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DSC Weekly Stardate 47634.44: RIP Admiral Nyota Uhura

  • Kurt Cagle 


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Senior Admiral Nyota Uhura, Director of Intelligence, Starfleet

Requiem In Pacem, Admiral Nyota Uhura

When I was six years old, I remembered Nichelle Nichols appearing on our family television set as the young communications officer aboard the Starship Enterprise, NCC-1701. This was around the same time that I remember a grainy black and white image of Neil Armstrong stepping out of the Lunar Lander, wearing the bulky lunar space suit and uttering the famous words, “One small step for a man. One giant leap for mankind.” I wondered, at six, why they didn’t talk about womankind because Uhuru was on a spaceship, too, establishing first contact with the aliens even as everyone else was being thrown around the bridge by the alien photon torpedoes. Why wasn’t Uhura considered important enough to be included in that odd little spacewalk?

It took me longer to realize that she was also black and why that was important. We lived in Montgomery, Alabama, then, and our school had only recently been racially integrated. At the time, I was too young to understand the dynamics of why Uhura was such a groundbreaking figure, or why fellow Montgomery inhabitant Martin Luther King, Jr. told her that she had one of the most important roles that a young black woman could have. She showed that black women were human beings capable of going to the stars at a time when that wasn’t necessarily established canon, especially in the Deep South.

I’m not a die-hard Trekkie (Trekker?), but the characters on their missions to go where no human has gone before stayed with me as archetypes. When fellow Seattleite Jimmy Doohan passed away a few years ago, I realized that an era was ending. With his love of engineering journals and his impish sense of humor, Scotty drove me into computers. Leonard Nimoy’s Spock showed both the wonder and the danger of being too cerebral, and I mourned both of them as icons. Yet with Nichols’ passing, I also lost my first love: A calm, confident, dignified, beautiful, and insanely smart woman who would go on to be an ambassador for NASA and a role model for generations of women (and men), while the character that she so gracefully brought to life would in time become a Senior Admiral (Director of Intelligence) in Star Fleet.

I was planning on writing about artificial intelligence this week, but that can wait. This cannot. Goodnight, Admiral Uhura. We’ll be listening for you on all frequencies.

In media res,

Kurt Cagle
Community Editor
Data Science Central

Data Science Central Editorial Calendar: August 2022 

Every month, I’ll update this section with many topics I’m especially looking for in the coming month. These are more likely to be featured in our spotlight area. If you are interested in tackling one or more of these topics, we have the budget for dedicated articles. Please contact Kurt Cagle for details. 

  • Climate Change and Sustainability
  • An AI Snowstorm?
  • Personal Knowledge Graphs
  • Gato and GPT-3 
  • Labeled Property Graphs 
  • Future of Work 
  • Data Meshes 
  • ML Transformers 
  • Energy AI 
  • RTO vs WFH 

If you are interested in posting something else, that’s fine too, but these are areas that we believe are hot right now. 

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