When asked recently by TrekMovie what it took for him to take the role of Data once more, Brent Spiner was his typically dry self, cracking a joke about them throwing “hundreds of thousands of dollars” at him, before explaining that it was just a matter of having frank discussions with Terry Matalas about what they were going to do with Data. Once the two had hashed things out, Spiner was completely on board to come back and rejoin his friends on the Enterprise. He didn’t want to repeat himself, and Matalas’ plan gave Data a whole new dimension. Spiner explained:

“[…] it’s taking the character to a completely different place, really, than he’s been before. [Gene] Roddenberry when I first met him, he was describing the character of Data and what he wanted from Data was that Data would get closer and closer and closer to being human. And at the end of the day, he’s as close as he can be and still not. And I think this kind of addressed that even more. It continues that journey of Data getting so very close to being human still he’s not. He is still an android. He still has an artificial body. And he still has confusion about the human condition and what it means to be human. And that makes him, I think, even more human, because we all struggle with that.”

From the beginning, Data has always longed to be human. He even got suckered into having flesh put on his android body by the Borg queen in “Star Trek: First Contact,” nearly forsaking his friends and crew for a little android-on-Borg action. So his actually being made human, or as close to it as physically possible via Dr. Soong’s cloning technology, is perfect.