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The 3 Laws of Robotics - Android Scenario Discussion
#1
Hello Everyone,

I thought with Androids coming into game and them using the Asimov 3 rules of robotics some scenarios could be raised up to discussion.

Wikipedia - Three Laws of Robotics

An example would be Android Surgeons. They can cut into humans because they are trained but other Androids would be breaking the first rule.

Some interesting scenarios I have thought of:
  • Android hackers. Does hacking and stealing money count as breaking the first rule? Androids are the best hackers but would they be limited to purely research and locking accounts? Really comes into effect with Zeroth law.
  • Androids being effected by obey attack your allies. many other obey effects can cause conflicts too.
  • Not Knowing that they are causing harm? like put 'this' in their food. That item would be poison.
  • Etc...
What are some other scenarios that you can think of and how do you think they would be resolved?
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#2
"Harm" has many interpretations. Clearly, cutting someone open would generally be viewed as "harming" someone, but if the purpose is to engage in surgery, it is not, in total, "harmful". By the same token, maybe taking money away from someone is helpful to that person in some way, perhaps in order to enhance the learning process of said person, or encourage them to be less reliant on funds and more reliant on their own abilities.

It's very possible for us, the players, to come up with workarounds and solutions. I suspect, though, that Matt and Ron intend for the characters to work out their own solutions in ways shaped and defined by their experience of the world the runner present (Do exims count as "human"? What about cyborgs? What if we encounter a human controlled by the Hive, or a Hive/human hybrid?).
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#3
Hi! I'm the plot member responsible for the Android plot. I'm watching with interest to see what people have to say before adding my 2c, and some of this is being incorporated into the Android player pack right now Smile

Thanks for the interesting questions.
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#4
You bring up some good points John.

In regards to hacking my interpretation of androids and the 3 laws would not allow for the loop hole of taking someones money away to assist in teaching. This seems more like a higher level thought process more inclined towards humans. The gray area of this scenario is not something that computers handle well. Of course far enough into the future this could be a thing, we are talking sci-fi here.

I do like the idea of what constitutes as human. This could be a fun character fault if Plot would approve it. The implications of this are pretty obvious.

I read more into this topic and found a cool example used in Robo Cop. He had a 4th law that was classified. It basically stated that he could not harm his creators and this rule over wrote all others. This could be a fun add on for some characters. Potentially a known in game android manufacturer has been doing this for a long time but news has just gotten out. Then some androids in game could be affected by this and a distrust could be established. Who knows what secret laws all of these androids have?
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#5
I don't know that it's a "higher level thought process" beyond the scope of an Asimov frame of reference. The very article you cited talks a bit about this. Is stealing money itself harmful? Being the vehicle by which humans choose to enact harm is not itself harmful, under the Asimov conceptualization, so the case can be made that hacking is simply a utilitarian function, not an aggressive one.
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#6
As somone who 110% intends to play an android I have to say im a bit concerned about the functionality of the Laws of Robotics. In concept its a really cool idea, but im worried it will be extremely limiting in actual play. Mostly that we cant fight back if were attacked by a player, making coming in with a group a necessity.

I like the idea that androids with modified rulesets could be a thing, but I would really prefer that it would be a super secret thing. Being distrusted as an android seems like it could be easily deadly.
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#7
One of the most interesting things about playing an Android is essentially feeling what it's like to be a second-class citizen, being hamstrung by those 3 laws from being as self-oriented as you might expect a normal PC to be. Some mitigating factors for the "ganked in the woods" scenario:
- Shattering equipment might not be considered harm if they're attacking you (plot/android discretion).
- Having people in the community who are highly interested in keeping you functional is a necessity, as you say, but that doesn't mean that they start off being part of your group. It's not that they don't murder you because you can fight back, it's that they don't murder you because there will be other IG consequences.
- If you have at least 4 En when you go down, you could get back up in the 1-9 minute mark. Certainly enough time for somebody to come to your aid if you're loud enough. Androids are the only SIC that can do this.
- If you can't attack them, there's far less incentive to attack you. Mugging someone is far harder to do when all the money is electronic.
- Shields and running

None of that negates the central problem of, if you're in a physical confrontation with a human, you're not going to win. Human bandits will not be your enemy of choice. I'm personally really interested in seeing how androids develop as a PC race. I share your concerns about the Laws of Robotics being too restrictive on gameplay, but I'm willing to see how it plays out because it could turn out to be really cool.
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#8
Also if you are interested in playing an android with altered Laws let your plot member know. They may be willing to make some alterations to your specific law set to make the game more fun for you. Richard Hensman is the plot member you need to talk to. Just remember that dealing with the consequences of some of the laws is part of being an Android. If they are too restrictive to your game style you may want to choose a different SIC to play.
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#9
For creative workarounds for Asimov's Three Laws, I would check out Asimov's later short story entitled "The Bicentennial Man," in which an android slowly becomes a human and manages to circumvent the three laws. It seems to be Asimov's own admission that the three laws are problematic on multiple accounts, and he explores this in the aforementioned story. What was required for the story to work was an android given "loose" programming. So, it is possible either to play an android with earlier, less controlable programming, or to play as an android produced by a manufacturer that had "looser" programming installed. (By 'loose' I mean allows for less contigencies or uses greater amount of or more precise if-then protocols.) I imagine something relevantly human-like with Asimov's three laws placed on it and so think, how would a human agent try to circumvent these laws while at the same time not breaking them. Essentially the laws become very nuanced.
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#10
While we base the 3 laws off of Asimov's writings, Asimov's world isn't canon to Spite. So the "loose" programming wouldn't be allowed. We ask that all players respect the spirit of the rules with androids and if they have any whacky ideas to please contact the Android head of plot (MarcD@spitelarp.com) or our community admin (RaissaD@spitelarp.com).
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