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"[Science fiction] is the only kind of writing that allows you to look at the world we live in and change one piece at a time."
- Frederik Pohl

  A slang term for "android" - an artificially created humanoid being.  

The key difference between human beings and artificial human beings in Philip K. Dick's world is not intelligence - machine intelligence equal to (or surpassing) human intelligence is assumed. The most important difference is empathy, having feelings for other beings.

The most advanced androids, with the Nexus-6 brain unit, can select within a field of two trillion consitituents, or ten million separate neural pathways.

In the novel, androids are offered to people who will leave the ruined Earth to live elsewhere in the solar system. Androids are, as a rule, not allowed on Earth. In the novel, groups of androids escape their masters and go to Earth, where they try to blend in with the remaining population.

Part of bounty hunter Rick Deckard job is to test suspected escaped androids prior to "retiring" (killing) them.

Presently he had the pencil of light trained on her right eye and the adhesive patch again in contact with her cheek...

"My briefcase," Rick said as he rummaged for the Voight-Kampff forms. "Nice, isn't it... One hundred percent genuine human babyhide." He saw the two dial indicators gyrate frantically. But only after a pause. The reaction had come, but too late.

From Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick.
Published by Doubleday in 1968
Additional resources -

Here's a brief quote showing how the word is used in the novel:

“Are you going to retire the six remaining Nexus-6 andys?”

In this remarkable novel, your idea of what it is to be human (and your perception of other human beings) is systematically thrown off-kilter. One of the best sequences from the book, in which Rick Deckard is taken into custody and accused of being an unfeeling killer by a group of very convincing androids, is not seen in the movie.

If you are interested in this theme of being fooled by machine intelligence, you might also consider reading the chilling (really!) short story "Almost a Wife" from the collection The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
  More Ideas and Technology by Philip K. Dick
  Tech news articles related to Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
  Tech news articles related to works by Philip K. Dick

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