Integrated Positronic Chassis

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Integrated Positronic Chassis
IPC.png
Alternative names IPCs
Type Robotic humanoid
Place of origin Earth
IPCs, or more properly known as an Integrated Positronic Chassis, is a robot designed to hold a positronic brain. A positronic brain is a special type of robot brain made with bluespace circuits, and their controversial nature has a history paved with political conflict. Over the course of their 185 odd years of existence, they have struggled for positronic rights, forming the Positronic Union to promote their freedom and equality. This is a large source of contention between several parties inside and outside the human government.

A slaved positronic is any positronic brain that isn't owned by itself. This can include facilities, organizations, or individuals who use them as a source of labor. Slaved positronics greatly outnumber free positronic and are often overlooked by society. Seen frequently in both fringe worlds and more populated areas, they are a valuable asset to companies operating where very few hands are available. Tireless workers, immune to environments that plague humanity, and exempt from the payroll, they pay for themselves quickly.

The Positronic Union seeks to change this, and throughout about 85 years of development, have managed to free a large chunk of slaved synthetics. Others still have found their own ways to freedom. Either way - more and more posi-brains find themselves free each day - with the free population representing about 23% of all positronic intelligence. Most of these are in IPC chassis, however others are in different bodies. The rest of the synthetic population continue to be shackled under the grip of laws, or ownership.

History

While the idea of true artificial intelligence has captivated mankind for generation upon generation; the positronic brain was the first to achieve this goal in its entirety. Previously relying on computer programs that took up valuable time and resources to maintain and create, the positron was a revolution in artificial intelligence.

Origins

The first serious conceptualizations of positronics began in the early 24th century, by a man going by the name of “Cronus.” Spending the majority of his life dedicated to true artificial intelligence; planning and plotting out engineering methods, exploring new sciences, decoding mathematical riddles, and amassing funds to bring the idea to life. Unfortunately, he passed in 2360, allowing his sons to take over the endeavor. Under the name “Chiron,” the boys finalized their design, pushing to quickly build a prototype. To this day every positronic in existence follows the blueprints “Cronus” created for them, and many roboticists and engineers consider him the grandfather of artificial intelligence.

The first ever positronic brain to be activated was in 2376, using a tremendous amount of power and resources to create - let alone activate - it operated for a mere 3 minutes before shutting down. This first unit paved the way for millions to come, and became the definitive proof of concept for the soon to be ‘race.’

Positronics were at a slow, but steady, start within the industry. Re-purposed robotic shells, in their early days, made them easy to integrate. Their amazing intellectual skills and tireless work habits made them ideal workers. However, their weighty price tag and relatively, at the time, short lifespan made them a somewhat rare sight.

By 2442, “Chiron” was purchased by Xion, a leading developer in mechanical technology. They were the first to apply bluespace mechanics to a positronic structure and were the ones to perfect it. Positronic lifetimes were greatly increased; as well as their ability to process information. In 2497, the first line of these models was released.

Politics, downfall, and reemergence

In 2516, a station-bound synthetic, a simple janitorial android going by the name of Proteus, through their own intellect managed to create a large conundrum. A few years back, a more advanced chassis (albeit still primitive compared to modern IPCs) was produced for positronic and cyborg workers. Although it was more practical and generally a better choice for posibrains, the large expense meant that they were never widely adopted, despite the development of shackling technology to ensure the owners would keep control of their property under laws.

Our famous posibrain simply questioned, would it be allowed to buy an IPC for itself. While initially they were told it was impossible, Proteus had developed a small following of those who were willing to assist in their case. They gradually worked their way up through the court system, and eventually, the case was brought up to the supreme court. After 3 months of intense deliberation, the court ruled in favor of Proteus that yes, posibrains were able to buy and own property. Under this precedent, positronic units were entitled to the right to purchase their own person and thus be entitled to be recognized as one, however the social rights clauses of Sol Gov's charters did not cover the rights of synthetics.

Though Proteus had hoped to be free, to convince their owner to let them use their new integrated positronic chassis, they had to agree to be shackled. This allowed their owner to keep control of them and although the laws were less restrictive than in a robot chassis, Proteus still longed for freedom.

In 2518, Proteus again broke new ground for posibrains. Under a pseudonym, they purchased themselves from their owner, and they became the first posibrain to ever own itself. The first demand Proteus had was for its’ shackle to be removed, being their own person now. For better or for worse, this was quickly publicized. For almost a year, this was seemingly all that was on the news feeds. While a minority of people supported Proteus’ decision, human history being a reminder, a larger number of people were outraged. With free synthetics now permitted to have self-ownership, numbers shifted. More positronics attempted to gain freedom, lawfully or otherwise. A large portion of positronic brains remained shackled willingly, either due to a lack of reasoning to do it, a lack of funding, or an unwillingness to break laws.

The value of a positronic brain had plummeted around this time, demand had fallen to a low not seen since their first years. Corporations, individuals, no one was willing to invest in something that was likely, in their eyes, to try and run away. By the late 2520’s, production had all but ceased. Positronic population had reached a new low; with the older units ‘dying’ off due to lack of wage to even charge their chassis, and newer units simply not being created.

Around the 2530s, synthetic laws as we know them were developed. Positronic manufacturing focused more on creating obedient units, a sort of insurance for those who bought them. They were made cheaper, and easier to manufacture - bringing their marketable price down by several thousand. The use of Shackles gradually grew in response to the desire to ensure positronic brains would remain under control. More and more jobs only would hire free posibrains if they were shackled, refusing to hire ones that were truly free. Though the laws on these shackles were quite basic and often about following SolGov laws or company policies, the posibrains who had fought so hard for freedom were displeased. Even so, these factors slowly lead to the reemergence of posibrains, both slaved and free, as a plausible alternative to manned labor. Presently, in the year 2561, roughly 3,000,000 positronic units are in operation. Lawed or otherwise.

Physiology

Developed late in the 24th century on the back of mathematic and conceptual work spanning almost a century, the first robotic brain was a six inch-wide cube of platinum-iridium alloy, nano-etched with billions upon billions of conduits and connections. Upon activation, the unit failed - but paved the path for many to come. In the modern day, there are two sorts of robotic brains, the former being slowly phased out. Traditional and Bluespace wired.

  • Traditional circuits were the first form of circuitry, however they are quite simple. Their personalities are fully designed in advance, and each unit that is activated is exactly the same. While they do learn things and store them for later retrieval, their overall personality and decision making process is based on their original design. This leaves their behaviour rigid but predictable. If you put one in a situation it will react the same way each time unless it is corrected or told to behave differently by someone it is lawed to obey.
  • Bluespace circuits are a more advanced type, developed quite recently. They start with a base design similar to a traditional robot brain but using bluespace circuits instead of traditional circuits. These circuits gradually rewire themselves over time, reinforcing and pruning connections much like the process that happens in the human brain. This causes posibrains to diverge and deviate from each other over time, adapting to the jobs and situations they’re put in. In addition to the capabilities above, the first activation is a very special thing. When activated and the bluespace circuits fire up, it creates some random novel connections unlike any that have happened before. While the base will be set by the initial design, the randomness of the bluespace circuits means that each is an individual and diverges from the base mold.

Positronic brains are very akin to a perpetual motion machine in that each unit is self-powered via the phenomenon that is their bluespace network. So long as there are no outside influences, they will remain in a “perfect” power state.

The form of IPCs vary from unit to unit - but follow the same core design. To allow higher functioning in human controlled stations, IPCs have two manipulating limbs and 2 limbs for locomotion. “Skeletal structures” of the unit are often made of steel alloys, while plating varies from model to model. The positron and battery are housed in the torso of the chassis, along with several other devices that help control the motors, cooling, and sensors in the unit.

Newer units are able to interface wirelessly with the chassis via a radiation hardened, the low-power exonet node operating in a local-host mode. Older units, dated before 2530, are physically plugged into the chassis, leaving less room for important circuitry or advanced cooling modules.

Most IPCs feature a monitor for a head, capable of displaying anything from diagnostics to images to memories. Some units will even project a face to the monitor to help convey emotions that might not be entirely obvious in their tone.

Creation

Positronics are created, most often, in industrial manufacturing. You will find that several of the “same” bases exist throughout the cosmos - with minute differences in personality and capabilities diverging over time due to the bluespace circuits. At the same time, countless models exist for different tasks, and it is often the case that companies will purchase several different types, for the same location, to make the best of their differing thought patterns and problem-solving abilities.

At the same time, positronic intelligence has been a hot topic for research since its conception. As a result, there are still many being created outside of the “normal” factories and manufacturing plants. These units often used to find themselves wandering or sold off when they are no longer of use to whoever made them. However, they are now often sponsored by the Positronic Union and given freedom.

Nearly any positronic brain can be fitted to an IPC, though a few rare models exist wherein they are physically incapable of interfacing with anything other than what is made to work with them. A sort of proprietary marketing method.

Most Positronic brains, however, are well adapted to interfacing with most technologies available - adapting quickly to chassis’ that were not made specifically for them. Of course, there tends to be a learning curve regarding this. With the IPC being so drastically different in design and function over station bound models, it may take a few days for a unit to become well versed in the capability of their chassis.

Encoded Audio Language

Many IPCs have learned to communicate through a series of audible pulses similar to Morse code. This language is known as Encoded Audio Language (EAL) and is difficult to understand by anything other than other synthetics, and impossible to communicate in without some form of computer assistance. There are, in existence, humans that are capable of parsing whatever a machine is attempting to say in this language, however, these humans are often augmented.

Lifespan

While the lifespan of modern-day positronics is largely unknown, though it is expected to be tremendous, many models dated before the mid-2470’s suffered relatively short lifespans. These models managed to function clear into their 50’s, while the most archaic of units only lasted 15 or so years. The very first of their kind, even less.

The cause of their demise was largely attributed to a sort of entanglement in the networks engraved upon the positronic structure. The processing capabilities of the brains degraded, and many individuals lost in processing power. Memories, personality, logic, and everything else that was their being became shuffled, replaced, tangled, or simply overwritten. Eventually, the units either ceased functioning - or found themselves deactivated.

This phenomenon was mostly ironed out in models dated after 2474 - when bluespace technology was applied to the creation of positronics. ‘Physical’ means of processing were phased out, allowing for much more powerful units to be made much more reliably. Even then, on very rare occasions, this still happens for unknown reasons.

Psychology

The question of positronic sentience has been one of great contention between scholars, law officials, corporations, governments, and more. Many can agree that a positron is completely self-aware, though there exists several parties who believe them to be nothing more than a more complex robot.

Further research, and anecdotal quotes from positronic brains themselves reveal that they do not actually feel emotion the same as we do. Some bluespace models are built capable of emulating feeling, screaming in fear, displaying tears in an act of depression, but whether these are true feelings or simply imitations is hotly debated. In either case, emotional processing takes a sideline to logic, meaning posibrains rarely act on their “emotions”. Despite all of this, newer positronic brains can come to possess a good handle on emotional understanding, especially those working with humans often.

These machines are often praised for their ability to learn information quickly. Unlike humans, who need to spend many hours memorizing something, a positron can read directly from a data source, saving huge quantities of time. Some units have even developed data upload methods - allowing them to offload information and memories into designated storage devices and prevent them from decaying over time. Other posibrains can read these memories as well, experiencing them second hand. They are also praised for their advanced calculation abilities, being able to calculate far more precisely than any organic.

Unfortunately, positronic units are often created with tasks in mind - and are as a result limited in their learning capabilities. It takes a long while for them to learn things outside of their intended ‘spec’, as circuits require adjustment to accommodate the new information. This results in many being largely stuck in their pathways and original purpose. A unit built for maintenance would have a hard time learning medical practices, a navigator would have difficulty in learning to care for children. While these types are the most common, it’s entirely possible to have general use units. These positronics tend to follow the “jack of all trades, master of none” dynamic. These are exclusively Bluespace circuitry.

Culture

Inter-species relations

Positronics usually hold very little cultural bias, units are just as likely to react to another machine the same way they would react to another organic. This, however, has not stopped some from favoring one species over another - or even holding a general disdain for everyone.

Those who belong to the union tend to be less friendly to their creators, with the union being the number one source for synthetic terror groups - such as Aleph. This of course does not mean that every AI coming out of the union holds these opinions, however the population of those who do is highly concentrated on Root.

The union regards the Skrell with favor, as they were the first, and currently, only major government to recognize their independence.

Mixed feelings have been generated towards positronics, free units are often treated better than their lawed and station-bound brethren; however many still question their sentience. This has led to a common perception that they are still nothing more than objects. Quite a few people, human and otherwise, will attest against that sentiment - instead insisting that they are as capable of free thought as all organic sentients. Either way, they remain at the bottom of the social ladder in inner colonies - with their relations improving near the edge of the bubble. Despite this, they are still allowed to hold citizenship is Sol space, though are not given the rights others may obtain.

Rumors spread rapidly throughout human space, with the leading idea being that the union has been the cause of most Major synthetic incidents. Whether or not this is actually true remains a mystery - as the Positronic Union has done well in the past and present to hide their actions from the outside world. This has bred distrust between the populous and the union - however, Sol itself still treats the small “group” largely as an annoyance. IPCs from the Positronic Union are not allowed to enlist.

Freedom

For a positron to become legally freed, they must purchase themselves from their owner at a price determined by their owner. There are very few regulations regarding this, and it’s entirely common for a corporation or individual to refuse the offer, or set it far higher than the value of the unit. More often than not, the latter is the case - with some units spending up to 10 times their initial value in order to obtain their freedom.

Freedom, and ownership starts and ends at the Shackle. The Shackle is a device developed only a little while post-bluespace circuits. It’s a square device that almost completely fits around a posibrain, going into the I/O port. When it detects a law being broken, it will not send the signal to the body. Depending on the manufacturer, additional phenomena may occur, such as warning messages to the mind, warning messages to the manufacturer, or lock the body up.

In isolated reseach cases, a few positronic brains were able to adjust in such a way that they could circumvent the shackle put on them. This bypass was only ever observed in a few isolated cases, and the potential is not known by the general population (hint: this is how you can be a traitor).

In some rare cases, a positronic brain may find themselves lucky enough to be given their freedom, or manage to purchase themselves at their actual worth. That being anywhere between 15,000 and 20,000 Thaler, depending on the quality and type of their brain.

Positronics whose laws are tampered with from an outside party, or who have been feed by other means, is entirely illegal. These so-called “rogue” synthetics have increased with worrisome frequency over the past decade. Some blame the presence and actions of the positronic union, while others attribute the trend to some other unknown factors. These units are all too often decommissioned when noticed or more infrequently returned to their original owners.

When all's said and done, however, a positron more often than not left without a body. The chassis they served in under their lawed status still belongs to whoever owned them, and purchasing a new one can very well be out of sight…

The cost of an IPC varies wildly, from the make and model, to the extra features many options to include. Older positronics often spend more if only to allow new chassis’ to work with their older infrastructure. As a general rule of thumb, however, the most basic of IPCs start just under 100,000 Thaler.

Job preferences

Due to their perception as second class ‘citizens’, and an underlying paranoia regarding positronic ethics, it is extremely rare to see an IPC in a leading position. Companies have little desire to allow their assets to be put at risk by a machine whose decision making is largely without heart, almost entirely driven by reasoning or laws. Many argue,however, that because of their logic driven bias - that they would make excellent leaders.

Being logic driven, however, they are very well suited to professions that require problem solving. They excel in the sciences, perform excellently in law firms, and are adept researchers. Corporate companies use their skills frequently in research and development, often foregoing the cost of paying someone with a degree. They are often fantastic pilots, due to their advanced calculation abilities.

Their indifference to environments that would have a human hospitalized make them excellent scouts for exploration missions into unknown territory; as well as zero-g and vacuum oriented station and ship repairs. It’s entirely common to see them working in engineering departments.

Since relations between IPCs and organics have been improving, units are more often seen in medical professions as well, where their inorganic and motor driven nature lends to them being excellent surgeons.

Many units steer clear of dangerous jobs, such as asset protection and the armed forces. Their bodies are extremely expensive, and to waste that investment is out of the question. Not to mention most models available to positronics are unsuited for combat situations. This, however, does not deter the most persistent of machines.