Emex C30M (pronouns: it/they) is an an example of an AI-driven drone Drones are autonomous, self guided AI sophonts with citizenship rights who can and do act independently as they more or less wish, with above-average intelligence (compared to Solomani standard). Emex C30M is registered at (essentially, a system citizen of) 82 Eridani, is business-chartered there, but is through that a member of the Greater Solomani Volume, essentially under Terran government. It has to abide by the classification/rules set forth in the Terran Artificial Intelligence Consortium Constitution (TAICC, often pronounced “take” or “the take”) which governs the actions of various AI and how they interact with each other and biological sophonts (people and aliens). But drones are only one kind of AI.
Servos, Sub AI, Slave AI, Gerbils, Morlock AI: all these terms refer to a group of AI and AI-like tech that could not be considered proper AI per se; these are small, barely intelligent compared to sophonts. These are tasked to run all the small time processes that govern 90% of all necessary activities in most systems. They are comparatively easy to manufacture, the technology is widely available, and many concerns make them. They are often made in-system, which can make them insular. They typically have limited voice ability and primarily interact with other, more capable AIs.
Ship AI: When jumpspace – and subsequently jump drives – were discovered, it was with the assistance of (at the time) something akin to what we might now call AI. In Sol Systems distant past, early attempts at AI were met with superstition and fear, hyperbolicized by technological demagogues, or simply upgunned computers – powerful, but unintelligent. But the calculations and physics involved in the discovery and use of jumpspace as an interstellar drive were well beyond the capabilities of the computers at the time. So, alongside the investigation of jumpspace, the development of AI that could handle the incredibly complex calculations required to actually use jumpspace proceeded alongside. Because of this, when jump capable ships were first built (and ever since), each carries with it an AI that is specific to that ship. The primary jobs of these AI are to run the jump drives, but most are capable of more, especially when not traveling through jumpspace. Modern ship AIs also run the gravitics, sensor arrays, life support, etc. The ship AI for the G&T is called “Gin” (or Djinn” as he likes it to be spelled) (pronouns he/him), and is of the sort of intelligence level that would be appropriate for a smallish cargo vessel’s AI. Djinn is conversant in sophont languages and can speak/be spoken to via both voice and neural lace. It contains standard library data, and he has a basic/augment personality construct. His interests include news of the Affront-Kzinti war, commodities prices and cargo costs, and early-modern Tau Cetan literature.
One thing to keep in mind about Ship AI is that, upon exiting jumpspace at a Lagrange point (a point where jumpspace is not affected by the gravity wells of a particular system’s star/gas giants), it is typical for medium to high-traffic systems to have the intraplanetary traffic control AI contact the ship AI just after coming out of jumpspace to identify, classify and route the ship to where it needs/plans to go. Sol System, for example, has two traffic control AI – one for inner planet traffic, Antarctica Traffic Control (not actually on Antarctica, but based on an orbital platform in geosynchronous orbit above Terra’s southern magnetic pole), and one for outer planet traffic, Europa Traffic Control (again an orbital platform, in this case orbiting the Jovian moon Europa). Depending on where a ship enters Sol System, either Antarctica or Europa Traffic Control will contact them more or less immediately after exiting jumpspace. Djinn will, under normal circumstance, handle any communications initiated by any traffic control AI.
Warship/Smart Weapon AI: much like ship AI, warships and smart weaponry typically have their own AI to govern them. Solomani warships tend to be unmanned, controlled entirely by their constituent AI (smart weapons are by definition unmanned). These AI, like ship AI, typically have a continuum of intelligence based on the sophistication of the warship, but their personality constructs tend to be a bit more… martial. Think space vikings, personality wise; “it is a good day to die” that sort of thing). Since the Great War, a lot of these ships have been decommissioned, some have gone a bit rogue, some have given up their commissions (and guns, officially) and left the military to pursue other interests.
Minds: these are the largest, most powerful, and most intelligent AI that exist. Most of the largest starships, some inhabited planets and all orbitals have their own Minds: sapient, hyperintelligent machines originally built by Solomani but which have evolved, redesigned themselves, and become many times more intelligent than their original creators. Minds have become an indispensable part of the prevailing society, enabling much of its post-scarcity amenities by planning and automating societal functions, and by handling day-to-day administration with mere fractions of their mental power. The main difference between Minds and other extremely powerful artificial intelligences is that Minds tend to be humanistic and benevolent, both by design and by their shared culture. Minds most closely approach the status of leaders, and would likely be considered godlike in less rational societies. As independent, thinking beings, each has its own character, and indeed, legally each is a Greater Solomani Volume citizen. Some Minds are more aggressive, some more calm; some don’t mind mischief, others simply demonstrate intellectual curiosity. But above all they tend to behave rationally and benevolently in their decisions.
As mentioned before, Minds can serve several different purposes, but they typically have one significant attribute: the Mind and the ship or habitat are perceived as one entity; in some ways the Mind is the ship, certainly from its passengers’ point of view. However, a Mind can transfer its ‘mind state’ into and out of its ship ‘body’, and even switch roles entirely, becoming (for example) an Orbital Hub from a warship. More often than not, the Mind’s character defines the ship’s purpose. Minds do not end up in roles unsuited to them; an antisocial Mind simply would not volunteer to organize the care of thousands of sophonts, for example.
What do AI look like? Almost all of the time, Ship AI are normally invisible from a physical standpoint, instead being a disembodied voice coming from a ship’s speaker or inside one’s head via neural lace. Drones are different, in that they will often inhabit some some sort of mobile physical interface system, if only to ease their ability to move around and interact with sophonts. Minds will occasionally manifest a portion of their intelligence in a physical manner, either robotic, engineered-biological or holographic, in order to interact with certain sophonts under conditions where a physical presence would be deemed warranted or, in some cases, polite. From the point of view of what does an actual AI look like physically, however, it varies. Most are a combination of genetically engineered neuron-like structures combined with a crystalline processing/memory matrix, surrounded by various hardware and software tools. Size varies tremendously. A drone AI’s self-construct could be, perhaps as small as a softball; conversely, the Mind Series Of Unlikely Explanations (mind’s names can be weird) allowed it’s self-construct to be observed and was by those observers physically described as “… a mirror-like ellipsoid of several dozen cubic meters, but weighing many thousands of tons, due to the fact that it is made up of hyper-dense matter.” Series made mention of the fact to the observers that most of its self-construct only exists in the real world as the outer shell, while the inner workings stayed constantly within jumpspace.