7

This is about the film by that name, but if the short story or the novel are similar enough (I've not read them) information from them could be used to make a guess.

Andrew Martin is physically a standard android (in the beginning) but unlike all others he begins to develop his own personality, creativity and feelings. Eventually he becomes more and more biological and, at the end of his life, is formally recognised as a human being.

In the real world, I'd expect all kinds of TV stations and newspapers to be all over him the moment even a hint of his sentience left the Martin family -most likely when he got a lawyer to allow him to open a bank account. Yet in the entire film we don't see any indication that the press knows about him until the second (if I'm not mistaken -could be the first) time he tries to be declared human, when a TV station's van is parked outside the court. This is several decades after he becomes his own person and stops being property of the Martins.

Did nobody except the people he introduced himself to know that there's a sentient robot named Andrew Martin until he went to court? How did he avoid this happening when several people must have seen a robot in clothes wander around the USA (or perhaps other countries as well) introducing himself to other robots? He also lived in his own house (which he must have a permit for) even before he looked human.

The answer to this could change some characters' interpretation. For example, when Rupert first sees him he accepts without question that Andrew is a person and that he has his own money, which is enough to fund Rupert's research. It seems to show how open-minded and accepting Rupert is, but if Andrew's existence was common knowledge then Rupert is simply surprised to see him in his office.

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    Rupert says that his father would have been thrilled to meet Andrew and also that it's an honour to meet him. Clearly he already knows about him. – Valorum Sep 1 '14 at 11:50
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    In the book, his existence is pretty common knowledge. He is accosted on the street – Valorum Sep 1 '14 at 11:51
  • @Richard: That's one interpretation, but I always figured it was just Rupert being fast to figure out Andrew isn't a normal robot. I'd imagine they'd have tried to contact him earlier if they knew he existed. – George T Sep 1 '14 at 11:51
  • I don't really see how you could read it any other way. OMG a sentient robot?!!! would have merited a far bigger response – Valorum Sep 1 '14 at 11:54
  • i'm fairly sure the film differs greatly from the original story – IG_42 Sep 1 '14 at 11:55
6

In the time between securing a bank account and returning to the city, Andrew spends his time wandering around the US looking for NDR robots. We don't really see him interacting with humans during this period (which supposedly lasted decades) other than via periodic letters to Little Miss.

When he turns up at Rupert's building, Rupert recognises him immediately. He notes that his father was...

...responsible for the technology that allows you to mimic human expression.

and that he...

would have been absolutely thrilled to meet you

and that he himself considers it an honour to meet Andrew.

Rupert, as a self-confessed robot nerd would be well aware that the facial technology wasn't made publicly available. It's pretty likely that he's heard of Andrew, albeit almost as a kind of semi-mythical figure.

This is borne out by the studio's own production notes which indicate that as a clock-maker (and bank-account holder), Andrew has become something of an infamous figure :

It is ironic that one who spends so many hours creating timepieces is himself unaffected by the passage of time. But time does pass. Through the years, then decades, Andrew achieves a degree of notoriety for creating and selling his exceptional works, all the time watching as the family he has become so much a part of grows up ... and grows old. It makes Andrew all the more aware how different he is, and in his uniqueness, how alone he is.

In the original story, the situation is somewhat different. Andrew's status appears to be well-known, as we can see from the reaction (to his presence) of a couple of local hoodlums:

The tall one snapped his fingers. "It's the free robot. They have a robot at the old Martin place who isn't owned by anybody. Why else would it be wearing clothes?"

"Ask it," said the one with the nose.

"Are you the Martin robot?" asked the tall one.

"I am Andrew Martin, sir," Andrew said.

  • So you're saying that he's more like a legend, in the sense of "I heard there's a free robot" than really well-known? That would explain Rupert's readiness as well as Portia's confusion, I guess. – George T Sep 2 '14 at 7:21
  • @GeorgeT - If his fame is a result of his clock -making then he's been out of the public eye for nearly 40 years – Valorum Sep 2 '14 at 7:29
  • @Richard Sadly, in the real world, you can't become famous as a clock-maker. Just look at my personal hero, Christian Huygens. He's made the first accurate mechanical clocks ever, and solved advanced calculus problems before the technique of calculus was invented (like Archimedes). But he only became famous from measuring the speed of light from astronomical observations, and everyone forgets that those measurements were only possibly because of his clocks in first place. (See biography at www2.stetson.edu/~efriedma/periodictable/html/Hg.html ) – b_jonas Dec 9 '15 at 15:41
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    @b_jonas - You are mistaken. John Harrison (the inventor of the marine chronometer) is considered to be one of the 100 greatest britons of all time and is, if not a household name, certainly a name that a sizeable proportion of people would recognise. On top of that, nearly 3/4 of the 50 greatest luxury watch brands are named after their founders – Valorum Dec 9 '15 at 16:20

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