CYLON: Cultural Index


Free will.
A concept still difficult to define, are we free to act on our own designs? Or are we
simply following the patterns of our biological personalities? And if so, what’s the difference
between our wet-mushy brain programming and the mathematical deductions of an artificial
intelligence? And how close are the two, especially when the lines blur and one seeks to replicate
the other. Hi again, Ric here with a cultural index on
the Cylons of Battlestar Galactica (reimagined) fame. Now, the Cylons are the first mechanical
race that we’ve looked at and although they have evolved and adapted over time, their
origin as a robot race, the CYbernetic LifefOrm Nods of various design gives them a very limited
culture. But what is there, forms a basic society nonetheless. Now I don’t know as
much about Galactica as other topics despite seeing all of the series but after a vote
of 35 to 20, I guess I’d better learn fast, also serious spoilers inbound for a nine year
old series. I guess. The overall history of the Cylons is pretty
well mapped out but very sparse on the actual details. It all starts with…well, even that’s
up for debate as “all this has happened before.” But let’s start with the origin
of the current Cylon iteration. Developed by Greystone Industries under contract from
the Caprican Defence Force, the precursor to the Cylon was very much developed as a
weapon of war and after their first victory at Atlas Arena, they soon became widely used
as free labour. However, the Cylon’s intelligence, designed to be adaptable and to learn, continued
to grow and they soon came to view themselves as a slave race. Rebelling against the 12
colonies, they instigated the First Cylon War which eventually came to an end when five
more advanced cylons from the lost 13th colony made contact with their younger cousins and
convinced them to end their campaign against the humans.
These five are the architects of the modern Cylon and as such, they are the social influence
for much of their culture. Having originated on the long lost world of Earth, these Cylons
were so advanced that differentiating between Cylon and human was impossible. They ate,
slept, …fraked and even aged in every way a human could. They, themselves harbouring
no resentment towards humanity, offered the Cylons a future, the ability to resurrect
their minds in new bodies, and the technology that created them, the understanding to create
synthetic humans. You see they too had been rebelled on by their own creations too when
their own centurions turned on them. From then on, the evolution of the Cylon became
less mechanical and delved into bioengineering and the development of artificial biology.
It likely began with the development of the hybrid model, something that was human in
appearance but more mechanical in nature, lacking much of what we would identify as
conscious thought. Eight new human Cylons were created to further increase their survivability
through potential for procreation and perhaps with the hope to better understand and cooperate
with humanity. Although the small band of the thirteenth tribe shared much in common
with the humans, they elected not to force their own doctrine or beliefs onto their creations
you see they Cylons had developed their own monotheistic religion centred the one true
God that oversaw all, human and Cylon alike, while the five shared the primary re ligion
of humanity, the Lords of Kobol. The importance of the Cylon belief seems somewhat
paradoxical, but in an interesting way. After all, faith, the belief in something that cannot
be truly known can be considered a prerequisite for religion of any type but the very nature
of programming is mathematical and at odds with the concepts of variabilities and unknowns.
So the very fact that a Cylon may choose to believe in something can be seen as evidence
of how far they have evolved. They first began to adopt this religion back when they were
under colonial control and maintained it throughout their entire existence. Several commandments
are obeyed by the Cylon’s including the description of behaviours considered sinful,
such as self-termination. Other elements include the opinion that the monotheistic God loves
all equally and to shun the affection is wasteful, hence another reason for the Cylons to oppose
humanity. It is a common belief that the Hybrids, the early humanoid cylon prototypes that now
function as the brain of their basestars, are connected to God on a level that cannot
be understood by conscious thought and that humanity created the Cylons to be God’s
new work, to replace humans. After the five were once again, betrayed by
their creations it was these eight models that assumed leadership roles over the rest
of the Cylon construct. Each of these models is produced in large quantities and each shares
the same base personality with its copies, however once first “born”, their environmental
factors shape them to be more individualistic. Physically identical to humans, they are however
artificial in nature and can perform actions such as interfacing with specialised fluidic
technologies through touch, which is how they fly their Basestars. They also have more advanced
and accurate memories, but these can be erased or falsified. On some level too their programming
can be altered as with the case of them being forbidden to research the identities of their
five creators. On the death of a Cylon, their memories are transmitted to the Resurrection
Ark where they are then downloaded into a new body and awaken anew. During this process
it’s possible for them to access more of their mind, and many perceive this as visions
and they can too, in fact, dream. Possibly of electric sheep, …uncertain. On waking,
they are often in a state of panic or confusion, having just moments earlier experienced “death”
and are attended to by nurses to placate and soothe them. This shows a distinct level of
care for their own kind and a clear sense of compassion.
Interestingly enough, a humanoid Cylon can project their own reality, meaning that if
they so desire, they can literally substitute reality in place of their own, literally experiencing
an illusion. This projection can be shared with other cylons and remains the only form
of artistic expression left in their culture as it is entirely left to the whim of the
creator and their experiences. They share the same emotional spectrum as
a human and are motivated by many of the same desires. One directive that they seek to achieve,
is the ability to procreate naturally, beyond simply constructing new models. This has resulted
in several failed attempts of sexual reproduction between humanoid Cylons, the insemination
of humans and vice versa. Their belief in a God that loves all its creations led to
the opinion that love is crucial to this production of a child.
However, as mentioned, each Cylon, once exposed to environmental factors basically becomes
its own person, although some traits are seemingly constant. The number one’s seem to gravitate
towards positions of power in the Cylon hierarchy, and although they reach action by vote, it
seems that the One’s maintain a manipulative control over many other models of cylon. In
fact it is the One model that removed the Five from power and instigated a second Cylon
War, this one ending in the near total annihilation of the 12 colonies. They are stoic atheists
and possess a hatred of humanity, often allowing this spite to colour their actions.
The number twos enjoy mincing words. They often believe in a sense of destiny and spin
tales to achieve a desired outcome. Equally as manipulative as the One’s, the Two’s
prefer to act as an unreliable guide to others with mystic suggestions and cryptic conversations.
The Three model was much more logical in its manipulations, though with a curious streak,
perhaps motivated by a desire to complete any gaps in their knowledge. They seem to
have a proficiency for speech, investigation, deduction and on several occasions seems to
usurp authority or assume it of her own volition, despite the vote-orientated format of Cylon
governance. Number Four possess a calm demeanour and often
acts as a rational voice among humans and Cylons. Their approachable demeanour makes
them perfect as passive spies while their logical approach to things marks them as scientists
and doctors. Fives stick to the mission. They follow orders
and are incredibly loyal to the original goals of the Cylons and seem to not allow themselves
to be emotionally compromised. This makes them excel at deep-cover operations as they
don’t allow morality to interfere with their actions, enabling them to betray, instigate
and kill without remorse. Number Six is often seen as a very religious
model and very much a passionate individual. She easily utilises her beauty to her advantage
and seeks to understand the true nature of being alive. This passion is reflected however
in the ease of which she can act on violent impulses. Of the eight models, the sixes seem
to enjoy diversification the most, sporting varying outfits and hairstyles, reflecting
the more impulsive characteristics of this line.
Number Seven was rendered a defunct line and very much a creative model, designed to reflect
on decisions. It was known for being sensitive, thoughtful and seemingly enjoyed the arts.
It’s a shame this line was killed off by the Number One’s as an artistic influence
would have gone a long way in building out the society of the Cylons. All records of
the Seven’s existence was purged from the memories of the other models to cover up their
destruction due to a jealous act. And finally the Number Eights. This model
was created with a military mind-set and abilities to allow it to perform well as a soldier.
The design necessitated a certain level morality and loyalty to ensure the line would remain
dedicated to the Cylon cause. However this also meant that when an individual defected
to the colonial fleet, it did so on a moral basis and remained true to its own ideals.
This model was often easily manipulated by those in a higher position of power, such
as the number one’s. These humanoid Cylons, as mentioned were the
driving force of the race, and positioned themselves over the Centurions and raiders.
The Centurions were capable of independent thought, but limited on purpose to prevent
a similar uprising as seen repeatedly throughout history. When this inhibitor was removed however,
they clearly showed an understanding of self-preservation and perhaps even a modicum of revenge, basic
emotions to be sure, but there nonetheless. The raiders have a basic intelligence, about
the level of a dog and have shown the ability to follow orders as well as form their own
tactical actions. However, a raider that doesn’t follow commands is often considered faulty
and lobotomised to rectify the error. It is a strange thing to see the humanoid cylons
making the same choices their creators did, as did the creators of those creators and
like the pythian scrolls say, “all this has happened before and all this will happen
again.” The Cylons are a relatively young race, literally
being created rather than evolving naturally means that their culture is still forming.
What elements they do have are based on emulation of humans, their monotheistic faith, their
technology, their drive to survive are all imparted from human culture. As such, it’s
unlikely that we will see a truly unique society, especially given how the series ends and the
ultimate reveal that the future of the Cylons is to effectively become indistinguishable
from humanity. They had an entire line of humanoid Cylons devoted to culture and artistic
creativity but it was destroyed by an act of petty betrayal, not by the humans but one
of their own. Thanks for listening to this index, even if
it was a little light on the culture. As usual the next episode will be one of two choices
with either a look into the Nordic inspired Asgardians of the MCU, or Raider Culture of
the Fallout series, hey I thought I’d mix it up a bit with some more obscure choices.
Thanks for watching and don’t forget to leave a like on the appropriate comments to
cast your vote, (I won’t forget again. It was a bugger to count them all up manually)
and until next video, I’ve been Ric. Thanks again and goodbye!

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