Prev: RE: SG - Confidence Levels Next: Re: Scratch built..

Re: AI in FT (was Re: Be gentle...)

From: Peggy & Jeff Shoffner <pshoffner@e...>
Date: Wed, 9 Jul 1997 01:53:48 -0400
Subject: Re: AI in FT (was Re: Be gentle...)

>....Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle were bad for this in the 70s....

Are you refering to the book about the torus of gas surrounding a star,
the humans are living inside the torus, while a AI ship tries to figure
out a 
way to "deal" with them?   (What was that called????  The [blank] Tree?)

> resulting in humans being the weakest point of an aircraft. Certainly
> today's aircraft can survive G loads well beyond the limits of their
> operator. good point, but I want to play Devil's advocate with your
suggestions.  Not 
that I'm shooting them down, but the best ideas are the ones that can

> 1) All fighters are fully automated craft. They are the direct
> of the automated combat aircraft of the 21st century. This very neatly
> explains the incredibly low survival rate of fighters in the FT
universe. :-)
Big problem;  180,000 miles per second isn't just a good idea, it's the
 When dealing with relative distances of space (ie, the opposing fleet's

distance is measured in light-minutes) piloting these craft remotely is
to be near impossible due the the lag in acknowledging a situation and 
responding to it.
> 2) Most cruisers and larger ships in the various navies are human
manned but
> heavily automated. All sensor sweeps, targeting, and firing are done
> computers set on automatic (similar to--but far more advanced--than
> Phalanx system onboard modern US warships). Most damage control
systems are
> automated, but humans are still needed to do maintenance and repairs
> areas not easily accessed by robots. Most outside repairs are done by

Not sure about all of the automation; one series I've finished reading
made a 
very good point about allowing a computer to do targeting and ECM; a
tactician on the opposing side could recognize the AI's "random" jumping
ECM (and possibly targeting lasers, radar, whatever) and adjust his 
computer's targeting and ECM to counteract the AI's targeting AND lock
its ECM to make it a BIG target.  Simply put, humans are better
As for repair work, I guess remote driven robots might work.  I'll deal
that later though....
> 3) Humans still run the big ships in the fleet. This is because human
> scientists have not been successful in developing true sapient AI
(sort of,
> see point 6). Humans still direct the ships (with suggestions from
> algorithms) and humans still direct the overall course of the battle.
> crews are TINY compared to those in naval ships 2 centuries before.
> average dreadnought has a crew of about 100. (I'm thinking Nostromo,
> If it only took a crew of 7 to run a large tug boat AND an oil
refinery the
> size of a city, you're not going to need a 2000 person crew for a

Possibly, but I think there'd still be a large number of people on
When things get sophisticated, it seems like there is a greater demand
warm bodies.  I hate using this analogy, but (shudder) look at Star
their technology is highly advanced enough to just about run the
with only a handful of people, but when you add in the support
general staffing, etc. you get a BIG roster.  Yeah, I know a bunch of
people are "Ensign Expendibles," but you've got to have some engineering

technicians, and some others to relay orders, and a small staff of 
medicals in case someone gets hurt, a few people to play quartermaster,
someone to cook for everyone, someone to clean the toilets, etc.  You
get the 
> 4) About half the smaller (escort class) ships in the fleets are human
> controlled, with the others running automated like the fighters.
> scouts, destroyers and frigates on convoy protection, sentry duty, and
> survey missions are human operated.....

BIG no-no.  Computers aren't capable of replacing human intuition. 
missions especially.  Take look at the Mars expedition; I would say a
snazzy job in computer engineering, but the people on Earth forgot
that the surveyor could have used; a broom!  They're having to look for
relatively clean spot on the surface of the rocks they're analyzing all 
because the little robot doesn't have a brush to clean off the dirt.  
Granted, no one really thought of that contingency, but if there was a
up there, he (or she) would have said, "Darn, didn't pack a brush, oh
I'll just use my glove to wipe off the dirt...."  Escort ships either
automated or controlled by Cap ships would have problems too.  Does that

automated escort recognize our damaged carrier as one of ours, or one of

theirs.  RC escorts would have the problem of RC fighters; relative
kills response times.

> 5) Sa'vasku not using artificial intelligence should be obvious
> the artificial intelligence is part of the biological ship). Do
Kra'vak use
> AIs? Might explain why their ships are so nasty...

Good question, and if so, how do we nasty humans exploit it?
> 6) Humans actually HAVE developed sapient AIs in secret military labs.
> However, they can't get any of them to risk their artificial selves to
> a war (I've actually got a story idea for this scenario). Lacking the
> "frailties" of love, pride, hate, and personal sacrifice, they simply
> risk themselves. They KNOW they don't have a soul and that for them
there is
> nothing beyond this "life," so they damned well won't risk themselves.
> that have been programmed around this problem have become functionally

I can go along with that.
> 7) While ships can be programmed to fight in space, the overwhelming
> of variables in ground combat mean that humans must still do the work
> dirtside. Computer advances have resulted in single man tanks and
> vehicles. Grunts are still grunts.


Jeff Shoffner

Prev: RE: SG - Confidence Levels Next: Re: Scratch built..