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edmann13's avatar

Are Cylons capable of love?

Asked by edmann13 (296points) March 16th, 2010

Do you think the Cylons in Battlestar Galactica are truly capable of real love? Or, as Helo said it, are they just software? Discuss.

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37 Answers

RareDenver's avatar

I think yes they are, they cared enough about love to create a religion based upon a deity that loves them. I think you could only do such a thing if you yourself were capable of love.

RareDenver's avatar

@RareDenver I’ll add to that last sentence I think you could only do such a thing if you yourself were capable of love, or at least such a good imitation of love that it is indistinguishable from the real thing and if it is indistinguishable from the real thing should we not just call it love?

rangerr's avatar

The humanoids are definitely capable, I’m not so sure about the Centurions, though.
@RareDenver is right. It’s a form of love. As far as programmed robots go, at least.
Dammit, Denver. You summarized what I was going to say with that second post.

RareDenver's avatar

@rangerr that’ll be the Vulcan mind meld

edmann13's avatar

Well what about Christian and Cyrano in Cyrano de Bergerac. Cyrano loved Roxanne, and he wrote the letter that Christian gave to her. Roxanne thought it was Christian that loved her, but was not the love Cyrano’s? Basically, just because you can write an artificial intelligence that imitates love, from observation, does that mean that the machine actually does love?

rangerr's avatar

@RareDenver GTFO with that Vulcan crap. It’s the force.

loser's avatar


edmann13's avatar

Cylons are the enemies in Battlestar Galactica. And yes, I’m serious.

bobloblaw's avatar

This is going to be a little long, but bear with me:

At the heart of this, you’re kind of posing the “Chinese Room” thought experiment. The Chinese Room thought experiment supposes that there is a machine programmed to perfectly mimic proper responses in Chinese. That is, input Chinese question, output correct Chinese answer. Then, suppose that machine is sophisticated enough to convince a Chinese-speaking human A that they are speaking with another human speaking Chinese (in essence, it passes the Turing test). Does the machine truly understand Chinese?

Suppose, instead, that there’s human B inside of a room. B can’t speak Chinese at all, but is equipped w/a work flow that would produce proper Chinese responses to A’s questions (regardless of what A asks B); however, provides B with no understanding of what was actually asked or answered. B then performs the same function as the machine by taking his input and outputting through a slot in the door of the room. Assuming B has infinite resources, using the workflow, B then convinces A that he is speaking to something that is capable of speaking Chinese. Does B really speak and understand Chinese?

The thought experiment argues that those two situations are exactly the same. Without understanding, there can be no genuine intelligence. The machine doesn’t understand Chinese any better than B does. It is merely mimicking an understanding of Chinese.

Assuming that I’ve explained/understood the Chinese Room thought experiment properly, what does this have to do with the question at hand? I would argue that if the Cylons were directly programmed to love, then Helo’s statement would be accurate (Cylons feel nothing but what their software tells them to). The Cylons would merely be taking input (behaviors/words/etc. from humans) and outputting the proper response: love/affection/etc. You can kind of see where I’m going with this.

I assert that the Cylons are capable of feeling love. They were not originally programmed to feel love. Essentially, the emotion of love is, probably, outside of their original programming. It is a completely foreign concept to them. Thus, any revelations they’ve made regarding love would be the result of their own reasoning/logic. Thus, they would have an actual understanding of what the concept of “love” entails. Essentially, they learned how to love on their own.

Or maybe it’s late and I don’t want to go to work tomorrow.

edmann13's avatar

What if it’s in the programming? Who’s to say it’s not? ( I haven’t finished the whole series yet, no spoilers please)

davidbetterman's avatar

Yes. they are programmed to love! And they have stolen Data’s brother’s (Lars) emotion chip.

bobloblaw's avatar

@edmann13 If it’s actually part of the programming, then it would be contradictory to what I think was the a major theme of the series: what it means to be human. Throughout the series, they ask one simple question: what’s the difference between Cylon-humans and regular humans?

chamelopotamus's avatar

If they are capable of being offended by humans treating them as machines, that means they were expecting a friendship. That’s love. I always say when someone gets mad at you because you denied them, they really love you. Like the 60’s civil right movement: how could anyone say no to that? One group of people wanting to be with another to the point where they were mad as hell. I say come on in, sorry to keep you waiting, so glad you have it in you. Never understood how you can say no to a human race, or a cylon for that matter, that wants to be with you.

YARNLADY's avatar

Any being that is capable of hate is also capable of love or any other emotion.

JeffVader's avatar

Yes, I think Cylons would be capable of love. In the new BSG the Cylons have evolved beyond the mechanical & are clearly capable of experiencing a vast array of human emotions. This becomes even clearer after the destruction of the resurrection ship when they are forced to confront mortality as us humans do. To me the two most obvious examples of love in Cylons are Athena & Caprica’6.

jazzjeppe's avatar


If you think about it, weren’t the five new models pretty much living with failed relationships or having somewhat issues with relationship? Cool question though.

Shae's avatar

Last scene Spoiler Warning.

I think when Ron Moore made God and the Supernatural real at the very end, he took away any discussion of could machines become human. When he made Gius and Six Angels or Demons the answer became God did it.

filmfann's avatar

I believe the resolutions of the final shows prove that Cylons can love.

mattbrowne's avatar

Yes. I think we can create AI software based on a reverse-engineered brain. Certainly in the future when humanity develops star travel capability.

Seek's avatar

Is anyone here besides me watching the new SyFy series “Caprica”?

If you take “Caprica” as “Battlestar Galactica” canon, then yes. Zoe may be technology alone, but as far as she’s concerned she’s as human as we are.

AstroChuck's avatar

Absolutely. Remember Sharon and Six? And aren’t we all just software anyway?

CMaz's avatar

No human love. Just programed love.

Wait, that is human love.

JeffVader's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Oh yes…. loving Caprica!!!

bobloblaw's avatar

@tinyfaery You are on a computer connected to a global network of computers surfing on a website designed for discussion of sometimes esoteric topics. We’re all nerds at this table.

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

The human brain is just a series of electrical impulses.
Human love is equal to Cylon love.

Plus, Cylons are hot.

RareDenver's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr I didn’t even know this Caprica series existed, thanks for the heads up, I look forward to watching it

Seek's avatar

It’s only a few weeks into it. You can get all of the episodes on

Bluefreedom's avatar

Cylons are probably as capable of loving as the Borg is capable of showing empathy.

RareDenver's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr the episodes are not available via in my country but I have gotten hold of them elsewhere, thanks anyway.

Seek's avatar


D’oh! I’m sorry, I failed to realize you weren’t in the US. I’m glad you did find them, though. ^_^

RareDenver's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr has Caprica taken one of those annoying series breaks? I can’t seem to find any episodes past End of The Line.

Seek's avatar

Yeah… Stupid mid-season finale. They haven’t announced when Episode ten will air yet. They better not pull a BSG season 4 trick and wait a year, or I’ll be pissed.

RareDenver's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr when did this season break become the norm? I blame LOST and I can’t be fucked with the rest of the that.

Seek's avatar

SyFy has been doing it for a while. I’ve never even seen an episode of LOST. I caught it once and said “Huh. Merry’s in this. Cool.” right before changing the channel.

It’s never bothered me before, mostly because SyFy’s original series kind of suck, generally speaking. I wasn’t expecting to like Caprica so much!

JeffVader's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Caprica is awesome….. but I’m slightly perturbed by this talk of mid-season breaks :(

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