PS. What do you think of Data??

Heh. Data... He is an emotionless android. What I was going to say that night was something like this:

He's obsessed with understanding human emotion and trying to become more human. In one way, it's a kind of worship of the creator. In another way, he personifies a kind of alienation that I think everyone feels. I'll talk about the second one first.

This alienation is the kind you feel when you think you're the only one not getting the joke. Not only does he not get the joke, he's functionally incapable of laughing at all. So the kind of thing that would be, for me or any other person, a question of fitting in and of social existence, turns into an issue of physical existence and adequacy for Data. I think this lets him ask questions and think at a very basic and essential level about the kinds of things every teenager worries about.

Now the other thing.

I think something that everyone thinks about, especially if you live in sort of a technocratic society within a loosely Christian worldview, is that we can do a lot but we'll never be able to do everything, we know a lot but will never know everything, and we can go many places but we won't be able to be everywhere. This makes us think, if we can never be or do all of these things, are we just forced to wallow in imperfection forever?

Now Data is even less perfect than us. He lacks something that everyone takes for granted, which sometimes we enjoy but at other times we want to rid ourselves of. And so he has this sort of angst about never measuring up, which is of the same sort that people get if they dwell too much on their limitations. By putting Data in relation to humans in the same way that humans are in relation to god or the universe or whatever, it lets us in the audience focus less on what we can't have, and more on what we do. Happiness, sadness, anger, joy, love, hatred, etc. etc., and the value they have for us. Even in the 24th century, when humans can do almost anything, these are what matter most.