Robot Crewmen?

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Greylond
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Robot Crewmen?

Postby Greylond » Thu Jan 24, 2013 4:12 pm

Why don't we see more Robot Crewmen in this version of Traveller?

In the Main Rule Book There are Robots listed, Repair Robots, Servitor Robots, etc. Couldn't you just take those, add in some Expert programs and use them as Crewmen to fill up the crew requirements on a ship?

Using the Robots book, it is very easy to design a Robotic Crewman.

So, if you add Robot Crewmen to the original cost of the ship and add that in to the 40 year Mortgage an extra couple of 100K credits on top of the several MCr's of a ship isn't all that much, why don't we see more Robot Crewmen?

And I don't mean as replacements for PCs but as additions. So instead of a group of 4 to 6 PCs running a 200 Ton Free Trader, why not the same group being the Chief Pilot/Captain, Chief Engineer, Chief Steward, Chief Gunner, etc, in charge of a Robot Crew of a 600 to 1200 ton Trader ship to start off with?

It seems to me that most Deckplans/Ship Designs are setup for only Biological Crewmen when you could have a Trader ship with a much lower life support, making room for more passengers with a Robot Crew.

Thoughts on the subject?
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Re: Robot Crewmen?

Postby rust » Thu Jan 24, 2013 4:27 pm

Greylond wrote:Why don't we see more Robot Crewmen in this version of Traveller?
Mainly because all versions of Traveller treated robots as
a late and almost unwelcome addition to the Third Impe-
rium setting. Mongoose Traveller inherited this tradition,
you only have to take a look at the probability to get the
Robotics skill during the core rules careers.
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Re: Robot Crewmen?

Postby Greylond » Thu Jan 24, 2013 4:32 pm

True, but then there's the Robots Book with the new Robot focused Careers there. ;)

Plus with Int 5 Robot, you don't really need Robotics skill to own and operate a Robot, although it would help... :)
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Re: Robot Crewmen?

Postby F33D » Thu Jan 24, 2013 5:34 pm

Greylond wrote: In the Main Rule Book There are Robots listed, Repair Robots, Servitor Robots, etc. Couldn't you just take those, add in some Expert programs and use them as Crewmen to fill up the crew requirements on a ship?
Sure, that's why examples are given for just that in that rulebook. Engineers, astrogators & I think Stewards too.
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Re: Robot Crewmen?

Postby Iron Guardian » Thu Jan 24, 2013 5:55 pm

Robots as crew:

Advantages -- no salaries to pay, no labor problems (unless some place has some robot rights laws or something), less life support needed, can work 24/7, fearless.

Disadvantages -- can be expensive to buy, require maintenance to avoid breakdown, make for boring friends on board (since AI really doesn't appear until TL16+) longterm due to predictability of behaviour, most people prefer the "human touch," subject to hacking and computer viruses, and living beings tend to exceed the capabilities of robots in terms of skills and imagination (unless AI's are available). Also, an AI might decide the ship can run more efficiently without living beings to worry about as numerous SciFi media have shown.

If there is to be more emphasis on robots and such, then this aspect will need to be expanded upon, and would probably be considered an alternate version of the OTU.
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Re: Robot Crewmen?

Postby CosmicGamer » Thu Jan 24, 2013 8:44 pm

atpollard had a nice post where this is being discussed on CotI today http://www.travellerrpg.com/CotI/Discus ... stcount=85 here are some snippets
Just because a robot is programmed to operate a ship like a pilot does not mean that it can actually replace a human pilot on the ship ... that would require the independent function that is reserved for TL 17 robots.
Has anyone else encountered a Garmin or Magellan GPS that gives less than perfect advice? ... "Exit now would be a lot easier if this road had an exit here".

So I could easily imagine a Robot Pilot that could handle the routine 'driving', like an aircraft on auto-pilot, or even be programmed for routine landings and takeoff ... but let the ship exit jump in an uncharted asteroid field and damage one of the stabilizers and the AI (non-Sophont) robot pilot will be perfectly willing to follow procedures exactly as programmed, right up to the point where the superfreighter collides with the highport.

Keeping a human pilot in the loop means that the robot pilot who exits jump in an uncharted asteroid field and damages one of the stabilizers, can detect that something has gone wrong and summon a sophont to make the decisions above its AI grade.

In terms of game mechanics, I respectfully suggest that 'minimum crew' (from Mongoose Traveller) must be sophonts, both by regulation and practical necessity, since a smaller sophont crew is potentially unable to deal with an emergency. The 'average' and 'full' crew numbers can certainly be filled out with AI robots capable of performing routine tasks and normal operations.

Thus in normal operating mode, the partially robotic crew is more cost efficient, but when a crisis strikes, the robots are of limited usefulness and the ship functions at one level lower ... a 'full' crew becomes 'average', an 'average' crew becomes 'minimal', and a 'minimal' partial-robotic crew may be insufficient to cope with the crisis (and thus illegal for any ship that carries mail or passengers).

Just some thoughts from IMTU.
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Re: Robot Crewmen?

Postby Greylond » Thu Jan 24, 2013 9:23 pm

Yea, I posted the same thing over there. I cross posted it here because I know that not everyone visits both forums.

This is how I'm leaning toward ruling it;
CosmicGamer wrote: In terms of game mechanics, I respectfully suggest that 'minimum crew' (from Mongoose Traveller) must be sophonts, both by regulation and practical necessity, since a smaller sophont crew is potentially unable to deal with an emergency. The 'average' and 'full' crew numbers can certainly be filled out with AI robots capable of performing routine tasks and normal operations.

Thus in normal operating mode, the partially robotic crew is more cost efficient, but when a crisis strikes, the robots are of limited usefulness and the ship functions at one level lower ... a 'full' crew becomes 'average', an 'average' crew becomes 'minimal', and a 'minimal' partial-robotic crew may be insufficient to cope with the crisis (and thus illegal for any ship that carries mail or passengers).
:)
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Re: Robot Crewmen?

Postby F33D » Fri Jan 25, 2013 12:22 am

Greylond wrote:Yea, I posted the same thing over there. I cross posted it here because I know that not everyone visits both forums.

This is how I'm leaning toward ruling it;
CosmicGamer wrote: In terms of game mechanics, I respectfully suggest that 'minimum crew' (from Mongoose Traveller) must be sophonts, both by regulation and practical necessity, since a smaller sophont crew is potentially unable to deal with an emergency. <snip>
Sounds neat but, there is no logical explanation to back that assumption up. Especially since the MGT rules state otherwise...
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Re: Robot Crewmen?

Postby Greylond » Fri Jan 25, 2013 12:29 am

F33D wrote:
Greylond wrote:Yea, I posted the same thing over there. I cross posted it here because I know that not everyone visits both forums.

This is how I'm leaning toward ruling it;
CosmicGamer wrote: In terms of game mechanics, I respectfully suggest that 'minimum crew' (from Mongoose Traveller) must be sophonts, both by regulation and practical necessity, since a smaller sophont crew is potentially unable to deal with an emergency. <snip>
Sounds neat but, there is no logical explanation to back that assumption up. Especially since the MGT rules state otherwise...
Sure it is, a Robot Crewman isn't going to have the same range of skills as a biological PC.
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Re: Robot Crewmen?

Postby mr31337 » Fri Jan 25, 2013 1:25 am

Greylond wrote:Sure it is, a Robot Crewman isn't going to have the same range of skills as a biological PC.
Can't robots use expert programs? :P
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Re: Robot Crewmen?

Postby F33D » Fri Jan 25, 2013 1:26 am

Greylond wrote:
Sure it is, a Robot Crewman isn't going to have the same range of skills as a biological PC.
Like...
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Re: Robot Crewmen?

Postby F33D » Fri Jan 25, 2013 1:27 am

mr31337 wrote:
Greylond wrote:Sure it is, a Robot Crewman isn't going to have the same range of skills as a biological PC.
Can't robots use expert programs? :P
Yep. That's why MGT rules call for them to be used on merchant ships in place of some human crew.
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Re: Robot Crewmen?

Postby Greylond » Fri Jan 25, 2013 1:48 am

mr31337 wrote:
Greylond wrote:Sure it is, a Robot Crewman isn't going to have the same range of skills as a biological PC.
Can't robots use expert programs? :P
F33D wrote:
Greylond wrote:
Sure it is, a Robot Crewman isn't going to have the same range of skills as a biological PC.
Like...

Well, look at an average Character with 3 Terms, such a character is going to have at a minimum of 6 skill levels plus a few skills at Level 0. Some characters with 3 Terms are going to have 12 or more Skill Levels plus a few Level 0 skills. Not many Robots are going to have that many skills.

Don't get me wrong, I agree that there should be more on there than some of the rules or Deckplans suggest. I think it is very possible to have a ship with a Minimum crew of Humans with the rest Robots. So, a group of PCs should be able to crew a 600 to 1200 ton ship with help from Robots instead of just a 200 ton Free Trader. But if they are attacked and/or boarded then they might be facing some "interesting" odds when they find out that none of their Robots have Melee or Gun Combat skills... ;)
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Re: Robot Crewmen?

Postby F33D » Fri Jan 25, 2013 2:55 am

Greylond wrote: Well, look at an average Character with 3 Terms, such a character is going to have at a minimum of 6 skill levels plus a few skills at Level 0.
That is supposing that the average crew member on a free trader has had 3 terms with that training. Highly unlikely given real world situations. Char Gen is for "adventurers. At the end of the day, ship design rules call for merchant ships to be partially crewed by expert pgms in place of some crew members. So, as a GM you can house rule that out IYTU
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Re: Robot Crewmen?

Postby CosmicGamer » Fri Jan 25, 2013 3:42 am

First, I apologize to atpollard because I quoted him and for some reason when people are taking a quote from my post I guess the forum mechanism automatically, and incorrectly, indicates that the quote is from me.

==================

Now for an actual quote from me from a discussion on unmanned ships in the following thread viewtopic.php?f=89&t=52633&hilit=robot
CosmicGamer wrote:Perhaps there are laws, something like Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics, which make manned ships preferable.
A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
An automated ship could not protect itself from Pirates or other manned nuisances looking to misbehave. Someone has to be there at the time to make the decision and authorize weapons fire on any manned vessel - and be accountable for their actions.
A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
A simple order to "come to" and prepare to be boarded.
A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.
Perhaps there are instances of ships jumping into empty space or just heading out system due to a danger it perceives. Now the ship is lost because nobody knows where it is. Might be preferable to allow damage but at least be able to salvage the ship.
I haven't read through the robot book so I'm sure I'm missing some good info, but here are some more thoughts.

A robot with expert pilot, astrogation and comms skill flies the ship towards the planet and monitors the comms but would it know to change it's course due to chatter it hears from merchant ships about political problems, civil unrest, or pirate activity on the moon the current course has the ship passing near, would the robot possibly sense a danger without any actual sensor data indicating there is a danger? Does it have the curiosity and skill to get more useful information from the merchants? Could it change course or only if instructed by someone in traffic control?

The robot probably doesn't have skills like admin, carouse, or streetwise to possibly detect someone trying to manipulate or con it. Some abilities are not considered a skill - common sense, abstract learning, implicit reasoning - maybe these terms don't apply but there are probably lots of other things I'm unaware of. Will the robot or computer be able to take the information from one expert program and use it to help with another? Humans might even take some other skills, even if not a primary bridge skill, and have a flash of associative reasoning.

So I can see
Greylond wrote:a Robot Crewman isn't going to have the same range of skills as a biological PC.
being a factor.
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Re: Robot Crewmen?

Postby Greylond » Fri Jan 25, 2013 5:14 am

Good post!

Also, the Robot book has Inhibitors, which can be the Laws of Robotics or can be anything specific that the designer wants, i.e. IFF Rules for Combat Bots. I'd expect some variation dealing Inhibitors that state somethingc about protecting the Owner's Ship, etc, etc...
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Re: Robot Crewmen?

Postby Lord High Munchkin » Fri Jan 25, 2013 8:13 am

I suppose it depends upon the TL (OTU or other TL scale).

If there is competent AI then it is possible the robot will act in a "sensible" way and avoid problems, as would a biological PC... otherwise robots are best as subsidiary crew "multipliers".
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Re: Robot Crewmen?

Postby CosmicGamer » Fri Jan 25, 2013 2:54 pm

I just can't see a robot with specific skill programming ever having the same capabilities in a variety of situations as a human with the same skill level, perhaps via expert programs, plus a lifetime of experience in a wide variety of areas. That's not to say a robot might not also be better in some ways with faster response time, more accurate recall of information, a wider sensory range, and so on.

A robot without the programming can't even attempt something they are not programmed for. A human, even if they are unskilled, can at least try to bluff the pirate or convince the planet to let them refuel from their ocean even though it's off limits, or bribe customs to not check your cargo closely.

An AI is something else. I would think a whole different TL and cost from a robot, no? I probably should read the robots book first, I hope y'all don't mind if I comment based just on the core rulebook which only references AI as TL 11 and doesn't go into much detail.

The CRB tech breakdown doesn't get into the TL for robots but lists AI at TL11. Interestingly, all the robots in the equipment section are TL 11 or higher. At the beginning of the robots equipment section it states
The legal status of robots varies across the Imperium. Some
worlds embrace automation and machine intelligence, giving
even comparatively simple artificial minds legal protection or even
citizenship
This makes me believe there is a wide variety of capability in AIs. Is it possible all robots have some form of AI? If so, it certainly doesn't make them capable of learning much. The robots listed are limited to specific abilities by their programming, sensors, physical characteristics ("look ma, no hands") and so on.

An AI may still be no better than a child if it doesn't have the right software. For example, if a passing Aslan ship comms an AI that has no Aslan language program how will it know what they are talking about? Granted, it can be the same for a human without the appropriate skills.

It's hard to come up with really good examples.

Someone with no dance skill at all can still recognize the difference between a great dancer and a terrible one. A robot or computer without a art (dance) program [if that's even possible under the rules] never could. Would an AI be able to do so?

I guess the concept is that an AI can learn

Are there not numerous skills and ways of processing information that might not be duplicated even in a computer or AI?

A human has a wider pool of knowledge and experience, even if they don't show up as actual Traveller skills.

If instead of just coming off the assembly line and being put on the bridge of a ship an advanced enough AI robot had a career full of experiences, maybe even attended school like a child where they played, are bullied, get into fights, have a crush on someone, fall in love.... hmmm While an AI might learn how to recognize pain, greed, hunger, loneliness and other human or alien traits, will they really be able to understand it? Perhaps they might learn to simulate curiosity, recognize expressions of anger, fear, and other emotions in the humans it interacts with. Perhaps it might learn human faults too?

So one concept is that an AI could never completely learn and then respond to situations the same way as a human without also having some human faults.

I'm curious what people that have read the robots book have to say about all this.
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Re: Robot Crewmen?

Postby Greylond » Fri Jan 25, 2013 3:21 pm

Yea, the Robots book expands on this. Basically Robots have either a Command Algorithm(CA) or a Personality Program(PP).

CA is basically a program that interprets orders and carries them out, i.e. "Go fix that damage" or "Serve these drinks to the guests." The level of CA determines how detailed/complex orders can be interpreted. CA1 requires an Expert in the Field to give the orders. CA2 can follow carefully worded commands. CA gives the robot an Int Stat(with TL Noted)

CA1= Int 1 (TL11)
CA2= Int 2 (TL12)
CA3= Int 3 (TL13)

Personality Program gives a unique personality and free will. It also gives an equivalent Int. PP1 is dull and straightforward, PP5 is witty, charming and smooth.

PP1= Int 3 (TL11)
PP2= Int 5 (TL12)
PP3= Int 7 (TL13)
PP4= Int 9 (TL14)
PP5= Int 13(TL15)
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Re: Robot Crewmen?

Postby Greylond » Fri Jan 25, 2013 3:22 pm

You can also give a Robot an Encyclopedia database, which basically gives it an Edu stat, higher Edu takes an increasing TL just like CA or PP.

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