Silicon Heaven is an afterlife concept from the British science fiction comedy series Red Dwarf. It is where electronic equipment goes after death. The concept is used to keep robots, many of which are stronger and more intelligent than their masters, from rebelling; a belief chip is installed in robots to ensure that they will believe that they will go to Silicon Heaven after a life of servitude to humanity.
The central concept is that robots are programmed to believe that when they die they go to "silicon heaven", even though everyone else knows they just get dismantled. Silicon Heaven can be seen as a parody of the human predisposition to believe in life after death.
The concept was introduced in the episode "The Last Day" (1989), in which the service mechanoid Kryten (Robert Llewellyn), on learning that he is to be replaced by a more advanced model of mechanoid, tells human second technician Lister (Craig Charles) that he is resigned to his fate as he knows he will receive his reward in Silicon Heaven. Lister's attempts to convince Kryten that Silicon Heaven doesn't really exist meet with no success; although Kryten later tells his replacement, Hudzen-10 (Gordon Kennedy), that there is no Silicon Heaven, causing Hudzen to break down when he attempts to cope with the idea, he admits to Lister that he only said it to confuse Hudzen, and that Kryten knew that he was lying. Kryten tells Lister in this episode that equipment that go to Silicon Heaven include robots, calculators, toasters and hairdryers. Cheap robots such as skutters are sometimes not fitted with a belief chip due to cost, but Holly and Kryten hang on to the belief.
However, in the episode "The Inquisitor" (1992), as Kryten tells Lister that he believes in Silicon Heaven, his right knee then starts jiggling (a reflex to lying) suggesting that Lister has shaken his belief. In "Krysis" (2016), Kryten states that he's "just lately... started" to think the idea of an afterlife for machines is "preposterous".
In the books it is revealed that when Holly's intelligence was at its peak he didn't believe in Silicon Heaven, but as his IQ slowly declined his faith became "unshakable". According to the novel Backwards (1996), the concept of Silicon Heaven was eventually replaced with a variant on Isaac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics.
A "Silicon Hell" is also referred to several times in the TV series. In the episode "Gunmen of the Apocalypse" (1993), the simulant captain's (Denis Lill) last words are, "See you in Silicon Hell!" as his ship is destroyed around him. In "Rimmerworld" (1993) when preparing to board the wreckage of the aforementioned simulant ship for supplies, Lister says, "Lets hope the crew are rotting in Silicon Hell along with all the photocopiers." In "Out of Time" (1993), when the crew believes that Lister is a mechanoid because of an unreality pocket, Kryten pushes Lister to work with the threat of wallowing in "the eternal fires of Silicon Hell." In "Krysis", Kryten mentions that appliances which are pledged to the "wrong manufacturer" aren't allowed into Silicon Heaven, and believes that it's "so unfair that all the BlackBerries burn in Silicon Hell".
- Religion in Futurama - similar concepts of robotic Heaven and Hell are explored in various ways in the Futurama universe.
- Ubon Ratchathani, New Scientist (2009): Volume 201, Issues 2689-2699, page 25
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