I haven’t watched BSG from the beginning but I’m intrigued by Cylon religion. I did a quick google and it seems that it was never really explained or demystified on the show. I have been thinking about this for a while now, and I think have a slightly controversial theory.
I actually believe that Cylon God is an evolved AI which transcended beyond singularity.
If you are not familiar with Vernor Vinge’s theory of Singularity here is a quick rundown. Vinge theorized that if it is at all possible AI which achieves self-awareness and human-like sentience then it would be possible to improve this AI by means of faster hardware, and better software algorithms, to the point that it is smarted, and quicker than any human could ever be. In other words we can possibly produce a superhuman intelligence which is in all ways superior to homo-sapiens intellect.
This superhuman AI can then use it’s beefed up brain to further improve itself. We might not be able to figure our how to augment our super computer any more, but the super-smart, super-fast thinking AI can possibly figure out technological solutions we would have to spend years developing.
Hence, we have an AI which can actively self improve, figuring out new ways to construct better hardware, better software and squeeze out the most computational power from the available resources. This machine keeps improving, and soon enough it becomes so smart that we can no longer relate to it. In relation to it, we look like modern day chimps – while intelligent, inquisitive and resourcefully compared to the rest of the animal kingdom, they would never be able to comprehend intricacies of human science. Similarly, we would never be able to comprehend the super-intelligent, self-improving AI.
This is a crude explanation, so read Vinge’s paper for a clearer explanation. The main point is – what happens when an AI becomes so smart, we cannot even comprehend the full extent of it’s abilities? For all incenses and purposes it is like a god to us, so logical conclusion would be for humanity to worship this seemingly omnipresent, omnipotent, infallible god-like machine.
And this is what I think happened to Cylon society. Some kind of hyper-turing inteligence evolved beyond our wildest dreams, and now it is commanding hordes of raging cylons as their “one true god”.
One could ask why other Cylons did not evolve this way? They could have been many super-turing intelligences at some point, but I believe they would either fight for ascendancy at some point, or merge with each other to achieve even greater power. Therefore we can conclude that the current Cylon “god” either assimilated or destroyed all remaining AI’s matching it’s intelligence.
But every god needs worshipers, and zealots who would do his biding. That’s why we still have the tin can centurions, and the human like clones. They are like worker and warrior bees, working together to ensure safety and well being of their super-AI queen.
But that’s just my humble opinion. Feel free to disagree. I actually do not expect to be right on this at all. I doubt that BSG writers ever read Vinge. But if they did decide to use singularity to explain the Cylon god I would be really impressed!