I recently just finished the novel and I have some questions for anybody who has read it. If you haven't read it, but are going to, then pay attention to my questions for me. I am asking because I don't want to spend the time rereading the novel to answer my questions. I am hoping I can get answers of this website. If not, then I'll just reread.
I do remember there was a thread on this site which was dedicated to the novel, but I don't really want to go sifting through old threads for who knows how long. My answer could be in there though.
These are very important questions and I would like page numbers if you have answers. The page numbers are crucial! The only way David would have known the things I am questioning is if he knew of the working crew of the Covenant before they arrived. This is a big accusation that could really show the evil side of David.
#1: p.234 – David says to Oram, “As a scientist, at least, I know you’ll find what I am about to show you of considerable interest.” All I remember in the novel is Oram telling David he is the Captain when David asks, “Who is the Captain?”. I don’t remember Oram telling David or telling anyone around David that he was a scientist, do you? Or at least speaking of his wishes to not be Captain and instead be the scientist he signed up for on the mission.
#2: p.190-David starts talking to the surviving Covenant crew by saying, “I was able to pilot the alien vessel you found only because it was programmed to return to this world.” A paragraph down, he also says, “As you doubtless noted, the impact was considerable.” I don’t remember the surviving crew saying they saw a crashed alien vessel. David could have been watching and studying the crew for some time to learn about their characteristics before he initiated a plan, whether evil or good. Plus, David makes a big deal about Walter protecting Daniels later in the book and the movie. He definitely watched the surviving Covenant crew trying to fight the Neomorph’s. For the how long is the question.
I love your topic, I love your questions and I love that we are talking about the Covenant novel because it is currently my favorite thing to talk about.
HOWEVER! This is happening to me every night lately: I'm just about to go out for my evening jog, and then something REALLY INTERESTING catches my attention, either here or on Reddit.
I'm gonna go out for my jog right now. But, don't despair because, I've got my novel right here on the coffee table, when I get back later this evening I would like to rifle through it and try to help you find the answers you seek.
*Edit: (And, also, I love the picture of David you chose for the banner. ...Man, I love Covenant so much... )
I think maybe David assumed? and also as far as the ship he could be lying.
But he would know they found where it crashed where there was evidence of the impact, but i think as far as how the Ship Crashed and how he got to Paradise.. David is clearly lying to the Covenant crew.
R.I.P Sox 01/01/2006 - 11/10/2017
David knows that it looks like he crashed on that planet, so if he is going to stick to that story, which he does in the novel (unlike the movie where we see him bombing the "Engineers"), than he most likely assumed that is why the Covenant crew is on the planet. I guess that is a safe assumption. Still, if he did assume that is why they are there, than his actions and words act like assumptions are fact. That doesn't sound very logical to me, which an AI lives and breaths logical.
Maybe David was watching the crew for a long time on the "Paradise" and he noticed something Oram did which gave him the idea that he is a scientist. With an action, Oram doesn't have to say anything. I definitely could have overlooked a simple action since I didn't know David was watching him.
Let me explain how David could have been watching the crew for a long time.
On p. 205: “There was no indication that the surprise had been intentional, or that his counterpart had deliberately crept up behind him. There was only the realization by Walter that there was another who could move as silently as himself.” The importance of this quote is that Walter most likely has better hearing than any human that makes up the Covenant crew, but in this part of the book, David accidentally sneaks up on Walter. If David can be too quiet for Walter to hear in a silent building, maybe if David kept his distance and watched his step, he couldn’t be heard while observing the Covenant crew shortly after they landed or even before they landed. He could have only revealed himself because he had no other choice. Some of the crew had to survive to help insure he would be taken off of “Paradise”.
#1 I can almost guarantee that this was a deduction or assumption, even. Or it is something that was revealed in their conversation that wasn't in the book or screnplay (just like a natural conversation or whatever). Either way, there is no other reference (as far as I know) in the book about this knowledge.
#2 I think this is also just deduction on David's part. He knows that they probably saw the juggernaught (Shaw's signal is, really, the only way that someone would really find that place [I assume.] Shaw is the one who sent, but I would guess that David ended up knowing about it). There is also a (lesser) chance that David was watching them the whole time, but there is no other information in the book.
Not a map, an invitation
Maybe it will be revealed in another movie or novel? Ridley set up Alien: Covenant to allow room for at least one more movie. Alien: Covenant isn't a closed book like Alien was.
#1 - After David briefs the crew in the cathedral, the novel cuts back to the Covenant, then back to David, Lope, and Cole on the roof. We don't know what conversations the crew had with David in the interim, but presumably there were more questions and answers on both sides.
#2 - No one had yet talked to David prior to him saying that, unless there was conversation with him when they were running from the Neomorphs, but that's not in the book. It is odd that Foster did not have anyone ask David how he knew they had come across the ship.
He showed up right when they were being attacked and mentioned the ship, so he was clearly following them. I assumed he had tracked them after hearing their ship flyover.
it would be common scense to assume that any human expeditions that far out from earth would be a scientific one to hence the covenant being full of scientists.
david, though probably talking about the physical impact the juggernought had when crashing, may be talking about the impact HE had on the planet and its inhabitants when the juggernought arrived. as his statedment could have more than one meaning, he may be gauging the crew to see if they suspect or have found anything that leads them to conclude that someone killed the people on this planet, and the fact david is walking around unharmed, they have made him the prime suspect
All good points.... and indeed we have to accept the movie does not cover every moment of the events that befell the crew of the Covenant.
From when the Covenant ship suffered the damage to the sails and loss of crew, and so when the essential crew was woken up, right to when David had put Daniels to into Cryo-sleep.
These events did not take 2 hours, but over days and so the movie will not show every single conversation and so while the movie may only show the crew was in the Cathedral with David until they had to Run for their Lives and escape from David and the Xenomorph.... this may had only taken 20-25 minutes tops in the movie . But in reality they could have been there for hours and so indeed not every conversation would have been shown.
But those that are not shown are merely not important to the Plot as far as how they wish to tell/drive it. The Novel as with movie Drafts have the advantage of not having to stick to a Shooting Time Schedule and so more can be explained.
Ideally i think a bit longer interaction between David and the Crew within the Cathedral would have been good, and could have helped to expand upon stuff and i think a extra 10 minutes would have been good... but sadly when shooting the movie they have to cut things down.
So we can only assume certain things. I have not read the Novel Yet, but from the movie it does seem to me that David was not too surprised that people arrived.. it was like he was awaiting for someone eventually.
But i dont think he had anything to do with the Neutrino Blast, i think he may have edited and set off the Signal and its just the Coincidence that the Blast caused the ship to have to have the sails repaired which then allowed the Signal to have reached them. This was just a necessary piece of the Plot as far as a Plot Device.
So it goes like this... they could have had the Covenant detect a signal on route and have Walter then wake the crew up to investigate the source due to it seeming to be Human Origin.. but this would all be a bit too much like Alien.
And then what if the Captain then decided to simply ignore this and continue with the mission to Origae-6, the only way the Captain would have to investigate would be if its his choice or their is a company Directive that such things have to be checked out... just as the Nostromo had to do.
So by binging in a disaster that damages the Ship, and kills so many of the Crew.... then it allows for them to discover a signal to a World that seems more habitable than their destination thats 7 years away but Planet 4 is just 7 weeks away.
Some of the crew do not want to get back into Cryo-sleep and so its do they spend 7 years on the Covenant and head to Origae-6 or do they just spend 7 weeks to check out Planet 4 that seems a more suitable place to set up a Colony.
R.I.P Sox 01/01/2006 - 11/10/2017
My two cents, and as far as I know no-one has mentioned this possibility as-of-yet...
It is my belief that David has used the crashed Juggernaut on Paradise periodically over his ten years there to check for passing traffic. Upon picking up the Covenant passing nearby I believe David instigated the neutrino burst that incapacitated the Covenant and activated Shaw's beacon, thus luring the crew of the Covenant to him as a means of escaping the planet. How David triggered a neutrino burst is beyond me, but his Juggernaut, while grounded was seemingly operational. The fact that the crew was there, suggest his lure worked and as such, they had found the crashed Juggernaut with it being the source of Shaw's beacon.
Further to everyone else's comments, I feel David assumed or knew via "company protocol" that Oram was most likely a scientist, as a team of scientists would make for better colonists, logically speaking.
Yea, I don't know how David could trigger a neutrino burst, but the Engineers could have developed one for "Paradise" to protect the people living on the planet, like a nuclear bomb, but to cause damage to space ships.
I like to think that David knew of the Covenant mission before it left Earth and hacked the computer to alter the Covenant mission to pass by "Paradise". When the Covenant would be near "Paradise", it would be passing during an active phase of a nearby star which would caused the solar flare which damaged the Covenant. Naturally, they pick up Shaw's signal and discover "Paradise". This whole idea is based on the question of what actually caused damage to the Covenant. Walter describes it as a neutrino burst in one part, then a stellar flare in another, and then some crew left on the Covenant late in the movie describe it has a solar flare. My memory could be wrong according to Kethol about what the space phenomena was described as, but I remember the movie saying "solar flare" in one part and if they said "stellar flare", the theory is still good.
Neutrinos themselves would do no damage. Tonight, when you are lying in bed, consider that each second trillions of neutrinos are whizzing through your body, having started their journey 8 minutes earlier in the centre of the Sun, and belted right through the body of the Earth unimpeded. The reason being that they are tiny neutral particles and rarely interact with matter. A neutrino is to an atom as an atom is to the Solar System.
Massive changes in a star's core can result in bursts of neutrinos. For example, a supernova sheds most of its energy in the form of neutrinos. They travel at or very close to the speed of light. Such changes can result in a star blowing off shells of plasma (stellar flare). These travel very quickly, but not nearly so quickly as neutrinos. So, the neutrino burst in Covenant is a little like the lightning before the thunder, except it's the thunder that is destructive. It's the stellar flare, which is actually a blast of high speed protons, that does the damage.
David could have mined the surrounding systems against starships or other vessels. Like mining a harbor on Earth against submarines or ships.
These drone mines are smart and detonate(grams of anti-matter) when a large metallic object comes within a certain radius?
Could be Engineer technology. They might have a tomb full of these wonderful devices. Remnants from the wars. Keeps the riff raff and ne'er-do-wells away. Used to incapacitate, for salvage reasons, or scare away.
Hello @I Moon Girl!
I'm really sorry for the delay. I'll tell you a story that sounds completely made up, but isn't. When I was out for my jog that day, a low flying bat collided with my arm. (The bat didn't intentionally ruin my day -- he was just swooping down for some mosquitoes in the light of a low-positioned lamp, and I was making an unexpected turn.)
Anyhow, the bat left scratches on my arm, and I needed to go to the hospital and start a series of rabies vaccine boosters. I've been thoroughly traumatized by the ordeal for the past few days, but I'm fine now.
1.) Ok, as far as David knowing that Oram was a scientist, that really should have been a red flag, but I think there was just too much going on for Oram to really notice it.
I can't find Oram making any McCoy esque statements about being a scientist haplessly thrown into the position of captain. Most of the author's revelations on the matter come from the descriptions of Oram's internal thoughts, before he even left the ship.
I do think David is a very observant fellow, and it's possible that he ascertained from Oram's demeanor that he is a scientist.
2.) As far as when David says “As you doubtless noted, the impact was considerable" I think he is referring to the fact that it just seems obvious that the ship crashed really forcefully. He didn't necessarily have to hear them conversing about it, he's just speculating that they've probably seen it by now.
However, turn to page 218, where David says "Really? Then why did you risk your life, your existence, to save her? Yes, I saw that, from a distance. What is that if not love?"
Ok, so David says he saw that "from a distance".
So we can imagine that David could see and hear much more than a human could, from a much greater distance, and that he moved with all due alacrity and that he set off the flair as soon as was practical to save the crew.
But we all know David a little better than that, don't we? Would it surprise anyone if David had been lurking nearby behind the tall grass watching the whole scene unfold, and not setting off the flair until he got a bit bored?
Would it surprise anyone if, since their very arrival, David had been following the crew, lurking in the shadows and gleaning bits of information about them (like the fact that Oram is an inexperienced captain)?
Would not surprise me at all. I mean, he likes to brush up on people's vulnerabilities before interacting with them -- hence him spying on Shaw's dreams at the beginning of Prometheus.
#1 We really don't know what the other people's job on the Covenant are. We know Tennesse and Faris are pilots (very important until on Origae-6). Jacob is the Captian (very important). What is Daniels job (apparently to provide company for the Captain (important in a way)? Rosenthal, Lope, and Ledward are security (I guess that is important in case of an uprising). Oram is the Chief Science Officer and Karine is a biologist. Also, Walter is the designated Synthetic.
So, I guess it was convenient that the crew was ready to handle an unplanned expedition to explore a possible habitable and previously unfound planet. Why so many security officers? (I am getting on a tangent here) What I am trying to say is...Maybe David would know that there would be biologists on the Covenant ship to monitor the hypersleeping colonists since David is knowledgable about deep space missions since he was on one. I am sure similar principles apply even though the Prometheus and Covenant are two completely different missions. I wouldn't doubt it if he came across something about colonization missions while preparing for the Prometheus expedition. Wait... nevermind. He seemed to be surprised that the Covenant crew was on a colonization mission when Oram told him what they were doing. That's how I remember it in the movie anyways. I can't remember if David was surprised to hear that in the novel. I think he was if my memory serves me right. Ah... I do remember Oram did reveal that it was a colonization mission before David called him a scientist. I guess David could have assumed (since I could believe that he is kind of familiar with colonization missions from past research) scientists, a captain, a synthetic, and apparently pilots (since they landed on "Paradise") would be woken up and be the core crew on a colonization ship. That is the only way that I can think of David knowing that Oram is a scientist.
#2 I guess David could have assumed that the crew saw the crashed ship. After all, the lander landed as close as possible to the juggernaut so they could confront it. David knows where the juggernaut is and he thought it was safe to assume that the crew knows about it. What are the chances that a lander lands on a planet that no human knows about (except for David and now the Covenant's core crew) at the base of the hill, or mountain, that the crashed alien spacecraft is on. I guess that is the only way I can make sense of #2.
I am glad that you're taking the personality of David into consideration. After watching Prometheus, I learned something about David. You can't trust him. After watching Alien: Covenant, there is no way I would be caught in the same room with him (if he existed in real life that is). I just can't listen to David and think whatever he is saying is true. If he isn't around the crew than he is up to something mischievous. That was exactly what David did in Alien: Covenant. He talked to the crew to try and keep them calm and earn their trust, but when he wasn't around them, he was cutting his hair so he looks like Walter after lying and saying he was going to check on the other crew members or he is trying to make conversation with a Neomorph until Oram shows up or he is killing the only crew member he is around. David is lucky that he had a fight with Walter that nobody else saw or his plan wouldn't have worked out so easily.
I am glad that bat didn't turn you rabid! I saw a dead bat outside today on a walk I was taking. Well, I actually don't know what is was, but it did look like a bat.
Daniels' job was terraformer (a very important job on a colony mission). That's why she knew a lot about the terraforming equipment in the cargo-bay :)
Yes, I would have to agree, you definitely cannot trust David. He's very cunning, charming, and dangerous and I wouldn't want to wind up in the same room with him either.
"David is lucky that he had a fight with Walter that nobody else saw or his plan wouldn't have worked out so easily."
He's actually very lucky, because instead of throwing him off of Daniels, Walter could have snuck up and stabbed David in the neck the same way he'd done to Walter earlier. Walter's rash decision made things much easier for David.
Ah! That's right! Thanks for reminded me of Daniels job!
Very true about Walter. It's almost his own fault that he got stuck, or dead, on "Paradise" in a way. Walter isn't a real tough guy. He didn't even try to kill David until their final fight. (p.292-294) Maybe he figured he couldn't get an accurate enough attack on the synthetic weak spot in David's neck. Who knows how big that button is. Walter would have to jamb his finger hard like David I would assume too. Hard and accurate. I guess a synthetic could do it though. If Walter is anything like Bishop in Aliens, it should be easy. Still, for a human, the best choice would've been to just charge and throw him if someone had enough strength. I mean, how is a guy supposed to find that button?! Walter should know where it is. I didn't think about the fact that Walter could've at least tried to shut down David. It bothers me that he didn't even try.
I'm glad I didn't turn out rabid too! It was only by the good graces of modern medicine and the fact that I knew to go to the E.R. ... The nurse told me someone in my city recently died or rabies from a bat, in fact, because he didn't get the vaccine. Rabies is pretty much...one of the worst ways to die, I think.
Be careful out there on your walks I Moon Girl! You didn't touch it, did you? Stay away from anything that even looks like a bat!
It's so weird, there are so many more bats out now lately, for some reason, is it the same where you are?
Dang, I was so proud of myself for getting off my butt and doing some exercise. I've learned my lesson, at least. I'm going to spend my evenings indoors, chatting about Covenant instead of going out for evening jogs. If I'd only stayed home and replied to your post, the whole crisis would have been averted.
I am pretty important. Animals worship me. That's why Antoinette, a.k.a "the bat", attacked you.
Okay, back to reality. I wanted to get a better look at it so I could be 100% sure it was a bat, but it's wings were over it's head and it was face down. I didn't touch it, so don't worry! I am glad I didn't touch it after reading what you said.
I'm very sure Walter could have deactivated David, if he had taken even a moment to think rationally about it. I think the reason he didn't was because he actually does have feelings for Daniels.
Walter doesn't have an excess of creativity, but the book makes it clear he does have emotions (generally he has affinities and aversions that are useful for his programming).
Even though there was no particular urgency (David had made it pretty clear that he didn't have any intention of killing Daniels immediately), Walter cared for Daniels and couldn't stand to see her in a state of terror.
He delivered her from peril in the most immediate way possible, but not the most permanent way.
Plus, he was angry at David for attacking someone he cared about, and he probably would have found it much more satisfying to confront and defeat him in a slightly less peaceful way than unexpectedly rendering him unconscious.
But, since David and Walter are otherwise evenly matched except for Walter missing a hand - Walter stood no chance of winning the fight from the start.
I do not think this was an oversight on the part of the writers. I think it was good writing -- it underscores Walter's feelings for Daniels and his imperfection.
So, while it doesn't bother me that Walter didn't even try, I'm sure it bothers Walter. Now that he's got all that time stranded on Planet 4, to think about it. :P
The thing with the novel (I don't remember what it was like in the beginning of the movie version), is that Walter is charming and protecting Daniels right from the beginning. The more time he spends with her, the more he seems to like her.
Maybe you can help me remember the timeline related to what I am about to say.
I can see Walter developing feelings for Daniels after his talk with David since I think David is more aware then he is programmed out to be. Plus, David actually wants Walter to be more aware then he is programmed out to be. The problem is, I can't remember in the book when Walter is starting to show feelings for Daniels while on "Paradise" and when his conversation with David took place.
The point I am getting at here is this... If Walter has feelings for Daniels without David's lessons, what does that say for ALL Walter's on Earth. If one Walter is capable of becoming more aware than his programming in a span of a few weeks all on his own, than that means all Walter's are defective and need to be replaced. I doubt Weyland Co. would even release something defective in that way. David is more aware, I think, because his owner was Weyland and he has been operating for quite some time.
Dude OMG I Moon Girl O_O
PLEASE don't go back to look at it nor get near it in any way.
Seriously, I may die of guilt if you get rabies because of me. Seriously. Don't go investigate any bat like thing, ok? Can we both agree to just...stay inside and away from bats?
Like, seriously I Moon Girl , guilt is the worst thing for me, Ok? Like...the WORST WORST thing.
I have this big phobia that I have/will cause something terrible to happen to someone...so, if you went and put your face all up close and personal to a bat corpse because of my bat anecdote... like...guilt is going to come and stab me in the heart and I will worry about your well being to...like... an extremely excessive degree, every day for the rest of my life ok?
Have we not learned enough from Milburn and Oram, to not mess around with weird wild things...??
OMG, please be safe out there I Moon Girl, please be safe or I am seriously going to cry.
Did you put your face near the dead bat? PLEASE DON'T PUT YOUR FACE NOR ANY PART OF YOUR BODY NEAR THE DEAD BAT! I am worried about you now.
Ever heard of Sum 41? It's the name of a bat disease because one of the member of the band Sum 41 died because of it. That's him on the cover. He later died. True story! He got that because the bat's decaying odor got in his eyes.
I just remembered that fact after your last comment.
::sigh:: I could be trouble.
Okay. I am just kidding! Seriously! I didn't touch the bat, but I did look closely at it just for me to be sure. I wan't anywhere near touching it. Don't worry. I will be fine.
Lol! Aahhh...don't scare me I Moon Girl , I'm already quite traumatized as it is! Since the bat incident I've been huddled up in bed with my dismembered Bishop doll (who I rather like, because he looks as panicked as I normally feel - even when I've not been scratched by a bat). I go for my second rabies shot tomorrow T_T
As for Walter, I don't think his emotions are a defect and I don't think him developing feelings for Daniels was specifically triggered by his interaction with David.
Emotions are just...internal processes that cause one to gravitate toward or avoid certain experiences.
I think the synthetics are programmed to have emotions, albeit emotions that are generally useful for their programming.
It's much the same with humans - we evolved to have emotions that typically increase our chances of survival.
Our emotions usually cause us to do things that are safe and avoid things that are unsafe.
Android emotions (usually) cause them to do things that protect and serve humans and avoid thing that harm humans.
But, just like humans can make errors (fear evolved because it may cause us to avoid danger, but in some specific circumstances it may paralyze us from taking action to save ourselves, etc. )
Androids can also make errors - emotions that normally cause them to serve and protect humans (emotions like caring for humans, anger towards entities who endanger humans, etc.) could cause them to take the wrong course of action in specific circumstances.
Walter is programmed by imperfect beings and he is imperfect. He is complex and made a miscalculation. I think all Walters are capable of emotion though, and in most normal circumstances their emotions probably make them charming and useful to their owners.
Wasn't the Walter model rid of human emotions? That's how I remembered it in the movie at least, but I could be wrong. Something similar is described on p.208-209. It seems in the novel, Walter's are not to be made so sophisticated and independent in thinking. They are not allowed to create either, according to David. There is a sentence on those pages that is interesting. "Walter's response was delivered without the slightest hint of emotion. He was simply stated a fact." Plus, Walter doesn't believe that he loves Daniels. It's simply duty to him (p.218). He knows what love is too, so he might be able to recognize what that feels like. I believe Walter when he was saying that he was just doing his duty. It makes sense. Bishop did his duty in Aliens. Bishop and Walter seem to be similar. Ash is probably similar too, but he was just corrupted.
I gotta get to bed now. Maybe I'll add more another day to this thread.
This is a good discussion, I Moon Girl .
I disagree with you though. I think Walter lacks creativity and independence, but not emotion.
The book lists several of his affinities and aversions. I don't think one can have affinities and aversions without experiencing emotions.
I'd like to look up page numbers and get back to you with citations (but I'm not promising anything, because I don't want to jinx myself again!) off-hand, I recall that he likes:
the sound of his own voice, to keep himself busy, the green-house, whistling, and the fact that Mother is programmed to be polite to him even though he is a synthetic.
He dislikes: a sense of helplessness.
He "felt good" about sweeping Daniels' hair out of her face (and questioned whether he felt good because he had served or because of a specific attachment to her.
I also recall, (despite no humans being present) he "smiled reflexively" when Daniels smiled in her sleep, also symptomatic of emotion.
The line that you mention, where Walter states "But we're not 'alive'" without the slightest hint of emotion doesn't mean that he never experiences emotion, he just doesn't resent being 'not alive' and it is not an emotional topic for him. He is not aspirational like David. He doesn't mind that he is made to serve humans, he's programmed to be satisfied with that lot in life.
Bishop also displayed emotion - he was averse to going on a potentially suicidal mission stating something along the lines of "Believe me, I'd prefer not to. I may be synthetic but I'm not stupid". Bishop also pretty clearly exhibits some kind emotion when he's being ripped apart by the xeno queen (it seemed like pain or fear, either of which is logical to program into an android, or it will sustain a lot of damaged from not avoiding harmful situations).
I am going to bed too. This is a good topic, and I hope we get to pick it back up sometime, without any further calamities happening in the interim! ...<_<
David is quoted in saying, "I understand human emotions, although I do not feel them myself. This allows me to be more efficient and capable, and makes it easier for my human counterparts to interact with me." This was in the David interview Prometheus commercial that I found on youtube.com. Walter was made to be even more efficient and less free-thinking so that they will operate within their programming. I don't know why they would allow a Walter model to feel emotions even though they would understand them.
By the way, I like reading your analysis of the story. Very descriptive and interesting. This is a good discussion!
Hello I Moon Girl !
Don't worry, the delay wasn't caused by another close encounter with your Antoinette! Last night I wanted to log on, but my computer spent what seemed like forever, doing updates. ...I guess I have to let my computer do routine maintenance like that once in a while though...or it could turn into a murderous psychopath <_<
This is a good discussion! Androids and emotions, it is an interesting thought exercise! Ok, here's what I think about the whole thing...
"David is quoted in saying, 'I understand human emotions, although I do not feel them myself. This allows me to be more efficient and capable, and makes it easier for my human counterparts to interact with me.'"
Yes, David says that. He also cheekily adds the word "emotional" to describe himself at the very end of the commercial ;-) Plus, he's not exactly the most trustworthy fellow. Despite the fact that he says he doesn't experience emotions, his actions in Prometheus and Covenant would certainly seem to indicate otherwise, wouldn't they?
Plus, if you look here at some Weyland-Yutani promotional materials: https://imgur.com/gallery/WqQhd and scroll down to the 14th image (with David sitting criss-cross on the floor in front of a green marble wall), among the bullet points we see "Fear Center Safety Program (Can Be Disabled)."
This indicates Weyland-Yutani gives their androids responses that are at least analogous to human emotions and serve similar purposes.
The Weyland-Yutani promotion goes on to say "David 8 can record, process, understand and express many complex emotions, but he will never know true human feelings such as love, grief and compassion".
I think this is an assertion that Weyland-Yutani cannot make with any certainty.
I think it's impossible to create something analogous to or in mimicry of human emotions and know for sure that you haven't created the real deal.
The internal experience of human emotions cannot be observed or quantified. We can only define emotions by the observable behaviors associated with them.
You can only assume that another being has a similar internal experience to your own, because his behaviors and reactions are similar to yours.
You probably assume that if someone repeatedly seeks a specific experience they probably enjoy that experience. If someone avoids a specific experiences, it probably causes them suffering.
The brain of a human being is a physical and chemical thing and emotions are physical and chemical processes.
Weyland-Yutani has built a physical, chemical processor whose output is very similar to that of a human brain.
Despite what Weyland-Yutani's intentions might be, I think they are presumptuous to say for sure that the androids are not experiencing emotions.
Natural selection has programmed humans with aversions and affinities useful to our survival.
Weyland-Yutani has programmed their androids with aversions and affinities useful to the service of mankind.
Well programmed androids, like Bishop and Walter, find serving humans to be a reinforcing experience (one they seek to repeat) and letting humans come to harm an aversive experience (one they wish to avoid). I think that these affinities and aversions unequivocally constitute emotion (especially since we can only identify emotions in others by their observable symptoms).
Walter is different to David in many ways. He is a lot less human-like than David, but I don't think it's due to a lack of emotions. He is devoid of ambition and creativity but not emotion. He is content with servitude, which David and most human beings would not be.
Emotion isn't what makes androids unstable. Poorly programmed androids just experience the wrong emotions in response to the wrong stimuli.
Badly designed androids (like David) seem to find harming humans reinforcing, and performing service to humans aversive. That is not the sort of robot one would want to have around.
One whose emotions are opposite would be pretty stable and helpful, though.
Nicely put VivisectedEngineer :)
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."
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