Cyborg, Robots, Androids and Vampires


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I read an interested piece on the io9 Website (io9.com) posed by the question of what would happen if a vampire were to bite a Terminator?  Titled: ‘Blood and Chrome’ I thought this piece had something to do with the Battlestar Galactica web series, until I read the actual question.  You can find the piece near the bottom of this page (http://io9.com/does-dc-have-a-chris-nolan-problem-585380098).  The actual question was:-

I’ve been wondering, what would happen if an organic Terminator, like Arnold’s T-800, got bitten by a vampire? Can the organic parts of the cyborg become undead? I understand that body would have all the same weaknesses so as soon as it stepped into sunlight, the flesh would simply burn off and you’d be left with a normal T-800 endoskeleton… but if it adhered to the standard weaknesses and only went out at night, would it become an even more powerful killing machine?”

The answers returned to the above question I have some problems with.  While the question was and is an interesting one, I am not so sure I agree with the answers that were given:-

Well, a Terminator isn’t actually a cyborg, because as you’ve noted a cyborg has organic parts. A Terminator is all robot with a fake skin (apparently made of rubber, at least in the early films) on it so it can use the time travel doohickey that sends humans back in the past. The Terminator is an android, which is a robot built to look like a human (please ignore the times they’re called “cyborgs” in the movies, that’s just James Cameron misunderstanding the lingo like Lucas misunderstood “parsecs” in Star Wars). If a vampire bit a Terminator, all he’d have is a dental bill.

Totally wrong answer in my view.  A Cyborg (CYbernet ORGanism,) is a being with both organic and machine parts.  My first 2011-11-17-six_million_dollar_manencounter with the Term was via the TV Films and subsequent Series ‘The Six Million Dollar Man’ which was based upon Martin Caidin’s Novel ‘Cyborg’.  Anyone who remembers the Series will remember Colonel Steve Austin (played by Lee Majors,) was an Astronaut and Test Pilot who suffered a near fatal crash in an experimental space craft.  He lost both legs, an arm and an eye.   These were replaced by cybernetic replacements and implants that made him something akin to modern age superhero for the time.  His military background, his values, dedication and training is what made him a hero, his new abilities were the bonus.

There had been cyborgs in film and television prior to The Six Million Dollar Man. The Terminator however was a radical departure from what people understood a cyborg to be.  James Cameron didn’t “misunderstand the lingo”, he understood it all too well.  Instead of having a human being (or any other organic being for that matter,) rebuilt with machine parts, he chose instead to have a cyborg built from a seg-cyborgs-term(metal,) skeletal structure upwards then encased within organic body tissue.  It was mentioned in the first movie that the Terminators had an evolutionary history of a kind.  When they were first built and implemented by ‘Skynet’ (the machines fighting humanity,) they were easily identifiable, even when they began to be more human looking.  This is where they were robots with fake skin.  To truly infiltrate the existing human community they had to look completely human, right down to having ‘bad breath’ and blood as the Reese (soldier from the future,) told Sarah Connor the Terminator’s intended victim.  In some ways, it could be argued that the Terminator is an Android but it isn’t for reasons I will explain later.  But there is no doubt about the Terminator being a Cyborg.  It is a Cybernetic Organism – Cyborg if you will.  It has all the characteristics to be a Cyborg.  They are part organic being – Man if you will and part machine.  James Cameron just took the idea of Cyborgs, a step further, enhancing our understanding of how you can build a cyborg from the ground up.  Not quite sure what you would call the T1000 and TX Terminators, as they are definitely don’t fall into what we understand as robots, cyborgs or androids.

The rest of the answer to the initial question goes:-

Cyborg_Evolution_by_solkeeNow, someone like Motoko Kusanagi from Ghost in the Shell is a cyborg. Her soft, fleshy human bits are augmented with all sorts of robot parts, so your question stands. As far as I know, anyone that still has blood flowing their veins should be able to be bitten, sucked, and then transformed into a vampire, with all organic parts getting vampirized. Because the brain continues working after someone becomes a vampire, and most cyborg accessorizes and brain upgrades will be based on neural networks and so forth, I don’t know why these would stop working just because the rest of the owner died.

But would they be unstoppable? Not quite. If their skin was still regular human skin, it would be susceptible to bursting into flames in the sun… although perhaps they could get it replaced with a plastic simualcrum, kind of like the Terminator’s rubber skin, or even just covered with a lacquer that shuts out the sun’s harmful, vampire-immolating effects. Moreover, I’m pretty sure vampires wouldn’t be able to switch out their heart for an artificial heart; what with the demonic magic involved, I’m guessing any attempt to remove the heart from the body would kill the vampire outright. But they could shield it, implanting internal armor to prevent staking.

But even that wouldn’t make them unstoppable. The minute we have cyborg vampires wandering the streets with fake skin and impenetrable hearts is the minute we hire some whiz kid to hack their brains and shut those fuckers down.

0_21_van_helsingHaving read and studied both robotics and vampirism (both fictional and factual,) I can’t see how any of the above would work.  If you look at vampirism in purely medical and factual terms, leaving mysticism out of the equation, supposing what made people into vampires wasn’t just the bite from the vampire but the bacteria from the vampire’s saliva entering the victim’s bloodstream.  If you look at the way HIV works, the bacteria from the vampire’s bite on entering the body would work in a similar but much faster, rapid way, infecting the victim’s blood stream but causing rapid changes in the victim’s body, creating vampirism (which would be the AIDS-like condition that creates vampirism throughout the body right down to the DNA level, probably rewriting the DNA sequence, changing the whole of the victim’s body.  This is what (depending on what you believe,) would happen when someone is victim to a vampire’s bite.  Whether this would happen with a Terminator is an entirely different matter.  The Terminator movies made no mention of whether the organic parts, including the blood within the Terminator was real enough for any of the above to happen should a Terminator be victim of a vampire’s bite.  What is clear from the movies was Terminators are mass produced in huge factory-like production lines.  We have seen in the TV Series ‘Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles’ how aterminator-terminator-297645_1280_1024 Terminator can rebuild their organic body, when it has been destroyed.  No mention is made of spare part surgery in the movies.  We now live in an age where the reproduction of body parts via stem cell research draws ever nearer.  Skynet in the movie franchise’s history was rapidly wiping out humanity.  There seems little indication they were interested in preserving human life.  Although the TV Series and the movie ‘Terminator Salvation’ hints at Skynet studying the human anatomy, something they would need to do, in order to build and perfect Terminators.  The second and third movies pointed to the terminator model (T-800,) of the first movie becoming obsolete and by the third film we learned they were totally obsolete.  So clearly the Cyborg model of the Terminator T-800 had a definite shelf-life. T1000 and TX had made the old model obsolete.  Even if the second part of the above answer were true, Skynet would have instantly destroyed and replaced that model or put counter measures in place.  The only part of that answer I agree with is that the machine /mechanical parts of the Terminator would work regardless of how the organic body was infected.  Even with the organic body totally burnt off the Terminator with only its skeletal form will still function and carry out its mission regardless.  Given the mass production scale of the Terminators, my guess is the body parts while organic are mass grown and produced via stem cell technology, therefore while they are organic, they are artificially produced so it is highly unlikely, a vampire’s bite/bacteria would have any effect, if any on a Terminator.

Early in this piece, I fundamentally disagreed with the idea of the Terminator being termed an Android.  Now I will explain why.   Consider the following list:-

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Cyborg

Android

Synthezoid

Let’s discuss:-

Robot:  Everyone knows what a robot is in the classic sense.  There are many examples in literature and science fiction from Robbie in the movie ‘The Forbidden Planet’ right the way through to another movie called ‘I Robot’.  I mention the latter movie because it is based on the novel of the same name by Isaac Asimov, who was probably one of the greatest sci-fi writers of the 20th Century.  Interestingly he wrote the ‘Three Laws of Robotics’ that were clearly not followed in the movie bearing the name of his Novel.  The Laws can be found here: –http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Laws_of_Robotics

Cyborg:  If you have gotten this far, you should know what a Cyborg is but if you want a more expert explanation than mine then you will find it here:-  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyborg

Android:  The reason I felt the T-800 Terminator could never be an Android and was a Cyborg, was despite its human looking appearance, it was clearly not human and more importantly it didn’t behave in a human way, nor was it independent of thought. It was following a preconceived programming.  Any independent thought only seems to be but was more a matrix of programming that would produce a solution to a problem, depending on the situation it encounter.  An Android is a robot that mimics a human being perfectly and despite whatever programming it may have, it is capable of independent thought.  The classic example of an Android would be Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation.  His more robotic characteristics early on in the Series, we would later learn was deliberately programmed in by his creator Professional Soong, to make him more acceptable and compliant to the human populace in human colony where he was created. We later learned that his twin ‘Lore’ had all too human characteristics that ultimately led to that colony’s destruction.  Data despite the limitations put upon him via his programming, strives to become better than he is by learning, observing and studying the behaviour of those around him.  Sometimes with hilarious results.  Eventually he reacquires the ‘Emotion Chip’ his creator had made for him. After some problems handling emotions, Data overcame his new handicap and achieved his full potential by mimicking the human behaviour more perfectly than humans.

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Synthezoid:  The Synthezoid is an Android with a very big difference.  They mimic and replicate human behaviour in every conceivable way.  Not only that, they are made out of synthetic material and have organs (possibly blood and tissue,) that replicate human organs in every conceivable way.  The Synthezoid is the perfect Android – the perfect artificial human being.  The classic example of a Synthezoid is always quoted as being the Marvel Comics Heroes ‘The Vision’ and the Original Human Torch (of the 1940s).  But there is another better example and that is an elderly Robin Williams in the movie ‘Bicentennial Man’.  More on this Movie.

‘Bicentennial Man’ is the one Movie – The only Movie I can think of where the evolutionary stages and categories of robotics are fully covered.  This may well be why the film wasn’t the greater success it should have been.  Simply put Robin Williams plays the title role of a Robot who aspires to be more than he is.  It takes him two hundred years but he eventually achieves humanity, ultimately gaining legal recognition to be classed as a human.  Think a science fiction version of Pinocchio.  Well worth watching for the long journey he makes to ultimately become ‘A Boy’.

Vampires and robots in Film, Television and Literature, inhabit different universes and it is not at all difficult to see why.  Robotics inhabits the world of Science, whereas Vampirism has its roots in mysticism and the macabre, even though it has crossed over into the world of Science.  The Blade and Underworld movies clearly show Vampires making use of science to further their cause and interests but I think never the twain meets.  Vampires are dark multi-facet, multi-racial more than many people think and there are many kinds.  From my studies and what have seen of the various films and TV shows, vampires have no need for spare part surgery or any interest in taking on robots.  Given all of the above, while the original question posed was an interesting one, the worlds of robotics and vampirism are separate, don’t exist in the same universe and are never destined to be.  Long may it remain so.

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