Android

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An android from Starfinder. Sick mohawk, brah.

An android is described by most scientific outlets and professionals as any kind of robot designed to physically resemble a human being, both in appearance and behaviour. The concept of machines acting and looking like humans has been a very common idea for discussion in science fiction and scientific speculation, and the concept has been explored in many ways throughout history. This, of course, has meant that the idea has been developed and used by many authors of science fiction and fantasy writing, and it's frequently represented in many tabletop games and settings.

It is important to take into consideration that the original concept doesn't necessarily need the android to be an electronic-based creation; that idea appeared alongside the developement of computer science and AIs. Because of this, the idea of android is not limited to sci-fi settings, but it can also be included in fantasy settings.

Do not confuse with cyborgs. A cyborg is an amalgamation of a living being with artificial parts, whereas the android is fully artificial. Take that, whoever translated Dragon Ball!

Origins of the concept

The idea of machines looking and acting like us is not a recent topic of discussion. The first people to develop this idea were the ancient Greeks with their "αὐτόματον", complex artificial constructs designed to follow a series of instructions, usually resembling the human form. One of the most famous of them was Talos, a bronze automaton designed and created by the god Hephaestus (although in some versions the author is a mortal inventor) as a request by Zeus, and with the task of protecting Zeus's lover Europa. Talos's job consisted in guarding the island of Crete to avoid any potential threat to reach Europa.

Also one of the most famous takes of the android is the Jewish tale of the golem. A being magically animated created out of clay, it appears frequently in ancient Jewish folklore, although the most famous version of the myth is the Golem of Prague, where a rabbi created a golem to protect the Jewish community of the city, and had to dispose of the thing after that, usually after a series of violent events.

The first takes of the modern android, a machine based on science and technology instead of magic or divine powers, appeared during the 19th century in some speculative histories about "mechanical dolls". The term would not become popular until George Lucas brought the word "droid" into Star Wars. If a droid was just a robot, an android is a droid that looks like a human ("anthrop-" is the Greek root for "human being"; the term "gynoid" is derived from the same principle and used to describe droids that resemble women. Of course, the idea in modern media was older than that (see the movie Metropolis for a very early interpretation in cinema), but they usually just used the world robot, which is not as precise as it should be.

The Three Laws of Robotics

Introduced by Isaac Asimov in a 1942 short story, and better known for its inclusion in the 1950 collection I, Robot are the Three laws of Robotics. These govern the actions of robots and are given as the following:

First Law
A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
Second Law
A robot must obey the orders [given to it] by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
Third Law
A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Asimov later added a 4th, "zeroth", law

Zeroth Law
A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.

As one of the earliest authors to cover intelligent machines as something more than just magical future tech, Asimov's work has proven to be quite influential to future depictions in fiction. This often extends to them being directly quoted, a trend Asimov himself may have started when he reused the laws in Lucky Starr (no, not that one) despite it being set in its own universe and being written under a pseudonym. The Three Laws have also been seriously considered by those involved in real world robotics since nobody wants a killer robot or a robot rebellion. This may be why fiction seems to take the three laws as immutable as the laws of physics despite their origin as fiction.

Asimov himself repeatedly explored the consequences, gaps, and loopholes of the laws in his own works. Naturally, depictions by other authors have followed, often to have both the Three Laws and killer robots.

Actual development of androids

Nowadays, the development of human-like robots has risen in popularity, although the results usually fall right into the uncanny valley. Seriously, just look at some of those Japanese androids they show on those technology showcases, and tell me you don't get the creeps. Making a humanoid robot able to walk across a room is hard, making one that can pass for a human is harder still. The investigation also focus on the AIs, in particular those that allow self-learning. But as of now, they look and act very dumb. So your dream of getting your own robot girl is still too far. Don't lie, you want one.

Androids in Star Wars

The (trademarked) name "Droid" is obviously derived from "android". Despite this, while many droids in Star Wars have a roughly humanoid shape and artificial skin is old tech that has existed for a long time (a long time), very few droids could pass for human. The first known droid that pretended to be human did so merely by pretending to never meet in person and projecting a hologram of its "owner" and pretending they were elsewhere. That of course, doesn't really count.

It was not until the era of the Empire that droids capable of passing for human went anywhere. The first attempt came shortly after the fall of the Republic and was so disastrously deep in the uncanny valley it killed the company behind it. Despite this failure, Imperial scientists, well aware of their value as infiltrators, continued working on them. A decade latter they produced droids that could pass for human to all but thorough medical tests and were explicitly capable of sex. The Rebellion experimented with the concept as well, but didn't produce anything till after the Battle of Endor (by which time they had already encountered Imperial examples) and those they did were crude and malfunction prone [1]. In the New Republic era one of the surviving Imperial examples began producing further examples based on her own design (details on this are really vague because the part comes exclusively from one short story intended to clean up lose ends that really just makes more than it solved).

Saga Edition is the only one of the Star Wars RPGs to stat replica droids out for PC use, giving them stats in Threats of the Galaxy. They are stated as a humanoid race with some droid traits instead of a type of droid. The other RPGs do mention their existence, and the way droids work in D6 and FFG's system makes it easy to roll a droid PC and say it's a replica droid.

One curious implication of HRDs is combining them with Shards. Shards are a species of sapient crystals that can’t move or speak on their own that can be implanted into a droid to gain mobility, speech, sight and hearing, and are described as “insatiably curious, and almost intoxicated by the new sensory experiences”. The implication of giving such beings the full range of human senses has interested fans, but it has never been mentioned in any official work.

Examples of androids in D&D

Purely technological Androids are a rare sight in D&D,;however there are a truckload of golems, magically empowered automata and races of weird mechanical celestial beings that fit the larger bill. Actual androids do appear as enemies you can face in the classic Advanced Dungeons & Dragons adventure module Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, in which you explore what is ultimately revealed to be a crashed spaceship module from the Metamorphosis Alpha.

Pathfinder, being more willing to embrace the more gonzo and Science Fantasy aspects of old-school D&D, has a subsetting called Numeria, which is basically a glorious homage to the aforementioned module with a dash of Conan the Barbarian: it's a region of Golarion where a hyper-advanced spaceship crashed centuries ago. As such, the region is crawling with robots of various shapes and sizes, whilst androids - artificial humanoids who're basically super-realistic warforged in practice - are a player race that emerged from that region. Androids don't sleep, but they do eat, drink, breath and excrete: "Though they have secondary sexual characteristics and can engage in and enjoy intercourse, androids have no functional reproductive organs and cannot procreate." (Starfinder, for some reason, requires they sleep but does not require them to breathe, even though they're supposed to be the same species.)

Instead of sex, Androids "reproduce" by a process they call "Renewal". They go into a special Rejuvenation pod that restores their bodies to a showroom-ready condition. During this, their soul leaves the body(yes, effectively dying) and journeying to the Boneyard with all the other souls, while a new soul will come to inhabit the freshly-overhauled body to begin a new life. This also means that, as long as they get regular maintenance(and don't get killed), an Android can live as long as they want to.

Ability Scores: +2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence, -2 Charisma
Size: Medium
Base Speed: 30 feet
Alert: +2 racial bonus to Perception checks.
Emotionless: -4 racial penalty to Sense Motive checks. Can never gain moral bonuses. Immune to fear and emotion-based effects.
Exceptional Senses: Darkvision 60 feet, Low-Light Vision.
Constructed: Androids count as both Humanoids and Constructs for effects that target creature type. +4 racial bonus on saves against mind-affecting effects, paralysis, poison and stun. Immune to fatigue, exhaustion, disease and sleep.
Nanite Surge: 1/day, as an immediate action, an android can trigger its nanites before making a D20 roll to gain a (3 + character level) bonus. When this ability is used, the android's circuitry-tattoos glow, causing them to give off light equivalent to a torch for 1 round.(Starfinder Androids lose this ability, but instead gain a free upgrade slot built into their bodies that can use any suitable armor upgrade. IOW, they lose the Tron lines, but can get a built-in forcefield or jet pack, for example)

Alternate Racial Trait: Repairing Nanites - Replaces Nanite Surge.

The first time each day that an android with this trait has taken an amount of damage greater than or equal to twice their Hit Dice, their nanites activate. They give off light equivalent to a torch for 1 round and heal a number of hit points equal to twice their hit dice.

Some androids look like children but have adult minds (and thus presumably still "enjoy intercourse"). They have small size and immortality but are otherwise identical (including 30 foot move speed and lack of strength penalty).

Since Androids can't benefit from morale bonuses, and rage is based on morale bonuses, Androids make shitty Barbarians despite their immunity to fatigue. The exception to this is the Mooncursed archetype, which replaces the morale bonuses to rage with transformation into an animal (But mostly tiger, since they get pounce meaning they are clearly better than the other options by a long mile). Bards, oddly enough, don't give out many morale bonuses, only the bonus against charm and fear, the late gained Inspire Heroics and some (good) spells are morale bonuses. This means they make pretty good bards if you use the Chronicler of Worlds (which replaces Inspire Heroics with a non-morale bonus effect) archetype to make an intelligence based Bard. Otherwise they make good Wizard, Magus and Witch as well as most skill monkey classes, especially so for child androids as they get all the benefits of small size with few of the drawbacks, and Nanite Surge can provide a massive boost to rolls again Spell Resistance.

Starfinder

Ability Scores: +2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence, -2 Charisma
Size: Medium
Base Speed: 30 feet
Racial Hit Points: 4
Flat Affect: -4 racial penalty to Sense Motive checks. +2 DC to others' Senses Motive checks attempted against them.
Exceptional Senses: Darkvision 60 feet, Low-Light Vision.
Constructed: Androids count as both Humanoids and Constructs for effects that target creature type. +2 racial bonus on saves against mind-altering effects, paralysis, poison, and sleep. Immune to fatigue.
Upgrade Slot: Androids can install one armor upgrade with a level equal to their character level that can be installed on light armor on their body even when they do not wear armor. (Effectively,CRB Starfinder Androids lose the nanite upgrade, but instead gain a free upgrade slot built into their bodies that can use any suitable armor upgrade. IOW, they lose the Tron lines, but can get a built-in forcefield or jet pack, for example)

Alternate Race Features

Companion: Replaces Ability Scores with +2 Charisma (note: With the default ability score generation system in Starfinder, this is a terrible option even if you want charisma to be your highest stats. So long as you want a dex and/or int of 12 or higher, which you will since everyone wants dex, you get overall higher ability scores with the default model)
Laborer: Replaces Ability Scores with +2 Strength, +2 Constitution, -2 Charisma
Easily Augmented: You can add an additional cybernetic augmentation to a body slot that already has an augmentation. Replaces Upgrade Slot.
Impersonation Matrix: You can disguise themselves as humans (or another race when combined with the Xenometric race feature) without penalties. Replaces the save bonus of Constructed.
Infosphere Integration: You get a built-in comm unit that can be accessed without using your hands. Once per day, when you use a 10-minute rest to regain Stamina points, you can gain proficiency and Skill Focus on one Intelligence-, Wisdom-, or Charisma-based skill. Replaces Exceptional Vision.
Multilingual: You learn 4 additional languages at character creation. Any time they take a skill rank in Culture, they can learn two additional languages. This replaces Upgrade Slot.
Nanite Upgrade: You gain the Nanite Integration feat as a bonus feat, ignoring prerequisites. This replaces Upgrade Slot.
  • Nanite Integration - Requirements: Character level 3rd, Constructed trait or Construct creature type. You gain one of the following benefits (Spend 1 resolve to re-roll a saving throw, Spend 1 resolve to gain Fast Healing equal to 1/4 character level (minimum 1) for 1 minute, Spend 1 resolve to gain a +2 racial bonus to a skill or ability check.)
Xenometric: You no longer count as human, instead gaining the humanoid subtype of a different species and gaining a few racial traits. This replaces Upgrade Slot and Exceptional Vision.
The Races of Pathfinder
Player's Handbook: Dwarf - Elf - Gnome - Half-Elf - Half-Orc - Halfling - Human
Advanced
Race Guide:
Aasimar - Catfolk - Changeling - Dhampir - Duergar
Drow - Fetchling - Gillman - Goblin - Grippli - Hobgoblin
Ifrit - Kitsune - Kobold - Merfolk - Nagaji - Orc - Oread
Ratfolk - Samsaran - Strix - Suli - Svirfneblin - Sylph
Tengu - Tiefling - Undine - Vanara - Vishkanya - Wayang
Bestiaries: Android - Astomoi - Caligni - Deep One Hybrid - Gathlain
Gnoll - Kasatha - Munavri - Naiad - Orang-Pendak
Reptoid - Rougarou - Shabti - Trox - Yaddithian
Adventure Paths: Being of Ib - Kuru
Inner Sea Races: Ghoran - Monkey Goblin - Lashunta - Skinwalker
Syrinx - Triaxian - Wyrwood - Wyvaran
Ultimate Wilderness: Vine Leshy
Blood of the Sea: Adaro - Cecaelia - Grindylow - Locathah - Sahuagin - Triton
Planar Adventures: Aphorite - Duskwalker - Ganzi
The Races of Starfinder
Core Races: Android - Human - Kasatha - Lashunta - Shirren - Vesk - Ysoki
Legacy Races: Dwarf - Elf - Gnome - Half-Elf - Half-Orc - Halfling
Expanded Races: Aasimar - Amrantah - Anassanoi - Astrazoan - Bantrid - Barathu - Bolida - Borai - Brakim - Brenneri
Cephalume - Contemplative - Copaxi - Damai - Dessamar - Dirindi - Draelik - Dragonkin - Dromada
Drow - Elebrian - Embri - Endiffian - Espraksa - Ferran - Formian - Ghibrani - Ghoran - Goblin - Gosclaw
Gray - Haan - Hanakan - Hobgoblin - Hortus - Ifrit - Ijtikri - Ikeshti - Ilthisarian - Izalguun - Kalo - Kanabo
Kayal - Khizar - Kiirinta - Kish - Maraquoi - Morlamaw - Neskinti - Nuar - Orc - Oread - Osharu - Pahtra
Phentomite - Quorlu - Ramiyel - Raxilite - Reptoid - Ryphorian - Sarcesian - Sazaron - Screedreep
Scyphozoan - Selamid - Seprevoi - Shakalta - Shatori - Shimreen - Shobhad - Skittermander - Spathinae
SRO - Stellifera - Strix - Suli - Svartalfar - Sylph - Telia - Tiefling - Trinir - Trox - Undine - Uplifted Bear
Urog - Varculak - Verthani - Vilderaro - Vlaka - Witchwyrd - Woioko - Wrikreechee

Examples of androids in Warhammer 40k

In the 40k lore, mankind once had to wage war against its mechanical creations, Terminator Judgement Day style but on steroids. After that, humanity is so paranoid of this happening again that they totally forbade the creation of AIs. They create human-like robots though, at least in the sense that their shape resembles a humanoid being. The best exampe of this are the titans, massive war machines that praise the holy human form by resembling the shape of a human (two arms, two legs, a head. That's it. So much for holy human form). In general, though, the Imperium relies much more on cyborgs, both in the way of servitors and the Adeptus Mechanicus. Chaos could in theory create some form of automata, but they rather make chaos s-THINGS! Yes!

Anyway... Outside of Mankind, the other factions that use their own shape to make artificial beings. In general, any faction that's vaguely humanoid builds constructs that resemble human forms. The best example of an android in the traditional sense are the Tau, who use massive amounts of robots and can create AIs good enough to pass as living, thinking beings. The Necrons are a particular case, due to the living Necrontyr used as a platform for the C'Tan to turn them into the mechanical Necrons. Due to this, they are technically neither cyborgs (they aren't living anymore)nor androids (they used to be alive, so they aren't fully artificially created). Automata would actually work closely with them, in the classic Graeco-Latin sense of the word. But I guess this is up to interpretation of what the Necrons actually are.

Famous examples of androids in popular culture

  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (or Blade Runner, if you like films more). Humans create artificial humans as slaves, and after a revolt they hunt them all down. This is an interesting case because they are organic beings, but still artificially made, so the definition is just barely apt in this case.
  • I, Robot. In the classic Isaac Asimov's short story, there are some robots that could be described as android.
  • Metropolis. Mad science creates a robot that resembles a humble woman to bring chaos and ruin to the city.
  • The day the Earth stood still. An alien brings a doomsday machine in the form of a human to "peacefully" stop all wars on Earth.
  • Terminator. Machines rise against humanity, using human-like assassins to kill the remaining human beings.
  • Marvel Comics. Characters like Vision or Ultron are thinking robots in human-like form.
  • Mega Man. The saga of a little blue android fighting other robots to keep the peace in the world.
    • Mega Man X. Mega Man's successor. While the original was bound by Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics (or rather, a variant of them that only requires obedience to their owner), X is not, seemingly in response to the original being pissed he wasn't allowed to kill Wily at the end of 7. To prevent him from being the murder machine that typically results from such (and befell many of his copies) he was kept in a tube getting repeated brainwashing morality lessons for decades.
  • NieR Automata. Cute android fighting other androids not as cute.
  • Astro Boy. One of the most important works in manga history, it tells the adventures of a little android that gets adopted after its original creator abandons him.
  • Kisaragi Honey. The heroine of Cutie Honey by Go Nagai, the creator of ecchi manga and one of the fathers of giant robot anime and manga. A super strong heroine who uses the ability to create matter from thin air to quickly change costumes and bamboozle her enemies. Her costume changing made her a major influence on magical girl works, with the (still relatively lewd) spinoff Cutie Honey Flash aimed at young girls playing that up. Notably, the original anime never actually showed she was mechanical till the last part of the last episode, repeatedly showing her needing to breath and bleeding when injured, resulting in that same spinoff making her an artifical biological creation instead of a mechanical one.
  • Lieutenant Commander Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Second and science officer of both the Enterprise D and E. Throughout the series and movies he displays feats of both superhuman speed and strength, such as dodging a mining laser and fighting the Borg in hand to hand combat.
  • Alien Pretty influential in the grand scheme of things, the androids presented here have been around since at least the 2090s with the David model. Have milky-white "blood", realistic appearances (apart from the Working Joes who are like bargain bin versions of Weyland-Yutani androids), super fast reflexes, and an adherence to the 3 Laws of Robotics. That is, apart from Combat Androids, an explicitly illegal model used by Wey-Yu for security and lack their cousins' more advanced features like higher thought and the outer layer of skin, leaving them with robotic skull faces covered in synthetic muscle, complete with Weyland-Yutani logos in place of normal eyes. Creepy.
  • The Human Torch. The original one from World War II that took the name Jim Hammond that Johnny Storm would later take the title from. The first android superhero, and one of the first comic book heroes.

Android Monstergirls

What hath magitek wrought?
LamiaMonstergirl.pngThis article or section is about Monstergirls (or a monster that is frequently depicted as a Monstergirl), something that /tg/ widely considers to be the purest form of awesome. Expect PROMOTIONS! and /d/elight in equal measure, often with drawfaggotry or writefaggotry to match.

They're more of an /a/, /co/ and /v/ phenomena than a /tg/ one, but robots in the shape of sexy women, ranging from "perfectly human until you see their internals" to "visibly mechanical but still sexy", are a well and truly established branch of the monstergirls family tree. What else can we say? Some guys in the late-70s/80s found their first crush in the succubus, elf or marilith - others found it in Cutie Honey.

In the Monster Girl Encyclopedia, the Automaton is a mechanical magitek branch of the golem which taps into the robot-girl branch of the fetish. They're ancient lost technology golems of the "kuudere" archetype, meaning they act cold and emotionless because they can't express themselves well, but they're secretly very gentle and loving beings.

  1. If you're wondering how they managed to do what a massive company devoted to making the tech couldn’t yet simultaneously fail at the basic droid parts, which have been well understood by the general public for thousands of years it’s easy: This bit appeared exclusively in the Skubtastic Jedi Prince series and continuity resources trying to explain where the fuck a robot duplicate of Leia came from.