One of the many kinds of unconscious life forms I encounter during existence patrol is the robotic-minded automaton known as a “clicker”. It refers to someone composed of artificial or inauthentic psychological components, a person who is “not their self” and operates according to collective behavior. They “whir” and “click” like a machine, in other words.

The term originally came to me from a derogatory epithet used for androids in the movie Creation Of The Humanoids. In this movie, a shrinking population of humans grows ever more dependent on manufactured humaniform robots to maintain their industrial, post-apocalypse lifestyle.

A radical group of humans, feeling their existence increasingly threatened by the artificial beings they have created, use the term to describe and focus their mutual dislike of the androids. They personify many of the qualities and wear costumes derivative of hate groups from Earth’s past. A kind of hyper-blended mélange of all the worst humanity has to offer.

The androids themselves are beings unto themselves, with desires and outlooks that naturally bring them into conflict with humans whom they serve. It is their intention to slowly let humans die off or put their brains into android bodies while they build a new world of android needs being developed and explored.

I know; how can I use a term even from a science fiction movie that denigrates and labels beings—even artificial ones—as Others? Just because I define the term as pointing to what I consider hostile or dangerous encounters doesn’t give me a hall pass either.

All I can say is that I’m pulling this use out into the open and examining it, questioning it, exploring it.

Creation of the Humanoids presents us with a story about how outmoded thought patterns are gradually minimized and replaced by the development of new ones. In a way, the hybrids of tomorrow (for that is what an android is) outmaneuver the prejudices and violence of their ancestors over a long span of time.

In real life, however, our range of psychological experiences are much more intricate and complex. Humans, androids, and robots all coexist together in the psychological sphere. The question is always, what kind of consciousness do they present?

As in the book The Runaway Robot, a mechanical being can develop and experience self-awareness and an empathy for non-robots. Likewise, as in the book Caves of Steel, humans can show their worst sides where the rights of mechanical beings are concerned, reverting to ugliness and undifferentiated effects.

The reality is that our concept of being-ness is open to interpretation. Tribalism as a survival instinct may not be enough anymore, or perhaps we have mainly “gone rogue”, become mad robots ourselves as a collective robotic entity and therefore need to reconnect our wires to what it means to be a unified individual organism. Maybe that’s how we find organic connections with people.

Open up the Animism cabinet and you’ll find the concept of everything having a soul. All beings relating to one another according to their nature–stone consciousness to tree consciousness to mosquito consciousness to water consciousness to heat consciousness to radiation consciousness. You get the picture.

Is there such a thing as a malfunctioning human? It seems to me at times as if there are indeed humans who have developed system errors and operate according to spurious logic. They are harmful and often hostile to happy operating procedures. The worst kinds present a fair face while secretly sabotaging your circuitry for the spreading of their does-not-compute static.

Of course, how do you know if you yourself aren’t a malfunctioning automaton? Can you self-diagnose or are you a replicant that doesn’t know who they are? I myself have to keep asking the question, or hoping that if I am then a human element will come along and repair me.

Self-defense procedures can interfere with the hard and necessary work of being human, of screwing up. That discomfort you feel with yourself can lead you to an organic response array.

The risk is always that you will sacrifice your operating functions helping someone else carry their overload another cycle instead of taking the painful step of restarting. Or worse, you find yourself projecting your own corrupt files onto someone’s open jack and flooding them with garbage-in.

I heard tell that the price of crossing the line is having to live on both sides. Am I a human? Am I an alien construct? The hybrid anxiously asks these questions for all beings.

In the meantime, I keep sensors on alert. Manufacturing procedures vary, and there are humans in the neighborhood who have a few bolts loose.