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Basic Information

From the Greek "man-like", the term android indicates a human-like robot. Depending on the context this may merely mean a humanoid chassis and roughly human size, or it may imply something with a lot more cosmetic similarity. If the android has a "wetware processor" it may be better described as a cyborg … a full machine with a coating of living flesh could go either way. The term bioroid may be used instead if the "robot" is built using biological, pseudo-biological or heavily biomimetic technologies.

These may well encounter problems with the uncanny valley and consequent Frankenstein Syndrome, and it may well be that android using cultures make their creations deliberately inhuman to avoid this. More generally, the human form is unecessarily complicated for many applications - bipedal walking, for example, turns out to be very hard to replicate (especially the way that humans do it) and so applications for androids may well be limited1. Despite this, they are a staple of golden age sci-fi and may need to be factored in if that sort of theme is being looked for.

Due to their similarity to humans, it is also common to expect these robots to be run by sapient or near sapient AIs - this may well not be the case, but often is in fiction. In terms of the risk of robot rebellion, these would seem to be amongst the least sensible candidates for artificial sapience (although still far behind huge supercomputers controlling national defence systems and/or major automated production plants).


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • Once you have determined that a society uses robots, it will then be necessary to determine if they use androids, and if so, of what kind - whether non-sapient Fallout style Protectrons, sub-sapients like Twiki from Buck Rogers, sapient but inhuman like C3PO or full sapients like Data. Are sapient androids counted as people, and if so, are they accorded equal rights to humans?
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