Androids Are People, Too
aka: Artificial And Alive
As we all know, Clones Are Expendable
, Artificial Humans
against nature, and robots
are a crapshoot
. It seems as though artificial lifeforms just can't catch a break in the world of fiction, all because they're Not Even Human
. After all, What Measure Is a Non-Human?
A whole lot, in some cases
In some stories, you might find that Clones Are People Too
, as are Artificial Humans
. And those robots were just misunderstood
With the world continuing to shift to being Pro-Artificial Life due to the increasing use of technology in our lives, there's no wonder that this trope is being used more and more in modern works. Take, for example, the evolution of the Terminator
series. The first movie showed all A.I.
as Killer Robots
, while the sequels and spin-offs show that the eponymous Terminators
may in fact be people too, at least when not under the control of Sky-Net
Any series that uses the term "humaniform robots
" (or something similar) usually has this trope applying to those specific human-like robots to which that term applies.
This is the the Super Trope
of Clones Are People Too
, and is generally found on the enlightenment side of the Romanticism Versus Enlightenment
See the related What Measure Is a Non-Human?
. See also/compare the Zombie Advocate
. Do Androids Dream?
is when this trope is called into question.
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Anime and Manga
- In Astro Boy, most humans and robots live as equals.
- Androids 16,17, 18 from Dragon Ball Z, although 17 and 18 started off as bad guys.
- Subverted with Androids 17 and 18 who are basically just humans that were modified by Dr. Gero. Android 18 even has a daughter eventually.
- All artificial humanoid constructs are treated as humans by default in the Lyrical Nanoha universe, including cyborgs, clones with constructed personalities, and living magical programs running off another mage's mana.
- The Terminator series played with this trope, as mentioned in the description.
- The Alien series flip-flopped on this as well, similar to Terminator. In the first movie, the secondary villain is a sinister android. In the next movie, the artificial human is a genuine ally and actually lampshades the previous model's failures.
- Cruelty to the Robot Kid is almost invariably frowned upon by movie writers. See D.A.R.Y.L. and A.I.: Artificial Intelligence.
- Short Circuit
Johnny Five: But hath not a robot eyes? Hath not a robot hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? If you prick us, do we not bleed?!
Police Chief: Yeah. Battery fluid, maybe.
- The TRON universe goes bonkers with this. While the films, games, and Tron Uprising series use the Programs' non-human status and peculiar way of dying as a form of Bloodless Carnage (and a way to depict some extremely violent and disturbing scenes in a Disney franchise), in-universe depictions portray the Programs and Isos as being every bit as alive and sentient as the Users who made them.
- In The Turing Option, The MI (Machine Intelligence) is treated as this. It's called MI and not AI because of this: "There is nothing artificial about my intelligence". Oddly, at end the creator is less than a person, and he knows it too.
- This trope applies to the robots from Isaac Asimov's "Robot" series of novels (starting with I, Robot), and their film adaptations. It's actually an interesting example because you can trace the stories' progression toward this trope.
- The stories are first set almost immediately after the introduction of the positronic brain, where the robots lack a human-like intelligence and are obviously humanoid robots instead of androids (exposed metal, etc). In these stories, the robots are treated more as tools or, at best, domestic animals.
- As the stories move forward in the timeline (specifically to the R Daneel Olivaw era), we finally get robots that look and act entirely human (save for situations involving the Three Laws Of Robotics). You still end up with some robot racism, but the mere fact that they're human enough to cause contempt says something about how humanity sees them at this point (similar to humans, but "new" and therefore threatening).
- By the end of the timeline, robots have gone beyond human-like status and achieved a measure of transhumanism (Olivaw in particular lived nearly 20,000 years and continually upgraded his body and brain over that time).
Live Action TV
- Data of Star Trek: The Next Generation is treated as a full crew-member. Except by season 2's doctor Pulaski, but even she changed her mind, and she was a Doctor Jerk to begin with. An entire episode, The Measure of a Man, was dedicated to this, where Data's status as a person is brought to court when a Starfleet scientist wants Data to submit to disassembly so more like him can be built. Data refuses, because he feels that the scientist lacks the skills to put him back together perfectly. Riker is forced to advocate for the scientist, making the argument that Data is a machine, built by man, for their use. Picard defends Data, and raises the argument that while Data IS a machine, he's also a person. With aspiration, goals, and purposes. That he fulfills two of the three criteria for sentience (intelligence and self-awareness), and that the last one (consciousness) is not measurable by outsiders, so to refuse Data the rights of a person would make The Federation potentially guilty of creating a slave race once they mass produce his kind.
- The Doctor in Star Trek: Voyager kind of swings back and forth. Some episodes he's treated as a person and a fellow crew-member, allowed to pursue his interests and grow, even expanding his role as an emergency back up to the bridge crew. Other times Janeway (who is a case of Depending on the Author) would like to remind him he's a machine when the situation comes out. There is also an episode where he goes to court over his status as a person and as an author. In a subversion, he's denied being a person but is considered an author. Sadly, the judgment of "Measure of a Man" is not referenced in that episode.
- In fairness, the Doctor's status is complicated by circumstance. Unlike Data - who was built by an outside source and joined Starfleet in the same manner as any human - the Doctor is an Emergency Medical Hologram designed and installed by Starfleet. He was never intended to be anything but a semi-sentient emergency medical tool active for at most days at a time. Any attempt he makes to become more human is more and more stress he is putting on his original program, threatening a crash that would deprive Voyager of their only medical aid. No wonder Janeway is torn between wanting to encourage his humanity and protect the interests of her ship.
- In Red Dwarf, Holly and Kryten are treated as full crew members, and their lives carry as much dramatic weight as a human's. Of course, in a series where the protagonists are two organic, two machine and one sorta on the fence, Artificial And Alive is kind of required.
- In Andromeda, it was common practice in the Commonwealth before its fall to treat the ship AIs as people, but since they were also military AIs, who had sworn oaths, they were expected to follow orders like any other Commonwealth officer.
- In the classic Mega Man saga, the robots are mostly workers, but apparently treated with enough respect to not make them uprise in rebellion (with the exception of the ninth game).
- In the Mega Man X series, the reploids are mostly treated as humans, however, the humans can sometimes quite hastily tag some reploid as a maverick (probably as a result of the events of the Replifore Rebellion).
- By the time of the Mega Man Zero series, except for the Neo Arcadia Army, The 8 Gentle Judges, The guardians and Copy-X himself, the reploids are treated as second class citizens (however, it's probable that during the rule of the original X they were both treated as equals, seeing that as that was one of X's original desires)
- By the Mega Man ZX series onwards, humans and reploids are so mixed up there are barely any distinctions
- but by the time of the Mega Man Legends series, the carbons (Artificial Humans), are strictly controlled by the robots. At the same time, the last "pure" human is treated as a king, but since he died some time ago, and many ruins are now on minimal operational levels, the carbons are the dominant race, going underground from time to time to dig and steal...ehrrmmm...obtain treasures from the ruins.
- In the Mass Effect games, the Geth are an AI created accidentally before the events of the games. The Quarians, who made them as an automated labor force, tried to preemptively destroy all of them, expecting an uprising if they didn't. It didn't work, and the Quarians were driven off all their worlds (including their homeworld) and suffered near-genocide, and now they're wandering the galaxy in a migrant fleet. The Geth are the Mooks of the first game, but you learn in the second that they only represent five percent of Geth, the rest peacefully living on the Quarians' old planet, keeping it ready for the Quarians' return.
- Mass Effect 2 also has Joker's emotional attachment to the ship's AI EDI, Legion's (a mostly-independent Geth) sentimentality towards Shepard, and if Legion dies during the suicide mission, Shepard will mourn just as s/he would for the death of an organic. The Quarian-Geth conflict, once Shepard is aware that the Geth are not universally violent, is portrayed almost like a tribal/religious war, in which neither side is entirely in the right, rather that the usual 'Whee! Robots, kill them!' kind of attitude commonly found in games.
- In Knights of the Old Republic, how well you treat droids contributes significantly to your Dark Side/Light Side score, especially the ever-faithful T3 unit.
- In the Phantasy Star Online games, differences between humans and androids are never addressed or mentioned. It's entirely unnoticeable to everyone.
- In Fallout 3, a side quest involves tracking down a runaway android. The one looking seems to completely disregard the notion of this trope, and so can you, if you want.
- Freefall has Ridiculously Human Robots and an Uplifted Animal heroine. Robots elsewhere than on Jean are simply machines with no sense of self, and are treated as such, and most of the 'villains' of the story persist in treating Jean's robots the same way. Anyone who's actually TALKED to a robot, however, has realized that they're self-aware and thoroughly human, thus creating the central conflict. What Ecosystems Unlimited sees as a 'bug-fix', Florence sees as a mass lobotomy aimed on a sophont race...
- Schlock Mercenary works like this, presumably due to having had fully-sentient AI's for centuries. Ennesby, their resident sarcastic AI, is mostly treated as an equal of any other crew-member, and at one point he circumvented a bureaucratic attempt to stop them by suggesting that they might be discriminating against AI's - thus strongly indicating that there exists specific legislation forbidding such discrimination. Other incidents of note includes the apparent death of Petey, the AI of their old warship, which was grieved by the characters just as much as the death of any crew member.
- Nearly all AI have limits though. Ennesby and later Petey are rare, unfettered AIs with no limitations at all.
- Incorrect. Petey was "fettered" in that he had a loyalty switch to the O'benn race. It is uncertain if AI's from other races have this as well, but given the formation and refusal to disband of the Fleetmind this is unlikely.
- Also, while the comic does treat them like people, that does not mean it treats them well. In a universe where death is cheap (like a few hours regrowing a body cheap) and where the fourth wall is broken regularly, AI's have been everything from soldiers to spaceships to ablative plating to the closest thing to a god there is, don't expect a respect for people's right to continue to exist, especially when the person is between a mercenary and his money. (As a final note, AI are arguably treated better than humans; there have been no AIs who appear to delight in torture or act obviously evil, and most AI appear more moral and more sophisticated than many of the humans they work with.)
- In Real Life, the field of "AL" (Artificial Life, also known as cybernetics) tries to produce machines with life-like mechanisms or traits (such as being self replicating).