What's Your Favorite Android of All Time?


In a sci-fi extravaganza, Austin, Rob, and Danielle discuss a host of questions around androids, AI, robots, and other forms of intelligence. We talk games, movies, and novels that tackle these with grace (and those that do it less so) and dip into some good, heavy question bucket offerings.

Discussed: Star Trek: The Next Generation, Neuromancer, Person of Interest, Moon, Destiny 2, Player of Games (novel), Mass Effect, Asimov's Foundation series, Ascentury (playable at ascentury.net), Soma (with spoilers!) Mass Effect 3 ending (spoilers for the series!), Farscape, Babylon 5, Stellaris, works of China Mieville.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/zm8mae/favorite-robot-ai-android-mass-effect


Does the robot from Sonic Adventure count as an Android?


One from The Fall Part 2 is a strong new contender for this question.


I have always really liked the Geth because of how it’s networked mind works.



Marvin from Hitchhiker’s Guide was pretty good.



(also 2B and A2, of course)


So glad Rob mentioned The Machine. Both The Machine and another AI introduced later in the series, Samaritan, are fascinating characters.

Highly recommend watching Person of Interest if you are into this kind of stuff. It starts out as a more typical procedural show but overtime becomes more and more about AI.


Are Bartholomew Kuma and Franky from One Piece androids? They and the Machine from POI are my favourite androids!


Content warnings everywhere. Never trust anime to ever not take a swerve into the grotesque or problematic. Wouldn’t be surprised if this gets deleted and probably rightfully so. Ghost in the Shell spoilers alert. My favorite nonhumanoid somewhat sentient robot is the tochikomas. They’re so cute, and, while syncing memories, were still individuals. This is especially so of Batou’s. The second season of Ghost in the Shell may be a bit weaker than the first, but they do sing this cute song and then do what they feel will make them human. They experience death. Whether or not that’s what makes a robot human or whatever, I don’t know.

Also spoiler and content warning for Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence. It has a lot of just philosophy bullshit that’s just quoted. The whole movie is about the storing of ghosts (souls) and using them to make sex robots more life like. The film starts with them hating their “life” so much that they commit suicide.

Futurma comes to mind, but they are very human in every way.

There’s a weather satellite in Cowboy Bebop that kinda becomes self aware.

Going the other way, I feel being autistic and probably asexual makes it a lot easier for me to empathize with robots and the like.


ummmmm call from alien resurrection!!!


Alpha Hatsuseno, main character of the manga Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou, which might be my favorite work of art ever made. She’s an android who runs a poorly-frequented coffee shop in fiction’s most peaceful post-apocalypse, just paling around with her few neighbors and experiencing a heartbreakingly melancholic world. It’s wonderful and she’s wonderful.

Secondary shoutouts to further my weeb brand: I love Nono from Diebuster (the lovable lady on @Lilly 's post) and all the various main characters in Naoki Urasawa’s Pluto.



ohh, yes~~!


Two AI I don’t think have been mentioned yet are HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey and GLADOS from Portal. Though I don’t know how specific the definition of Android gets (whether they need to have a human body)


I haven’t listened to the podcast, but I’m going to push for HK-47 from KOTOR 2.

“Observation: I am a droid, master, with programming. Even if I did not enjoy killing, I would have no choice. Thankfully, I enjoy it very much.”

Edit: honorable mention goes to Data from ST:TNG.


I don’t like, like this character, nor necessarily the game it’s in, but I think AM from I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream is a brilliant villain, both from the game and the short story. AM in the game is this horrible, angry monster voiced by Harlan Ellison (its author). Meanwhile, for me at least, the AM in the short story is this distant, hateful god. What I think is unique about this character is that it inherited a human quality we don’t usually put into androids and robots in our art: true, raw hatred.





Definitely the AIs from the Culture books (Player of Games, etc).

I love the idea that the solution to AI intelligence outstripping human intelligence and running rampant is to just make them affable and fond of having people around in the same way I’m fond of having my cat.


xIn nerd heaven with this weeks podcast, one of my favorite subjects.

Oh god, do I have another show I have to watch with Person of Interest? I’m only in season 2 of The expanse

Asimov is my go to example for robot discussion, actually a lot of sci fi subjects, the man was super prolific. His robot stories were essentially a thought experiment of how he could write about a future society that used robots and didn’t die horribly. His answer: the three laws of robotics, basically 1)don’t harm humans 2)obey humans 3)self preservation, hard wired into their core personality. Or, more cynically, they would have to be the perfect slaves.

Most of his early robot stories explored this idea through the vantage point of a “robopsycologist”, a problem solver who investigated robots whenever something went strange with robot brains.

Later he introduced the idea of an android with the character R. Daneel Olivaw in his Robots and Murder trilogy, also establishing the idea of the first space colonists (or spacers) having a society where robots outnumbered humans.

Much later he created the Foundation series, which actually takes place in the far future of this timeline, and eventually loops back in the last books to explore what happened to Earth, the original colonies, and all those robots (robots being mysteriously absent from the Foundation books)

I could go on about this stuff forever, apologize for long post.

Favorite AI: the menacing robot tanks from Ghost in the Shell (Tachicomas) which are fully sentient, curious about existence as a child, and have super cute anime voices.

Two other things to mention: there is a recent Radiolab podcast with an interesting show about AI titled More or Less Human, and a Citations Needed discussing the problem of tiered systems of worth, episode 37 “Black Lives Matter, Dreamers, and the Problem of ‘The Perfect Victim’”


My gut reaction to the question/email that opened this discussion was essentially. "This makes for a good thought experiment and can lead to some real interesting heady conversations. But, ultimately is looking too deep/expecting too much of things that were never meant to be taken in the manner they are and/or questions so far into the future that the best we can do is speculate, as we lack context to truly find the answer.

Example, “humanity” is a limitation that holds people back from talking about what intelligent life could be, or a standard which is unfair to try and hold it too. Looking far forward, this is true. If/when we meet or create intelligent non-human life the odds of them being just like us in every way is pretty small. But right now, the only species we recognize as sentient and deserving of ‘basic rights" are us humans. Humanity is short-hand for "what it means to be/qualify as intelligent life’ only because its all there is.

I am absolutely certain when the day comes that we have multiple species/entities/intelligences that can/should hold claim to the same basic rights we humans assert we all have, that a term more broad and encompassing then “Humanity” will come about. As will fiction and understanding that lets people 'prove they think therefore they are" in ways that do not require them to mesh to human standards.

So, I see the fun and entertainment and joy in the thought experiment of how else we could explore intelligent life and what it means to be ‘a person’ and so on. I just don’t think that people not doing so is some big crime, nor is there a pressing need to deep-dive into this topic super seriously…we are decades, or generations or millennia away from it being a real social issue.

On a side note, I will argue the counter point of one other thing. Androids are made too look like ideal humans, and that is put out as a bad thing. Like how can we tell a story about oppression when all these robots look like models.

My counter is…ok…then what? Like, would a story where androids are made to look ugly (to human eyes) or specifically made to have completely inhuman features not be just as much a limiting factor? I just don’t see anything intrinsically wrong with the androids in, say, Detroit, being designed to have idealized human forms, to some degree at least.

Any androids we make in the future are going to be that way if we make them. Greedily, we want to make them sexy because that sales. Altruistically we want to make them find there way to gaining humanity and removing physical defects is one step in that direction.

Now if we are talking a fiction where A.I. advances, and androids all go “You know what, we should mimic/ape humanity completely that’s what it means to be real” then you’ve got a problem. But any fiction I’ve ever run into that is post-the Androids are considered just as ‘human’ as humans, they are treated as their own species/existence. And indeed straying completely away into utterly inhuman forms and thoughts is part of how people writing express them becoming different. Which, again, I don’t see as a limitation “Why do they have to compare themselves to humanity at all?” is answered simply by “We humans currently have no other standard to compare too”.

Its quite an interesting topic. I just file it under ‘thought experiments to discuss on a rainy day’ more then “A pressing concern that needs to be addressed by writers as soon as possible”.