In a society made up of androids that had been created by humans that can only propagate through manufacture what would be a good reason for gender existing that is not sentimental?

Judging from the answer I wasn't clear. I am trying to think of a good reason that isn't sentimental that robots would be gendered. I can't think of a good non chauvinist one.

Basically I was watching someone play a video game involving an entirely android inhabited world. I was trying to understand why the androids in the world would be assigned gender and I couldn't think of a good reason.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ By the very nature of gender, there is no good non-sentimental reason to give them to robots. $\endgroup$ – AngelPray Mar 5 '17 at 0:04
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Marketing...obviously $\endgroup$ – nzaman Mar 5 '17 at 15:27
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I noticed the body of your text says gender but the title indicates sex, did you mean to imply a physical difference or a mental one? $\endgroup$ – Lio Elbammalf Mar 5 '17 at 23:43
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @LioElbammalf good point clarified $\endgroup$ – ford prefect Mar 5 '17 at 23:47

To ensure "genetic" variation

Let's look at why there are two sexes in humans and many (most?) other animals. Why did we go from cells that copy themselves, to large organisms that actually need to mate with other large organism to reproduce?

Well, one reason might be to diversify the gene pool. If one creature keeps cloning himself, and those clones keep cloning themselves, you ultimately end up with an entire species that are all pretty much the same. Which is fine as long as the environment doesn't change, but if suddenly the environment changes to one that is bad for one of the species, it could be the downfall of the entire species. The only hope for such a species is a few errors during copying, so that the small amount of mutant might thrive while the rest dies.

That's why two-gender reproduction is quite useful. When two people have children, they can be anywhere between 100% parent1 and 100% parent2, and with tons of errors as well, because of the inherent difficulty of combining genes from two parents. This leads to a species that is basically full of mutants, so much so that you can have them in many different colors, lengths, strengths and weaknesses. Many of them will be inferior given normal condition, but the species is extremely well suited to handle large environmental changes.

So maybe your android society 1.0 actually didn't have any genders, but due to some environmental change they all become obsolete or inferior. After which they started to introduce "intentional bugs", random errors that would create "mutants" within the society. But the problem with these mutants was that they simply could not compete with their perfect counterparts during "normal" circumstances, so they were never reproduced. Finally, they decided to split the society into two genders: mutants and clones. Mutants are created by taking the average of both parents genes*, and then adding random errors to them. Clones are creating by simply taking anywhere between 25% and 75% of the genes* of either parents, without errors. And only mutants and clones can reproduce together, to make sure that you do not end up with a society full of clones, but still a society that values clones of succesful androids.

It's a flimsy story full of holes, but frankly if you insist on putting sexes/genders into your android-story (which feels a bit like putting teenage girls into your werewolf story) this might be your best solution. Also note that I am by no means a biologist, and you should definately fact check me about why there are even different sexes to begin with.

*genes being the "source code" or "design specification".

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ just a correction of percentage of parent1 and parent2: in human bisexual reproduction, children get 50% of their genes from each parent, so they really can't be 100% one parent or the other, or they would be an asexual clone. Are you thinking gene expression? There can be more expression in common with one parent than the other, but with the extremely high number of gene expressions involved in humans and co-expression or null expression involvement (this is oversimplified), it's unlikely to get close to 100% gene expression in one parent's direction. $\endgroup$ – N2ition Mar 6 '17 at 0:53

No, gender doesn't dictate ability or set someone's role in society - it is a flaw of human society that we think it does.

There would be no more point in giving Androids a gender than to give them a particular skin colour, hair colour (or indeed hair at all).

That being said these things would ensure humans relate to them more easily, perhaps the original androids communicated with humans and, to avoid the uncanny valley in both appearance and personality, were given human-like traits. These traits were then instilled into their programming in such a way that part of their own process of recognition attempted to gauge the gender of their interlocutor. The androids, therefore, might experience some level of discomfort due to missing fundamental data about the person. As such it would need to stay within their programming to choose some gender otherwise they would feel uncomfortable around one another.

There would be, however, no restriction on an android changing their mind between genders (unless you want to impose one).

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Gender and biological sex are not synonymous. Gender is a societal interpretation (which can differ drastically depending on the culture; see thailand/certain parts of india) of someone's "essence" as a means to classify them in society, often based on sex but also in certain cultures on percieved personality/physical traits. Sex on the other hand is a biological trait denoting an individual's chromosomal makeup (and thus how they procreate). So indeed, reproduction isn't at all a function of different genders (as much as race is) for these androids but neither for human beings. $\endgroup$ – AngelPray Mar 4 '17 at 23:55
  • $\begingroup$ @AngelPray So the first point I made still holds. Often in humans gender and sex are aligned, I accept that it isn't always the case though. There would be no more point in giving Androids a gender as it would to give them a particular skin colour, hair colour (or indeed hair at all). These things might make humans relate to them more easily but other than that there is no point in them. $\endgroup$ – Lio Elbammalf Mar 5 '17 at 0:26
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with you for the most part, I was just pointing out that saying "Besides procreation there isn't really a function to different genders." is wrong, because reproduction has never been a function of different genders, but of different sexes. Gender is not a term in biology, so talking about gender in the context of biological reproduction does not make sense. $\endgroup$ – AngelPray Mar 5 '17 at 0:32
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ "No, gender doesn't dictate ability or set someone's role in society" Trivially untrue. Of course, you meant that gender should not dictate, etc, but that is an entirely different question. Gender has been a dominant determinant of social roles in virtually every society of which we have knowledge. $\endgroup$ – WhatRoughBeast Mar 5 '17 at 5:27
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @LioElbammalf - You've missed my point, I think. Social actions are, pretty much by definition, driven by what people think, whether those thoughts have "objective" force or not. If people care about gender (and they usually do) then the society will behave as if gender has "real" consequences - in other words, social reality is entirely described by what people think, regardless of the objective truth or falsehood of the basis for the opinions. Social reality has nothing to do (within limits) with objective reality. $\endgroup$ – WhatRoughBeast Mar 5 '17 at 14:28

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.