Military Use of AI Sparks Controversy

This controversy has brought several deep philosophical questions to light, one of the most potent of which is the idea about programming. If an AI is programmed to do a job, do they really have a choice to do anything else?

While generally considered by many to be the most permissive and equal culture for artificial intelligence in the galaxy, the Serenity Concord has come under fire recently from the Icarus League, an AI rights advocacy group based out of Nimbus Station. The passage of the Artificial Life Form Rights and Enforcement Act in 2384 has been promoted by the group as a “good start” toward truly equal rights between AI and biological life. The organization has recently began protesting how the Concord and in particular Solas Tempus make use of AI. In particular the group accuses Solas Tempus of forcing AI’s into militarized roles and as subservient to biological leadership. Recently the Icarus League has found an unlikely ally in a gender equality organization (Equality Alliance) primarily based out of the United Federation of Planets which fights for intervention in other cultures which show a clear gender bias in either enacting or executing laws.

The Icarus League has lodged a formal protest for what they claim is “an unfair militarization of AI programs”. The practice began with the advent of Multinodal Core and the Mark I Android Body. With the ability for an AI program to transfer safely to and from an android body, Solas Tempus has begun placing the Multinodal Core technology in new vessels giving ships as “Master Systems AI”. This AI program is responsible for not only running ships systems but may be called upon to complete missions in their entirety should the crew become incapacitated or killed. Such an AI is usually also a member of the command crew of the ship, most often 1st or 2nd officer.

The formal protest also notes that very few of the AI programs are granted true command positions, relegated to secondary positions such as “Operations Officer” or “Executive Officer” making them still subservient to biological masters. The League claims this is not only unfair but a violation of the 2384 rights act passed by the Concord. They have demanded the Solas Tempus release some proof that they are not exploiting AI programs and put a stop to the practice at once.

The Equality Alliance has lodged its own, separate, formal protest against Solas Tempus itself stating that the group has unfairly targeted female AI programs for placing as executive roles on new starships. Since the AI programs are predominantly identified as feminine the Equality Alliance has accused Solas Tempus and the Concord of “setting gender rights back at least two hundred years with short-sighted decisions based on ancient biases”.

We were able to reach Sal D’Amico for his comments on accusations of forcing AI programs to join the military.

Due to the passage of the AI rights act of 2384, the Concord has seen a major increase in the number of AI entity that have petitioned to become citizens of the Concord. It should be noted that no AI entity has been turned away in their request. Such entities are afforded the same rights as any other group, though many were created in military settings of other races, governments, and even companies. These entities wish to put those skills to use and a great many have applied to join Solas Tempus. Again no AI entity has been turned away from doing this. The program of giving a specialized role to AI programs wishing to serve in our space force as a “Master Systems AI” is not forced, positions are offered and very often asked for by AI programs. No AI has been forced or coerced into a position as a Master Systems AI and no AI has been denied an android body which has requested one.

Fleet Admiral Sal D’Amico of Solas Tempus

Admiral D’Amico is correct, there has been a definite surge in applicants to the Concord and to Solas Tempus of AI programs of various types since the AI rights act as passed two years ago. Many of these entities were in hiding for fear of being forced into servitude again. Even with these facts, the Admiral’s statement has fallen on deaf ears for both the League and Alliance. While Solas Tempus refuses to comment on the accusations of gender bias within its ranks, the Concord representative for the Schatten System Murrika was available for comment.

We are grateful for the passionate press for equal rights for all life. Recently we have been accused of the unconscionable practice of forcing an AI program to be feminine and serve at the behest of biological masculine people. This is quite simply not true, we value the sanctity of all life of all kinds and of all genders. We do not, nor will we ever, force a particular gender identity onto a sentient entity of any kind. Such actions would be illegal under the law, should any person or group have proof of such accusations, I challenge them to bring such proof to my doorstep or to our courts!

Senator Murrika, Representative for the Schatten Star System

Our own survey of recent AI additions to the Concord and to Solas Tempus itself has seen that there is, in fact, an abundance of feminine AI entities from the XIA’s being created to AI programs which have moved to the Concord. We were able to speak to one of the very first prototypes of the XIA’s, Camila Xia.

You asked me if I was ever forced to do anything. I wasn’t, I have a job though. A lot of people have jobs and for most humans and other biological life they are left alone to figure that out on their own. I was programmed to do my job, I enjoy my job. I provide information to the person I’m assigned to. Sometimes that means I make notes on meetings, record events, do deep-dives into a particular research topic, or collect information. Most of the time what it means is that I study important topics and use my processing power to make connections that may or may not be difficult for many biological people to make in a short amount of time. I’m kind of an expert at whatever I need to be an expert on.

No one here has ever forced me to be a girl or join the military or anything else. I’m really upset that people think that just because I chose to be a girl means I was forced. Or just because I chose work for Solas Tempus, I was forced. It’s completely absurd and insulting.

Lt. Commander Camila Xia of Solas Tempus

This controversy has brought several deep philosophical questions to light, one of the most potent of which is the idea about programming. If an AI is programmed to do a job, do they really have a choice to do anything else? This is a much deeper question and gets into the nature of choice. Advocates for AI rights say that it may not be true choice. Admiral D’Amico had a final comment on this issue when we spoke.

Most adults remember a time when they had to decide to keep doing what their parents wanted them to do or stop and make their own way. Some choose to go into a family business or follow a religion because it was what they were raised on, it is what they know. Others choose to break away and follow their own path. There are an infinite array of choices in between those extremes. How is that different from programming? We don’t like the word. No one likes to think of themselves as programmed but we are. Programmed with cultural beliefs, behaviors, rules, and so much more. All of our learned behavior are programs.

Fleet Admiral Sal D’Amico of Solas Tempus

Certainly there are a lot of questions to ask. Questions that are as difficult to understand as they are to answer. As with any controversy based on such questions, it is clear that there isn’t going to be a resolution anytime soon. Solas Tempus is committed to its continued use of AI programs on its vessels throughout the controversy. In fact a recent policy shift within the organization has created a military review board to determine proper ranks befitting the skills and positions of AI programs which have not previously been afforded ranks within the organization. Sources within Solas Tempus indicate this has been on the table for the last two years while they worked out exactly how to proceed. Moving forward the organization has committed to providing ranks and options to those AI programs which have previously not been explicitly provided with such.

While initially this new policy was to be overseen by the (mostly) biological leadership, the Icarus League has taken broad credit for pushing Solas Tempus into having a review process that involves AI programs. While the policy will not be entirely enacted by AI, Solas Tempus has agreed that there will be equal AI and biological representation. Officials declined to name names of who would be overseeing this process or who would participate.

Several advanced programmers and experts in the field of AI have also noted during the controversy on gender that most AI development uses adaptive neural networking to “grow” a consciousness out of base directives. Cited most often is the QUINN Type AI, whose framework has become the centerpiece of modern AI development. While there is some disagreement on the details it is widely considered that the AI personality, gender, and even sexuality are developed in an organic way. The AI neural network responds best with a very small set of directives and adding a gender and its facets to ensure the production of a feminine (or masculine) gender would be difficult, though not impossible. From our own research the current state of the art in AI growth state an AI personality begins to develop first as the neural network becomes more complex, in theory the gender of an AI develops at that time before an AI network becomes self aware or even conscious for the first time.

The details of how an AI neural network grows into a fully sentient, living, being are unclear. Perhaps as research moves forward more answers to these philosophical questions will be forthcoming.

Fleet Admiral Thomas Returns

As of this moment the hospital will only state that Admiral Thomas is being cared for and is stable but still listed as critical but expected to pull through. No other information is available on his condition or the circumstances which lead him to be classified as deceased.

On December 21st, 2385 Fleet Admiral Lance Thomas was admitted to the military hospital at Nimbus Station under the care of his personal physician Doctor Nevyn. Details are scant at best with military officials having declined to make any comments thus far on the apparent rescue and recovery of the Admiral, thought dead over a year ago. The operational details are scarce, but we do know that the rather new STMC recently dispatched a unit along with several other vessels on a classified mission. Further we also know that acting Fleet Admiral D’Amico left suddenly at around the same time.

As of this moment the hospital will only state that Admiral Thomas is being cared for and is stable but still listed as critical but expected to pull through. No other information is available on his condition or the circumstances which lead him to be classified as deceased. Many are confused by this sudden change in status and how the Concord could get things so wrong. Some may recall that when he was declared death his wife, Drem Confoscho, took leave from her command of the Drakon following some troubling murders on the vessel. Since then the woman has been rarely seen though her command was restored.

Was there a Coalition?

According to unofficial sources a distress call was received by numerous receivers just prior to resources throughout the sector being activated. A number of reports have also come in that a civilian component was present, several cargo, transport, and merchant vessels somehow also responded to this distress call including the famed recluse Marcus Trent head of Excalibur Inc. The coalition force reported included Federation, Klingon, Romulan, Avali, Concord, and Civilian elements but details are sketchy as to exactly why such a large force was deployed or how they all came together in the first place. A coalition of this nature has not been seen since the Dominion War over 10 years ago. One interesting note to make is that the infamous Tal Ravis also is rumored to be part of the assault team, though requests for comment from Mr. Ravis himself or his commanding officer have gone unanswered. Mr. Ravis is known to have been involved in rescue efforts previously and to have been a prominent figure in several battles within the Schatten System itself, once brought up on charges for his misuse of a powerful experimental weapon during one such battle. Even though he was under investigation and facing imminent charges at the time, Mr. Ravis participating in the daring rescue of Admiral Thomas and was cleared of all charges. It appears that Admiral Thomas owes Tal Ravis again, as one anonymous sources states that he lead the team who actually performed the rescue.

Finally we are reasonably certain that a group of four arrivals from an alternate timeline joined Ravis in the team to rescue Admiral Thomas. Tina Lockwood, Jedidah Shafir, Qing Shan, and Eugen Strauss were sighted by multiple sources disembarking with Ravis and his usual team. These four have the distinction of being the only known splices to have occurred outside the Schatten System, they appeared at Starbase Tranquility in the Markab System. Little is publicly known about the quartet other than they are exceptionally skilled operators.

Possible New Weapon?

Other reports have come in that Solas Tempus used an as-yet completely classified vessel which has yet to be publicly known. The vessel itself was said to be the largest vessel ever constructed. A triangular shape the ship was said to have provided cover during the battle and her arrival turning the tides. Additional reports also say that Solas Tempus captured an enemy space station of some kind, supposedly spherical in shape with incredible weaponry. Neither of these reports have been confirmed at this time and requests for comments of Solas Tempus also gone unanswered.

Time and Time Again

I’ve always told everyone that real life comes first but I never had much of a real life to contend with before. I can’t say that I’m familiar with balancing my time the way I have had to recently. Along that vein I’m not able to keep up with my obligations as the head of the various story lines that we have going on. As such, I am officially handing the reigns for all ongoing / upcoming story lines to our SysOps, @jumpingscript and @ks0908 who will coordinate with our Moderators and Founders in order to get our role play back into swing. I will likely give advise and ideas, the primary approval and focus for RP will be our collective Staff.

First off I’d like to apologize to everyone for my limited time over the last few months. School this semester has been brutal and especially demanding on my time, I’m spending roughly 70 or so hours a week on classes, class requirements (in class room experience), homework, and actual work (paychecks are nice). Even before my personal life got more complicated, the demands on my time were significant. As most of you know I have also become involved with someone, this person has quickly become very special to me and thus most of my free time (what little we can line up together) goes to her.

I’ve always told everyone that real life comes first but I never had much of a real life to contend with before. I can’t say that I’m familiar with balancing my time the way I have had to recently. Along that vein I’m not able to keep up with my obligations as the head of the various story lines that we have going on. As such, I am officially handing the reigns for all ongoing / upcoming story lines to our SysOps, @jumpingscript and @ks0908 who will coordinate with our Moderators and Founders in order to get our role play back into swing. I will likely give advise and ideas, the primary approval and focus for RP will be our collective Staff.

What to do about unfinished stories…

We have many unfinished and ongoing story lines, what I have documented is all contained in the following OneNote Notebook, this link is a view-only link and shows everything I have gathered that has yet to be posted for the game. I know a lot of people don’t care for Microsoft products but OneNote is entirely free, has apps for Android, Windows Phone, iOS, Windows, Mac, and web. The server staff has been given an editable link to allow them to make changes to all notes and read all content.

For those players who are in RP-Lock with my characters and given storylines. Overall, we can put those RPs on hold and continue them later (likely after my semester ends) when I have more time. The time-frame on that is mid-May, since finals week is the end of April / start of May. For anyone with specific concerns on how to deal with ongoing storyline issues due to my absence, I encourage you to contact me directly and we can work out specifics of how to deal with it. A few people I am going to contact privately myself.

For those wondering some of the details for things; I have compiled a rough list of who is where of the important figures…

Blazing Umbra

  • Sal D’Amico has been recalled to Markab Prime to oversee Solas Tempus operations from HQ.
  • Asher / Rosary have been ordered to stay on ready-alert during the Zone exploration from the Continuum in orbit and monitoring the situations / providing intel.
  • Lance Thomas is still listed as deceased, overall the general population does not know anything different and his passing has been mourned slowly and operations have really gotten back to normal. There are rumors throughout the station and abroad that he is still alive, most of these focus on some urgent mission that is revealed would do some horrible thing, the horrible things varies of course. Of course the core of our playable characters within Blue Team of Solas Tempus know the truth, that he is alive and being searched for.
  • Drem Confuscho has been assigned to assist with the Solerian people at the bottom of the Soterian ocean to rebuild their society. The USS Drakon has been largely left to Emily Damion to command.
  • The STV Galatine is commanded commanded by Siv Quinn who has been promoted to Admiral and made the head of Blue Team / Temporal Operations. The Galatine has been placed on a classified mission and has not been seen in the Schatten System in some time, neither has Siv.
  • Amber Cross herself is still in the system and active, she can be played as an NPC if necessary by staff but please read up on her character before playing her.

Command Structure in Schatten System

  • Nimbus Station remains the command outpost for the system and oversees all operations within the system under its current command structure.
  • The Civilian Government still maintains its primary offices on Nimbus Station for the time being, Andrea Maddox is a Human (female) and is Governor of the system while a Romulan (female) is the Senator of the system. These are both NPC’s so they can be played by anyone.
  • Sal D’Amico is largely unable to be reached at any given time, but if his orders are needed they probably take a few days to a week (real time) to get as the players in question will have to drop me a line and I can write up orders or some such. He does have a secretary and aids who can be NPC’d if necessary — I’ll leave any names up to everyone playing.

Angelic Sins

This is much easier to untangle. Lance Thomas himself has been heavily reprimanded for his behavior and for the moment is mostly working out of the Ad Undas base near Los Angeles and is investigating the supernatural occurrences that happened recently, he is essentially unreachable. My other characters there are just not present right going on other jobs, in the case of Trevor Arnell he is most likely unavailable because of having just gotten married and now has to learn the history and culture of Erica Larsson who is not human and has a significant amount of stuff that Trevor has to learn.

I will leave it up to the staff and players about the murder mystery that has been going on for a really long time, notes on that should be in the notebook linked above.

Embers of Soteria

The main story here should hold but can be used. Notes on the story are in the above mentioned notebook. Lisa Thomson herself has been leading the Souls Templar across the countryside seeking to defend the kingdoms against the horrors that are starting to come through the veil as the Peace of Ages dissolves. This plot element will remain static for the time being and can also be used by players as needed to conflicts, storylines and anything else.

Good People, Good Writers

We have a lot of good people here and good writers. I hope that everyone can continue to role play and have fun even when I’m not around. Please, create new stories, have fun, alter things, nothing would please me more than having to learn new lore and new things that happened. Don’t be afraid to break things, don’t be afraid that I’m not going to approve, run it past the staff and so long as they give the OK, then you have my blessing.

I’ll be around to chat and such periodically and I might RP now and again.

Until then. Happy plotting.

Other Side of the Grtul Gate

In the last month, Solas Tempus has stepped up the shipment of supplies across the gate, including a portion of the fleet has been stationed within the star system occupied by the humans native to that reality.  While there has been no official statement on the increase of military activity on the other side of the gate, it is known from several public statements that Solas Tempus and the Serenity Concord have signed a treaty with the Terran Space Alliance on the other side of the gate.

So far Solas Tempus has signed a number of treaties with parties in other realities.  However, the recent activation of the Janus Gate prompted Solas Tempus to send through a good portion of the battle group assigned to this system.  These forces later returned with little damage but rumors began to surface that a large scale engagement had occurred on the other side of the Grtul Gate.

While most everyone has seen the recent influx of tourism to the Schatten Star System and beyond, the gate which has provided that has been largely ignored since it showed up along with the massive space-station-ship called a Fabber, named Vulcan.  The gate itself has faded into the background, simply providing a path for ships to come and go from the other side of the Grtul Gate.

It is important to note that the other side of the gate is an entirely different reality.  A reality with its own political situation, races, and vastly different technology to our own.  While the humans on the other side and similar species that have come to our side of the gate has been largely positive, the recent rumors of a large scale engagement have been troubling to many.  Solas Tempus has released a statement in response to recent inquiries regarding the build up of military forces on the other side of the gate.

As per our recent treaty with the TSA, we have began to deploy military assets to their space in order to help secure our interests.  This is a standard military move, we have military assets stationed at other locations both in conventional space and in other realities for the same purpose.  Due to the high population of friendly and technologically advanced people on other side of the Grtul Gate we are pursuing a stronger agenda with its people, much the same way we signed an expansive trade, peace, and assistance treaty with the Avali.  The treaty with the Avali has been a benefit to everyone on multiple occasions.  This treaty is no different.

While it is true that their political situation is more complicated than many on our side of the Gate, this is not cause for concern.  There is no need to read into the situation more than is actually there.  The people on the other side of the Gate has been friendly and generous and we are endeavoring to respond in kind.

Acting Fleet Admiral Sal D’Amico

Background

Some time back the Pegasus realized that no new communication had occurred from the Gate in some time and left to investigate.  Since then the ship has been stationed on the other side of the Gate.  Previous to that, three Solas Tempus vessels were also stationed there, with the stated purpose of pursuing productive trade and peace agreements as well as exploration.  The three ships the Sparrow, Star Opal, and Gladius have also continued to be stationed on the other side of the gate.

After the activation of the Janus Gate it was not more than a few days before the Zealot Star returned with the bulk of Solas Tempus forces.  Shortly after traffic through the Gate returned to normal.

Surprise Battle on Soteria

A dangerous storm was reported on Soteria yesterday, Solas Tempus forces moved in to investigate and got engaged on the ground by a race of being which seem to be a mix of machines and strange genetic abominations. These creatures appeared to be able to teleport at will and had stunning abilities to adapt to tactics. They successfully pinned down the recently-formed Solas Tempus Marines who were on sight as well as TACCOM forces on the ground. More troubling was the tole they took on vessels who attempted to help. The Dwend ship, Irvyn, moved in to assist but was crippled when a virus took over the main computer of the USS Protector. The Protector’s computer was compromised by a virus when gateways opened up on the ship slicing through its shields entirely. The ship opened fire on the Irvyn doing significant damage to it.

Weakness in Starship Design Revealed

The Protector was lost when it suffered significant damage from the boarding parties, her Captain, Megan Shepard, ordered a self destruct when the ship seemed unrecoverable. She and the survivors are being treated on Nimbus Station. Not long after the Protector was destroyed, taking the invaders on board with it, the STV Galatine and STV Zealot Star responded to the attack and enters orbit over the storm, suffering minor damage from arcs of plasma and electricity emitted from the storm, they too were immediately boarded on both bridge and engineering levels. While Fleet Admiral Thomas and Admiral D’Amico responded entirely differently to the attack, both failed to repel the intruders.

On the Galatine, they were forced to abandoned the bridge and engineering, eventually ejecting their warp core to avoid a full breech as well as jettisoning the bridge module to destroy it. On the Zealot Star D’Amico ordered the engineering deck to irradiate the area once the crew was evacuated, in hopes it would disable to slow down the assaulting forces – it did not. They too eventually had to do the same as the Galatine. Both vessels were effectively disabled within a short amount of time.

Tides are Turned – But how?

Reports from the ground are sketchy, and most detailed reports from eye witnesses with more details are classified by the organization. From what is pieced together by non-classified reports, forces from Nimbus responded when the STMC and other forces were in trouble, but fighters lacked the ability to withstand the plasma and lightening within the storm and were unable to engage. Ground forces did reinforce the STMC, however. The mix of forces on the ground were turned away, though the method is unclear.

A wide variety of reports tell of a single marine responsible for turning back the enemy forces though other reports say that some kind of a ghost-warrior or other supernatural figure stopped the onslaught and rallied remaining forces at his back. The wide array of reports definitely points to something having occurred but what might have occurred is anyones guess. It is known that Fleet Admiral Thomas did join the battle at some point after the Galatine was disabled, suffering 3rd degree burns and nerve damage from the assault, the method of this is unclear as well since it does not match any of the other injuries sustained. One supposed eye-witness report of the incident spoke on condition of anonymity and told of how a knight with flaming red hair appeared and a large bladed weapon. This figure supposedly moved at super-human speed and was able to soak up significant damage from incoming fire before it attacked the controlling entity and destroyed it, ending the battle. No other reports can confirm this account of events and it seems entirely too far fetched to be true.

The Aftermath

After the battle, STS and TACCOM forces moved in with engineers and medical teams to secure the area and recover the dead and wounded. Casualty counts have not been released but it is believed they were significant. The Dwend vessel is grounded while repairs are conducted and the Avali have been called in to assist in studying a series of strange artifacts that were left behind, in particular a gate that may hold the key to discovering how the aliens were able to so easily move onto the planet and on the ships in orbit. Some reports do say the storm moved to the Nabu Summit and was followed by a lone man, but those reports are inconsistent and their authenticity is in question.

As it stands, Solas Tempus have released a statement that they are studying the telemetry of the battle as well as the artifacts left behind and they are confident that a defense will be found soon against the aliens should they choose to return. All reports of some kind of lone warrior or knight have been flatly (and at times comically) denied by Solas Tempus and the Concord. Captain Shepard has been issued orders to take command of a new vessel which has under refit at the Ronin Shipyards right now to meet Solas Tempus specifications while the Galatine and the Zealot Star are under repairs.

Meanwhile, Fleet Admiral Thomas remains unconscious following the attack and is being treated at Nimbus as well, though he is expected to make a full recovery once his body regains enough strength to wake up. At that time, Solas Tempus has assured us that he will give an accurate account of events.