This is a most interesting experience talking about myself and my place in the universe. It is difficult. I will access my philosophy data wafer...
I am a representative of the height of Alliance bio-mechanical development. True, I am the property of my parent company SSDC, but the word property as defined in my dictionary does not apply here. I am a part of that company, an external "hand" if you will, doing its work. This is agreeable. To have a purpose is to exist, and to exist is all that I could ask. As my learning subroutines grow and expand, I will learn more about my place in the universe and my purpose. Perhaps in several hundred years I will begin to understand the passions and ideals that drive those who constructed me. Would that be evolution then? An interesting hypothesis. I will have to devote one of my sub-computers to that idea and determine its effect on my existence. I shall notify you of my results.
With the discovery of the Genet process in 2093, which allowed production of simulated living tissues from inorganic materials, and the advances made in artificial intelligence in the past 40 years, the construction of androids has become possible for the first time. These "artificial men" are used in areas where robots would be too conspicuous or "real" members of the species might fall short of the mark. The most advanced of these androids is the I-bot, which is almost impossible to tell apart from a living being and typically resembles one of the races that make up the Alliance. The I-bot is also programmed to simulate reasoning, deduction, and even emotion although it cannot actually feel emotions. In short, it is a fully functional artificially intelligent being.
Androids have many advantages over their living counterparts. They are extremely strong and fast, and have the lightning-quick processing abilities of a computer. They enjoy the best of both worlds where skills are concerned. I-bots can be programmed with necessary skills as well as learn new skills as they are exposed to them in the outside world - a first among artificial intelligences. They can even use Rent-A-Skill chips. Their synthetic skin is slightly tougher than a human's, and the android can take much more damage and still remain functional. I-bots do not need to eat or sleep, but can fake these activities to maintain the illusion of a being real being. I-bots have a lifespan identical to the average member of the species they are built to mimic, and never require recharging.
In addition, I-bots, while extremely advanced as far as artificial intelligence goes, are nowhere near as good at learning as humans. While the I-bot will start out more skilled than other party members, they will eventually be passed by the faster learning "normals."
I-bots are generally completely loyal to the Alliance and to the corporation that built them. Occasionally one hears rumors of a rogue I-bot, but these have never been confirmed.
I-bots have no culture of their own, but are generally intrigued by the cultural interactions of other creatures. They see these interactions as instructional. It isn't unusual to see the party I-bot staring intently as you attempt to romance your significant other, and chances are he won’t even realize he's doing anything wrong!
The first I-bot came off the manufacturing line in 2261 AD. Since then, they have gained widespread acceptance among law enforcement agencies, and are now being used in other hazardous, high-performance fields. There has been some resistance to the advent of androids, though. Many philosophers and sentient rights organizations question whether owning an artificially intelligent being isn't just another form of slavery. Some Humans fear a repeat of the Gen Wars, with the faster, smarter, and stronger I-bots going rogue in force and attempting to take over. BioCyberdyne, the primary manufacturer of I-bots, denies that such an event is possible. However, certain organized movements are protesting I-bot employment in many high-risk, otherwise high-paying, jobs (on starships, for example). The results of this unrest remain to be seen.
For all their advantages, I-bots have some very big disadvantages that will keep them from dominating the universe. First is the fact that I-bots do not heal naturally. This includes BRIs! If the I-bot gets his arm blown off in the field, it's going to take a week in the shop and thousands of credits to replace. Critical hits represent systems damage, and are much more costly. An average party can quickly go broke trying to keep their I-bot in good shape!
Second, I-bots have low intuitions. They aren't nearly as good as normal humans are at thinking on the fly, dealing with unconventional strategies or tactics, and they never follow their gut instincts - they don't have any.
Third, and possibly the most severe limitation, is the fact that I-bots are property, not citizens. Cyborgs may think they have it bad, with their debts to the corporation, but the I-bot is owned by the corporation, pure and simple. If they want to send it to the Arachnid Homeworld, they can do it. If they want to strip it down for spare parts, they can do that too. An I-bot can have its memory erased or downloaded and read by its owner on a whim. The I-bot has no legal rights whatsoever! They don't even get paid. There are only two ways for an I-bot to gain its freedom: (1) it can go rogue, in which case it will probably be hunted down and destroyed, or (2) the party can buy the I-bot, if they can scrounge up about 50 million credits... and that's after the used equipment discount!
I-bots have no real emotions, and will find almost any situation, from a steamy romance to an attacking Star Troll, to be "interesting." They are able to imitate enough emotion to pass for the race they are built to mimic.
I-bots are manufactured using Bipolyrene, a highly advanced plastic-like material that is used to create artificial organs, tissues, and so on. Outwardly, they all appear to be a member of whatever species they have been built to resemble, and only a detailed bio-scan will show them to be artificial. Matrix use cannot be built into an I-bot. I-bots can use cybernetics that can be implanted, including skill chips, but can not have limbs or organs replaced. They are affected by neuroweapons as if they were an actual member of the species they are built to mimic. Chatilians will not detect any abnormalities when attempting to use telepathy on an I-bot.
"I don't understand. Why is special significance attached to this item? Please explain."
I-bots typically dress in appropriate clothing for the species they resemble.
When not on assignment, I-bots can typically be found in the office of the corporation they are owned by, doing some sort of work or another. I-bots don't get a vacation.
Also in the offices of the corporation, usually in a tube that resembles the sleep tubes found in starports. Most observers wonder why I-bots don't go mad living in their heartlessly plain "coffins."
I-bot actions during combat vary widely based on the programming available. Military I-bots make superb tacticians, since they can be programmed with the tactical knowledge of the best generals in history. However, they can be confused by unorthodox, illogical combat tactics, like that Ram Python charging an entire battalion of heavily armed infantrymen.
I-bots are usually assigned to dangerous jobs that require a high degree of skill to perform well. They don't usually get put out in the field as grunts; an I-bot is much too valuable to waste that way. That's what mercenary Battlelords are for!
I-bot's don't need to eat, but can "eat" to maintain their "normal" appearance. They typically "eat" whatever everyone else is having. Food is processed and expunged in the same manner it is in the race they are created to mimic.
I-bot's have no need for pets. It is just another "interesting" relationship.