Philip K. Dick’s androids are vicious creatures that do not trust anyone, even their fellow androids. After Isidore accepts the three androids into his apartment promising not to turn them in, Baty, the leader of the androids, says, “If he was an android, he’d turn us in about ten tomorrow morning. He’d take off for his job and that would be it. I’m overwhelmed with admiration.” (144) It is general knowledge among the androids that even among themselves there is an absence of loyalty. They would turn in one of their own kind in order to get what benefitted them. The androids epitomize the most selfish, disloyal person.
This is also displayed later in the novel when Pris dissects a spider, much to the chagrin of Isidore, the man who valued her as a friend. Dick writes, “Pris glanced up inquiringly. ‘Is it worth something?’ ‘Don’t mutilate it,’ he said wheezingly. Imploringly. With the scissors Pris snipped off one of the spider’s legs.’” Pris is merciless in the face of someone most people would respect in the same situation. She disregards the host’s requests to stop and mutilates the spider with pleasure. Her grotesque curiosity outweighs any sense of loyalty and this distinguishes her as an android.
In The Girl Who Was Plugged In, the protagonist is a cyborg controlling another cyborg body. P. Burke, the controller of Delphi, eventually associates more with Delphi than with her body trapped in a basement in
Harrway’s A Cyborg Manifesto provides a direct reflection upon loyalty and robots. The author writes, “The main trouble with cyborgs is that they are illegitimate offspring of militarism and patriarchal capitalism, not to mention state socialism. But illegitimate offspring are exceedingly unfaithful to their origins. Their fathers are, after all, inessential.” This is my main fear of cyborgs: they resemble humans, yet lack the loyalty that is common of humanity. They lack loyalty because they were created artificially, by people expecting to only gain from their creations. But as Haraway notes, the robot is born from the womb of selfishness and should be expected to embody those characteristics. She writes, ““In a sense the cyborg has no origin story in the western sense – a ‘final’ irony since the cyborg is also the awful apocalyptic telos of the ‘West’s’ escalating domination of abstract individualism, an ultimate self untied at last from all dependency, a man in space.”
The reason this theme of disloyal cyborgs pervading our society is so frightening is because it is already happening. In Haraway’s A Cyborg Manifesto, she assures the reader that there is no separation between science fiction and reality. I feel that this is especially apparent now. If a prior generation was deemed the ‘Me-First’ generation, then the current generation should be deemed the ‘I can’t hear you because I’m plugged into my i-Pod, which is subsequently plugged into my computer’ generation. We, as a culture, are learning from our computers more than we are learning from our grandfathers. The indirect connection between humanity and computers replaces direct face-to-face interaction, a type of interaction which builds empathy and loyalty. Each child being taught by a computer is becoming the ‘ultimate self untied at last from all dependency;’ dependency on direct human interaction, which would lead to gratitude, loyalty to an instructor (like a mother or father). One by one, we become ‘a man in space,’ but space is the internet, the television, and any hollow void which makes someone grateful for their technology, rather than loyal to their fathers.