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Android is a word used to describe a machine that is designed to look like a human. Rather than taking other qualities, such as intelligence or love, as the central feature of humanity, androids are mechanic creations that attempt to look as human as possible. Android comes from the Greek andro- "human" + eides "form, shape."[1]

The first use of the word "android" is difficult to trace, but the first suggested use seems to appear in Jack Williamson's The Cometeers in 1936.[2][3] The distinction between mechanical robots and organic androids was popularized by Edmond Hamilton in his Captain Future series a few years later, and had become a feature of mainstream press discussion of SF by 1958".[4]

In some cases, androids in cinema have been a constructed as minority figures whose main concern is to pass as human or understand the human subject. Examples of these subjects include Star Trek's Data and Blade Runner's replicants.[5]

Androids try to explicitly emulate the physical human form in robotics. This is a promising lead in establishing more intimate connections with robots, but not the only avenue. For example, Watson, the AI that won jeopardy, looks nothing like a human but still bears strong relations to humanity, namely synthesized speech.[6] Androids are based on the premise that "human-ness" is in part physical resemblance and tries to emulate the human form, rather than taking other human qualities (intelligence, emotions, humor, etc.).

Related Reading


  1. Etymology Online Dictionary - Entry on Android. Accessed 03 July 2011.
  2. Williamson, Jack. The Cometeers. Astounding Science Fiction. Dell Magazines, May 1936.
  3. Clute, John and Peter Nicholls. Encyclopedia Of Science Fiction. St. Martin's Press, 1995.
  4. An SF Glossary
  5. Short, Sue. Cyborg Cinema and Contemporary Subjectivity. Faculty of Continuing Education Birkbeck College, University of London, UK. Palgrave Macmillan 2005.
  6. IBM - Deep QA Project: Speech Team. Accessed 03 July 2011.