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Message no. 1
From: Doctor Doom <JCH8169@*****.TAMU.EDU>
Subject: Robots... excerpts from a magazine article on the subject
Date: Sat, 5 Dec 92 10:29:08 CET
Meine Damen und Herren:

With all this discussion on robots, androids, terminators and the like, I felt
compelled to present some information I had access to, that others may not have
had the opportunity to peruse.

It seems that some out there are anxious to create the Terminator, or at least
Commander Data. Not only do I not like the idea, but one would need nothing
short of a true Artificial Intelligence coupled with an number of electronics
breakthroughs to fit such complex and memory-demanding program into a humanoid
sized frame's head.

The following is an article presented in, as indicated, Challenger Magazine of
a few months hence. I found it interesting, and as a result, have decided to
post it as a alternative to what are, in my opinion, overly-sophisticated
robotic systems ( Political leadership? Etiquette??? Not a flame, but I
really think that to be a shade too far for the scope of the system. )



By Dan Snuffin

First appeared in Challenge Magazine, issue 61, pages 54-57

In its projection of the technological future, ShadowRun incorporates virtual
reality, cybertechnology and simsense, among other elements. One would
think that this vision of the future would include robots as well. Alas, it
does not. This article seeks to fill that hole by providing rules and
guidelines for including robots in ShadowRun. This is only a framework--it is
up to the referee to implement rules in a manner that fits his particular


Robots first came into use in the late 20th century in the form of
crude industrial robots used in production. It wasn't until the dawn of the
21st century that robots became cost-effective and gained full acceptance in
the industrial world.
As breakthroughs were made in computer/cybertechnology, they were soon
also applied in the field of robotics. The two industries fed off of one
another's innovations, and as a result, man corporations that became involved
in matrix technology and cyberware developed robotics divisions.
The VITAS plague in 2010 gave robots the boost they needed to gain
corporate acceptance. The lower-class, poverty-stricken and super-exploited
workers who had fueled production were decimated by the plague mostly as a
result of their poverty. A new, cheaper labor force had to be found to replace
them, and many corporations found the answer in robots.
Goblinization and the second wave of the VITAS plague once again fuel
the corporate motion robotics as a means to solve the labor shortage.
Unfortunately, the push toward robotization that took place in 2010 and
2022 came to a disastrous end in 2029, when the computer crash immobilized
most automatic production. Future paranoia was seeded when the corps realized
how vulnerable their robot controlling computer systems were to renegade
deckers and rival corps. It was only six years later, when IC became a solid
feature of matrix systems, that robotics resumed an important role in
corporations and society.
In the early half of the '40s, Aztechnology developed and used many
robots in conflicts in Mexico and the Yucutan. Most were scouts, lightly armed
and designed for intelligence rather than combat. However, rumors of robot
tanks and air drones caused quite a panic in the international community. Fear
that high-tech, mechanized armies could lead wars without casualties for the
most advanced nations led to a UN decision in 2045 that made the construction
and production of robots for use in military combat a violation of inter-
national law. Of course, most countries continued R&D of military robots.

>>>>>[ Humph, the United Nations. What those 'united world' idiots do not
realize is that even if one advanced nation does keep with the law, all it
takes for any rational administration to 're-think' its policy is an
intelligence reports of just ONE compeditor nation's program to make them
start research & development, too, without caring one bit for violations of the
rather impotent international laws.
The United Nations is nothing more than a collection of nations who wish
to garner good press from presenting a facade of a unified world. In truth,
very little is accomplished by the organization any more. There are already
low rumblings about many nations withdrawing from the organization due to its
complete lack of influence. Most reasonable governments do not give the
proverbial 'second thought' to infringing upon most international regulations,
due to their own problems with the MegaCorporations, those violations of a
nation's sovereignty on their own soil--My stomach turns at the thought.
-- Doctor Doom <03:01:54/12-5-53>

ROBOTS in 2050

Security: Robots enjoyed a widespread use in the security field until the dawn
of magic. That brought invisibility, astral sensing and powerful yet
undetectable weapons that comprised the effectiveness of security robots.
Two other reasons explain why robots did not replace humans in security
First was the threat of a malfunction or programming gap compromising
security. It was difficult to prepare robots for every situation, especially
how to respond to the illogical and irrational behavior quirks inherent in
Second, the vulnerability of computer systems to the outside influence
of deckers presented many problems. The threat of someone gaining outside
control of security robots led corporations to guard their security nodes with
expensive, high-quality IC. Some robots are guilt with independent computer
systems, but they are extremely expensive and may lack enough computer power to
handle all situations adequately.
Regardless of the disadvantages, security robots are used by most major
corporations to augment their internal security. They do not sleep, collect a
paycheck or possess human flaws like delayed reaction or conscience.
Incidentally, these same characteristics make robots prime candidates for dirty
work like assassinations and warfare.
When a security robot encounters and identifies an intruder, it
automatically triggers an alert through its connection with the matrix. A
decker in the system can block the alert signal in the same manner it would
block an internal alert.

Industry: [ Deleted...I did not much think you would want to hear
about this, and I am sympathetic to the plight of those with
diminutive mail-buffers. ]

Domestic: Domestic use is limited to the households of the wealthy. Those who
can afford it usually use security robots and possibly janitorial models.
Robots have not yet been developed for other chores, mostly because the
enormous cost of designing and producing such robots is not economically
feasible. Besides, no corp has yet to design a robot that can successfully
cook anything but the most basic meals.


That there is a great amount of money to be made in robotics is a fact
realized by many companies, each specializing in one or more fields.

ATT (U.K.): Industrial robots.
Ares Macrotechnology: Security robots.
Aztechnology: Security and industrial robots. Also covertly
constructs counter-security and military robots.
Federated Boeing: Industrial robots. Currently developing robot-
controlled aircraft.
Fuchi: Industrial and corporate robots. Also constructs
military robots.
Mitsuhama: Although not involved in the actual production of robots,
Mitsuhama manufactures many of the delicate electronic parts
that go into them.


In addition to the corporations listed above, this new corp specializes in

Home office location: Seattle, UCAS.
President/CEO: Harlan Carson.
Chief Products/Services: Design, construction, and service of industrial and
security robots.

Business profile: One of the original members of the famous Echo Mirage team,
Carson founded RTI in 2032 as a means of applying his extensive knowledge of
computer systems and electronics. In less than 20 years, he has brought the
corporation through economic turmoil to international success. Industrial
espionage has been a real problem for RTI, notably the Aztechnology
"information coup" of 2038, but stricter employee screening and better employee
benefits have solved these problems adequately. RTI is one of the leading
producers of agricultural robots and is responsible for many of the advances
made in that market.


The two main types of robots are system and solo.

System: System robots are linked to a CPU or SPU that regulates their
operation and translates their data. Most system robots are immobile, simple
machines designed for specific functions, but the category also includes
maintenance, agricultural and light security robots.
The major problem with system robots is that they can be controlled by
anyone who can break into the computer system. Thus, any robot-controlling
node will always be guarded by some form of IC. Any form of security system
will be slaved only to the CPU.

Solo: Solo robots are not directly hooked up to a computer systems, instead
relying on their own computer brain to operate. While some may interact with
a larger computer system, they are able to make their own decisions. Solo
robots are self-contained, complex and mobile. Household, military and most
security robots fit into this category.
Renegade deckers may not be able to control solo robots through the
matrix, but they can cut the robots off from the computer system so that they
cannot relay data or trigger any alarms. Solo robots may have limited thinking
power or gaps in their programming that makes them unable to react to
situations properly. The prarameters of these flaws are up to the referee.
Note that both types of robots can be adapted for rigger control.


It is suggested that characters be prohibited from acquiring robots for
personal use. Limited availability, and overwhelming purchase and maintenance
costs should be stressed, in any case.
Attributes: Robots have the vehicle attributes of Speed (in meters per
combat action), Body, Armor and Signature. Reaction is used to determine
Skills: Robot skills are always very specific (i.e. Build Radio, Wash
Windows, AK-97).
Sensors: Different types include video (thermographic, low-light,
magnification), audio (high/low frequency, amplification), voice/pattern
recognition, motion sensors, and any special sensors integral to the robot's
Weapons: Note that this category includes not only mounted armaments
of security robots but also the limbs and equipment mounted on normally benign
robots that could be reprogrammed or directed to attack. Because of their
complex targeting systems, robot attacks with firearms receive a -2 modifier.
Built-in recoil compensators negate the effects of recoil from automatic
weapons. Large, on-board ammo hoppers alleviate most reloading problems.


The robots that follow are examples, and this catalogue is by no means
complete. It is highly suggested that the referee develop his own robots to
fit the needs of his campaign or scenario.


Body: 4
Reaction: 3
Speed: 12
Armor: 2
Signature: 1
Skills: Any agricultural skills appropriate to its specific work; usually a
specialization in Botany.
Sensors: Video (thermographic). The robot is also able to analyze plant
samples for disease and growth, soil nutrients, and humidity.
Weapons: Stomp/kick (5S4), pesticide spray (3S3).
Description: The X-34 is a five-foot-tall, spider-like robot that walks on six
legs. An extendible probe is located under its body.
Notes: This is a system robot. The only time an agricultural robot would come
into play is if someone took control of it through the guiding computer
system or if the PCs accidentally got in its way.


Body: 6
Reaction: 8
Speed: 16
Armor: 4
Signature: 3
Skills: Perception (7), Ares MP-LMG (6), Grenade Launcher (6).
Sensors: Video (thermographic, magnification), audio, voice/pattern
recognition, motion sensors.
Weapons: Ares MP-LMG (5S3), grenade launcher (gas grenades).
Description: This robot looks like a hovercar with no windows. It is in fact
a small hovercraft. A large spotlight is mounted on the "grill".
Notes: This is a system robot used to guard permimeter of large corporate
installations. Upon encountering an unidentified person, it will ask
for identification in a crisp, electronic voice. If the identification
is not valid, the robot will deny the person access and warn him of the
consequences of trespassing. If the person attempts to pass or
attacks, the robot will immediately set off an alarm and attack.


Body: 8
Reaction: 8
Speed: 8
Armor: 5
Signature: 4
Skills: Perception (5), Ingram Valiant (6).
Sensors: Video (thermographic), audio, voice/pattern recognition.
Weapons: Ingram Valiant (5S3).
Description: The Vanguard is vaguely humanoid in appearance.
Notes: This robot is either system or solo, depending on the measure of
security desired. Although it has arms and legs, the Vanguard cannot
execute physical attacks.

>>>>>[ And what you have all been waiting for... ]<<<<<
-- Doctor Doom <03:23:59/12-5-53>


Body: 12
Reaction: 8
Speed: 10
Armor: 7
Signature: 6
Skills: Perception (8), Vindicator (8), Ingram (8).
Sensors: Video (thermographic, magnification), audio (high/low frequency),
voice/pattern recognition, motion detectors.
Weapons: GE Vindicator Minigun (5S3), Ingram smartgun (5S3)
Description: The Hellion is vaguely humanoid in shape.
Notes: The Hellion is a solo robot. It can punch for 8M2 damage, but it may
not kick.


Body: 14
Reaction: 7
Speed: 15
Armor: 8
Signature: 6
Skills: Perception (6), Target Identification (7), Vindicator Minigun (8),
Panther Assault Cannon (8).
Sensors: Video (thermographic, magnification) voice/pattern recognition,
motion detectors.
Weapons: Vindicator Minigun, Panther Assault Cannon.
Description: The Warbot looks like a streamlined tank about the size of a car.
Notes: Warbots are solo robots, usually programmed for specific missions.
Actual armament will vary according to purpose. Obviously, Warbots are
highly illegal, and Aztechnology will go to extraordinary lengths to
protect its secret.


In case you had not noticed, this was written well before ShadowRun II was
published, and as a result, the damage codes need to be rectified. Aside from
that, I would speculate the above ideas are compatible with both systems.

Colonel Count von Hohenzollern und von Doom, DMSc, DSc, PhD.

Doom Technologies & Weapon Systems -- Dark Thought Publications
>>> Working on solutions best left in the dark.
[ Doctor Doom : jch8169@******** ]
Message no. 2
From: Richard Pieri <ratinox@******.COE.NORTHEASTERN.EDU>
Subject: Re: Robots... excerpts from a magazine article on the subject
Date: Sat, 5 Dec 92 20:47:56 EST
>>>>> On Sat, 5 Dec 92 10:29:08 CET, Doctor Doom
>>>>> <JCH8169@*****.TAMU.EDU> said:

DD> It seems that some out there are anxious to create the Terminator,
DD> or at least Commander Data. Not only do I not like the idea, but
DD> one would need nothing short of a true Artificial Intelligence
DD> coupled with an number of electronics breakthroughs to fit such
DD> complex and memory-demanding program into a humanoid sized frame's
DD> head.

You wouldn't put the "brains" in the head for a number of reasons.
Two, in particular. First is space, as you mention. Second is
protection. It would be significantly easier and more survivable to
put the brains into the torso area, where it can be armored and shock-
proofed. A perfect example is the book _Weapon_, by Robert Mason. The
book kind-a sucks, but the depiction of "Solo" is incredible.

||||| | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |||||
Northeastern's Stainless Steel Rat ratinox@******
Shape shift/Nose to the wind/Shape shift/Feeling I've been
Move swift/All senses clean/Earth's gift/Back to the meaning of wolf and man
--Metallica, Of Wolf and Man

Further Reading

If you enjoyed reading about Robots... excerpts from a magazine article on the subject, you may also be interested in:


These messages were posted a long time ago on a mailing list far, far away. The copyright to their contents probably lies with the original authors of the individual messages, but since they were published in an electronic forum that anyone could subscribe to, and the logs were available to subscribers and most likely non-subscribers as well, it's felt that re-publishing them here is a kind of public service.