditions, even on the Federation's most powerful starships. It is typical of the Federation that they would expend unreasonable amounts of energy, even on a military starship, to marginally increase the sensory experience of an entertainment facility. We see no particular military benefit in obtaining this technology, but some of our local luxury resort operators may be interested in the replicator-based half of holodeck technology for their decadent operations.

 

Let’s address our tertiary junior adjutant’s latest flight of fantasy. “The logic of putting energy-intensive entertainment facilities on military starships is incomprehensible,” Easily addressed by pointing to a previous example of Imperial inadequacy:

“The young lieutenant…which was, Pellaeon thought with a trace of old bitterness, where the problem really lay. In the old days -- at the height of the Empire’s power -- it would have been inconceivable for a man as young as Tschel to serve as a bridge officer aboard a ship like the Chimera. Now --

He looked down at the equally young man at the engineering monitor. Now, in contrast, the Chimera had virtually no one aboard except young men and women.

Even after five years Pellaeon couldn’t help but wince at the memory of that image: the Executor, out of control colliding with the unfinished Death Star and then disintegrating completely in the battle station’s massive explosion. The loss of the ship itself had been bad enough; but the fact that it had been the Executor had made it far worse. That particular Super Star Destroyer had been Darth Vader’s personal ship, and despite the Dark Lord’s legendary -- and often lethal -- capriciousness, serving aboard it had long been perceived as the quick line to promotion.

“Which meant when the Executor died, so also did a disproportionate fraction of the best young and midlevel officers and crewers.”

-Star Wars: “Heir to the Empire”, pgs. 2-3. Written by Timothy Zahn.

Knowing our tertiary junior adjutant’s penchant for cluelessness, were we face-to-face, I’d explain, further, that the Imperial armed forces servicemen are just poorly trained, and further evidence to attest to this fact can be found when a whole passel of Imperial troops couldn’t fight off a pack of Care Bears, back on Endor. Or maybe that goes back to their poor diet? Were they in possession of these “energy-intensive entertainment facilities”, maybe their “troops” could’ve practiced up a little more (such as brushing up on their stress-fire skills, which really sucked). Furthermore, the ability of Holodecks to simulate extremely realistic environments makes for extremely realistic training. My Wing Chun Kung-Fu instructor always says: “You fight like you train.” If you train with restraint, and knowing that it’s always a drill, if you fight keeping in mind that what you’re doing isn’t real or critical, that’s the way you’ll meet the real-world situations. Further evidence of this lack of Imperial training can be seen in their complete inability to pull themselves together and utilize their chain of command in light of the loss of the materials-wasteful Executor. Additionally, the Empire was foolish in hoarding their better officers into the fewest amount of ships they could fit them on, which makes them prime targets for terrorism. Proof of this: the destruction of Executor.

Our isolation-suited spy that had succeeded in establishing a Vulcan mind-meld with Pellaeon found his thoughts typical of many other Imperial officers that he’d examined. Another example of the low standards of Imperial training is the fact that they discriminate based on age. Denying service on starships due to age is indicative of the sketchy, and outright poor, training their give their officers and enlisted personnel. The Empire relies too much upon O.J.T. (On the Job Training), and when their most experienced personnel are killed (like when Executor bit it by smashing into the second Death Star, another bag of the Empire’s so-called ‘best & brightest’), it helps contribute to the destruction of their morally bankrupt, de-facto government. However, being kings of energy conservation, the Empire can make such proud statements as:

“There are whole star systems whose gross domestic product is less than the cost of a single Star Destroyer. There are whole nations which, throughout their entire history, do not use as much energy as a Star Destroyer expends to make a single Hyperspace jump.”

-Star Wars the Role Playing Game (Second Edition) Sourcebook, page: 32, by Bill Slavicsek & Curtis Smith; published by West End Games November 1987; Trademarks of LFL used by West End Games Inc., under authorization.

And:

“Turbolasers draw so much power that each one has it’s own dedicated turbine, and multiple capacitor banks supplement the turbine’s power feed. The power core regulates energy flow, bleeding off excess and blocking power surges that could cause the turbolaser to explode. Turbolasers use a delay of at least 2 seconds between shots to allow the capacitors to build up an adequate charge.”

-Star Wars: the Essential Guide to Weapons & Technology, page: 88, text by Bill Smith; published November 1997 by the Ballantine Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc.; Artists’ Acknowledgements: “I extend my deepest appreciation to Lucasfilm Licensing, especially to Allan Kausch and Lucy Wilson, for their guidance & generosity; Steve Saffel of Ballantine/Del Rey; and George Lucas for his timeless tale that has given me my happiest childhood memories and continues to create more.” Title and character and place names protected by all applicable trademark laws. All Rights Reserved. Used Under Authorization.

It is typical of the Federation that they would expend unreasonable amounts of energy, even on a military starship, to marginally increase the sensory experience of an entertainment facility. Again, this is the product of blind foolishness. While I’m certain their Imperial Army soldiers and Imperial Stormtrooper Corps do train, somewhat, if their vaunted military starships had such ‘novelties’ as holodecks, they would probably be good enough to win a fight, or two.

Maybe. I wouldn’t count on it, though.

As the Imperials forces probably rely upon centuries-old methods of training, it is yet another example of their wastefulness of time and resources. Deploying troops can cost millions. Deploying troops with large vehicles can cost billions.  Add more for specialized training facilities.  With a holodeck, we could simulate even major battles, with no possibility of casualties. Training accidents are tragic, and a loss of life in training is no less terrible than a loss of life in actual combat.

Is that a good enough reason for the Empire?

Apparently not. No, instead, the Empire continues to dragoon millions into service and watch as they go right out of service (feet-first). This, I’m sure, breeds a really high level of troop morale. As for the allegedly unflappable stormtroopers, they’re probably just resigned to the fact that they’re, statistically, the men on the battlefield with the highest death probability of any soldier.

How about being able to train for full-out combat, expending no real materials (such as blaster gasses) for shooting at holographic enemies?

How about simulating casualties in the field for medics to work on? Probably a moot point, considering it seems that most Imperial casualties die.

How about simulating tank combat without having to expend the fuel and resources required of a real-world simulation?

How about mass naval combat with spacecraft carriers, battleships and cruisers without having to deploy them and utilize all that fuel?

How about starship combat without having to rig up special weapons that won’t damage hulls, or even having to have ships deploy themselves out of their own patrol zones?

Believing holodecks to have no military applications is the height of foolishness and the very voice of military inexperience and incompetence. A “war campaign” based on that kind of stupidity would not last very long, and whomever came up with that kind of “war campaign” would be on the losing end, very quickly. The level of detail and realism that holodecks are capable of vastly exceed anything Imperial/New Republic/Corporate Sector technologies have yet to demonstrate, and it is precisely this level of detail and reality that will help a soldier to become more effective, and bring him to the battlefield with experience. Even holographic battlefields can be grueling; especially when they’re immersed in them for days and weeks on end. Though they don’t face true dangers, the psychological pressures of the horrors of war, the violence and the stress of trying to employ mission-critical skills under intense enemy fire would more than make for a superior soldier. Unfortunately, the Empire may never realize this.

In any event, if a holodeck drains too much power in combat, the answer is simple: push the ‘off’ button.

At this point, the Empire is like that annoying Southerner: they must rely upon the kindness of strangers to survive, and that is in critically short supply, where they’re concerned. Our Section 31 intelligence agents have been in their archives, have traveled back through their timestream, have moved freely throughout their starships undercover and clad in isolation suits, and have made some very sad conclusions about this pathetic, almost tribal government. With all that study, the result is always the same from every report: nobody likes the Empire, and the Empire isn’t likely to make a comeback, anytime soon.

“We see no particular military benefit in obtaining this technology, but some of our local luxury resort operators may be interested in the replicator-based half of holodeck technology for their decadent operations.”

The foolishness of this statement stands alone.

Now, let us look at the sad, and thankless task of examining Imperial/New Repubic/Corporate Sector Authority holographic technologies. Visually, they are some of the least impressive I have ever seen in all my years of working with Section 31. They are fuzzy, easily disrupted by outside interference (possibly even power waves, which operate in the 60 Hz, ~5[106] meter wavelength range), often monochromatic (apparently, they lack the memory to make color transmissions routine) and plagued with resolution lines, such as with bad, early 20th century television. Clearly, this indicates low-capacity (and probably low technology) buffers.

Anyone can read in the technical manuals (Star Trek: the Next Generation and Star Trek Deep Space 9) that UFP imagery technologies utilize nano-pixelation. No known Imperial/New Republic/Corporate Sector Authority technologies utilize such breakthroughs, as that. A single bit per pixel results in what’s called a ‘2-color system’. This is because it puts everything in black and white; the pixel is either on, or off. In order to add additional colors to the image requires encoding more information (bits and memory). Adding a second bit per pixel doubles the number of possible displayable colors.

 

Monochrome (black & white): 21= 2 possible colors

With 2 bits/pixel: 22= 4 possible colors; double the first example

 

Shades (different degrees of darkness or light) are considered different colors in the terminology of computer graphics. In computer graphics, the number of bits that are assigned to coding color information is sometimes described as the number of color planes. This term relates to the organization of display memory. Since the more colors used in an image, the better, the apparent image quality and the more lifelike it’s appearance, the temptation is to increase the bit-depth of each pixel as high as possible (this means adding more and more bits/pixel). However, the more colors/color planes, the more storage is needed for encoding each pixel. Additionally, let’s not forget another limitation: no creature is able to see unlimited colors. Not Star Wars galaxy Humans, not the Humans from my own plane, not Vulcans, Mon Cals (who probably have vision limitations more geared toward the blue-green spectra), not Klingons, etc. Most Humans from both sides of the dimensional pond can distinguish only a few million distinct colors. From the 20th-21st century, most monitors only began maintaining only about 262,144 colors, which corresponded to the capabilities of an 18-bit display system (218= 262,144). Once these limits are reached and enough memory is assigned to each pixel, further improvements do not improve appearances.

There is a practical limitation on color, which is a 24 bit depth. This allowed a system to store and (theoretically) display any of 16,777,216 hues (224=16,777,216). Display systems wit this bit-depth are termed 24-bit color, or “true color” systems, because they can store sufficient information to encode more colors than any Human could possibly see, which is a truly accurate representation of perceivable color. Now, while some of the capabilities of true color display are excessive (they exceed the Human ability to distinguish color), true color remains a convenient system, due to it’s assignment of 1 byte of storage for each of the 3 additive primary colors (red, green and blue) to each pixel. This 3 byte/pixel memory requirement imposed severe processing difficulties on 20th-21st century Earth high resolution systems, and also could strain storage systems. Some systems had/have a 32-bit color mode. Instead of allocating the additional byte of storage to color information, however, most of these 32 bit systems put the extra bits to work as an ‘alpha channel’. What an alpha channel does, basically, is provide a storage place for special effects information. The bits in the alpha channel normally are not tallied in counting color planes, because they do not see regular use. The mathematics for finding the amount of memory required to display a color graphics screen is simple. Multiply the number of pixels on the screen (resolution) by the bit-depth of each pixel, then divide by 8 to translate into bytes.

Color Mono 256 Colors HiColor True Color
Bits/Px 1 8 16 24
Bytes/Px 0.125 1 2 3
640x480px 38,400 307,200 614,400 921,600
2043x1536px 393,216 3,145,728 6,291,456 9,437,184

Now, the Imperial/New Republic/Corporate Sector Authority lines that run horizontally through their holograms are, quite possibly, raster lines, showing they’re utilizing raster graphics. This technology organizes the screen into a series of lines called a raster that’s continually scanned dozens of times/second. However, these lines should not be as plainly visible to the eye as they are in what the Imperial/New Republic/Corporate Sector Authority engineers pass for holography.

The number that depicts the theoretical sharpness of a monitor’s video display is it’s resolution. It shows how many individual pixels an image contains that the display system will spread across the width and height of the viewable area/screen. The physical properties of the monitor play no part in the resolution, whatsoever. Even a 20th century PC generated it’s imagery as an electrical signal completely independent from the computer monitor (it would generate the same image, even if the monitor wasn’t connected to the computer system unit, at all). The number of pixels in an image doesn’t vary with the size of the screen that it’s displayed upon.

-Hardware Bible (Premier Edition), Your Complete Guide to All Types of PC Hardware, Chapter 15: the Display System, Color Planes, pgs.: 708-711. Written by Winn L. Rosch.


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