The Replica Prop Forum

The Replica Prop Forum
Very cool site I am also a member of

Day by Day Cartoon

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Android or ROBOT?

Over in the comment section of one of my most favorite WebComics, DataChasers, there is a lively discussion as to what constitutes an Android and what constitutes a ROBOT.

Part of the discussion so far.


xpacetrue 27th Mar 2017, 6:08 AM edit delete reply

Technically, that's not an android because it does not even vaguely resemble a human. It would be more appropriate to call it a robot. The unit may or may not have the same or similar type of synthetic brain as Ada. But, either way, he/she/it is still a robot and not an android.

I'm sorry to nitpick this. But it does irk me how often people get those terms confused.
Gilrandir 27th Mar 2017, 7:24 AM edit delete reply
We are talking panel two, right? Two arms, two legs, one head, operating what looks (to me) like a separate gun turret? How is that not an android? It definitely appears to have a bipedal humanoid shape to me.
megados 27th Mar 2017, 10:12 AM edit delete reply
@xpacetrue, a couple of pages back, Francine provided an example of an android that doesn't appear 'human'. Self-awareness here, is a defining factor. It is canon, that some androids do not even make an attempt at looking like humans. They have humanoid shapes but the main thing is the synth brain that gives them consciousness. Robots are mostly straight up logic devices, whereas the androids have consciousness and emotional capability. At least that is how I understand it.
xpacetrue 27th Mar 2017, 2:29 PM edit delete reply

@Gilrandir
" Two arms, two legs, one head, operating what looks (to me) like a separate gun turret? How is that not an android? "

Please, just Google 'android'... All androids are robots, but not all robots are androids. An android is a particular kind of robot. The terms 'robot' and 'android' are not interchangeable, despite public ignorance to the contrary.

Merely having two arms, two legs, and a single head does NOT an android make. That describes the vast majority of robots in sci-fi. Heck, I believe the entire line of Transformers and Go-Bots are/were like that and those were most definitely NOT androids.

Data from Star Trek is generally accepted as a definitive example of an "android". He was very human-like.

@megados
" Francine provided an example of an android that doesn't appear 'human'. Self-awareness here, is a defining factor. It is canon, that some androids do not even make an attempt at looking like humans. They have humanoid shapes but the main thing is the synth brain that gives them consciousness. Robots are mostly straight up logic devices, whereas the androids have consciousness and emotional capability. "

Please, look at the Tech page to see what's canon. It's right there at the top, in black and yellow:

QUOTE: "An android is a synthetic organism designed to look and act like a human. The term 'android' and its derivatives refer exclusively for such machines, and are not used to refer to robots or other 'intelligent' machines."

Even the Model 2-E like Dolly's old chassis and the archaic Model Zero roughly approximate a human body (more so, at least, than merely having two arms, two legs, and a head). At least some effort was made to "sculpt" or streamline them to make them appear human. Hence, they are androids.

I'm NOT saying that Francine does not deserve the respect of being talked about as a person. But if her chassis does not resemble a human's in the least little bit, then the term "android" does not fit - even if she has a synth brain like Ada. Does she at least have a vaguely human-like face? That might be enough to make her an android.

The current, commonly accepted definition of the word itself is that it must be a robot (or synthetic being) that looks like a person (human or alien).

MY UNDERSTANDING is that the existence or lack of self-awareness or sapience is irrelevant to the term. Absolutely, there can be such a thing as a self-aware robot - if such a thing is possible. Just read any number of classic sci-fi novels dating back many, many decades. I'd mention the works of Isaac Asimov in particular, since he wrote the 'Three Laws of Robotics' and he did tangle with the concept of a robot with self-awareness. If I wasn't so lazy, I'd give examples of self-aware robots that are not even humanoid.

And, yes, it also bugs me that the huge popularity of the Android OS for mobile phones has not only made it difficult to Google relevant robot-related search results, it threatens to all but supersede the old usage.
megados 27th Mar 2017, 3:22 PM edit delete reply
@xpacetrue, so Francine drops from being an android to being a robot simply for failure to purchase a facial glamour upgrade?
Gilrandir 27th Mar 2017, 4:01 PM edit delete reply
Well, Merriam-Webster (per their .com site) defines android as "a mobile robot usually with a human form". It does not suggest it must have a close resemblance, nor possibly be mistaken for human in dim light. I take "human form" to indicate the standard bipedal humanoid description: two legs, one trunk, two arms, one head with the legs used primarily for locomotion, the arms for manipulation, and the sensory cluster in the head. And all the mobile units in the hangar (excluding the Dart and CentComm's doll, of course) would seem to fall within that definition.

I agree that not all robots are androids. I further assert (using the above definition) that not all androids are persons and not all persons are androids. I am sure Google provides many examples of androids which bear strong and close resemblances to human beings. Your argument suggests that you don't consider C-3PO an android, while I would suggest he falls within the definition of possessing "human form". (I suspect we both agree that R2-D2 is not an android. ^_^)

Of course, as your reference to the Tech pages supports, there may well have been 'linguistic drift' in the DataChasers timeline to the point that 'android' is now exclusively reserved for those robots which could be mistaken for a human by a color-blind human -- in which case, as has been pointed out, Francine isn't an android even though the creatrices specifically refer to her with that term. I suspect that 'android', like most other terms is generally used in such a loose and casual manner as to mean whatever the speaker wants it to mean, with consequent loss of precision, clarity, and accuracy that inevitably befalls. When you use the term, how human for you is "human-enough" to qualify? Do the legally required differences for androids in New Troy which prevent them from being mistaken for humans mean they don't possess "human form"? Where do you draw the line? Or is it a case of "I can't define it, but I know it when I see it?"


This right here shows why I like reading DataChasers. We've had discussions about AI's (Artificial Intelligences), Sapience, and many, many more. The only thing which is OFF-LIMITS!!!! is current political discussion. Which I WHOLEHEARTEDLY agree with.

There are several other commenters who I disagree with as it comes to our current political situation, however we all realize that the DataChasers comment section is no place to discuss our disagreements. We do NOT want to damage the flow and family feeling we get there, so we agree to not discuss such things.

No comments: