Programming vs. Artificial Intelligence

Mechanical intelligence is extremely limited in the early stages of robotic technology. The best PL 5 robots have processors only as advanced as computers, and they are little better than remotes. If a situation falls outside the conditions for which the PL 5 robot was programmed, the robot doesn’t know what to do and sees no reason to take any actions at all.

At Progress Level 6, robots step closer to achieving true artificial intelligence with the invention of the first commercially viable neural networks: “learning” computers. Designed to mimic how an organic brain processes and stores information, the neural network allows the robot to analyze the data it receives from its sensors and make autonomous decisions based upon that data. In other words, a neural network allows a robot to think.

However, true artificial intelligence does not arrive until Progress Level 7. While neural networks allow robots to learn and think, artificial intelligence allows robots to plan and be creative. Further, the AI attaches appropriate significance to what it learns; not only can it create but also it can decide for itself whether doing so is a good idea. In effect, artificial intelligence allows a robot to simulate humanoid behavior (for better or for worse) without being programmed to do so. It learns by observation and deduction, not unlike a human child learns to behave as the adults he knows.

Heroic Droids with Skill Software or Feat Software

Players can choose to play biodroid and bioreplica characters. These heroic robots gain skills and feats by gaining experience and advancing in level, as organic characters do. At the GM’s discretion, a heroic robot may choose to receive skill software and feat software. However, a heroic droid installed with skill software of any kind loses all skills gained from class levels and can no longer gain skill points through level advancement. Similarly, a heroic robot installed with feat software loses all feats gained from class levels and class features and cannot gain new feats through level advancement.

Skill Software

Like constructs, nonheroic robots do not gain skills. They must be programmed with software that gives them the ability or the knowledge to perform certain skills. Skill software (often called “skillware”) is embedded in the robot’s central processor or “brain” and can be saved after the robot is destroyed (see Robot Resurrection). This is not true of skill webs, however (see below).

To write skill software from scratch, a character must have an equal number of ranks in whatever skill the software is designed to emulate. The character obtains the necessary components by making a Wealth check against the software’s purchase DC. He must then succeed at a Computer Use check (DC 20 + number of skill ranks emulated by the software) after investing 12 hours in the software’s construction.

Class Skills: All skills programmed into a robot become class skills for the robot.

Screen printing