Yod, Lt. Cmdr. Data, and Seven of Nine – How to be Human
He, She and It, by Marge Piercy features a character, Yod, who is a cyborg that is purposed with defending Tikva’s inhabitants. Yod has simple programming for how to handle some social situations, such as when Shira mentioned selling him to Olivacon. “Yod responded to this by turning to stare at Avram, looking shocked,” Piercy wrote (69). Yod is placed with Shira so that she may assist him in becoming more proficient is social situations. Piercy wrote, “But to perform it he cannot be as naive and awkward as he is now” (70). Also, we brought up Lieutenant Commander Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Throughout the series, Data works on “increasing” his humanity by participating in social events. He plays poker with the senior officers, gets a cat he names Spot (that promptly trains him), and has a relationship (that ends very fast). Data also stars in a few episodes that focus on emotions, and lying. His brother, Lor, gives Data the ability to feel emotions (anger), but is eventually deactivated by Data who sacrifices his ability to feel emotions. In the episode Clues (Season 4, Ep 14), the entire plot is started by Data lying to protect the crew. (Note: One of my favorite moments is at 4:29).
However, another character from Star Trek that could be similar to Yod’s situation is Star Trek: Voyager‘s Seven of Nine. Seven was a human who was assimilated by the Brog. In this process she lost her ability for emotions and looked at everything from a “logical” perspective. Again, as the series progresses, she picks up human traits. Captain Janeway acted as a mother figure, while the Doctor acted as a father. In the episode Human Error she works on forming a relationship with a virtual Chakotay.
The idea of Androids(Lt. Cmdr Data)/Robots/AIs(Cortana/Serina – Halo)/Cyborgs (Seven of Nine) acting human has been a constant theme in Science Fiction. When the point comes that we are able to create them, humanity will turn into an ideal instead of referring to a race.
Piercy, Marge. He, She And It. New York, The Random House Publishing Group. 1991.