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Picard questions and evacuates Velara III terraforming station personnel and resultantly returns them to the closest starbase. Project director Mandl is influenced to apologize to the life-form, and Picard negotiates with the life-form once he’s acquired sufficient knowledge to threaten its existence should it not release his ship’s computer threatening the lives of his crew. This was an exercise in intelligent ignorance and an accurate assessment of a determinant threat.
Whether engineers deliberately threatened a life-form native to the planet they were testing to make it habitable by terran organisms. Literally exchanging one life-form for another, the engineers seemed to be encouraged by their project leader to ignore signs of possible life in order to meet their timetable for the Federation. Commander Data is particularly sensitive to the investigation because the life-form is inorganic much like his own (Data is an Android). Being a leader of conscious means sacrificing for the sake of an undefined life, if the threat of existence means making the wrong choice just for the sake of exploration and in this case “Earth-forming” on another world.