Silicates are a fictional race of androids created by humanity to be servants in the 1995–1996 television series Space: Above and Beyond.
The Silicates were created to be servants and soldiers; however, they developed an intelligence and sentience of their own, after they were infected by the "Take a Chance" computer virus created by Dr. Ken Stranahan. This sparked an AI rebellion by the Silicates, who attempted to free themselves from human rule. This long war continued for many years, until the Silicates captured military spacecraft and escaped into space. As they went into space, the Silicates suffered from a lack of maintenance which caused problems for them.
The remnants of the Silicates that fled into deep space serve as mercenaries and actually aid the alien Chig in their war against humanity.
The AIs (Artificial Intelligence) were manufactured by humanity to serve them and, as such, appear as humans but with enough differences to appear as machine creations, namely the rifle sight-like crosshairs in place of pupils. They were made to be beautiful and physically appealing by their makers. The surviving Silicates that fled into deep space have been suffering from a lack of adequate maintenance for many years, and thus frequently possess minor damage to their outer covering which reveals their machine parts underneath.
Silicates were primarily designed to be domestic servants, or even pleasure slaves, and not particularly for hard labor (which would be done by heavy machinery). As a result, standard Silicates are actually not that much stronger than a human, and because they were not originally designed to be used in combat, it is not particularly difficult for a trained human soldier to defeat them in hand-to-hand combat. This is partially offset by the fact that Silicates are not hindered by physical pain, and cannot experience the emotion of fear.
Silicates communicate with one another through modulation schemes made by wireless telephone which comes across to humans as a series of electronic beeps and chirps. This wireless network allows each AI to know the position and operating status of the other units. They have a 5 terabyte collective memory, which allows them to store information and retrieve it making them excellent in information gathering. Any unit can recall anything that happened to any AI that was ever built.
As the AI Silicates were created as a "servitor" species, they were programmed to understand abstraction, but with programming that restricted original thought and creativity, which leaves them to simply imitate rather than create. Had the "Take a Chance" computer virus not been created, it is likely the Silicates would have remained within their servant race role. As such, risk-taking has become the prime ideology of the AI Silicates which results in them seeing activities as a risk or gamble. The first "risk" was the indiscriminate killing of their human creators in the AI War, which lasted for ten years. The Silicate robots refer to humans as "carbonites", because they are carbon-based life forms.
Because the Silicates were programmed to comprehend abstract thought, but also restricted from formulating original thoughts, and do not normally possess emotions, such as fear, the Silicates are capable of understanding that humans experience fear, albeit this comprehension is on an academic level. This made the Silicates a deadly enemy in the AI Wars, because while they experienced no fear themselves in combat, they realized the value of random and savage attacks meant to terrify and demoralize humans. While the Silicates were incapable of originating such tactics on their own, they simply needed to imitate the long history of terror tactics used by human armies.
In some individual cases, Silicates have begun to development emotional attachments amongst themselves. This could represent an evolutionary change within their programming.