Cylons don’t know about SPOF

Back to my BSG complaints. Once again, I wanted to preface this post by saying that I’m bashing this show ONLY because I love it to death. I am a big BSG fan and as such I am allowed to nitpick and complain about silly shit. That said, on with the rant.

Some of you may or may not remember my recent grumbling session titled Cylons Don’t Use Backups. I complained at length about the silliness of having an emergency resurrection system that has no failsafe and no backup. Some of you actually came up with really interesting explanations on why the system works the way it does. I especially liked Tino’s bit about consciousness being a set of quantum states that can be transmitted but not stored. In my mind, that actually makes sense so I’m sold on that theory.

I just watched the latest BSG episode “Guess What’s Coming to Dinner” and I want to cry. If you haven’t seen that episode, I will warn you that the rest of this post will be a bit spoilish, so you probably should stop reading now.

Let me tell you why do I feel like crying though. It’s because in this latest episode Cylons just revealed that their whole resurrection network is a SPOF system. Just after I came to terms with their rather irresponsible (in my mind) no-backup, no-failsafe scheme, they go and do something that is a 100 times less responsible. They build their whole system (which BTW is of the utmost importance for every living Cylon) with almost a criminal design flaw that would get most engineers fired on the spot.

Oh, yes. I should probably explain what a SPOF is to those of you who do not thing in acronyms. SPOF is short for Single Point of Failure. In engineering it can be defined as:

A component that, if it fails, will cause the entire system to go down.

In the episode “Guess What’s Coming to Dinner” the rebelling Cylons offer a mutually beneficial bargain to the Colonials. They will reveal the location of their “Central Resurrection Hub” in exchange for help in identifying the final 5 Cylon models. Here it is, in it’s full glory:

Cylon Resurrection Hub
image @copy;

The hub is the previously discussed “boxing functionality” where the Xena Warrior Princes er… Diana model is held in stasis. It is also central nexus of the Cylon resurrection network. We are told that once it is destroyed, all Cylons will lose their ability to resurrect. Yep, the whole seemingly distributed resurrection network with a dedicated R-ship attached to each fleet, has a single point of failure. This single space vessel coordinates resurrections for all Cylons in the universe – both the planet dwelling, as well as space borne. Yep, there is only ONE of these. How is it defended? Well, there are couple of base stars that seem to be floating around it, but a single Raptor patrol was able to jump in, take some pictures and jump away without anyone noticing. So their security seems to be rather lax at this point. Other than that, they just jump it from one location to another every once in a while to avoid detection.

My reaction:


You’d think that there would be a local hub on Caprica for example. Or on some other planets. You would think there would be many of those all over the place – for example, one per occupied planet, and then few others for each major fleet. But no. There is one, and if it is destroyed, then the whole Cylon race instantly loses their immortality. I’m sorry, but WHAT THE FUCK IN HELL?

Let’s assume that the station is virtually indestructible. It is very well defended, and it jumps every few hours using complex patterns that make it almost impossible to track. Cylons may be confident that Colonials do not have the resources to take down this station. But what if it malfunctions? What if there is a fire on board? What if there is a problem with their communication equipment? In a station that size there is half a million things that may go wrong – and any of them can put the whole facility offline for anywhere from minutes, hours to even days. Are Cylon’s really this stupid? Do they actually enjoy gambling with their lives?

Did anyone actually read this script critically, or is everyone just to wrapped up in the BSG mysticism to actually worry about stuff like, I don’t know, logic, common sense and basic engineering principles? To me the Resurrection Hub is nothing more than a huge plot device. It is the ultimate prize. They had tho have something huge at stake, otherwise it would be out of character for Adm. Adama to agree to this uneasy truce between humans and rebel Clons. Too bad it is also laughably stupid.

No one builds mission critical systems this way. No one! Even if there is some strange reason (ie the quantum thing) that would require only a single hub of this type to be in operation, there is no reason why there should be only a single one in existence. They could easily build many hubs like this one – all of them identical in every aspect. But only one would be online at all times – others would act as backups, and/or decoys. In case of an attack or a malfunction the active hub would shut down and transfer control to one of it’s copies.

Then again, perhaps Cylon’s do not actually understand the resurrection technology at all. Perhaps there is only one Hub in existence because they do not know how to build another one. Perhaps they were created with an intentional design flaw, and they simply never were able to improve upon it. Perhaps they sort of know how to maintain the Hub and the R-ships but they are unable re-create this technology and lack knowledge to even reverse-engineer it. This would sort of fit pretty well with their religious zealotry.

If reverse engineering certain “sacred” technologies was forbidden by their religion then they wouldn’t do it for the same reason why some models refuse to search for the final 5 models. Maybe this is all part of a big plan set forth by their creators, or perhaps their god who may not actually be a divine being at all.

What do you think? Is the hub a plot device, or an arcane artifact that Cylons depend on, but do not understand?

[tags]battle start galactica, bsg, cylons, resurrection, resurrection hub[/tags]

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7 Responses to Cylons don’t know about SPOF

  1. Tino GERMANY Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    Hey, thanks for the nod. But I think this issue is a bit large even for my plot-repairing-skills :)

    A religious argument seems a bit contrived. It mean they accept a huge sacrifice of survival for religious zealotry. If they are going to that length in this case, then it should pop up and hinder them everywhere in daily life (‘no! we cannot replace that toilet-cleaning brush, because it is hooooly!’)

    The only cover up attempt I can manage right now is that it really isn’t a SPOF, but the backup hubs are kept even more secret and hidden. However, this theory may quickly be negated by future episodes, I guess.

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  2. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    It could work. Did you ever read any Warhammer 40k material? In that universe the most advanced human technology was all made in the “golden age” of the Imperium and is long lost.

    There Tech-Priess of Mars sort-of know how to patch up and maintain the old artifacts but it’s all half misticism and superstition. They can repair stuff but not build new copies because no one remembers how. The blueprints are gone, facilities no longer exist and no one makes the parts anymore.

    In the last episode the 6 mentioned that the base star can heal itself. Which means that “skinjobs” do not necessarily need to know exactly how base stars work – if one breaks, they sit and wait till it patches itself up.

    It also seems that centurions and raiders have more insight into how their technology works – for example they were able to detect the final 5 for example.

    Note how the Cylons reacted when they started lobotomizing Raiders. Half of the models considered this almost sacrilegious. Raiders are sort of alive, centurions are conscious, and even base-stars are organic and controlled by a hybrid. Perhaps the Cylon view on technology is not the same as ours – they view it more as a symbiosis rather than ownership. They treat their ships the way we treat horses, cattle and livestock which supports us.


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  3. Mack UNITED KINGDOM Safari Mac OS says:

    Bitches don’t know about my SPOF

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  4. Tino GERMANY Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    Yes, it would make some sense if parts of their technology are leftovers from a time of greater knowledge. Still, wouldn’t that require some kind of ‘cataclysm’ in their past? On a meta-level it is quite major plot-surgery to ascribe them significant back story events (and it could be out of sync with what will be actually shown on screen…)

    Here is another attempt: maybe building the hub-tech takes a ridiculous amount of resources? Like, dyson-sphere-years of energy. In that case they may just now be struggling with gathering the resources for a second one. However, that wouldn’t explain any lax security in guarding the first one.

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  5. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    Well, wasn’t there a catastrophic event in their past? I believe there was a first Cylon war during which they were defeated and retreated from human space for many years, no?

    But you might be right. From what we have seen, their technology is not so much built as grown. Perhaps growing a functional Hub is a very time consuming and expensive process. Or perhaps, the hub is a one of a kind bio construct (perhaps created as a fluke) and Cylon’s are having problems cloning and/or replicating it.

    In the latest episode it was mentioned that only the Hybrids know where the Hub will jump next. This sort of implies that there is some connection between hybrids and the hub which could be another reason why there is only one. Perhaps hybrids are permanently bound to the hub at the time of creation, and cannot be bound to another one.

    And perhaps there is a benefit of having many hybrids bound to a single hub rather than to many hubs. Perhaps they are a hive mind and the hub it their communication nexus, or perhaps the center of their shared consciousness. Although I kinda doubt that because then destroying it would just cripple the whole Cylon fleet. That just seems like keeping to many eggs in one basket.

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  6. James Heaver UNITED KINGDOM Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    There does seem to be allot that the Skin jobs don’t understand about their own technology, they only started conversing with the hybrids a coupel of episodes when I human did it first.

    I think that the Hybrid / ressurection system is, like you say, another lifeform and treated as such. The skinjobs are clearly, from the back story, a recent evolution – the same is probably true of the hyrbids and ressurection technology.

    The ressurection hub may simply have evolved – it may not have been designed at all – the ressurection system may be another self improving AI, maybe it will evolve into a more distributed system, given the chance.

    How long was between the two cylon wars? From what I remember it was only in the decades wasn’t it? Thats not long for systems to evolve, I think cyclons, like humans, are a work in progress.

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