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In Joss Whedon's Firefly universe, is there any evidence of artificial intelligence, regardless of how advanced? In particular, I'm wondering if creating a basic autopilot AI for an asset in the Firefly RPG would be consistent with the established universe.

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  • Interesting choices in Firefly. Only ET life is plants and maybe these were terraform, added to rocks they found. I like Dune's choice to deliberately avoid AI because of bad experiences with it.
    – releseabe
    Jan 26, 2020 at 23:01
  • well there is this youtube.com/watch?v=s-LaAIXgv-8
    – Revenant
    Jan 26, 2020 at 23:22
  • On a separate note this depends on how you define AI and advanced.
    – Revenant
    Jan 26, 2020 at 23:42
  • I've found a reference on the Wiki for "assassin 'bots" that may have been autonomous but they seem to have been done away with a la @releseabe 's reference to Dune and that wiki is fairly poorly written. Jan 27, 2020 at 1:32

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There are no 'strong' AIs within the Firefly Universe, but a clever autopilot would be entirely consistent within the constraints of the RPG. They're explicitly called out as a ship attribute in the (licenced) Serenity RPG Core Rulebook

Virtually all ships have some type of autopilot— smart enough to follow simple course instructions, and keep the ship from crashing during routine operations. The Intelligence Attribute represents the expert systems available in a ship’s control, navigation, and guidance suite. Intelligence is also used to determine how easy it is to spoof her. No ship in the ‘Verse is really “intelligent,” though, in the sense of being self-aware. An Intelligence of 0 indicates manual controls with no autonomous capability at all.

Rolling a 12 will get you an autopilot that is "amazing"

Amazing; sophisticated systems can handle most flight details without pilot assistance


If you're hell-bent on introducing full AI into your RPG, that would require the discovery of some 'lost' technology from the ships that brought the original settlers over from Earth-that-was. There's mention in the Firefly novel Generations that AI tech used to be smarter, or at least that's they say around the space campfires.

What she did see were examples of old tech she’d only heard about from a few of the deep space pirates she’d come across since hooking up with Serenity. Blank, dusty screens hung in the junctions of corridors, possibly the old eyes of the ship’s controlling computer. There was talk they’d even had a form of artificial intelligence on these old ships, advanced, almost magical technology lost in the early, rough days of the ’verse.

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  • Interestingly, that's been removed in the Firefly RPG Core Book. The closest I can find is 'Automated Controls' which implies autopilot but isn't explicit.
    – RichardJ
    Jan 27, 2020 at 15:31
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In the comics, which are written by Whedon are considered canon to the show, there are very definitely and explicitly highly advanced AI.

The Blue Sun corporation build a range of androids modeled on Reynolds. They are completely autonomous sound just like Reynolds, except without his moral code.

When they are introduced, people are surprised that they look and act like Reynolds, but not that they are AI powered robots. Suggesting that they are a new version of something that already exists, rather than a completely new technology.

There is also a robot clone of Wash that has some of his memories and is such a convincing copy that it almost believes that it is Wash himself sometimes. It looks and acts indistinguishable from the original Wash.

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