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"In the beginning, there is darkness – the emptiness of a matrix waiting for the light. Then a single photon flares into existence. Then another. Soon, thousands more. Optronic pathways connect, subroutines emerge from the chaos and a holographic consciousness is born."

- The Doctor in 2378

"The Doctor", as he was called by the crew of the Federation starship USS Voyager, wasVoyager's Emergency Medical Holographic program (alternatively abbreviated as "EMH"). The EMH Mark I, of which The Doctor was an example, was a computer program with a holographic interface in the form of a Human male doctor.

Although this program was specifically designed to function in emergency situations only, The Doctor on the USS Voyager was forced to become the ship's doctor on a full-time basis. This was a result of and subsequent to the fatal loss of the starship's entire medical staff when the vessel was suddenly relocated to the Delta Quadrant by the Caretaker, with little chance of Voyager returning home to the Alpha Quadrant. Prolonged use of the EMH resulted in The Doctor developing emergent behavior.

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