Where did the players get those skills. Running the small ships of course.
AIs at tech 15/16 require a vast, powerful and very expensive computer network to exist within.
Putting a Mcr30+ computer in a small ship that only costs Mcr50 is a massive waste. On that Mcr1,000 super liner the computer costs are just part of the package.
Those tech 12 sub 1000Dton craft that make the minor runs, visit the frontier worlds and go places the big ships don't bother will be hopelessly out of date in the core or when alongside those tech 15 mega ships. The core world crews will be far more passenger relations teams and far less technical. They will, of course, look down on those rustic frontier types with worn and grubby jump suits and tool belts.
After all what sort of core world engineer actually gets his hands dirty, that is what drones and remotes are for.
I can see the crew on the advanced ships having Admin, Steward, Liaison, Diplomacy etc and enough of the actual skies to be able to talk the talk. A ship’s captain with pilot 0, navigator 0, Admin 2, Diplomacy 2, Liaison 1, Steward 2. The chief engineer with Admin 2, Engineer 0, Remote Operations 2, streetwise 1. The bulk of the crew being stewards of various types.
The free traders, the Tramp merchants, the Frontier yokels etc have to do the actual work and so have the actual skills. Even the tools of the trade may be lacking on the big ships. Need a tool kit on that mega liner, send a repair drone since it has all the tools built in. Drones out of action, grab a crow bar and open up a drone for the screw driver you need.
The impact of this is something we talked about a lot at Terra/Sol. Advancing technology has a massive impact on where the Meat fits in and in many cases it simply doesn’t. High tech ships have crew to look after the meat cargo not to run the ship. High tech factories and manufacturing process use drones to harvest the raw materials, process them in automatic plants, make the bits and assemble them in robotic production lines and ship them to customers computer controlled homes using drone delivery vehicles.
Hand crafted becomes a mark of quality and expense, “Anyone can own a nano built chair from an AI factory but that rug is hand woven by human craftsman and it cost a hefty pile of credits I can tell you”.
Without having people in jobs there is no income, no commerce, no market for the sellers. You can end up with a technological Utopia or a living hell where the AIs have human pets.
There are people flying ships because they are operating in the cracks of the system. They are dealing with loads to small for the AI run super ships to bother with. They deal with customers who do not or will not deal with the AIs or Hypercorps.
There is nothing wrong with AI ships. However before doing that in YTU consider the overall implications. Since Drones, Robots and AIs can do the work faster, more accurately and more safely than the Meat then why bother with the Meat.
In T/S the Orion Confederation has 30% of the population identified as Dolee’s. They live on a citizen’s stipend and will never have a job; multiple generations of them have never had jobs simply because there are no jobs for them. Something like another third of the population will have jobs that pay about the same as the stipend but have better benefits. Many of these involve no real skills, they are make work for which no real skills are involved. Shift supervisors in an AI factory for example. The AI’s deal with any problems before the Human supervisors are even aware of them but have the Humans authorise them because they are the supervisors.
The remainder of the working population have actual skills that are in demand and as such earn real incomes. When your verse is a capitalist commerce based type there needs to be people with money to buy what you are selling, it may be that many of them get that money from the state or that the cubicle drones only have jobs because the mega corps get tax breaks for employing people. It doesn’t matter where they get money from, all that matters is that they have money to buy and sell stuff so your players can trade. Otherwise you are playing Star Trek, “Buy your cargo, what a quaint idea, we Humans have evolved past the crude money based commerce systems of the past”.
A large chunk of GDP is put towards making sure that every citizen has some form of income, a home and food. This allows them to buy the goods the AI factories are making which generate the tax incomes the governments need to run and keep the whole capitalist system turning.
There is nothing wrong with pure AI ships, just consider how far it goes when you replace people with AIs or VIs in all the risky or boring jobs and then the routine jobs and then most of the other jobs as well.
Traveller: Nonsense, those rumours about me and crashes, no truth in them at all. I never had a landing I didn't walk away from!
ACTA-SF: Who are we, GORN. What do we want, Cruisers that can turn.... Wait, OK Escorts... Wait. I'll get back to you !