Expert software for Recon & Tactics

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lord_bosco
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Expert software for Recon & Tactics

Postby lord_bosco » Fri Dec 20, 2019 6:07 pm

Last game session I recommended that my fellow players look into Expert computer programs. I suggested Expert (Tactics/Military) for our military leader, who wondered, "Do I really want to be looking at my computer in the middle of a battle?" Well, no, but the Intelligent Interface software means you don't have to. This is a science fiction setting, so the computers are more advanced than what we have today. With Intelligent Interface computers communicate verbally, like Siri or Alexa, but better. Think of it more like Iron Man talking to Jarvis.

By way of example, the Central Supply Catalogue notes on page 32 that battle dress armor comes with Computer/2 running Expert (Tactics/Military) to give tactical advice during combat. So, I don't see it as gaming the system in any way to use Expert (Tactics/Military) with your personal computer.

Expert programs can only assist with skill checks based on EDU or INT. One critical skill that almost always uses INT is Recon. With the rules as written, Expert (Recon) is perfectly legal, although it raises questions similar to the ones about Expert (Tactics/Military). It requires some imagination to solve the issues of 1) what can the computer see? and 2) how does it communicate visual information to the user?

A critical piece of the puzzle, which Traveller doesn't really get into, is how computers perceive the outside world. The rules note that any TL8 or higher computer can include, for free, a communications system. Mobile communicators come with cameras and microphones, so presumably a computer using Intelligent Interface would at least require a comm system to obtain external information from its microphone and camera. Computers can also network wirelessly with friendly communication devices, like a PC's Comm Dot or Neural Comm. Comm Dots are described as throat microphones, but considering how small body cameras and GoPros are these days, I don't think it's a big leap to presume that Comm Dots can also include a camera.

Computers can also network with other friendly computers, of course. So you could use your personal computer to connect to the air raft's on-board computer, and thereby access the air raft's lidar sensor suite remotely from your PC.

On page 110, the Core Rule Book says: "Most sensors are designed to be plugged into a computer system, but can display the data directly to the user on built-in screens or by feeding it to the user’s suit display." So items like IR goggles, electronic binoculars, and densitometers can feed info directly into computers, which can then use Expert software to help the user process and interpret the data.

Another consideration is how the computer communicates visual information to its user. A Personal HUD, overlaying computer data atop of your normal field of vision, is made for this purpose. Powered armors probably incorporate similar technology into their helmet visors. Cybernetic visual augments may also allow computers to transmit visual data directly into the optic nerves.

So, our group decided that Expert (Recon) requires a Personal HUD or similar visual integration device. This actually gives the Personal HUD a purpose to justify its price tag.
Old School
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Re: Expert software for Recon & Tactics

Postby Old School » Sat Dec 21, 2019 12:16 am

That makes total sense.

Honestly the tech creep can take over a game if you let it. We’re probably looking for something along the lines of 2300AD or the Expanse so avoid that in our next campaign.
AnotherDilbert
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Re: Expert software for Recon & Tactics

Postby AnotherDilbert » Sat Dec 21, 2019 3:04 pm

lord_bosco wrote: Expert programs can only assist with skill checks based on EDU or INT.
My interpretation is that people can only use Expert to replace no skill for INT and EDU tasks. Other uses are OK. Computers and robots can use Expert to pilot ships for example (generally DEX). People can get the +1 bonus for any skill or characteristic.

As you say, the computer can display helpful information in the screen or GUI you are using. It can't take over control over your hands (unless you have a Neural Link)

lord_bosco wrote: On page 110, the Core Rule Book says: "Most sensors are designed to be plugged into a computer system, but can display the data directly to the user on built-in screens or by feeding it to the user’s suit display." So items like IR goggles, electronic binoculars, and densitometers can feed info directly into computers, which can then use Expert software to help the user process and interpret the data.
Enough to get the +1 bonus IMHO.
phavoc
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Re: Expert software for Recon & Tactics

Postby phavoc » Sat Dec 21, 2019 8:22 pm

I think it's fine to have varying levels of programs to do things. Civilian ones are going to be oriented towards providing the average person with something useful and take away the drudgery and humans inability to synthesize too much simultaneous input (at least consciously). Military ones should be much more expensive, but also much more layered.

For example, a fighter might have expert software to monitor incoming fire and auto-deploy things like chaff/flares/decoys and also engage in point-defense (all assuming the fighter is equipped with such defenses). Another expert program might be used offensively, tapping into the same sensor systems to track and identify targets, provide threat assessments and also point out optimal targets that are within range and less defended. Programs of that sort should definitely be separate and each one has a cost in terms of CPU and credits. However being military and installed in a very expensive piece of equipment they would probably be the norm for 1st level militaries, and more optional the further down you go in levels. Merc outfits might not be able to afford them, or perhaps they might be only deployed against similar level or lower opponents, thus negating some of the need.

In reference to the recon and tactics, an AI program could be hooked up to a map box, fed satellite and other sensor and intelligence data and offer up suggestions on targeting artillery or orbital strikes, highlighting perceived weak defensive areas, etc. Obviously the smaller the device it's placed on the more limited output it should be able to offer. If you want to get into details there would be a whole host of potential software packages from the individual all the way up to the entire battlefield. Even in squad-level tactics the 'average' soldier electronics might be designed to provide very basic input and advice, while the company commander may have a more robust software suite that is related to his need for more data/more assistance. This has been the norm for militaries since the beginning. Early 'tech' was a spyglass, reserved for the captain of a ship or a company. Even today soldiers deploy with radios and other gear that is suited to their specific roles and duties. Even cost int he 52nd century will play a role - not everyone will be able to afford the 2.5MCr software package to synethize all the data coming from a battlefield.

BTW - good post and explanation.
Linwood
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Re: Expert software for Recon & Tactics

Postby Linwood » Mon Dec 23, 2019 2:01 pm

You also to use a Recon expert system for pattern recognition. The soldier’s sensors detect a shape; the software identifies it as an enemy grav tank, warns its soldier and sends a sighting report to the company (unless it’s set to stealth mode). Or it could collate batch of anomalous sensor data (EM transmissions, background temps and radiation readings, etc) and conclude there is a high probability of a large enemy force just over the next ridge.

I could also see civilian uses - facial recognition, shot spotting, vehicle identification.

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