Sunday, April 14, 2013

Top 10 Androids

Those who don’t possess a bit of nerdy knowledge often mix up “androids” and “cyborgs” with each other.  Of course, the two are different.  In my top 10 cyborgs list, I’ve already explained what makes a cyborg: they are beings with both organic and mechanical parts.  Now, this time around, it’s the androids’ turn to be discussed.  Androids are synthetic organisms – usually robotic in nature – meticulously designed to be in the likeness of the human form; any appearance of “flesh” is synthetic in origin.  Also, androids usually possess advance levels of artificial intelligence that give them the capability of human-like free will, independent thought, cognitive processes and logical reasoning – with some even having mental abilities exceeding human capacity – and, sometimes, simulation of human  emotion.               


Brainiac, a Coluan (an alien race) android, is one of Superman’s most famous and powerful archenemies.  As his name suggests, Brainiac is a super genius.  He has a so-called “12th-level intellect” (humanity, in general, is only capable of up to “6th-level intelligence”), giving him superhuman memory capability; superhuman calculative prowess; and extensive knowledge of theoretical and applied sciences, engineering, and technologies of different alien origins.  Aside from his mental powers, Brainiac had possessed various other powers and abilities as well (depending on the incarnation). 

9.) BISHOP (341-B)

Michael Fassbender earned some praise for playing the android character David in Prometheus (the semi-prequel to the Alien movie franchise).  David, they said, has been a charismatic character.  I, however, was unimpressed.  If you were able to see Aliens (second movie in the Alien movie franchise), you can’t help but compare David with Aliens’ own android, Bishop, (played by Lance Henriksen) and then conclude that David greatly pales in comparison when compared to Bishop.  Bishop was designed to have the same appearance of his creator, Michael Weyland (who himself resembles his ancestor, Charles Bishop Weyland).  Despite of not being primarily programmed as a combatant, he has been programmed to keep humans from harm as best as he could and he displayed badassery and heroism in performing this function by aiding human survivors to escape the murderous Xenomorphs.   Moreover, this awesome knife scene is enough to immortalize Bishop:


Naomi Armitage is the protagonist of the terrific cyberpunk anime movie series, Armitage III.  The story is set in a futuristic Mars – made habitable by the help of “first type” robots – where humans and “second type” androids, improved versions of the “first type”, co-exist.  Armitage was introduced as a Martian cop working with a new partner, Ross Syllibus, who was from Earth, as they hunt the murderer of a famous country singer.  Because of the killing, this singer was revealed to be a never before seen “third type” android – a highly-advance model that is already very much human-like in function and appearance that no one can tell them apart from human beings.  The discovery of the existence of “third type” androids prompted human beings to hunt them down, who had been secretly living amongst humans.  Halfway through the story, it was revealed that Naomi is herself a “third type” android.  Later on, the already kickass gunslinging girl would undergo modifications – i.e. cybernetic wings and particle cannons – to become more kickass and dangerous.  Armitage is so much of an advance android that she is even capable of getting pregnant; she and Ross would raise a daughter named Yoko. 

7.) DATA

Spock is my favorite character in the original Star Trek. And Data is my favorite character in Star Trek: the Next Generation because he serves as the Spock figure there.  But due to being an advanced android, he is capable of advance mental calculations and is probably superior in practicing logic than Spock.  And in contrast with Spock who avoids emotion as much as possible (because of his Vulcan roots), Data is very much fascinated with it – hinting of his desire to achieve his own humanity or something close to it by experiencing this important aspect of humanity (i.e. emotion).         

6.) CELL

Cell is the main villain during the “Android Arc” of Dragon Ball Z.  Possessing genetic materials from different warriors in the Dragon Ball Z universe – including Goku, Piccolo, Vegeta, and Frieza – Cell was designed by his creator Dr. Gero to be the “perfect warrior” of the universe; thus, Cell possesses a wide range of powers, skills, techniques, abilities and traits.  Cell is an evolving android, and with each evolution, aside from getting more powerful and cunning, he also undergoes drastic personality changes – projecting traits and attitudes of those warriors his genetic make-up is derived.  He was able to achieve his ultimate form after absorbing Androids 17 and 18 (who are technically not androids at all, but cyborgs).  Because of his very versatile and developing nature, he is easily one of the most exciting characters in Dragon Ball Z (in fact, in my book, Buu is the only greater Dragon Ball Z villain).


When we mention the name “Human Torch”, what comes to mind first is Johnny Storm of the Fantastic Four.  Unbeknownst to most non-comic book enthusiasts, Johnny is not the first “Human Torch” in the Marvel Universe.  The original Human Torch was an android who took the civilian name of Jim Hammond and was one of Marvel Comics’ “Big 3” (the other two of the three being Captain America and Namor) during its early years, back when the company still goes by the name of Timely Comics.  Just like Johnny Storm, the original Human Torch – Jim Hammond – has the ability to envelop his entire body or portions of it with flames, shoot out flames, and fly.  While Johnny gained his powers the same way as the other members of the FF, that is via cosmic radiations, Jim’s flame powers are due to the photoelectric solar cells – his power source – that cover his entire body which ignites his epidermis into flames upon contact with oxygen. 


The Vision is arguably Marvel Comics’ most popular android character.  Probably because of being a prominent Avenger for years.   The Vision is a synthezoid built by the robot villain Ultron (who himself is a creation of Hank Pym a.k.a. Ant-Man/Giant-Man/Yellowjacket/the Scientist Supreme) from the remains of a divergent Human Torch (see number 5) with neural processors similar to the brain patterns of Wonder Man.  Originally intended to be used against Avengers, the Vision was able to overcome his initial programming and instead aided the Avengers against his creator Ultron.  Since then, the Vision has been a loyal and valiant Avenger.  The Vision has an array of powers but his most iconic power is the ability to turn intangible and phase through solid objects.


Rockman, also known as Megaman, is one of the most iconic video game characters in history.  I remember that I had greatly enjoyed playing my Mega Man game (can’t remember which game was it) in our FamCom.  And Rockman was one of my top choices for my team when I was playing Marvel vs. Capcom.  The character is sometimes erroneously identified as a cyborg, but he is not.  As what is clearly established by his origin story, he is 100% robot (with human appearance).  He was created by Dr. Light to serve as his lab assistant and was christened “Rock”.  To effectively carry out his intended function, Rock has a “Variable Tool System” that allows him to mimic any tool after observing how it had been used.  When Dr. Light’s envious nemesis, Dr. Wiley, reprogrammed Dr. Light’s robots to become his minions with intentions of world domination, Rock the lab assistant volunteered to be converted into a fighting robot to stop Wiley and his robots.  He then applies his ability to mimic tools in his crusade by copying the special weapons or abilities of the robots he defeats – making the character and the games’ concept unique and exciting.      

2.) MACHINE MAN (X-51)
I am not really sure why but at that time I picked up that old Machine Man comicbook (bought it along with other old comics surplus), he became my most favorite android superhero.  Maybe because of his X-Men-like struggle – just as the X-Men are being hated and feared by the world they protect for being mutants, Machine Man was being hated and feared by the world he protects for being a robot.  Or maybe because of his dramatic origin story (his predecessors – 50 past X-model robots – became dangerously delusional and psychotic due to insufficient programming.  His “father”, Dr. Able Stack, however, theorized that the only way a robot will function like a human is if it was raised as one, and this is what Dr. Stack did with X-51.  Of course, as typical of heroes of that time, there’s a need for a tragedy to occur to push him into becoming a hero.  In the case of X-51, his “father” Dr. Stack was killed when he removed an auto-destruct device from X-51 to save him from it.  X-51 vowed to usher in Dr. Stack’s dream of peaceful co-existence between AI robots and humans.  He would adopt the name of Aaron Stack, and as Machine Man, he became a superhero while blending in among humans and being a fugitive from the military).  Or maybe because of his cool Inspector Gadget-esque collection of robotic abilities, especially the telescopic limbs.  Or maybe because he is the connection between the Marvel Universe and the sci-fi classic 2001: A Space Odyssey (Seriously.  I kid you not).  Or just all of them put together.  Whatever reason/s, I just found myself drawn to the character of Aaron Stack a.k.a. Machine Man and I wish he would gain more popularity as a comic book character.  (Considering he already had been an Avenger before, I am surprised he is not included in the roster of the upcoming Avengers A.I.)           


I really love Isaac Asimov’s Robot novels and Foundation novels, and it was awesome how he linked the two book series, along with the Empire novels, together.  And Daneel was the most identifiable connection.  In the early Robot novels (Caves of Steel and Naked Sun), we get to be first introduced to Daneel.  He is human in appearance but is actually a robot, as indicated with the “R.” in his name (with “R” meaning “robot”); and, just like other robots in Asimov’s Robot universe, is subject to the “Three Laws of Robotics”:
1.) A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2.) A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3.) A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.
(If a robot violates or thinks it has violated any of the Laws, the robot’s positronic brain will self-destruct.)
Daneel was the first of the only two “humaniforms” (robots that have human appearances and are very indistinguishable from human beings, with regards to outward appearance) ever created.  He, in three of the four Robot novels, served as an invaluable partner to Elijah Baley – one of the most fascinating detectives in fiction – in his investigations of the novels’ respective murder mysteries.  Daneel possesses a special ability called “cerebroanalysis”, which allows him to read mental and emotional states of the humans he meets.  Later on, R. Giskard Reventlov would transfer his telepathic abilities to Daneel before his deactivation, enabling the latter to completely read human minds and influence their thoughts and emotions to carry out the Zeroth Law of Robotics – "A robot may not harm humanity, or through inaction, allow humanity to come to harm."  This Law, which supposedly transcends the original Three Laws of Robotics, was devised by Daneel and Giskard after discourses of the Three Laws’ limitations.  From that day onwards of the Zeroth Law’s inception, for millennia, Daneel would work behind the scenes of human history – including events in the Foundation and Empire novels – manipulating humanity into paths he believes would improve or preserve the human race.  It was through his machinations and pushing that would lead to Hari Seldon to create “psychohistory” – application of statistics to predict future historical events.  This was the same “psychohistory” or “Laws of Humanics” that Daneel and Giskard had theorized during their discourse which they believed would allow them to execute the Zeroth Law in a quantitative sense.             

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