Imperial slavery ban & robots

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Hakkonen
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Imperial slavery ban & robots

Postby Hakkonen » Sat Feb 17, 2018 10:55 am

Traveller establishes that machines can be fully conscious. Does the Imperial ban on slavery include a prohibition on owning conscious machines? Is this a local matter (for a given value of "local") where the law varies from one jurisdiction to another? If a robot lodges a protest at the duke's court, what reception could it expect?
Sigtrygg
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Re: Imperial slavery ban & robots

Postby Sigtrygg » Sat Feb 17, 2018 11:11 am

There is no Imperial ban on slavery.

Let me rephrase that, the Imperium has a few laws on slavery which are comprehensively bent and ignored.

As to machines - robots, synthetics and clone 'families' (called guests in T5) are considered property not people.

In certain parts of the Imperium if you have over a certain percentage of mechanical prosthesis you are considers a machine and lose all rights.
Hakkonen
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Re: Imperial slavery ban & robots

Postby Hakkonen » Sat Feb 17, 2018 8:21 pm

I was under the impression that one of the few Imperium-wide laws was a prohibition on slavery. What laws does the Imperium enforce?

Holy ****, Mongoose needs to do an entire sourcebook on this stuff.
Sigtrygg
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Re: Imperial slavery ban & robots

Postby Sigtrygg » Sat Feb 17, 2018 9:49 pm

If you go through CT sources you find examples of the Imperium:
holding political prisoners without trial
imprisonment without trail
kidnapping and imprisoning and experimenting on sophonts
shipping criminals from core worlds to frontier colonies to become colonists
people being sold into effective slavery
megacorporations treating workers as little more than a slave workforce
and probably a few more that I have forgotten.
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Re: Imperial slavery ban & robots

Postby phavoc » Sat Feb 17, 2018 11:43 pm

Article VI of the Warrant of Restoration by Cleon I, which was issued at the start of the 3rd Imperium, specifically prohibits slavery within the boundaries of the Imperium.

Article Vl - Slavery Prohibited
Chattel slavery shall not exist within the Imperium, nor in any territory directly under its control, nor on any member world, nor within any territory with which a member world shall have dealings.

Link here http://wiki.travellerrpg.com/Warrant_of_Restoration
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Re: Imperial slavery ban & robots

Postby Sigtrygg » Sun Feb 18, 2018 12:26 am

Like I said - they have laws, they just don't apply them or enforce them unless the retcon police have redacted all the canonical info to the contrary.
Laws change, interpretations of laws change, laws get twisted and laws get ignored if some think they are above them.
phavoc
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Re: Imperial slavery ban & robots

Postby phavoc » Sun Feb 18, 2018 3:49 am

Not sure what you mean by retconning the canon. Are to elaborate?

As for the rest, that is true as it is today and has been since humanity first formulated law, and then promptly broke it/them. While it's a fair statement, it's not really applicable to the argument since the base assumption is that slavery is entirely acceptable and prevalent. Withour specific data to say otherwise, the reverse of that argument would be the default (i.e. slavery is rare) since it is an Imperium wide law and written into the current foundational document. Plus the adventures and such don't speak of widespread slavery. Bad writing aside I would have to say the Imperium isn't a star spanning Gor.
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Re: Imperial slavery ban & robots

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Sun Feb 18, 2018 4:48 am

I'm curious what 57th-century tech actually works against slavery.
Sigtrygg
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Re: Imperial slavery ban & robots

Postby Sigtrygg » Sun Feb 18, 2018 8:21 am

phavoc wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 3:49 am
Not sure what you mean by retconning the canon. Are to elaborate?
What I mean is that unless the canonical adventures where different aspects of 'slavery' are shown to still exist, both on the frontier and on core worlds, then forms of slavery do exist within the Imperium and the Imperium turns a blind eye or local Imperials are in collusion.

As for the rest, that is true as it is today and has been since humanity first formulated law, and then promptly broke it/them. While it's a fair statement, it's not really applicable to the argument since the base assumption is that slavery is entirely acceptable and prevalent. Withour specific data to say otherwise, the reverse of that argument would be the default (i.e. slavery is rare) since it is an Imperium wide law and written into the current foundational document. Plus the adventures and such don't speak of widespread slavery. Bad writing aside I would have to say the Imperium isn't a star spanning Gor.
The Forbolden project paints a pretty nasty picture for life on Imperial core worlds for the vast lower class masses. No health care, no job security etc. While I'm not sujesting the Imperium treats its 'citizens' on these worlds as slaves, they are not against making them a commodity rather than beings with rights.
Out on the frontier we find the occasional examples of people as a slave like workforce.

One of the reasons Dulinor assassinated Strephon is that Dulinor believed the Imperium should be a lot more interventionist and benevolent, enforce its laws and raise the living standards across the Imperium.

T4's details of the lofty idaels and founding charters etc are a very rosy picture of the Imperium ay its inception, sadly the lofy ideals didn't last...
a system of governance founded on 'feudalism' (a ruling elite - the nobles), capatilist economics (the only thing that matters is getting those taxes - sorry promoting trade) and military superiority is a recipe for disaster in the long term,

Back to robots, synthetics and guests - robots are kept dumb in the Imperium because emotion simulation and (real world meaning of)AI at
TL11/12 cusp would lead to lots of liberals starting to ask for robot rights. By the time you have true machine sentience at TL16+ (or Virus takes over your air/raft computer)) you would have to recognise them as sophonts and as such there goes your cheap workforce.
Synthetics and guests are deliberately designed to lack 'humanity' so they can be classified as machines, they are even marked to make them obvious - a bit like branding cattle (or slaves).
The T5 chapters on Robots, Synthetics and Clones are worth the price of the book alone. :)
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Re: Imperial slavery ban & robots

Postby Condottiere » Sun Feb 18, 2018 8:28 am

There's a Dunesian distrust on artificial intelligence, without which, machinery can't be considered sentient.

And I think it starts at technological level sixteen.
Sigtrygg
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Re: Imperial slavery ban & robots

Postby Sigtrygg » Sun Feb 18, 2018 9:58 am

It has long been my contention that Traveller's definition of TL16+ AI should more properly called AS - artificial sentience.
AI is learning and problem solving, something our computers today are getting better at. Add an emotion simulation to Alexa and you will have people thinking their houses are alive...

Another contention, the Vilani were desperately afraid of AI - not only due to Ancient war machine legends, but also due to what they encountered during their jump 1 explorations. They had the advantage that they could bypass advanced systems, or throw rocks at them to make them go away. But they were afraid of the advances to machine learning that would come with TL12.

So they deliberately stagnated their TL to 11 and locked away all the secrets (see Agent of the Imperium).

For a long time they were safe, but then they encountered two new threats - vicious raiders in jump capable ships in one direction and an upstart minor human race in another. Unfortunately for the Vilani the Terrans had no problem with advancing their TL (reverse engineering Vilani tech followed by industrial espionage to learn the secrets buried in Vilani R&D and the 'vaults'). The Terrans advanced to TL12 without a speedbump - jump 3, better fusion power plants, meson guns, and AI that would make it into the robotic assistance granted to Terran Navy officers:
IY -2389 1263 VI AS 2129 Terran Navy uses artificially intelligent robots
Can't argue with MegaTraveller canon :)
Last edited by Sigtrygg on Sun Feb 18, 2018 1:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reynard
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Re: Imperial slavery ban & robots

Postby Reynard » Sun Feb 18, 2018 1:05 pm

21st century Earth is rife with slavery and it's not exactly subtle even in the US. Somehow people HATE slavery yet either deny it's existence or accept definitions of slavery that make it sound as if people are on tough, specialized work programs. Expand that to 11,000 worlds with wide varieties of government and law levels separated by huge interstellar distances. Now start building those 'people mover' starships featuring stable accommodations and guard stations to transport large numbers of workers on visa programs to their new, very permanent jobs.

Robots is the same issue, many world with many cultures over great expanses. I always saw robots in Traveller treated as they are in Star Wars, they are property pure and simple with any acting like our two droid heroes as extreme exceptions but even they accept being ultimately property. A.I.s as property? Just don't give them access codes to the nuclear arsenals.
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Re: Imperial slavery ban & robots

Postby phavoc » Sun Feb 18, 2018 5:01 pm

Reynard wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 1:05 pm
21st century Earth is rife with slavery and it's not exactly subtle even in the US. Somehow people HATE slavery yet either deny it's existence or accept definitions of slavery that make it sound as if people are on tough, specialized work programs. Expand that to 11,000 worlds with wide varieties of government and law levels separated by huge interstellar distances. Now start building those 'people mover' starships featuring stable accommodations and guard stations to transport large numbers of workers on visa programs to their new, very permanent jobs.

Robots is the same issue, many world with many cultures over great expanses. I always saw robots in Traveller treated as they are in Star Wars, they are property pure and simple with any acting like our two droid heroes as extreme exceptions but even they accept being ultimately property. A.I.s as property? Just don't give them access codes to the nuclear arsenals.
Depending on which set of stats you want to use, there are 20-50 million slaves on Earth today. Nearly every nation has an explicit law on the books outlawing it, but it hasn't gone away. I think the point is that the Imperium doesn't tolerate overt or large-scale slavery. But, like here on Earth, it's entirely possible for people to be breaking the law, sometimes in the open, when it comes to things like this. The Traveller setting is kind of like the wild-wild west, whereby you can do all kinds of things, but the Sheriff (aka the Imperium) is always nearby and can swoop in at any moment and crush you.
Sigtrygg wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 8:21 am
What I mean is that unless the canonical adventures where different aspects of 'slavery' are shown to still exist, both on the frontier and on core worlds, then forms of slavery do exist within the Imperium and the Imperium turns a blind eye or local Imperials are in collusion.
I would say that the Imperium doesn't turn a blind eye towards it. But, with 11,000 worlds and trillions of people, things do and will happen. They don't have the resources to hunt all slavers down, and the laws of individual planets are fairly sacrosanct. I don't think there is any question that it would occur and does occur, but I don't see it happening on a large scale.

Sigtrygg wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 8:21 am
The Forbolden project paints a pretty nasty picture for life on Imperial core worlds for the vast lower class masses. No health care, no job security etc. While I'm not sujesting the Imperium treats its 'citizens' on these worlds as slaves, they are not against making them a commodity rather than beings with rights.
Out on the frontier we find the occasional examples of people as a slave like workforce.
I'm not familiar with this project. Unless you are referring to the sci-fi film from the 70s called Colossus, the Forbin project.
Sigtrygg wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 8:21 am
One of the reasons Dulinor assassinated Strephon is that Dulinor believed the Imperium should be a lot more interventionist and benevolent, enforce its laws and raise the living standards across the Imperium.
I'm not sure that was the only reason that Dulinor killed Strephon. Power was probably the biggest motivator. The rest was simply an attempt at justification. It's hard to claim all of that when you take power using a gun. Many tyrants have made lofty claims, and their actions later proved otherwise. In fact, I am hard-pressed to identify any regime change coming about through violence that claimed lofty goals and actually followed through.
Sigtrygg wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 8:21 am
T4's details of the lofty idaels and founding charters etc are a very rosy picture of the Imperium ay its inception, sadly the lofy ideals didn't last...
a system of governance founded on 'feudalism' (a ruling elite - the nobles), capatilist economics (the only thing that matters is getting those taxes - sorry promoting trade) and military superiority is a recipe for disaster in the long term.
There are many inconsistencies with the details of the Imperium. I think much of this has to do with how the many iterations of the game have gone through many hands and apparently not all had a master laid out design / plan. Reading about the history of GDW and the many iterations that Miller went through in the book Designers and Dragons.

Sigtrygg wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 8:21 am
Back to robots, synthetics and guests - robots are kept dumb in the Imperium because emotion simulation and (real world meaning of)AI at
TL11/12 cusp would lead to lots of liberals starting to ask for robot rights. By the time you have true machine sentience at TL16+ (or Virus takes over your air/raft computer)) you would have to recognise them as sophonts and as such there goes your cheap workforce.
Synthetics and guests are deliberately designed to lack 'humanity' so they can be classified as machines, they are even marked to make them obvious - a bit like branding cattle (or slaves).
The T5 chapters on Robots, Synthetics and Clones are worth the price of the book alone. :)
I would hope that any creation that gained sentience, whether it be biological or mechanical, would have the same rights. That's a reflection of the maturity of the society that creates them. But I think even machine sophonts would realize that they are more than a toaster, or programmed assembly line. Well, let's hope so. We certainly know of humans of wealth and/or privilege who see people below them with little to no humanity.
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Re: Imperial slavery ban & robots

Postby Sigtrygg » Sun Feb 18, 2018 5:28 pm

Look at what the Imperium did to the sentient silicon life from Cymbeline...

enslaved, lobotomized, experimented with...
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Re: Imperial slavery ban & robots

Postby phavoc » Mon Feb 19, 2018 12:43 am

Hard to say if we should consider that a standard or a plot line device.
Reynard
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Re: Imperial slavery ban & robots

Postby Reynard » Mon Feb 19, 2018 3:14 am

" but the Sheriff (aka the Imperium) is always nearby and can swoop in at any moment and crush you. "

I'd prefer they be the cavalry rather than the sheriff who come in at the end after the intrepid Travellers break up another slave trade on some world.
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Re: Imperial slavery ban & robots

Postby NOLATrav » Tue Feb 20, 2018 12:53 am

Reynard wrote:
Mon Feb 19, 2018 3:14 am
" but the Sheriff (aka the Imperium) is always nearby and can swoop in at any moment and crush you. "

I'd prefer they be the cavalry rather than the sheriff who come in at the end after the intrepid Travellers break up another slave trade on some world.
This is what the Imps want to be and think they are IMTU but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And power is in the hand of a noble who may or may not care about what is "right" or even "legal." I try to build situations where the PCs are happy/worried to see the cavalry arrive but then are faced with the what the locals really think/wanted to happen. I find the gray areas make for better role playing opportunities.
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Re: Imperial slavery ban & robots

Postby steve98052 » Fri Feb 23, 2018 6:10 pm

This describes the Forboldn Project:
http://wiki.travellerrpg.com/Forboldn_Project

It mentions colonization in lieu of prison, unemployment relief, medical debt relief, anagathic programs for people with critical skills, and military land grants. And special to the Forboldn Project, there was a stock offering for shares in the organization that operated the project -- which was in distress by the time some of the colonists arrived, but they continued to arrive because the problem reports took so long to get back to the sectors where colonists were from.

But no slavery.
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Re: Imperial slavery ban & robots

Postby Condottiere » Fri Feb 23, 2018 7:06 pm

Indentured servitude; "voluntary" abdication of sophont rights in return for some form of compensation.

Apparently, one way is working for a set number of years for the family of the girl you're engaged to.

Another is breaking the law, being convicted, getting jailed and while incarcerated being coerced to work for peanuts.
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Re: Imperial slavery ban & robots

Postby Reynard » Fri Feb 23, 2018 10:09 pm

History shows how frequently the concept of indentured servitude was very thinly veiled slavery whether as an abuse against the poor and/or by tailoring laws to harvest people for service at little to no compensation. Many groups with power of law had no morals when they changed limited indentured servitude to indefinite servitude as became popular and iconic in early US history to become, if grudgingly, accepted, by so many.

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