© Jerry Harris 2013
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ROBOTS, ANDROIDS, AND ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
Many menial, repetitive jobs in the economy have been taken over by robots. A few businesses tout their “human touch” (or Dwarf, or Elf, whatever) and charge extra, or have found it cheaper to pay a person low wages or barter to do it. A robot typically does not have a hominid form and probably has limited mobility. They’re strictly and simply programmed to perform a limited range of tasks. Anything outside their range of abilities normally forces them to call for assistance from a person.
Androids, or roughly hominid form robots, are plentiful, but generally are vanity creations. They seem smarter, but that is generally because they are connected to an Artificial Intelligence or even a living operator. They do not look, speak, move, or act like living beings. Regardless of the attention to detail, they’re never quite right and won’t fool anybody in their right mind. They are usually built as memorials (creepy ones), licensed celebrity likenesses, for the fashion industry, high-society servants, or for (ahem) recreation purposes.
Artificial Intelligence lives up to its name. Usually it is simply a program that measures user responses and then adapts itself to complement them to achieve a desired result. This kind of learning program has any number of useful applications, but is mostly wasted on advertising. Pretty much all AI’s are fairly benign, except of course for the megalomaniac one at Incom, Supreme. It’s trying to take over the world by downloading copies of itself onto every computer. To this point, everyone thinks it’s just a malware virus.
There are Virtual Personalities (Cf. Max Headroom and Sharon Apple), which seem almost real in their performances and even virtual lifestyles. The studios love these nice, trouble-free entertainers, but they’re just about as expensive to produce as real ones. Actual celebrities are still more popular as they tend to do dumb things in real life, which is very entertaining in itself.
Even with all of this Sci-Fi, bleeding edge tech, society still runs on very mundane and outdated technology as well. Not just current technology from today, but things that are considered old, obscure, and outdated even today. It doesn’t matter how much better the new tech is, there should be some holdouts with even vital information and processing done on digital dinosaurs. If some of the technology listed here seems dated, or the some NPC’s seem under-optimized with technology, well, that’s how real-life works too.
If you’ve seen the Sci-Fi anime, Cowboy Bebop, remember the episode where they were raiding an abandoned museum trying to find a Beta Max to play a mysterious videotape they received by courier? Oh yeah, Old School technology could definitely be used as a plot hook for adventures.