The Greater Unified Robot Theory
Since it was recently my brother’s birthday, I felt I’d do something nice for him and write a blog entry. Naturally the topic had to be something geeky, so I’ve decided to share my Classification system for Automatons with you. We are all aware of the presence of robots in our everyday lives. Robots build our cars, stand in Disney’s Hall of Presidents, and scare the shit out of us.
But today we are going to focus on a different kind of robot… the fictional kind. Yes, for many years mankind has been delighted by whimsical flights of fancy wherein mechanized humanoids fight, kill, and sometimes…love. From Star Wars to Star Trek it seems that you can’t throw a stone without some machine man laughing at your primitive use of stones. Nowadays we have so many different fictional robots out there. It is hard to keep track. And to make matters worse, we now have different kinds of robots; like cyborgs and androids! And I don’t even want to get into what Japanese anime has done to these lovable tin men.
But I shall anyway! For I have devised The Greater Unified Robot Theory!
The G.U.R.T. makes the case that all synthetic persons can be broken down into four main categories: Robots, Cyborgs, Tech Suits, and Clones. Each category has its own pertinent criteria to help take the chaotic world of Automation, and make it much more manageable. Let’s start with some definitions.
Synthetic Person refers to any fictional character that has not been made by birth, hatching, or some other natural means of reproduction (i.e budding). Also, a synthetic person must display some level of artificial intelligence or A.I.
Human refers to everything else. If you were born, hatched, spawned, or secreted then congratulations you’re a human! Now obviously bats, fungus, aliens, and Gary Busey aren’t actually “humans.” But for the purposes of G.U.R.T. we’re going to ignore all of those things. Primarily because this is a purely Ficitonal Theory and things like cloned sheep are real. But also just to keep it simple, we’re talking about robots and humans.
Category 1: Robots!
Robots are simple. A robot is any synthetic person lacking human parts. No skin, hair, brain, heart, etc. Robots are almost always made of metal and wires. Complex computers act as their “brains.” And cold metal casings replace the flesh. Nothing on or part of a Robot can come from a human. Robots are made. Famous Robots include: R2-D2, C3PO, Bender, Optimus Prime, Tom Servo, Johnny 5, the list goes on.
Also real quick, the Robot category also includes Androids. Androids are robots that do contain skin, hair, hearts, or any other human organ under the condition that the organ in question is not actually Human in origin. Androids often wear fake skin, fake hair, or are given fake hearts by the Wizard of Oz. These organs can sometimes get really complex. The Terminator has to eat and breath to keep his skin “alive.” They can even get as complex as taking actual organs from humans and attaching them to the Android. But with the exception of the brain, no matter what you put on an android, it is still an android. Famous Androids include: Terminators, Data, the Chee, The Vision, etc.
Category 2: Cyborgs
Cyborgs are the link between man and machine. A cyborg is born like a human but then winds up with synthetic body parts. Cyborgs must always have some combination of both parts. Once the last body part is replaced with machinery, the Cyborg becomes a Robot. Sonic the Hedgehog’s Uncle Chuck is a prime example of a man who became too machine. He was put into Robotnik’s Roboticizer and came out a robot. Whereas in the same cartoon, the character Bunny stopped the Roboticizer halfway through and only came out with a robotic arm and leg. She’s a cyborg. And even though Uncle Chuck eventually regains his free will and remembers who he once was, he’s still a Robot. You can never go back. Cyborgs work in one direction: Cyborg to Robot.
Though you can go from Cyborg to Human. In Futurama, Fry switches hands with the Robot Devil. While wearing the Robotic hands, Fry is a cyborg. When he gets his original hands back, he’s a human. The Robot Devil, however, is always a robot regardless of hands. Let us imagine for a second that Fry didn’t get his own hands back. Instead he gets new hands. If he grows them himself (i.e regeneration) then he’s a human. If they’re grown somewhere else and then attached………..well……..we’ll get to that.
Famous cyborgs include: Cyborg (duh), Robocop, Kickpuncher, General Grievous, The Brain, Inspector Gadget, etc.
Category 3: Tech Suits
Here’s where things start to get a little tricky. Have the robotic components to a human become integral in carrying out normal bodily functions? If yes, you’re a Cyborg (see above). If no, you’re just wearing a Tech Suit. That’s the difference between Iron Man and Stilt-Man. Stilt-Man can take off his robotic suit anytime he wants. He’s a normal human wearing fancy clothes. If Iron Man takes off his armor, he’s still got a little battery in his chest that allows him to live. If he took it out, he would die. He’s a cyborg.
Now let’s discuss the complexity of Tech Suits. Take a look at a Mobile Gundam from any of the anime series. These things are “piloted” but that doesn’t necessarily make them vehicles. Due to the human-like nature to piloting a Gundam (you move your leg, the Gundam moves its leg. You move your arm, the Gundam moves its arm) it acts more like a suit than a car.
A certain amount of AI is also required. Think of a Space Marine in one of those big hulking suits that they wear. The wearer’s leg strength is not really involved in lifting or moving the suit’s leg. In fact there are many mechanized components within the robot leg that cause it to move based on signals that the human leg sends it (i.e. moving it). So because Batman’s mask will shock people who try to take it off of him while he’s unconscious, his costume is a Tech Suit, and therefore Batman in his costume can be considered part of the 3rd category of Synthetic Persons. Other Famous Tech Suits include: Master Chief, Dr. Doom, Zion’s APU Corps, and that thing from District 9.
Category 4: Clones
Now things start to get really interesting. The short definition is: Clones are grown copies. Rather than building a Synthetic Person from machine parts, you copy a human’s parts and then grow them into a Clone. The Clone Troopers are the best example of this. Kamino scientists took Jango Fett’s DNA and grew new soldiers by accelerating their growth.
To take it one step further, unlike all other Synthetic Persons, Clones can be born…in a manner of speaking. Clones must be grown, but where they grow is up for debate. One of the more realistic places for a clone to grow is inside a womb. So eventually a clone grown in a womb is shot out of the uterus or “born.” Famous Clones include: Superboy, The Venture Brothers, Scarlet Spider, I think Solid Snake is too….I’m not sure, I haven’t played the game in a long time.
Now let’s address a previous concern. What if Fry replaced his hands with cloned hands? In fact this a major positive to the cloning argument. If you need an organ transplant, why not clone the organ? Or make a clone of yourself and steal all his organs? But what would you become? (Besides an abomination unto the Lord.) You’d become what I call…a Cyclone!
A Cyclone is a Cyborg with cloned parts instead of robotic parts. A Cyclone can also refer to a Clone with life-altering Robotic attachments on his person. That would be like Hank Venture getting a robotic hand. Also a cyclone can refer to a tornado…but that’s neither here nor there. I wish I could give you some famous examples, but since I’ve invented the term “Cyclone” just now, naturally there won’t be any examples in pop culture until word of G.U.R.T. spreads.
Well….There is Thor:
Once upon a time Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four became increadibly evil and cloned Thor using an Android body for structure. The result was some crazy Clone/Android who walked around killing C-List superheroes while believing himself to be Thor. He sorta fits into a couple of these categories, but for all intents and purposes, The Thor clone is actually an Android. He was never grown.
Well that concludes my guest lecture on the Greater Unified Robot Theory. I hope we’ve all learned something today about our metal friends—What’s that? You say I’ve forgotten something? Oh well I suppose you may be onto something. There is one glaring Synthetic Person that I’ve completely managed to avoid in this blog post up until now. But with good reason. These guys go to great lengths to take everything we know about robots, and pee gasoline all over it.
OK so before I go any further, let me be clear: I am only going to talk about the new Battlestar Galactica. I’ve never seen the show that it is loosely based off of. I never will. And the G.U.R.T. doesn’t really care about it anyways. But as far as these new Cylons go, if we follow the G.U.R.T. as I have laid it out, Cylons are ROBOTS! Well, Androids to be specific. But only at first.
We see from the hit show Caprica that the original Cylon is obviously a Robot. He has no organs whatsoever (except for some little girl’s digital soul…whatever that means). But when we meet the Cylons 40 years later, they have organs. And as we see in the film Razor, they took these organs from the humans and they made the Hybrids. Hybrids are therefore clones. It is understood that they used what they learned from human organs and grew some of their own. Then while they were at it, they strapped those Hybrids into their Base-Ships. This turned Hybrids into Cyclones. And that is as far as the Cylon Centurions had gotten on their own.
Then the Final Five show up. (I refuse to spoil anything as it was once spoiled for me. So no names.) The Final Five are part of a Cylon offshoot that figured out how to sexually reproduce. They also look just like humans and are Human in almost every way that counts. But we know they’re not humans. They can download their brains. We can’t call them Humans. But we can’t call them Androids because they grow. But we can’t call them Clones because they give birth. This is a problem! (Well…not in the sense that problems actually matter to people, but you get the idea.)
For the purposes of G.U.R.T. we are going to call the Final Five Cylons: Clones. Clones grow and are copied. We already know that the Final Five grow. They were young once and then they got older. Check. But we’re going to expand our definition of “copied.” When a Cylon makes a baby, that baby is technically copying stolen Human organs from thousands of years ago. They never fully stop being Robots and that’s why the Final Five are able to download their minds thousands of years after their species stopped doing it. They never evolved! Not really! One Cylon baby just copied everything from its parents just like they did from theirs. Cylons are cloned in their mother’s womb.
And then we have other 8 models. They’re Androids. When the Final Five meet the Centurions, they teach them how to make Cylons more advanced than the Hybrids. They build the 8 models (Grace Park, Tricia Helfer, etc.) These models don’t grow. And these models aren’t like the Final Five. They’re new. And very importantly, they can’t have babies……unless a Human fraks one of them.
So what happens when a Human and an Android have a baby? ……Fuck if I know. At this point R2-D2 and Robocop have thrown up their hands in frustration. This Robot stuff used to be so simple. But that’s part of why Battlestar Galactica is such an awesome show. And to answer my previous question: you get Hera.
Hera is the Robot Messiah who (spoiler alert) goes on to recreate all of existence. She doesn’t fit into any of the G.U.R.T. categories and she isn’t going to. I figure that it is best to leave her alone and let her do her own thing. If you’ve got a better solution, I’d like to hear it.
The Greater Unified Robot Theory is the best tool we have for the classification of Synthetic Persons. Any Synthetic character you meet in a book, movie, tv show, etc. is going to fit into one of these 4 categories. If you think you’ve found one that doesn’t, bring him forth, I challenge you. And at the end of the day, I feel that this is what Sean’s blog needed: To challenge* you.
01010100 01101000 01100001 01101110 01101011 01110011 00100000 01100110 01101111 01110010 00100000 01110010 01100101 01100001 01100100 01101001 01101110 01100111,
*(And by that I don’t mean the challenge it was to actually read this stupid thing)