Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should…
“Before the war, before humankind matured to where they are today, we dallied with the artificial creations of our own hands… As you can imagine, it did not end well.” A lesson that didn’t have to be learned the hard way, and yet was, made an indelible change in humanity’s culture in the Tethered Worlds universe. Whether specifically stated, or unspoken through the media, undue emotional investment in artificial creations is curtailed.
But first, as postulated in PART ONE, what about war? Machines make powerful aides in wartime. But societal mores keep war machines and combat bots at arms length. Tools sans personality to be used without emotional investment. Handy, but just a means to an end. Most look at a humanoid combat bot as one today might observe a tank.
AIs, on the other hand, simulate emotion for better interactions with humans. But their bodiless form (usually a ring or bracelet), their core design architecture, and everyday utilitarian use, almost always relegate them to the role of “friend” at most. We say at most, because half of those who use personal AIs don’t even choose personality types. So the greatest challenge to humans, when it comes to emotional investment in creations, remains androids.
In the Tethered Worlds universe, these robots designed to look like humans are still produced in small numbers. Because of the uncanny valley effect, androids must duplicate human form precisely. Those that fall just short cause revulsion, and that has only become more pronounced since the societal lessons were adopted. So marketable androids must maintain a host of expensive cosmetic features.
They are tolerated by some, and looked upon with disdain by others. Because of their cost, and lack of necessity, they are rare. The rich, the powerful, those high in bloated government may have one as an aide. But any kind of romantic involvement is shunned. It is only openly displayed on strange Chryson Genos, a planet alluded to in Blue Star Setting.
In Tethered Worlds, society has sometimes foolishly, sometimes wisely, focused on the perfection of humankind. Androids only shine an uncomfortable light on the issue. With robots of all types available for any conceivable job, the niche for androids is narrow, and their potential for trouble-making wide.
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Tethered Worlds is a lot cheaper than an android, and has less potential to cause trouble. In fact, it will transport you onto an adventure. One which you will come out better for having trod it.
* Android painting by Alex Negrea