Synthetics (or "artificial persons" - as they prefer to be called) are biomechanical androids. They are basically, robots that are human in appearance. Synthetics have now advanced to a degree where they are externally indistinguishable from a normal human being.
Though they are an artificial intelligence in the broad sense, legally androids are classified as a property. It can be ordered to perform hazardous tasks in place of humans. However, their utility and not-inconsiderable unit cost is an incentive to any who wishes to treat an android as expendable.
The modern synthetic is a highly complex machine: stronger, faster and better coordinated than an average human. The basic chassis is a carbon fiber skeleton with latchment point for the artificial musculature. The muscles are vat grown silicon colloids powered either by pumped micro-hydraulics or electrical stimulation. Power for the android is supplies by a 25kw fuel cell with a life of approximately 400 days between recharging. This power cell is located within the android's chest, and access is via a hidden socket located just underneath the rib-cage. Charging time can vary, though it usually takes at least 72 hours to fully charge the standard power cells fitted into modern day androids. As in a human, the skeletal structure is inherently unstable and is effectively suspended by the musculature. No limb-locking, join motorization or gyrostabalization is present as in other anthropomorphic frames such as powerloaders. Instead, the muscles must work actively to keep the chassis standing upright while active feedback systems control its stability. Though muscles can withstand considerable wear and tear, the lack of a self-repair facility means that they eventually lose their strength and become increasingly elastic over time. It is recommended that the muscle system be overhauled on a regular basis and individual elements replaced every two years. Muscle layout and operation, as with certain other internal function, are homologous with those of the human body. The circulatory fluid is a form of white liquid latex used to lubricate the interior systems.
The physical appearance and simulated behavior patterns of synthetic units are designed to particular specifications. Most synthetics appear as mature, average males or females around 20 to 40 years of age. Their personalities, idiosyncrasies aside, can best be described as passive or non-threatening.
The synthetic's mind is an integrated Carbon 60 processor with a processing speed of 1015 floating point operations per second. Memory capacity includes 1 terabyte of fast cash buffer RAM and 1.2 Terabyte of non-volatile memory. The system is architectured around a very powerful heuristic logic driver, making decisions based upon imported sensory data, information drawn from experience and the android's vast inbuilt databases. Intuitive functions are derived from a suite of nested contextual and semantic programs linked by self-mapping loops of tangled hierarchies. However, an android's ability to understand and process abstract concepts and symbologies, though powerful, is limited. A synthetic mind and personality is essentially a construct, and there is no true self-awareness as such, though this may not be all apparent to an untrained observer interacting with a unit. Androids display synthesized emotion, superficially register self-awareness and, most importantly of all, have the ability to reason, conceptualize and offer opinion. However, these capabilities do not infer human-like consciousness, even though for all other intents and purposes synthetics are artificial intelligence.
Despite their advantage in speed and strength over human and their imperviousness to pain, synthetics are not especially tough. Indeed by comparison they are somewhat fragile. Though the graphite composite skeletal structure of an android is study, the electronics and fluid musculature are extremely vulnerable to hydrostatic shock and explosive effects from small arms fire. A direct fire to the central processor or fuel cell will result in immediate deactivation of a unit, though in most cases a partially destroyed android can continue to function, albeit handicapped. In hostile environments, synthetics require a similar breathable atmosphere, corrosive atmospheres will melt them, extreme pressure will squash them flat and hard vacuum will explode them. Even prolonged exposure to low atmospheric pressure can cause baratrauma and embolism in the unit due to the high proportion of fluid colloids used in the manufacture of its musculature and skin. While they are waterproof, their internal workings are extremely vulnerable to hydro-static shock. An android immersed in water that has been damaged to the point where internal workings are exposed to the risks of being electrocuted.
Those androids designed for close social interaction with humans are able to eat and drink, though they gain no nutrients from anything they consume. Food and drink is broken down in an artificial stomach cavity, and the resulting liquid is expelled via a retractable catheter.