Note: Before starting an application for an artificial intelligence character, please check with RP Wizard Tsye to see if your concept is acceptable and an opening is available for it.
Humanoid robots were heavily used in Japan and Korea, while many other parts of the world gravitated towards furry recoms to do their dirty work. The USA struck a balance by using recoms in many commercial and civilian jobs, but depending on robots for many military uses. For example, one may contrast the iconic Japanese MEDIBOT with the nuclear-armed American OGRE cybertanks.
One of the most important features of AI was the ability to interpret natural human language and interact naturally with humans, without having to go through an arbitrary “user interface”. In order to advance this ability, Emotion Engine software (often running on a specialized sub-processor) was developed. This allowed an AI to simulate human feelings – but was fraught with controversy, as some inisted the Emotion Engine amounted to nothing more than sophisticated mimickry, while others believed the simulated feelings were just as valid as real human feelings.
The question then arose of whether AIs – at least some of the more advanced ones, running the Emotion Engine – should be considered people and be afforded some kind of human rights. The disastrous market failure of the “Real People Personality®” series from Sirius Cybernetics cast a shadow over the robot rights movement, and this question was never fully resolved before the war.
Since then most AIs have not run the full Emotion Engine software, although subsets of it are often used in robots that interact with the public, such as sales droids. It is still possible – and legal – to create an AI with a full human-like (or now, recom-like) independent personality, but society considers them taboo. With dark memories of being enslaved by humans, furry recoms have been very wary of raising robot rights as an issue again, and they have largely ducked it by deliberately not giving personalities to AIs.
There are a few exceptions. All starships now include an on-board AI to govern the complex operations of the vehicle. On some commercial vessels it has become traditional to give the AI a name and personality, and in some instances a humanoid robot drone that is treated like a full crew member.
|Devik Sez: The sort of AI systems mounted on ships are typically your run-of-the-mill AIs which are intended for that purpose and little more; while they may be capable of running a ship autonomously and can even perform some feats beyond this, these sorts of systems are still capped by their limited package. This means that while a shipboard AI is great at flying and monitoring a ship and may even converse with the crew with Recom-level intelligence, most ship computers aren't able to handle heavy scientific processing or other data loads that specialized AI systems handle. These more powerful “Super AIs” or “Superintelligences” are typically only within the financial reach of governments and large megacorporations, and are gargantuan in size; Class 3 ships and higher are usually the only size vessel capable of mounting such powerful AIs, although with very creative use of space a Class 2 may be able to just barely fit everything inside, at the expense of all other utility. It's essentially the difference between your computer running home automation software, and the latest multi-billion-dollar supercomputer cluster.|
One complication for AI since the war is that compact nanocomputers are no longer available. As a result, it is no longer practical to put a fully functional AI unit on board a humanoid robot. The smallest such units are about the size of a deep freeze and require dedicated power and cooling support. They can control robotic drones through a remote connection (i.e. telepresence), however.
For example: A large department store might have an AI core housed in the basement, controlling a dozen or more humanoid service robots around the store. Each bot can carry enough on-board intelligence to perform simple tasks while the AI divides its attention between them. When a bot is faced with a problem beyond its abilities, the AI can focus on that and take direct control of it.
For another example: A large starship, such as a military vessel, may have multiple high-capacity AI cores distributed around the ship in order to control the large number of functions and service robots, and to provide some level of redundancy.
In the business world, the law still assumes that robots and AIs are property, and every AI core must have a rightful owner to control it. AIs cannot themselves own property. However, AIs can be (and often are) owned by corporations, and they can serve as executives in corporations, and in some instances enjoy a great deal of autonomy and large amounts of resources at their command. InterCore for example makes extensive use of AI systems in all levels of capacity, and is a recognized leader in AI development - both technologically and culturally. It's advanced systems are typically recognized as “individuals” within the corporation and are privy to all of the same benefits (and punishments) that any recom corporate citizen would enjoy, even including annual “vacation time” - the AI is allowed to self-determine what to occupy its run-time with. The megacorporation has come under scrutiny from more traditional organizations who are concerned with it's rapidly-progressive policies towards AI rights.
Military AIs are considered property of the service and cannot leave it until they are eventually decommissioned or sold as surplus material. They also cannot, properly speaking, become officers. However, they can be given Officer Proxy Status (OPS) command positions. In this situation the AI is supposedly standing in as the representative of an officer and issuing orders on his behalf. This practice has evolved over time until OPS AIs are now, for most practical purposes, treated as officers. The connection to a recom officer must still exist “on paper”, but in practice has become little more than a formality, and military AIs now widely receive more equitable treatment than their civilian counterparts.
Military robots are used for carrying supplies, for reconaissance, and can carry weapons, but tradition demands that weapons cannot be fired without a recom either giving the order or pulling the trigger. (Thus, an OPS AI can't fire a weapon on its own initiative, but it can order recoms under its command to do so!) Fully autonomous hunter-killer robots (HKs) – such as those widely used during the Apocalypse War – are no longer allowed.