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I've been wondering about how the institute manages to produce synths with the very limited amount of resources left in the commonwealth but primarily why they even bother. Granted I haven't completed the game yet so I don't know everything there is to know about the institute.

To me it seems that they need synths to perform cheap and dangerous labour. Why do they use these very technologically advanced - and I'd imagine hard to produce - robots for these tasks when they have a great source of cheap labour living above them? Generation 3 synths are indistinguishable from humans so they need food and living quarters just like humans. You could argue that humans will never be as loyal to the institute as the synths are, but the existence of the railroad faction shows that (gen 3) synths' brainwashing doesn't always produce the most reliable results either.

In summary: why does the institute bother with synths when there are humans to perform cheap labor instead?

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    Not very hard to produce: the creation process takes all of 1 minute in that lab. – Yorik Jan 14 '16 at 15:24
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    @Yorik by hard to produce I meant hard to acquire the right materials – Fester Jan 14 '16 at 16:04
  • Related: Why does The Institute kidnap people? – DCShannon Jan 15 '16 at 0:10
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    Because plot device. – boomstick Jan 16 '16 at 13:26
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This might contain spoilers, be aware:

  • I do not think Gen 3 Synths need food and sleep. While they look and behave like humans, those are still machines. They probably CAN eat, but they don't have to.

  • Human resources are limited and have to be trained. Most of the raiders where just reckless and brutal, not capable of solving complex problems. Synths can do that.

  • While you say humans aren't as loyal as synths, synths still are more loyal and can be developed further. You can tune a machine until its perfect, which was the goal of the institute.

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    Since many gen 3 synths think they are human, it's reasonable to assume they get hungry and tired just as humans do (or at least think they feel that they are tired or hungry). Otherwise it would be completely obvious to everyone else after a few days of no food or sleep. – Broots Waymb Jan 14 '16 at 16:00
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    Of course there are the coursers, which might not feel these needs, so they can be as efficient as possible. – Broots Waymb Jan 14 '16 at 16:01
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    I don't recall which one, but one of the Institute scientists specifically says that synths don't need to eat, drink, or sleep. – DCShannon Jan 15 '16 at 0:09
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    @DangerZone They probably DO eat and sleep, but they don't have to. – Y U NO WORK Jan 15 '16 at 6:32
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Without going into spoilers, when you meet a certain character, he explains:

... Scientific curiosity, and the goal of perfection, drove them ever onward. What they wanted was... the perfect machine. So they followed the best example thus far - the human being. Walking, talking, fully articulate... Capable of anything.

So it isn't to be slaves or to carry out cheap labour - It's just out of simple scientific curiosity and basically playing God.

  • This explains why they created them initially, it doesn't explain why gen 3 synths are sweeping the floors of the institute – Fester Jan 14 '16 at 16:05
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    @Fester I guess it ties in to your part of the question where you say there is a great source of cheap labour living above them - (and while still trying to avoid spoilers) they don't really want anyone from above ground, so within their society synths just fill those positions. I guess a good comparison may be that Humans aren't bred to clean toilets, but someone has to do it! – Adam Lobo Jan 14 '16 at 16:25
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Humans require years of development before they can be used for any extensive labour, and it is easier to rationalize owning someone when they are not human (that is not possessing your sapience) and can be programmed for a particular task, not to mention humans sort of... resist being captured.

Also,

I suspect synths were further developed to secretly maintain contact with the surface after distrust from the surface folk forced them underground.

2

History has shown that every time a society gets to use an underclass of people to take care of menial labor (and if managed well), the standard of living increases for its existing members. This was the primary motivation to use slaves, servants and these days, immigrants from poor third world countries.

The same applies to creating synths. By using synths, the institute hopes to drastically boost the standard of living for all humans that exist in that post-apocalyptic world. According to them, humans will no longer need to scavenge or hunt for food but instead, be left to pursue other interests such as creating art or advancing science while the Institute synths take care of the basics for humans.

Having established this premise, here are the answers to your questions.

Q. Why not use people instead of synths?

A. There are not enough people in the post apocalyptic wasteland. Too many of them are currently preoccupied with menial tasks such as producing food, scavenging or protecting establishments. When synths are created and used for these tasks, these humans will be freed up for "higher tasks".

Q. But there's no point using synths, since they will rebel anyway. Humans still make a good underclass

A. It's much easier to control a synth as long as you have its reset code. Just utter the recall code and the synth simply shuts down and goes into a sleep-like state. You cannot control a human that easily. This essentially reduces the cost of controlling a synth. One of the primary motivations to abolishing slavery, is that controlling humans is very costly.

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