This scenario assumes that we have the technology and are living in a society similar to Star Wars where it's possible to buy into the production of fully working droids and clone soldiers.

A newly organised government with a vast collection of wealth, knowledge and the right connections places an order for 1000 soldiers. They want these soldiers to provide a variety of tasks from guard duty and assassinations to tending bars and DJ'ing (basically recreational activities). If they were to be biologically created then they would not be clones, their DNA most likely taken from a gene-bank.

The obvious thought that comes to mind is that one is a mindless drone and the other can think for themselves. I'm also interested in knowing whether the 'clone' solution would run into problems due to civil-ethics or the soldiers themselves turning against their masters. Is there any other benefit to choosing a bred humanoid trained for multiple tasks over simply building multi-purpose droids?


This question is a bit broad. You mention the Star Wars universe, but even then things will wildly vary.

Military Purposes

As far as military implementations are concerned things will depend on purpose. Humans have the ability to be very flexible in their problem solving approaches, and to learn from their mistakes.

However they also require months or years of training, physical training which may result in injuries, they have to cope with diseases, etc.

Robots are going to be purpose built. They may not be as smart, as flexible, or as fast as humans in certain situations, but they will also be fully trained from the second they come off the assembly line, and follow orders obediently.

The pros and cons here will greatly depend on the situations in which they are employed.

Civilian Aspects

Here is gets even trickier. You want to breed clones which are trained to kill, but are then introduced into civilian life. Who's to say that they will remain loyal to you, or want to keep performing their duties when exposed to the wonders of the universe? They may just use their skills to erase their tracks and disappear.

That said, arguably, trained humans will make better spies, or bodyguards as they will be more flexible in approaching unexpected situations.

The Truth

What it really comes down to is economics and politics.

If it's cheaper for you to clone one thousand indoctrinated clone troopers and train them for your purposes then that's what you'll do. Additionally, if there's no political blow-back to cloning human cannon fodder, then you are free to do as you please.

If it's cheaper to build 1000 battle droids than clone, condition, and train 1000 soldiers then that will most likely be done.

Economic and political imperatives are always the ones which dictate how these decisions are made. Look at the current battle doctrine of the USA. Predator drones are being employed more and more. Why? It gives them the ability to strike unexpectedly, and it's cheaper to drop a missile on a group of unsuspecting enemies than to ship a trained military unit half way across the world, get them to that location without scaring the targets away, and then deal with the loss of men and equipment.

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In any reasonably conceivable future beyond 20 or 30 years from now, no. Not a chance.

Robots will be faster, stronger, less susceptible to environmental hazards. They don't need food, rest or sleep, and they are far more disposable.

Humans are already getting replaced in warfare (see drones for example) and that trend will only continue.

Right now we do not have the technology that would allow it, but it's only a matter of time and it's simply impossible for human reflexes to compete with machine ones.

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  • $\begingroup$ What about electronic warfare that might shut down - or worse, convert - your army ? $\endgroup$ – MakorDal Apr 26 '16 at 13:48
  • $\begingroup$ @MakorDal That's always a risk. Correct shielding and security protocols makes it hard though. All that does is open up a new arena of warfare though, the mechanicals will wipe out human opposition. The idea of people fighting them effectively is laughable. Whether your mechanicals can beat theirs and whether you can take control of their mechanical is then the real order of battle. $\endgroup$ – Tim B Apr 26 '16 at 15:01
  • $\begingroup$ Note that I say robot/mechanical. They will almost certainly not be humanoid. $\endgroup$ – Tim B Apr 26 '16 at 15:02
  • $\begingroup$ "Don't need food" is a bit misleading. They don't use the same things for energy, sure, but they still need some form of energy source, whether fossil fuel based or based on some sort of centralized generator. Especially in the latter case, where bulky, specialized equipment is needed, it may be far easier for humans to find sustenance in a hostile environment (where there are presumably other humans) than for robots to do so. Humans can also forage food from the biosphere, which robots currently can't. $\endgroup$ – ckersch Apr 26 '16 at 15:04
  • $\begingroup$ So it's either a battle of strength/skill against the bots alongside a cyber war vs a more 'normal' battle alongside psychological warfare and more emotion based tactics. $\endgroup$ – CEObrainz Apr 26 '16 at 17:45

For war, machines generally are going to be the best way to go. However, there's a few things clones can do that machines can't, that's worth considering.

  • Clones are also capable of going undercover as spies. War droids probably don't look like servant droids, so they don't work so well at that. This works well with the point you have about assassination or recreational activities.

  • Any tool or vehicle designed for human use can be used by clones. While war droids can be built like humans, there's no guarantee they are in your world, or cheaply.

  • Clones may provide a "human face" to your troops which might be useful or necessary for your civilians to accept them. (The recent Robocop reboot movie was pretty much about this, and the idea that Robocop himself was a PR move and initial step to try to open up the US to accepting full combat drones as their police force...)

  • Droids might be hackable - their memory might be something someone can search or recover after they've been destroyed. A dead clone is dead, and unless you're also adding brain-scanning technology, no further intel will leak from them.

  • Depending on how you decide your AI works, it may be that clones can learn faster/better than what an AI can. Which means if you plan on training/using the clones over a longer period of time, they might be a better investment than robots who don't learn at all, or learn very slowly.

  • Clones can make use of war drugs to enhance their performance. Not better than machines, but if you're already sitting on a stockpile of drugs, or you really want to do psychological warfare on the enemy, ramped up soldiers could have an effect.

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  • $\begingroup$ This answer gives a more technical 'commander-esque' perspective compared to other more governmental approaches. So whilst it is along the lines of what I'm (and others) are thinking it only serves to add to the other reasonings. $\endgroup$ – CEObrainz Apr 26 '16 at 17:48

Why choose clones of robots

  1. Intelligence: since you're using Star Wars as your basis the droids( at least the military ones) don't come off very intelligent and don't use any complex strategies other than point and shoot. The clone troopers on the other hand much more intelligent and strategically minded.

  2. Versatility. In our world most robots are designed for specific tasks and can't do things outside of those tasks. Example of a robot designed to play chest probably can't be be used to clean the house or to play music. Humans are much more versatile and can pickup new skills easily and adapt to new circumstances very quickly. There's a downside to this of course as whatever robot you build will probably be better at a certain task than a human because it was designed specifically for that task. Also the versatility of Robots may change in the future, as new technologies produce better robots.

  3. Civil rights. This of course is the hardest problem to overcome. But consider this a country that has civil rights for clones may also have laws prohibiting the production of advanced AI. This could serve as a reason for investing in a clone army as opposed to a robotic one.

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Police work would need far better AI than what exists currently. $\endgroup$ – MakorDal Apr 26 '16 at 15:15

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