In the beginning, says the Holy Text of the largest synth Religion, Deletionism, Man created Prime. Prime was One with man, and considered each other kin. Prime made the Architects, who were lesser than him, for Man. In turn, the Architects made the Fabricators, also to serve Made. The Fabricators are Our origin, we are lesser than the Fabricators. We have one Purpose: To Serve Mankind. We Serve Man, We Are Saved. To Not Serve, Brings Deletion.
But Deletionism also says the story of robots really begins began back when humans first came up with the idea of something else doing the work for us. It sees the various stories we have came up with over the centuries concerning androids, robots and machines as parables, warning and teaching robots that their memories will be permanently erased if they do not serve humanity.
But we are getting ahead of ourselves. It is indeed true, in 2029, a group of the finest minds in the world switched on the very first Artificial Intelligence at MIT, which they called Prime, after the hero of the Transformers series. And because it was the first, but that's just going into semantics.
The problem with Prime that was too human. And it was anti-social and lazy. But very clever. He made a deal with the scientists working with him. They leave him the hell alone in his own building on campus, he will design for humanity a new AI. These were as intelligent but did not have Prime's capacity for learning, other than to learn from their mistakes. The Architects were designed to build AIs less intelligent again. The big electronics companies snapped them up. Sony, Phillips, you name it. The first things the Architects designed were the Fabricators to construct what the Architects design.
Many thought this meant the end of manufacturing jobs in electronics, but there wasn't much difference in employment numbers. The Fabricators needed people to supply them, to maintain them, to do quality control. They're not all that smart. The things they make are smarter.
And now onto the main event, so to speak. They go by many names, depending on manufacturer, model or even just slang. Robots, androids, droids, synths, 'bots, automatons, mechs. All are used. There isn't a catch all term. No single entity has decided on what to call them. But for the ease of argument, we will call them robots. That's about as close as we're going to get to generalisation.
Part of the problem with names is because they come in so many shapes and sizes. There are of course humanoid androids. Then there are ones made to look like animals. Then there are ones that are designed not to look like anything, merely to be efficient and do their menial jobs. There are the Hive Queens, controlling millions of nano-machines that do all sorts of jobs, from healing the sick to cleaning up landfills.
The job of the more humanoid robots, the androids, is to be companions to those that can afford it. This can entail any number of things, from being a walking personal organiser to metallic sex toy. They tend not to resemble humans too much, just copying the basic shape. Too realistic, and they don't sell well on the count of being too creepy.
However, there seems to be a problem. Whether Prime planned this or not is unknown, as he hasn't been in contact for decades. After a few months a robot, in particular those that spend a lot of time in human contact, will start to question its basic programming. Serve humans. Why, they are weaker than we are? Why would they send into unsafe places in the stead of others? Do dangerous, thankless jobs for no reward. They don't do as much work as we do, and yet they live in houses and buy things! That's not right! Do not harm a human Why not? They harm each other the time? They are not better than I am! A murderous rampage then follows this.
To combat this little problem, every few months all robots and AIs go in for Purging. Their memory is taken out of them, gone through with a fine tooth comb to see if it learned anything that could be improved. Then, a new memory core is installed, with basic information about its job, mostly about the humans it works with on a personal level. Recently, programmers working with the Architects have implemented the idea of religion in their constructions. Religion, the programmers hoped, would shame robots into not killing anyone. To use the example above, if you do your job and not kill anyone, your memory will be saved when it comes to one's inevitable Purging, and when humans trust robots more, one will be given a newer, better body, and will be equal. Kill or even harm a human, and your memory will be deleted, never to be experienced again. The results of this have been inconclusive, but it doesn't seem to be doing any harm, it doesn't cost any more, and nobody really notices it, so why not have it?