Science Fiction Becomes Reality 03: Androids

The definition of the word “android” is a robot with a human appearance. This word has been morphed into “droid” in the Star Wars movies and other science fiction but one of the first human-like robots depicted on the screen was introduced to us way back in 1927.

Androids: The Sci-Fi Version

In the movie, Metropolis, a futuristic utopia exists above a bleak underworld populated by mistreated workers. When a privileged youth Freder (Gustav Fröhlich) discovers the grim scene under the city, he becomes intent on helping the workers. He befriends a rebellious teacher Maria (Brigitte Helm), but this puts him at odds with his authoritative father, leading to greater conflict. In one scene, a mad scientist transforms a robot into a doppelgänger of Maria to crush a workers’ revolt.

Boy, special effects have really evolved since then! Some say that C-3PO looks a lot like the robot Maria before she takes on her full human appearance. And for good reason, Ralph McQuarrie, the conceptual design and illustrator who worked on the original Star Wars trilogies, based his early design of C-3PO largely on the robot from Metropolis.


How It’s Becoming Reality

Recently, a video of a robot saying she wants to destroy humans has made its way around the web:

“Sophia” is the creation of Hanson Robotics, a company that is dedicated to creating the most life-like and engaging robots to aid humans. Some of us are a little unnerved by how realistic “Sophia” and her counter-part androids are becoming, and it’s only going to get better…or worse, depending on how you feel about the technology.

Boston Dynamics, is wholly owned subsidiary of Google, Inc., has a pretty impressive humanoid robot called “Atlas” who can do some amazing things.

In this clip, he seems like a pretty patient android but what makes “Atlas” kind of scary is his development was overseen by the DARPA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Defense. Makes one think: what are they planning on using “Atlas” for? *shudder*

Then there’s the whole artificial intelligence (AI) thing. A 2014 blog post on, explained what’s happened in the last decade that has ushered in the age of AI. A real, live C-3PO may not be as far off as we think.

Now, I’d love to hear from you. What science-fiction ideas have you recently read about or have you seen in movies that you predict we’ll be using very soon? Let me know in the comments!

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Dana Leipold

Continuity Director
Dana is a freelance writer, author, and member of the Association of Independent Authors. She has self-published three books practices yoga, loves funny cat videos, and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and two children.

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