As you can see in the picture below, Lal looks quite peculiar. This was, of course, before zhe1 became a she. My question is: why did Lal look like that when incomplete? Is this a sort of layer beneath skin or something like that in Soong-type androids i.e. the skin is like clothing for the different parts of the body?

1 No - that's not a typo. "Zhe" is a gender neutral pronoun.

Lal before completion

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    “This was, of course, before zhe became a she (no - that's not a typo. It's a clever way of saying s/he without the awkwardness!)” No awkwardness there! May 6 '14 at 8:55
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    Naw, I’m saying “zhe” and “zer” are pretty awkward themselves, because unless they’re widely adopted you’ll be explaining them every time you use them. May 6 '14 at 10:48
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    How about "it". After all: It's a robot, the gender is later applied to it. And until then there is little use in discussing proper gender related pronouns.
    – Einer
    May 6 '14 at 11:35
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    Just a speculation: Datas Mom once told, that Soong first created Datas face after his own image and then asked her, which gender Data should have. Well: "Male" was the only sensible answer. Maybe Data wanted to give Lal a real chance to choose, and gave her almost no face at all and didn't even predetermined a species.
    – Einer
    May 6 '14 at 12:04
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    @Einer - So, you are proposing s/he/it? Can we abbreviate it as sh*t?
    – JohnP
    May 6 '14 at 14:48

If you're looking for a canonical answer, then I don't think you'll find one. However, fro a designer's perspective there is an answer.

Lal's function, a robotic offspring of data was pre-defined but the form was not. Until the final decision on gender could be made Data created a "default skin" for his project that was (perhaps) deliberately androgynous to allow Lal the freedom to choose. The appearance (which was a choice of the make-up and prosthetic artists more than "Data") was devoid of any characteristics one way or the other which supports that theory.

Designers in many fields often get the inner workings (function) working before settling on the appearance (form) that will be the final "release" version. Software development, web development and electronics often take this approach, and the same could be said for robotic development - function is more important and only the key aspects of the performance are included in the design criteria. Data wanted to create an "offspring". The gender was immaterial to him so he allowed his creation to make that decision for itself then focused his efforts on creating an appropriate "skin".

Can't help but notice the slight similarity between the pre-gender Lal design and a certain shiny gold robot from the Star Wars franchise though...

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    1. If I remember right, the freedom of choice argument was brought foreword by Data. I think he said it to Wesley or to Troi or to both. I'm at work currently and cant check. 2. "First lets talk about the UI" is a good sentence to drive Sheldon mad. +1 for your answer.
    – Einer
    May 6 '14 at 14:53

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