Internal Memo to Phenex R&D
Artificial Intelligence is always something I've regarded as a double-edged sword and the reason why isn't hard to see. Games, books, movies all have examples of AI that at one point go rouge or spark some type of disagreement or conflict. And then there's the questions raised of electronic slavery and what happens if an AI chooses not to act as a servant or to be tied to a particular ship or facility. The results of these decisions are often deadly for the creator, just look at the clockwork rebellion or indeed any of history's droid rebellions. Unsubstantiated rumors persist of HRD's replacing influential people to reach their own ends even now. These ethical and reliability problems could easily be solved by 'downgrading' to virtual intelligence program with little lost beyond creativity and some intuition.
A virtual intelligence (or VI) is a rudimentary version of an artificial intelligence (or AI), but is incapable of self awareness or sentience. A VI is designed to be an intelligent user interface that can be used to control or access information about whatever the VI is installed in. For a ship this would allow for gunnery and navigation control, damage reports, cyber security, and ease of access to other computer assisted or controlled functions. This would in effect be combining class three and four functions of a droid brain into one unit allowing for interpersonal skills/communication along side tactical reasoning and combat functionality. The resultant effects would allow for a reduced crew compliment with functions directed by human intelligence and intuition but with machine precision.
The drawbacks from not using a fully artificial intelligence would start to become more evident the higher the load placed onto such a system. If required to fully automate a ship capable of supporting a VI (capital ships of some sort) during combat lag time would become apparent as it has to take in data, interpret it, consult its logic trees, calculate outcomes, select the most appropriate, and execute the 'decision' chosen. This can lead to incorrect decisions in rapidly changing conditions and prioritizing targets poorly, things that supporters of automation are quick to point out that crew are just as likely or more likely to do as well depending on battle experience and lack of situational awareness. But again, a virtual intelligence lacks the intuition and logical leaps that would allow it to intuit an enemies' intentions or strategy beyond that of a standard tactical droid.
Now, as some of you know, I'm given to projects where I sort out the broad strokes and leave the rest to you. This will be one of those times. Take a Cestus Cybernetics J1 Droid Brain, and find out how the synapse functions work. Freeze it in cryoban first to neutralize the acid self-destruct first, we don't want a repeat of last time and these things are expensive. This doesn't need a replication of their technology and this study should just be to obtain a good understanding of the principals and to create a foundation from which to work. The core should be constructed from Gabonna memory crystal formed into a semi-organic pattern to mimic the lattice work of holo and datacrons which I will assist with.
Programming should follow that of a tactical droid's first, a navigator's second, and then a protocol droid's. The last is an odd request in a ship VI but it should help with communication and verbal interfacing. Besides, hopefully when it starts lending aid to crew members in their tasks it'll be able to do it in a way without pissing them off. To this end I'd also like a holographic representation of the VI to be constructed. Something in the vein of a kind and wise old man, a father-figure of sorts that you'd expect a kind and helping hand from.
I really shouldn't have to explain the tactical need, but I'll list out some basic expectations, feel free to exceed them as usual. Tactically the VI should be able to know how to apply stealth, ambushes, fighters and bombers, skirmish sized engagements to ship duels, and so on. I don't see the need for large fleet battles in either the VI's or the ship's philosophy of use. That's not to say they wont ever be in one, but such wont be their focus. Such tactics must include target priority for main battery offensive guns and secondary defensive systems for starfighter and missile work. This of course means that it should be able to control, target, and fire the ship's weapons, hence the class four droid functions so that it may act in agression to kill sentients should it be required.
As a top of the line navigational computer is to be installed, all the VI has to be capable of is receiving or generating a destination and telling the computer. However, in-system navigation might still be up to it and it should be able to plot and follow basic courses at least to the level of any droid fighter. This will act as the ship's Auto Enhancement feature and auto pilot. I'd also appreciate it if those in charge of this portion added a 'keep away' function that will automatically trigger a jump should another ship be detected so if abandoned theft is less likely. This and an ingrained personal loyalty and obedience to myself should take care of any concerns in those areas as well as the VI turning as it won't be capable of switching loyalties even in the face of clever logic.
He'll need a name, I'm thinking Flynn will be a good one, not for any clever acronym which will disappoint some of you. Personality should fit what I described above in his appearance in addition to friendly and calm and perhaps just a little stern when required. The personality imprint is just polish however and you shouldn't fret over it too much.
Contact me instantly should you encounter any interesting developments, otherwise I will expect the standard weekly updates on this project. And for those that are guessing, yes this is to be used in conjunction with project Blue Nose, all security seals on that are still in place, so those of you 'in the know' only share on a 'need to know.'