I'm currently building a world centered around a city. This city's main export, currency, and source of power are little metal orbs containing energy. Basically, it's the only place in the world where those are produced, and everyone in the city needs some.

They're not only used as money would be (buying food, clothes, and other stuff, and being received as salary), but are also necessary for lights, ovens, means of transportation, etc... to function. Think of it like batteries being used as money. A working citizen usually earns enough for him to power his house, and buy what he needs to live with the rest.

I've established that producing those orbs require levels of heat unbearable for organic beings, so people living there built robots to work in the furnaces in their place. Those robots are obviously powered by those same orbs, and are humanoid in structure (a head, two arms with hands, two legs, bipedal stance).

Now I'd like to have those robots become sentient thanks to the energy inside the orbs: people know how to manufacture and use them, but don't quite know how they really work, deep down. For the sake of simplicity, assume those robots acquired conscience thanks to the orb's magic.

My question is, how can those robots and ONLY those robots acquire sentience, but not the rest of the city's commodities (lights, vehicles, advanced tools, etc) since they're powered by the same orbs ?

The fact is I'm building it for a game and those robots are meant to be playable. It would kinda be a mess (although a hilarious mess) if players were able to play as a walking, talking oven.

  • $\begingroup$ See my earlier Q. So far nobody's come up with an answer. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Jul 5, 2016 at 12:48
  • $\begingroup$ Interesting read, though I must admit I was lost at some points. These aren't areas of science I'm used to read about. $\endgroup$ Jul 5, 2016 at 13:01
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @MartinLocqueville Thank you for your approval, but you should know that it is customary to wait a while before choosing an accepted answer - about a day or so. You'll want to give people a chance to think about and write down their answers, or people in different timezones to see it in the first place. If there's already an accepted one they might not bother and you might miss out on a higher quality answer. Of course, it's your choice since it's your question. $\endgroup$
    – Grollo
    Jul 5, 2016 at 14:41
  • $\begingroup$ @Grollo Thanks for the heads up, I'll remember that ! $\endgroup$ Jul 5, 2016 at 14:58
  • $\begingroup$ @Grollo answer is practically good enough, not so much to add, if someone wish to answer it differently he will do it, is there accepted answer or not. Waiting 2 month like JDługosz do, there is no way to distinguish Q where OP lost interest to it, and picky people who wait for perfect match in case where it not exists. There always 2 types of A - OP's choice and people's choice. $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Jul 5, 2016 at 21:39

1 Answer 1


Processing power and range of ability.

An oven is an oven, it heats stuff and that's pretty much it. Even advanced machines only do exactly what the humans make them do, so nothing complicated there.

The robots, however, are meant to replace human workers. This means they are capable of doing many different tasks, respond to unexpected problems, and handle complex tools. Even if they're not sentient, being able to do that requires quite a bit of processing power - enough to hold a consciousness.

The orbs might try to make other things sentient, but their processors and memories - their "brains" - are simply too small to hold all the necessary parts. It's like trying to bestow intelligence on a cockroach - there's simple not enough of a brain to work with. These machines might acquire some small quirks as a side-effect of the attempts though. Small things that doesn't really impact functionality, but each machine becomes somehow unique.

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Alternatively, require a particular kind of processor for the robots. Give it a fancy name, and have that be what is interacting with the orbs to create sentience. The reason everything else doesn't do that is that it doesn't have that chip. Cue crazy engineers figuring this out and bolting one of those processors on a toaster to see what happens. $\endgroup$ Jul 5, 2016 at 13:25

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