Are androids really androids?


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Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

There is repeated mention of "androids" possessing souls, and even biological functions in Pathfinder and Starfinder.

Doesn't that make them cyborgs, or something similar, rather than androids?


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They are Androids because in lore that is what they are referred to as we. I know in the grand picture people will argue ablut the "meta" of it which I guess is fine but seems like asking if Orcs are corrupted elelves, or if elves work for santa, or if Gnomes are tiny earth elemental spirits. The words uses in the lore of the worlds are very different than their origins/myths in the real world. So in the world of Starfinder of course they are Androids.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Ravingdork wrote:

There is repeated mention of "androids" possessing souls, and even biological functions in Pathfinder and Starfinder.

Doesn't that make them cyborgs, or something similar, rather than androids?

They are synthetic life-forms that are made from fabricated technological and biological parts. They aren't born, they are made, they can't breed biologically.

That's good enough for me to call them androids.

I've always used cyborg to refer to any biological (rather than synthetic) being that adds synthetic parts to themselves.

I mean, you could argue pedantics, but I think these are most common usage for those terms.


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I bet they don't even dream of electric sheep. The game is RUINED!! Hrrrrggghh!!!


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Yeah I don't think "has/doesn't have a soul" was ever part of the official or pop media definition of android. In fact I would say you could interpret popular works involving Androids, like Blade Runner, as being heavily revolving around that sort of question.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I mean, the relevance of something "having a soul" tends not to crop up in science-fiction (since most sci-fi tends to dismiss mysticism)...with one very memetic exception. That being said, an android is defined as a robot with a humanoid appearance. In other words, any artificial being that behaves and looks like a human but is otherwise synthetic is an android. A cyborg is an organic lifeform that augments itself with synthetic components, ranging from a random person with a prosthetic limb (the loosest definition) to Nebula from Guardians of the Galaxy (who is basically 98% synthetic but started out and still maintains at least a few organic components).

Honestly, the question that confounds me, pedantically, is what happens when an android gets a heart transplant? Are they an anti-cyborg or something?


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A 'soul' is not a biological component. Cyborgs are traditionally a biological organism that have have their abilities enhanced or altered by integrated technology. Most relevant sci-fi settings tend to keep the soul a vague theological concept as opposed to a biological function. In Starfinder it is a concrete presence much like life energy, good, and evil. By altering the distinct qualities of it in the narrative we have to stick with what we can glean from the provided texts about just what having a soul means. So far, all indications have been that souls are not the purview of biologicals alone. Anacites, the native machine intelligences of Aballon are another notable example of non-biologicals playing host to souls.

Are the Android race in Starfinder really traditional androids? All signs point yes. In fact they could be said to be the epitome of the android concept. An android (or gynoid depending on design choices) is set apart from typical robots by the fact that it is specifically built to imitate the human form. Androids in Starfinder are such intricate creations that they are able to play host to the knot of positive energy commonly referred to as a 'soul'.


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The Drunken Dragon wrote:
Honestly, the question that confounds me, pedantically, is what happens when an android gets a heart transplant? Are they an anti-cyborg or something?

All I can picture is an android with a still-bleeding heart duct-taped to their chest, proudly proclaiming: "I'm real! I'm real!"


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Master Han Del of the Web wrote:
A 'soul' is not a biological component.

Fun fact: The word "animal" is the adjectival form of the Latin "anima" meaning "soul" (translation of Greek psyche). The Latin translation of Aristotle's "On the Soul" (Περὶ Ψυχῆς) was titled "De Anima" and is not a metaphysical treatise at all. Rather, it is a work of biology, discussing the different kinds of souls that various living things have. It's clear that at least some authors of antiquity believed the soul to be a physical/biological entity (see: Augustine's discussion of whether you've cut a worm's soul up when you cut the worm up into pieces and the individual pieces remain animated).

#TheMoreYouKnow


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Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
They are synthetic life-forms that are made from fabricated technological and biological parts. They aren't born, they are made, they can't breed biologically.

Oh, so that means they aren't even alive then.


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Ravingdork wrote:
DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
They are synthetic life-forms that are made from fabricated technological and biological parts. They aren't born, they are made, they can't breed biologically.
Oh, so that means they aren't even alive then.

The don't reproduce biologically, but they can create new Androids (using forges).


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

And people can make hammers. That doesn't mean our hammer making abilities alone qualify us as being alive (per the scientific definition). It takes more than that.


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The definition of life is fuzzy, and there are questions to whether something that makes more of itself through means other than itself and its own species are technically alive.

For example, viruses reproduce by hijacking cells of other organisms and modifying the dna to produce more of itself. And there's been a long time debate over whether a virus should he classified as alive or not.

Many parasites are unable to reproduce within their own species and require other organisms for them to grow and reproduce. Yet almost all of them are considered to be life.

An Android can only reproduce by building more Android's, and it's closest comparison is really a virus (although they may be parasitic, commensalistic, or mutualistic). So the question of whether it's actually alive is one for philosophers and where one draws the line for the definitions. And much like life here on earth, most organisms don't really care where they're technically classified in the taxonomy of life.


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Ravingdork wrote:
And people can make hammers. That doesn't mean our hammer making abilities alone qualify us as being alive (per the scientific definition). It takes more than that.

Are the hammers sentient after being created?


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Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Sentience is not one of the qualifications of life.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

The question is, are androids better people then people.


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Ravingdork wrote:
Sentience is not one of the qualifications of life.

According to the Pact World, it is :)

But I think Androids meet all the characteristics. If you want to argue about reproduction, what is the difference of creating an offspring in a forge versus a test tube? People who are sterile and have to have children via outside natural means are still considered alive, right?


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MakuTheDark wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
Sentience is not one of the qualifications of life.

According to the Pact World, it is :)

But I think Androids meet all the characteristics. If you want to argue about reproduction, what is the difference of creating an offspring in a forge versus a test tube? People who are sterile and have to have children via outside natural means are still considered alive, right?

Definitions of life pertain to entire groups, not to specific individuals within the group. It wouldn't apply to someone who is sterile, because it's an incorrect use of the term.

Grand Lodge

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Ravingdork wrote:
And people can make hammers. That doesn't mean our hammer making abilities alone qualify us as being alive (per the scientific definition). It takes more than that.

One could make the argument that in our world, the definition of life is so fuzzy because we don't really have a non-subjective metric for "alive." But in Starfinder, you could in theory use the presence of a soul to denote life. So, for example, androids and anacites have a neurology complex enough (synthetic or organic) that are creation, they attract a soul from the Positive Energy Plane in a similar way as to an organic (and even some "non-organic" beings, like kami) do. So, a security droid is not alive, because it's circuitry is not complex enough to house a soul. A fully-sentient AI on the other hand? Alive, even if it's housed in a desktop computer.

Incidentally, this means outsiders can still technically be considered alive, merely by the fact that rather than have souls, they are souls. Undead, on the other hand, either lack their mortal soul or it is somehow corrupted (as the case of a lich's phylactory or a vampire's "soul") and are thus not "alive."

You could also use the logic of "can they die" and when they die, will their soul enter the Boneyard? Or, even better, can they be resurrected?

Alternatively, you could simply ask, does the mystic cure spell affect them positively? If so, they are alive. Though, that runs into a chicken-egg scenario, since mystic cure only affects living things, so using it to figure out what is living is...confusing.


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bookrat wrote:
MakuTheDark wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
Sentience is not one of the qualifications of life.

According to the Pact World, it is :)

But I think Androids meet all the characteristics. If you want to argue about reproduction, what is the difference of creating an offspring in a forge versus a test tube? People who are sterile and have to have children via outside natural means are still considered alive, right?

Definitions of life pertain to entire groups, not to specific individuals within the group. It wouldn't apply to someone who is sterile, because it's an incorrect use of the term.

Then if an entire species was to experience infertility by an outside cause (disease,mutation,environmental effect) but could successfully perpetuate their race via science, are they still alive?


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Androids are mechanical and artificially created beings. But they are beings with sentience, sapience, and ALIVE because they house souls. That's what denotes life vs animation. A zombie is animate, and so is a golem, but neither is alive. An android has a soul that will be judged in the afterlife, and most likely has been judged many times before as a human, elf, or any other thousands of species, and will be judged again in the future. In the metaphysical sense defined as part of a fantasy setting, it is alive.

"Does this unit have a soul?" YES! Yes it does!


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Technically because Androids are a combination of synthetic biological systems and cybernetic components Android could apply, though technically they are cybernetic bioroids.


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MakuTheDark wrote:
Then if an entire species was to experience infertility by an outside cause (disease, mutation, environmental effect) but could successfully perpetuate their race via science, are they still alive?

That's the question, isn't it?

If we extend the criteria from "science" to "reproduction through some means outside the species," then we can talk about viruses as well. And that's an old debate in biology.

Some people say yes, some say no.

It's an inherent problem when the criteria for what is and is not alive is defined by us. Some things just don't fit neatly into a category.


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captain yesterday wrote:
The question is, are androids better people then people.

Anyone's better people than people. People are the worst people.


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bookrat wrote:
MakuTheDark wrote:
Then if an entire species was to experience infertility by an outside cause (disease, mutation, environmental effect) but could successfully perpetuate their race via science, are they still alive?

That's the question, isn't it?

If we extend the criteria from "science" to "reproduction through some means outside the species," then we can talk about viruses as well. And that's an old debate in biology.

Some people say yes, some say no.

It's an inherent problem when the criteria for what is and is not alive is defined by us. Some things just don't fit neatly into a category.

Ja. Especially things like Prions where it is nothing but floating proteins that make replicants of itself through hijacking cells.

Tis why I was necer a fan of the listed characteristics, or at least meeting all the characteristics. I think meeting at least 4 out of the 7 would be enough to qualify life. Heh, the universe is big and who knows what other beings we'll run into out there that would fit in our little box of life.

The Exchange

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Data in STtNG brought up all of these questions too repeatedly, is he alive, does he have a soul, is he a thinking sentient being or just a computer made to look human-ish? Androids were presented earlier in Iron Gods and Bestiary reprints to make the Pathfinder race and all the basic info stays the same in Starfinder. Some might argue they are not living beings, but since many of the spells mechanically work the same on them as they do living player races, the game assumes they are alive.


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Ravingdork wrote:
And people can make hammers. That doesn't mean our hammer making abilities alone qualify us as being alive (per the scientific definition). It takes more than that.

If your hammer becomes self aware and goes on to make more self aware hammers? yes.

Liberty's Edge

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Ravingdork wrote:
DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
They are synthetic life-forms that are made from fabricated technological and biological parts. They aren't born, they are made, they can't breed biologically.
Oh, so that means they aren't even alive then.

Not technically, no. They're people with all the rights inherent in that, though.

The two are different.


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From the book, "Due to their biological components, androids need to eat and sleep". So, they apparently are cyborgs.


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Melkiador wrote:
From the book, "Due to their biological components, androids need to eat and sleep". So, they apparently are cyborgs.

It depends. Do you consider Fallout Synths (synthetic humans), Westworld's Hosts, and Blade Runner's Replicants cyborgs?

All of them can (and some need) eat and sleep. Some even dream. They are artificial, but have biological components. Are virtually impossible to distinguish from a human being for the most part. Will pass Turing's test. And all of them are, by the lore of those universes, alive somehow, even if normal humans refuse to acknowledge it sometimes. But the entire trope and the point of those universes is, preciselly, to debate if those entities are alive, and what does define being alive.


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They have constitution scores = they're alive.


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Definition of life fails when exposed to sci-fi...


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If they're busy saving the galaxy, can they even have a life? Work/life balance is tough.


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If you 3D-print a human, you get an android.


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Umbral Reaver wrote:
If you 3D-print a human, you get an android.

Sort of.

Androids still don't breath, and have nanites for blood (or maybe just in their blood).


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A part of me wanted to run from this thread because I'm dumbfounded that this is even an issue. Honestly... I'd say 'who gives a flying fart in the breeze', but apparently you guys do, so...

Lemme help...

Okay, a Cyborg is: a human (or appropriate life form), who is implanted with, or installed with machinery to supplement or replace organic functionality. Example: Dude get his arm cut off and replaces it with a mechanical one that does all the cool things arms do... he/she is now a 'cyborg'. Androids are not cyborgs because they are manufactured (either by themselves, or by others).

An android is an anthropomorphic machine (most commonly a robot) designed to simulate and function like a human being. In Sci-Fi they are either full on robots with human-like flesh (a Terminator, for example) or a combination of mechanical and biological components (Bishop, from Aliens for example). Starfinder is quite specific in stating that androids are, indeed, 'alive' (constitution scores), so they can not be robots (constructs do not have constitution scores). I'm in awe that it was even issue. Do the books even get read anymore?

Cyborg (DC), The Street Preacher (Johnny Mnemonic), John Silver (Treasure Planet), RoboCop (RoboCop)... all cyborgs. People who had machines installed after messed up things happened to them... or voluntary.

Data (Star Trek), Bishop (Aliens), Roy Batty (BladeRunner), Cherry 2000 (Cherry 2000)... all androids. They were machines designed to be, act, and pass for human.


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Scythia wrote:
If they're busy saving the galaxy, can they even have a life? Work/life balance is tough.

New anti-paladin archetype: HR Manager.


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I would just like to say, we here at AbadarCorp feel your pain, and it feels great! Like a soothing balm.

So, thank you for your feedback, and please don't hesitate to call us again.


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Are they androids or synthezoids?

It's all really confusing, and Immortus' meddling doesn't help matters any. I blame Space Phantoms.

And gremlins.


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Umbral Reaver wrote:
If you 3D-print a human, you get an android.

What if you print a male and female and they have a child? Is the child an android? What if you only give them one gamete each?


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What about gynoids?


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Not exactly on topic but since the OP has been answered (CON score = alive), I have a question whose answer could provide some insight for the thread topic:

What about Major Motoko Kusanagi?

Or better yet, The Puppeteer or The Puppet Master?


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Alright, what if android or a golem didn't have a soul but had a personality and desires? Would they be alive than as well?

If you ask me the Turing Test is sufficient in determining if something is alive and thus deserving of rights. I suppose, an android can be programmed to act sentient and doesn't really have a will of its own, but think giving them sentient rights just in case is the safer bet.


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Quark Blast wrote:

Not exactly on topic but since the OP has been answered (CON score = alive), I have a question whose answer could provide some insight for the thread topic:

What about Major Motoko Kusanagi?

Or better yet, The Puppeteer or The Puppet Master?

Major is a cyborg due to still having organic cells (her brain) and the Puppet Master is an A.I. with no organic matter, thus is a construct.

The whole point of GitS is a question of individuality and what constitutes as living. This is why I think the characteristics for living in a scientific manner should change as we progress. We should add the characteristic of sentience, and, instead of meeting all the requirements, majority of requirements would meet the standard of being classified as living. But we're talking about a couple centuries of classification.*shrugs*


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Delightful wrote:

Alright, what if android or a golem didn't have a soul but had a personality and desires? Would they be alive than as well?

If you ask me the Turing Test is sufficient in determining if something is alive and thus deserving of rights. I suppose, an android can be programmed to act sentient and doesn't really have a will of its own, but think giving them sentient rights just in case is the safer bet.

No, I would say that lacking a soul doesn't actually count (or discount) something as being alive. But I would also say being alive isn't necessary to for personhood. And personhood is really what grants individuals the rights we have (in our modern senses). Personhood requires sapience and sentience.

Also Turing Test are worthless, since we don't know what is going on behind the scenes. The Turing Test only test external behavior, and doesn't care about internal behavior. See the Chinese Room Argument. A sufficiently complex program could in theory pass the Turing Test. It would just require a very large data base of questions and responses, it is however in theory imaginable. But if the mechanism that is working internally is just a program that receives a statement and then selects a response (from a group of preprogrammed responses) then there is definitely no sentience or sapience there.

Thankfully, we don't really need to worry about Androids in the Pathfidner universe since they have biological brains, and in lieu of better testing methods it's better to give the benefit of the doubt that they are in fact conscious sapient beings (in so much as that we can't prove that other creatures are sapient, or even prove that the universe isn't even just a construct of our own individual mind). That however, is a whole other argument.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

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This has been discussed to death already.


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Ravingdork wrote:
DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
They are synthetic life-forms that are made from fabricated technological and biological parts. They aren't born, they are made, they can't breed biologically.
Oh, so that means they aren't even alive then.

Definition of life in D&D, Pathfinder, and Starfinder is different than RL world definition of biological life: e.g. elementals, living incorporeal beings, and some other creature are alive despite not meeting "cellular", "metabolism", and occasionally "homeostasis" conditions listen on the diagram you shared.

In D&D/Pathfinder/Starfinder the defining characteristic of life is possession of life force - being part of the positive energy flow through the universe. Note that this does not equate to having a soul, soul is a specialized form of life force possessed by creatures. Non-animate plants are alive but not creatures and thus don't have souls, at least not in a form that would be of interest to creatures and spells that deal with souls.

Androids don't inherently meet Reproduction and in the extension Heredity conditions from the diagram, but they still meet the rest of conditions (though they growth and development is intellectual/emotion not cellular).


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Cyrad wrote:
This has been discussed to death already.

Is this dead android horse we're beating named Andromeda or Oberon? And can Starfinder androids get similar horsey-taur attachments?


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ROBRONIES ASSEMBLE!


Ravingdork wrote:

There is repeated mention of "androids" possessing souls, and even biological functions in Pathfinder and Starfinder.

Doesn't that make them cyborgs, or something similar, rather than androids?

No. They're pretty much war forged from eberron. A bunch of random junk fed into a machine that spits out a weak golem that people randomly claim has a soul attached to it, because game mechanics. (Specifically raise dead)

They're pretty much completely unrelated to what fiction has established as an 'android.'
I think they'd be more interesting the other way, rather than the muddled mess of tropes and hedging they ended up being.

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