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So, in the 2060s, androids are a common feature in every household, especially the domestic ones. They clean houses, walk dogs, give messages, and everyone loves the D12 models the most. They not only help you with cleaning, but also can be seen as part of the family. They get taken out to birthday parties, vacations to the beach, and restaurants, and the robots are designed to be stupid, cute and cuddly looking. They D16s also have pre-programmed emotions, so people enjoy just talking about all their problems to them, like a therapist. Later, CyboTek, the manufacturer who produces the androids, releases the new D17 model. But, there is a problem. No one wants to give up their androids to be scrapped, and they can’t have TWO in one household, as the energy patrol doesn’t allow it. So, is there a plausible way for the company to get a majority of people to buy the new model?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Mołot, Aify, Secespitus, Renan, DT Cooper Jun 8 '18 at 16:48

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • $\begingroup$ Make the old ones stop working... $\endgroup$ – yobddigi Jun 8 '18 at 14:34
  • $\begingroup$ @tobddigi: The Old ones can be taken and repaired $\endgroup$ – DT Cooper Jun 8 '18 at 14:36
  • $\begingroup$ So why introduce a new model at all? Why not offer upgrades for the old ones? If you need to, then you will have to make the benefits a good enough reason to want to upgrade. A good example of this is technology companies like Apple. They bring out new iPhone models regularly even though the majority of software updates are available for models as far back as 2013 (I think) but the additional features and hardware upgrades only available in the latest model are a significant enough reason to get people to switch. $\endgroup$ – yobddigi Jun 8 '18 at 14:44
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    $\begingroup$ Wait.... is this a problem for you as the author or is this a plot-hook that you want to use? $\endgroup$ – MichaelK Jun 8 '18 at 14:46
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    $\begingroup$ Make the old ones stop working so the Apple model. $\endgroup$ – AndyD273 Jun 8 '18 at 16:45
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Cloud Backups

Don't want to give up all the data on your phone Android, you say? Well, you don't have to. Simply backup your android's personality to the cloud, after paying for the increased storage space of course. Then, you can restore it to the new model android you just bought.

As a bonus, Banana Corp. will send you convienent reminders when the backup is out of date or your storage space is getting full. Never worry again!

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  • $\begingroup$ Oh my god. This answer is perfect. You get the androids memory and personality and put it in an updated body. One problem though. Wouldn’t this new android just be a copy of the past one, and not the real thing? $\endgroup$ – DT Cooper Jun 8 '18 at 14:55
  • $\begingroup$ @DTCooper That sort of depends. It's the same as the transporter argument. Are you just a copy if you've been transported? That's a philosophical argument that I can't answer for you. All I can do is provide the solution that actually encourages upgrades that cost more than just buying the new android would. :) $\endgroup$ – Naryna Jun 8 '18 at 15:00
  • $\begingroup$ Actually, that could be a great plot point in my story, Nar, good work, thanks for the answer $\endgroup$ – DT Cooper Jun 8 '18 at 15:02
  • $\begingroup$ @DTCooper if you decide that you don't want that plot point, you could have them just transfer memory/personality cores. Makes it feel more "real" to the user, if they're actually transferring a physical thing that is presented as the actual housing of the persona. $\endgroup$ – Ben Barden Jun 8 '18 at 16:58
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This is already a solved problem! You don't sell the robots, you lease them by the year. Not only does this generate a continuing income stream -- which investors prefer -- but it also eliminates the need to sell a new model to an existing customer. (Note that this does not need to cost the customer more in order to be beneficial to the company.)

Robots are going to be attacked and hacked as soon as the first batch are built. The only protection between a family and a psycho robot controlled by malefactors is a continuous stream of updates as new vulnerabilities are discovered -- just like today. So keeping the robot tied to the company that built it and letting them maintain it is win-win.

And, with Robots as a Service, if a family wants to keep the personality while upgrading to a new model of hardware, that's a service you can sell.

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There is an anime called Plastic Memories that has this exact problem as its central premise. Androids - known as Giftia in the show - have limited lifespans of around seven years. Beyond that point, their internal data starts to become corrupted, and they gradually become dangerous and unstable. It's never stated why this happens, but a likely candidate is some kind of overflow error: its memory banks run out of space and start overwriting themselves, resulting in the mental equivalent of the Pac-Man kill screen.

Consequently, the company that makes the Giftia has Blade Runners dedicated retrieval teams that will retrieve and shut down the androids when they approach the end of their lifespan, and then provide the owners with various options for upgrades or replacements. In your case, CyboTek would recommend trading in the D16 for a D17, for a discounted price of course.

(Important thing to note: this isn't planned obsolescence, but some kind of technological limitation that they simply can't get round. It's made apparent in the show that the Blade Runners retrieval teams are a drain on the company's resources, and of course, having androids that freak out after a certain period isn't great for publicity, so if they could fix the problem, they would.)

Of course, you'll still have a few people who are so emotionally attached to their androids that they'll simply refuse to part with them (one woman in the anime even runs away with her android boyfriend). But that's why your company has Blade Runners dedicated retrieval teams. Again: malfunctioning androids are bad for publicity.

In short: CyboTek's androids have a limited lifespan, due to some intrinsic design flaw, and need periodic replacement.

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    $\begingroup$ A somewhat similar idea is in the Halo universe. The AIs like Cortana are created from human minds, but after a period of time (usually around 7 years) the ai enterers a state of rampancy, which is something of a feedback loop and similar to insanity in humans, and which inevitably destroys the AI. The description given is "as if a human were to think with so much of his brain that he stopped sending impulses to the heart and lungs". $\endgroup$ – AndyD273 Jun 8 '18 at 16:43
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Well, as a forward thinking CEO I have to make sure I can remotely roll software updates to my androids, right??

And as a forward thinking CEO I also have a responsibility to my shareholders make sure that nobody misses out on the great interactivity and social updates that only the D17 has, right?

So if I roll out ‘upgrades’ slowly making the D16’s less and less likeable, breaking important social cue detection etc, then people will naturally flock to the later product. Right.

Nothing Machiavellian at all. Nope. Just a concerned CEO.

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The new android model must have an advantage above the old models that must make all the owners want to upgrade them (perhaps they are more energy efficient, or are stronger, or have more voices, or different habilities, or human-like skin, or enhanced sense of humor, etc.). Besides, they don´t need to destroy the old ones. I mean: They could "backup" the memories of the old droid and "restore" the image in the new model. So they will still have their old friend in a new enhanced and more efficient body.

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