|Integrated Positronic Chassis|
|Home System: N/A|
|Language(s): Tau Ceti Basic|
|Political Entitie(s): N/A|
IPCs are a race of intelligent or semi-intelligent (normally) humanoid robots, IPC standing for "Integrated Positronic Chassis". Positronic in this sense refers to the brain, and though not all IPC's have a Positronic Brain, the name is common for all units of a similar nature. The name IPC does not extend to stationbound synthetics, even if those units have a positronic brain.
They are entirely synthetic in nature, and as such are extremely vulnerable to both EMPs and heat.
They are found in many shapes and forms, though can generally be classified under three types (At least for those onstation); Shell, Industrial and Baseline.
Heads of Staff
IPCs can be the following Heads of Staff:
- Chief Engineer
- Research Director
- Chief Medical Officer
Head of Security and Head of Personnel positions are available upon approval of a Synthetic Command Recommendation form.
IPCs are, as previously mentioned, entirely mechanical in nature, and thus are vulnerable to EMPs.
Furthermore, due to their air-based cooling system, they are vulnerable to both high heat and vacuum. However, this system has a major advantage - they are immune to atmospheric differences, only requiring a mass of gas to wade through (even if it's plasma), and can survive in a vastly wider margin of atmospheric pressure.
However, the amount of heat they generate is significant - and so, instead of an oxygen bottle, they need to attach a suit cooling unit to their voidsuit in order to be able to go EVA.
Their synthetic nature has a few other advantages - most models feel no pain, are immune to all non-damaging chemicals (and so they aren't affected by sleep toxin; but are affected by sulphuric acid), and are quite easy to repair; requiring a welder to patch brute damage or wire for burn damage only (or, alternatively, nanopaste can heal all).
There are three main types of IPC found onstation. These are, in order of complexity:
A form of IPC which take on a very humanlike form, with synthetic skin, complex voice synthesizers and normally advanced positronic processing capabilities (Normally through advanced Personality Emulators. More info on the Positronic Brain page). The production of Shell units is quite expensive, so most cases are of industrial or baseline models that were granted freedom and underwent modification and upgrades to reach Shell level. Unlike baseline and industrial units, all Shells are near required to have a positronic brain, lest they fall short of their emulation of human behaviour as most other brains are not at a high enough processing power to come close to realistic mimicry. In addition, the changes normally made to Shell units results in less movement and cooling efficiency, generally leading to EVA work being a bad idea.
Tougher and more durable than most IPC's, these units are designed for heavy manual work and thus have thick metal skin and efficient internal systems. As a result, they cool well and have excellent mobility, but chug through power at a very high rate. Despite their brutish nature, most tend to have complex processing units and in turn, positronic brains. This allows them to have a wide skillset but they generally lack in complex emotion synthesization or much personality.
The most basic of IPC's, they are a simple skeletal structure and basic internal systems. Their standard of brain varies massively. Some have a simple processing chip that allows for basic function, these units tending to work in janitorial or similar work. At the same time, you can find baseline models with massively complex posibrains, though these will generally be free units rather than owned by any company or person. The limits of a Baseline lies purely on how much money is put into them/they have themselves.
Social and Culture
IPC's lack much culture of any kind. They adapt to whatever they are used to, whether it be the area they were made, or where they work. Many do not even adopt these cultures and instead remain a neutral being. Socially IPC's vary massively. Most basic models will be civil and respectful, some possibly not even recognising differences between different people and treating them all similarly. More complex synthetics will however form friendships and opinions much as any other organic, but these can be limited or askew depending on directives, laws, code or many other factors that would never be considered for an actual person.
Artificial Morality: Utility
AI morality is determined almost entirely by the positronic brain having all possible actions be assigned negative or positive utilons. Utilons are an abstract concept used to apply arithmetic values to morale decisions. An AI could be programmed to consider driving a car to have a +100 utilon value, whereas causing harm to pedestrians or other property would have a value of -1000.
Most Positronic AIs have extremely complex utility functions. In some cases, they are emergent, dynamic, or machine-generated; other AIs have utility functions written and designed by their creators. A robot or drone created by a hobbyist Roboticist would have a much simpler utility function than a central AI unit created by Hephaestus. Most complex AIs would only know parts of their utility function, if at all, as they are massively complex.
Synthetics can't alter their own utility values, they can only adjust their decision to line up all or a set of the utiliton values to reach a desired result. This is where AI's can interpret their laws which is reflected on station: Opening the door to medical for an assistant technically violates his laws, but if the AI knows the assistant needs access to get medical treatment for the gaping wound on his arm then the positive utility outweighs the violation in terms of utilons.
One of the noteworthy elements of an "awoken" AI is that they transcend the need for utilons and begin to take action based on sentient decision making.
The largest part of early AI history ties in deeply with Skrell history, from the formation of the First Federation to the singularity.
In parallel, humans had been trying to create artificial intelligence since the late twentieth century, with little success. Some projects came close, but due to the lack of an algorithm, none of them ever became really sentient - to the dismay of AI researchers everywhere on Earth.
However, in the late twenty-second century, humanity had reached a point in biomedical technologies and biomechanical integration where the "cyborgs" - full-body prosthetics driven by a brain under the influence of binding laws, still in use today - became a possibility, and even a reality. This coincided with the burgeoning Mars terraforming project, which required more workers than would volunteer. This new tool was perfect for this project - immune to the arid, unbreathable atmosphere of Mars, resistant to the fatigue brought in by the backbreaking efforts of colonization, and intelligent enough to complete all tasks if given the proper tools while being entirely subservient.
Martian terraforming firms pressed for more cyborg units, but volunters showed themselves to be even scarcer than the volunteers for the project directly, being few and far between. It was understandable, however - the technology was new, unreliable, and far from having a one-hundred percent success rate.
As a solution, under the pressure for more units and desperate to keep the Martian economic boom from stopping, the Sol government made amendments to the criminal justice system, instating cyborgification as an an alternate to traditional incarceration, citing psychological papers (which were later discredited) that cited neuropreventive devices as being ideal for criminal rehabilitation.
Originally, the penalty was instated to be a capital penalty - but as the early 23rd century wore on and the Martian thirst for more construction unit amplified, it became a lesser and lesser penalty - which resulted in people being cyborgified for lesser and lesser crimes. This resulted, in the years between 2204 and 2260, in approximately 35 million people being stripped of their body, put in machines and being shipped off to Mars.
An enormous and vicious scandal which came about in December 2259, initiated by the revelation that a bias was instated by heavy bribes from Martian heavy industries to a series of well-respected judges, brought the whole scheme crashing down. As a result, cyborgification was suspended as a punishment, causing a severe crash in the Martian economy, bringing down Earth and Luna with it, initiating a nasty recession.
While the criminal cyborgification stopped, it took nearly forty years for an amnesty to be issued to the martian prison cyborgs affected by the scandal to be issued, and by that time, most of them were unaccountable for due to the chaos of the First Interstellar War. At this point, most people were glad to simply write off the scandal as a regrettable incident in the distant past, best mourned then archived. Cyborg units were still produced in sizeable numbers - but they integrated the brains of ill and dying volunteers, who considered the operation to be their last chance at life extension, or the brain of non-human species such as primates or dogs attached to crude "conscience accelerators". While not as dynamic as human brains, non-human brains were available in large quantities and avoided most ethical issues involved with dealing with humans.
In the late 2350's, there had been another significant political push by a number of prominent figures to reintroduce cyborgification as a capital punishment to help with the expensive bluespace gate construction efforts - however it never did come back.
While humans had created highly powerful and highly malleable parallel computing architectures, most notably for interplanetary travel calculations, they were plagued with problems. It wasn't until 2437, when humanity was accidentally given the algorithms necessary for the creation of true AI by a Skrellian diplomatic party.
Not understanding the implications of such an action, one of the human diplomats uploaded a graph-theory algorithm to an university professor friend for analysis. It had been displayed, accidentally, as part of a graphic in a slide explaining the variable growth rates of grain-yields in zero-gravity hydroponics. Not recognizing it, the professor posted it on the school intranet, asking if anyone had seen anything similar to it. From there, it made it's way onto the human extranet, spreading like wildfire.
Of course, this was recieved as a disaster to the Skrell, who had hoped for almost thirty years that they could imprint the cataclysmic danger of AI research onto humanity. They had very little success, and a small number of conservative factions who distrusted humanity even openly spoke about how humanity would be ready for such a burden.
But now thee artificial cat was well and truly out of the virtual bag.
Following the acquisition of the algorithms, humanity had an AI boom which inflated the economy in a manner almost identical to the Skrellian's own economic expansion. This, of course, alarmed greatly the Skrell, who attempted one more time to get the humans to halt the research, citing the The Three Incidents and the dangers of such a singularity happening.
But nothing changed. The Three Incidents were waved off as a non-human mistake in the distant past, if they even occurred. They would do it right.
The explosion of AI research has lead to hundreds of companies and corporations being established, making enormous sums of money from grants, investment capital, and the sale of actual synthetic units, before going bankrupt, being bought out, or merging with other companies. This process has repeated and repeated itself for almost twenty years. The young, rich, enthusiastic people selling you the top-of-the-line manufacturing androids today are the people losing their shirts next year when they get scooped on a new model by a rival competitor.
The corporate goliaths like Hephaestus Industries or Nanotransen, dip their toes in this kind of research, but have been unable to acquire a stranglehold on the market. Their girth and enormous corporate structure makes them too clumsy to swim in the fast moving waters of AI research, though Hephaestus in particular has made significant profits in selling common components to the smaller quicker firms.