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Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
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2014 Reads > DADoES: Practical Android Detection

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Steve (plinth) | 179 comments To what extent are android different from humans at a cellular level? If they are that similar then we should probably assume that androids have cells that are indistinguishable from humans, but if that were the case, why not put in markers in junk DNA that could be detected from skin or hair cells?

Do male androids have testes that produce sperm? Do female androids have ovaries that produce ovum? Detected the lack of either is not perfect, but a decent first screen.

Why not a metal marker embossed into the cranium that reads "Manufactured by the Tyrell Corporation, best if used before 2030." detectable via xray?


message 2: by John (Taloni) (new)

John (Taloni) Taloni (johntaloni) | 3907 comments Interesting question. As a response, I would say that every one of your suggestions would serve better than the tests in the book.

However, practical science wasn't what Dick was writing about. His arena was always the mind, with the technical aspects taking a sideline. What Dick wanted to explore was the mental differences between human and android, so the technology he envisioned supported that. Also, when the book was written, genetic engineering was not yet developed, so no one was quite sure what it would be like.

If you prefer an "inside the book" explanation, perhaps the general level of technology fell after the war, so that the psychological test was the only practical one.


message 3: by Ken (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ken (kanthr) | 334 comments Consider also the possibility of organ replacement with synthetics. A human is injured, gets a mechanical arm. If this individual has no luck in life, you may arrive at a situation of the philosophical paradox "Theseus' Ship". At what point is this person no longer a person but a machine? How could you differentiate people-in-mechancial-bodies from androids?

The realm Dick was exploring is akin to the material in Ghost in the Shell. What makes the mind a human and not a construct, and if it is a construct, can it still be human?


David(LA,CA) (davidscharf) | 327 comments I thought there was a physical test of some sort. I want to say bone marrow or something of that nature.

In which case, the VK may just be the easier method.


Drew (fudderduds) David(LA,CA) wrote: "I thought there was a physical test of some sort. I want to say bone marrow or something of that nature.

In which case, the VK may just be the easier method."


The book does mention bone marrow testing of retired androids post-mortem to make sure it was really an android and not a human. I'm fairly sure it mentions that it takes a long time to complete. The VK test, or even the other test mentioned that measures neural activity of the brain stem, would be faster and easier to complete in the field.


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Steve wrote: "To what extent are android different from humans at a cellular level? If they are that similar then we should probably assume that androids have cells that are indistinguishable from humans, but if..."

Yeah, scientists or engineers would put a patent or an ID marker somewhere on the android practically speaking. I didn't mind too much because I agree that Dick wanted to focus on psychological distinctions and just decided to create a universe where he could. That's fair.

Androids were programmed to imitated humanity. This book is based on the old fashioned idea of the "Turing Test", that our goal with artificial intelligence is that a robot should be able to trick a human into believing it's human. To that end, we have the electric animals pretending that they're hungry and pretending that they're sick if they're breaking down. I can imagine that the androids are also coded to imitate human physiological response, though I don't know if it's because the Turing Test became the sole driver of robotic theory. There are hints in the book that the robots were programmed with the ability to respond in a human way but minus the empathy for humans and animals.


message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

Anja wrote: "Steve wrote: "To what extent are android different from humans at a cellular level? If they are that similar then we should probably assume that androids have cells that are indistinguishable from ..."
Fun fact: in order for AI to beat the Turing Test, devs would actually program it to answer mathematical questions slower and purposefully programmed them to make mistakes.


Ruth (tilltab) Ashworth | 1861 comments Anja wrote: "SYeah, scientists or engineers would put a patent or an ID marker somewhere on the android practically speaking."

I'm pretty sure they were intentionally making the androids difficult to detect. There were suggestions that they were using data Deckard gathered on the nexus 6 to perfect the next model.


Rob Secundus (quintessential_defenestration) | 1035 comments W/r/t DNA testing, what if all the mutation stuff going on on earth makes that difficult to do? Like no matter what marker you put on an android, some specials are going to show up with said marker, so it's better to rely on something else (like some substance that manufacturers put in the bone marrow).

Just a thought. But I think the ways of testing were intentionally not-well-thought-out. Part of the point was that everything surrounding separating androids from humans was really flawed.


message 10: by Warren (new)

Warren | 1556 comments Rob Secundus wrote: "W/r/t DNA testing, what if all the mutation stuff going on on earth makes that difficult to do? Like no matter what marker you put on an android, some specials are going to show up with said marker..."
True. We're close to growing major organs now
.Will you need to list which of your parts are original and which and after factory?
Oops we retired a test tube baby.
Sorry about that.


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