PersonaCore Expert System
This article originally appeared in the April 2011 issue, and was reprinted without acknowledgement in the May/June 2019 issue.
PersonaCore is a mixed firmware and software system that forms the core of an advanced computer network for a starship (or ground installation of equivalent complexity) which allows the user to replace or supplement skilled personnel with automated systems built on the latest expert systems and software. Although some skills cannot be replaced by this system, most of the tedium and time-consuming work involved in routine tasks can be reduced dramatically by restructuring your network around one of the PersonaCore lines.
The PersonaCore line includes a wide assortment of pre-generated standard personalities for enhanced ease and efficiency when interacting with the system. Some manufacturers are licensed to build custom personalities based on client needs.
It should be noted that PersonaCore systems are more flexible replacements for standard expert systems and intellect emulation programs; such programs cannot be used to supplement a PersonaCore.
The basic PersonaCore system can be constructed and installed in TL-12 computers. The skills available are limited by the TL of the computer in which the PersonaCore system is installed:
TL-12: PersonaCore “Expertware” allows for basic skill level (0) in limited skill areas. The system acts mostly in an advisory capacity and has limited decision making capabilities but can present accurate predictions based on the knowledge base and some user input. It cannot control or interact with robots or weapons systems, and is not certified for medical use beyond reference consultation by a Doctor. This level of PersonaCore is particularly useful in areas such as Legal, Admin, Mechanical, Electronic, etc.
TL-13: PersonaCore “Advanced Expertware” allows for skill level 1 in a wider range of areas. Less input is required from a user, and the PersonaCore system can make intuitive predictions and diagnosis. Can be used for medical diagnosis, but is not certified for surgical assists.
TL-14: a Semi-Autonomous PersonaCore functions to replace skill level 1 as TL-13, but adds a personality core to the routines which, based on the personality type used, can make independent decisions based on the system’s own observations and experience. Skill areas that may involve potential safety risks (Pilot, Navigate, for example) have an inbuilt interrupt that requires the user to explicitly choose from a list of program-recommended actions. PersonaCore personalities are capable of operating under minimal supervision within the areas of expertise of the personality, with a low level of supervision in areas peripheral to the area of expertise, and as a TL-13 PersonaCore Advanced Expertware system in all other supported areas. The PersonaCore personality defines the system’s central and peripheral areas of expertise—for example, a PersonaCore Combat Medic personality would have core expertise in such specialties as trauma/injury medicine and field-expedient surgery, with peripheral expertise in e.g., routine diagnosis and pharmacology.
TL-15: The Fully-Autonomous PersonaCore can act independently within the personality’s area of expertise and peripheral areas, and with minimal supervision in all other supported areas, making the personality more of an interface aid and a skill set facilitator than an expert system. User override is available for situations where a higher skill level is needed, and is enforced in safety-critical situations, but the system can replace most skills at level 2. The personality can make suggestions, carry on conversation, and learn from experience. It has been suggested, but never conclusively demonstrated, that a Fully-Autonomous PersonaCore is fully sophont.
The following basic parameters apply to all PersonaCores:
- A Model/2 computer or higher is required. PersonaCore will use half of the computer’s capacity, giving it the ability to replace skills at one level below half of the computer’s rating (e.g., a Model/2 or Model/3 with PersonaCore can replace skill-0; a Model/4 or Model/5 can replace skill-1; a Model/6 can replace skill-2). This effectively reduces the model of a computer with a PersonaCore by half.
- PersonaCore requires all ancillary software needed for performing the required tasks. For instance, if the ship is going to Jump, then the needed level of Jump Program is required. All rules of program space and use limitations apply.
- PersonaCore can replace crew in most positions (remote robots may be required for some applications, e.g., Steward, that require mobility and/or interaction) at the PersonaCore’s skill limit.
- Because of the safety interrupt built in to the Semi-Autonomous and Fully-Autonomous PersonaCore, a sophont with relevant skills at a minimum of one level above the PersonaCore’s must be available to supervise the PersonaCore system.
- Weapons stations may be “manned” by the system, but will only be able to fire on one target at a time. PersonaCore cannot exceed skill level 1 for any weapons, and acts only defensively when manning weapons (see below). Gunner Interact is required. The system presents a list of target choices and the user selects the target from that list each round.
All success rolls are made by the referee.
Manual override is possible from any crew station for that skill.
Evade programming limited to Auto-Evade if that program is present.
PersonaCore sets priorities to starship operations based on user-defined limits, but at all times the system checks the logic of those tasks against the following rules:
- Ship and crew safety is paramount and the system must take no action that will place those two categories at risk while operating.
- The system will engage in combat only if no means of evasion or escape is available. If combat is engaged the first rule will be applied by continuously searching for a means of escape or evasion while using the ship’s weapons and defenses to protect the ship and crew.