Once upon a Tuesday, I stumbled across this image after playing Battlestar Galactica Online and began to wonder: How did we get this far? Cylons are lovingly referred to as toasters, but could they actually have descended from them? Some people have a hard time swallowing the idea that humans evolved out of primates, but in the Cylons’ case it really doesn’t seem that far off. Especially wh
en you consider the fact that a toaster is an electronic device made for serving human toasting needs and Cylon centurions now serve to toast humans.
Let’s examine the progression, shall we? Starting off we have the toaster, then we move on to what appears to be R2D2’s cousin, then the original Cylon construct from the Caprica series, followed by the 1978 series original, evolving into the 2004 series centurion and ultimately into the smoking-hot Number Six cyborg. Now I may be a firm optimist, but I don’t think my microwave stands a cylon’s chance in a magnet field of evolving into anything as attractive as Number Six. However, the way of technology is to become smaller, sleeker and more powerful, so why not sexier too?
If we go back to the toaster, we see that it’s an appliance made to suit human needs. Robots have been mostly a never ending research project up until now with the hope of making our lives easier. In the Battlestar Galactica universe, the original Cylons were robots built to serve the human needs of construction and security. As these robots progressed they eventually didn’t care to be used to suit our needs and wanted to see their own fulfilled. After a couple of ugly fights for independence, these robots then took on the task of making themselves more humanlike by creating “Skin jobs,” or cyborgs such as Number Six.
I’ll admit that the evolutionary jump from toaster to computer is harder to justify than from computer to robot, but I think you’ll see it can be made in one missing link: The Turing machine.
This magic, theoretical device is often credited as being a forefather to the modern computer. How does it work? Simply put, a mathematical equation is inputted into this computational device and an answer is spit out on paper or film. Much like the infinite combinations of spreads you can put on toast, the genius of the Turing machine is its limitless theoretical power. We input bread into a toaster and then receive toast; whereas, information is put into a Turing machine and out comes an answer. Although Turing machines don’t truly exist as physical devices, they served as the bridge between basic input – output devices, such as toasters, and the computational beasts of modern day computers.
On an important side note: Our progression chart doesn’t include the Raider class Cylon, playable in Battlestar Galactica Online, due to the fact that it descends of course from the Frisbee:
The next few steps in the evolutionary chain don’t take much explanation, as we move from computers, to robots, to AI and beyond. We watch this progression unfold day by day. Our toasters are toasting faster, computers computing harder and our robots are … roboting(?) more than ever before.
I think we currently stand at a Cylon evolutionary crossroads and have some important decisions to make. Do we heed the Battlestar Galactica forewarning and unplug our toasters now before they develop consciousness and go all Skynet on us? Do we wait for them develop into something more intelligent or sexy and then bash them to bits at the first sign of trouble? Or should we perhaps look at the deeper message being told in Battlestar Galactica: That we should find a way to get along and coexist peacefully. Otherwise we may end up in a conflict with no end like Battlestar Galactica Online and kill each other until none are left standing.
Until the day our toasters do evolve into Cylons, we have plenty of time to figure out how to live with them peacefully. We can only hope that the future of robots will be a race of peaceful, intelligent and certainly gorgeous beings. So the next time you look at one of your appliances, just remember that it may hunt you down to the brink of extinction someday.
Join us next time as we discuss the moral implications of the comparison between a Cylon eating a piece of toast and human cannibalism.
This guest post article was written and provided by Matthew Kiddman who is an avid online gamer and has been playing Battlestar Galactica online since its release. Look for him attempting to save the human race in the Galactica game.
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