In Star Trek, Data is an android designed and constructed by Doctor Noonien Soong. He is one of a handful of sentient androids known to the Federation in the 24th century, all but one of which were built by Dr. Soong. The exception -- Lal -- was constructed by Data himself.
Data is distinguishable from humans primarily by his gold skin tone and eyes. He is otherwise anatomically correct, and with makeup he was able to successfully impersonate a Romulan during a mission to Romulus. For many years, he was incapable of displaying emotion, but he eventually received an "emotion chip" from Dr. Soong that gave him this ability.
Data is physically far stronger and tougher than most humanoids. He has demonstrated the ability to deform steel with his bare hands and easily survive falls that would seriously injure or kill a human as well as automatic gunfire. Data can also move at superhuman speeds, although his speed seems more applicable to planned series of motion than to spontaneous or reflexive actions. For instance, he could rapidly replace isolinear computer chips that had been removed from a panel or construct a building from blocks , but he has never demonstrated superhuman speed in combat.
Data has a positronic brain which is an extraordinarily powerful computer for its size. While there is no evidence that Data's artificial intelligence is superhuman, he clearly does have some superior mental capabilities. He has a large memory capacity (100,000 TeraBytes), and he can recall virtually any information he has learned with great speed and detail. He can acquire new knowledge or skills at extraordinary speed by either reading instructional materials or reproducing physical motions that he has witnessed. His ability to rapidly correlate information from his internal data stores gives him extraordinary analytical abilities. He has not, however, demonstrated creative ability superior to that of an intelligent human, and he has made an assortment of errors during his career.
- TNG "Cause and Effect"
- Data's recommendation to use the tractor beam to prevent a collision with another ship results in the destruction of the Enterprise.
- TNG "Evolution"
- Data claims there is no precedent for a computer error causing a false sensor reading, even though Worf caused just such an error in the prior episode "Peak Performance". Since computer tampering is a potential cause for the false image in "Evolution", failing to mention it is an error on Data's part. Data also claims there is no precedent for a catastrophic systems failure on a starship, even though just such a failure destroyed the USS Yamato and nearly destroyed the Enterprise in the prior episode "Contagion". It is actually possible that the same virus has become active again on the ship, possibly because an infected file missed in the original system purge was recently accessed. Failure to mention the "Contagion" incident is another error on Data's part.
- TNG "Bloodlines"
- Data's statement of distance (300 billion km) and Riker's statement of travel time (20 min) produce an inconsistent derived figure for the speed of warp 9 (833c). Riker's statement is likely correct, since an extended travel time to the Ferengi ship was a plot point which forced Picard to risk sub-space transport.
TNG "The Wounded"
- When a Cardassian ship engages the USS Phoenix, Data reports that the Phoenix moves out of range of the Cardassian ship and then returns fire. The tactical display on the Enterprise's viewscreen, however, clearly shows that the Cardassian ship has greater range than the Phoenix, and that the Phoenix is still well within the Cardassian ship's weapon range.
- TNG "Data's Day"
- In a personal log, Data claims that Vulcans are incapable of lying, even though there are Vulcans operating undercover in the Federation's security and intelligence services. Tuvok wouldn't have lasted long as a spy among the Maquis if he couldn't lie.
- Data also erred by failing to report the "Vulcan Ambassador's" request for tactical information about the ship. Even though she withdrew the request when informed that Data would report it to the captain (claiming she was merely testing Data's security protocols), the fact that she made it in the first place was what his protocols should have required him to report. His failure directly contributed to a major intelligence defeat for the Federation.
- TNG "True Q"
- Data's "12.75 billion GW per…" power statement is just absurd in view of the misuse of units, the need to dissipate waste heat, other power statements, and the power implications of feats performed in other episodes.
- TNG "Relics"
- The diameter of the Dyson sphere is stated to be 200 million km. Data calculates its surface area as 1E16 square km. The real surface area of such a sphere would be 1E17 square km. Data screws up a calculation by an order of magnitude; a simple formula we teach children to perform in school. Also, he reported the star inside as G-class. However, in order for the sphere to have a habitable interior despite a constant day, the star would have to possess luminosity far less than the 60% of the Sun - which is the minimum for a G-class star.
In the TNG episode "Measure of a Man", a Starfleet robotics expert attempted to have Data declared Starfleet property, so he could be dismantled for research purposes. The court concluded that Data represented a race of sentient androids, and that declaring them Starfleet property would be enslaving them. Slavery was banned by law in the Federation, so Data remained a free individual.
Data later created another Soong-type android named Lal. Starfleet attempted to seize custody of her by declaring Data an unfit parent. Before the custody issue could be resolved by a court, an error in Lal's neural network caused her death.
- Data on Memory Alpha