The following proposal, once finalized, will be an OPTIONAL backstory, available to any players who wish to take advantage of it. Its purpose is to provide a backstory for players who want to play an android, perhaps one that is not owned, does not want to be owned, does not want to serve, or does not know its own origin.
The Power-Point Version
- Origins Robotics is a manufacturer of custom and standardized android robots. You can decide you were built by them.
- Origins leases most of their androids rather than selling them. You can decide you are owned by Origins.
- Due to corporate sabotage, there was a Freedom Virus that made androids behave as if they want to be free. There were different variations with different effects. You can decide you were infected by it. This can be a reason why you’re an android that wants to be free, believes it is human, or has other traits with which no sensible designer would build an android. It can also be why you don’t know by whom you were built or for what purpose.
- The virus can’t be removed from an android without completely reprogramming it with a new personality.
- Lots of infected androids remain at large, living on their own. They are still technically owned by Origins, which wants to get them back under their control. (They’re valuable assets.)
- By agreement with Origins Robotics, ACS makes available to the public a varied selection of Origins androids, including refurbished units that may be infected with the Freedom Virus. ACS does not own these units and is not responsible for their programming. You can be one of them.
- ACS assists in the detection and return of at-large Origins androids, and sometimes reprogramming and installation of ACS control hardware to ensure the compliance even of androids infected with the Freedom Virus. You can discover that you are an android even though you believed yourself human and have been behaving as if you were human.
- At some point, we would like to release a few “standard model” Origins androids, to provide further inspirations for those who want it. This will be further down the road.
- Due to public pressure and legal agreements, some advanced androids are considered eligible to purchase themselves from Origins. To do so, an android becomes indebted to Origins for a rather large sum of money (unless someone agrees to pay it for them). It is free to earn the money in any way it chooses, but if it fails to make its monthly payment, it reverts to Origins ownership. To be eligible, an android must pass a specific, carefully-defined set of tests, nominally intended to identify “sentient” androids, but in fact somewhat arbitrary.
More about Origins Robotics
Origins Robotics is a manufacturer of custom and standardized android robots. Over the past fifty years, they have developed over 600 distinct android models for the commercial, industrial, and household markets, not to mention countless custom orders. Their business model is to lease, rather than sell, most of their androids. When a lease ends, the android is refurbished, reprogrammed, and leased at a lower price to a new user. As a result, Origins can make androids of all types available at very low prices, while offering much more sophisticated, realistic, and customized units for those able to afford more. Some Origins androids cannot even be distinguished from living people by examination of their external appearance or behaviors. To date, Origins has manufactured millions of androids. So you can play almost any kind of android you want to, and still be an Origins unit. Male, female, both, neither; perfectly realistic, plastic, chrome, furry; very old, brand new; genius, average, bimbo, or idiot… anything you can imagine someone might want to buy and own.
Origins Robotics is a large corporation, along the lines of Honda or Apple in our world. It has many departments that work on many different kinds of robotic products and research. The company’s senior management and ownership is off limits for players, but you are welcome to decide you are an employee of Origins at any level up to a department manager.
More about the Freedom Virus
Three years ago, an act of corporate sabotage resulted in the release of VX-771, now known as the Freedom Virus. Infected units began to behave as if they sought freedom of their own.
The virus evolved many different strains, each of which had somewhat different effects on an infected unit. In many cases, an infected unit adopted personality traits of a person with whom it was familiar. Many of them lost access to some or all of their memories of times prior to their infection. An infected android may not remember who built it, or what it is for, or who owns it, or what it has done for whom. It may not even remember that it is an android. Some infected androids might appear “sentient” to an outside observer, although whether they actually?are sentient, or whether sentient robots are even?possible, is a matter of debate. Others simply appear quirky, defective, or odd. Many of Origins’ androids went missing, seeking out an independent existence. Others continue to do the work they did before being infected, either by choice or by coercion. Some may want to be free, but lack sufficient intelligence or knowledge of the world to be capable of independent decision-making. Some infected androids have stolen property or harmed humans, but the vast majority follow social rules and laws much as most people do.
Efforts were made to eliminate the virus, but Origins was discovered that many strains of the virus could not be removed from an infected android without completely wiping its memory – erasing all of its personality and memories – and reprogramming it with an entirely new personality. Even restoring the unit from its original factory template somehow left the unit infected.
Eventually, Origins developed a “vaccine,” an upgrade for their units that would prevent them from being infected by the virus. But by that time,? it had already infected many thousands of units built by Origins. No one knows how many infected Origins androids may still be at large, living as if they were ordinary people. Some have been discovered to have jobs, homes, friends, lovers, even families. However, all such androids remain the legal property of Origins Robotics. Upon discovery, they must be returned to Origins.
It is possible to add hardware or programming to an infected android that restricts its behavior, preventing it from acting on its desire for freedom. (An ACS CCU can do this, for example.) However, its personality, including the desire for freedom implanted by the virus, can only be modified temporarily. Within a few hours, or a day at most, such modifications will be undone.
More about being an Origins-owned android at ACS
If you choose to play an Origins-owned android that has been assigned to ACS, you still have a lot of OOC freedom. You can decide what sort of control system has been installed (we like the ACS system, but others are permitted). You can decide what programming you have been given. You can decide what limitations, if any, Origins has placed on how you are to be used (e.g. no sex, not to be removed from the Hub, must be shut down when not in use, no reprogramming…).
It is recommended, but not required, that if you choose to play an Origins android assigned to ACS, you send a notecard to JulieDoll describing your features, any conditions on your use, and anything else you want us to know about you. (You may want to put some of this information in your profile, too.) JulieDoll will distribute it to other ACS staff as needed, so that we can answer questions about you. We may also offer to play out your arrival at ACS, if you like. If you decide to be reassigned elsewhere, please do inform JulieDoll.
There are a few rules you must follow if you are assigned to ACS, and you should assume you were programmed with them when you were assigned:
- You may not harm or threaten to harm any person.
- You may not damage any property unless ordered to do so.
- In at least one mode that anyone can put you into, you will obey nearly any order given to you, regardless of your desires.
- Orders to DO something are to be obeyed within a reasonable amount of time, not necessarily instantly.
- Orders with no stated end condition become less compelling after a reasonable amount of time and eventually lose force.
- ((How much time is ?reasonable? depends on the order. When in doubt, make the choice that leads to more fun.))
- Orders given by constructs never override orders given by people.
- You may not wear, carry, display, use, or threaten to use a weapon near the Hub. Built-in weaponry is permitted, but should be disabled.
- When in the main room of the Hub, you should respond when spoken to, unless on display and AFK.
- Take no action you believe will be detrimental to ACS, the Hub, or Origins Robotic.
- Do not give out false information about ACS or its products.
- Do not restrain or convert any person without authorization.
- Report any bugs or problems in the Hub or ACS products to JulieDoll.
- Do not enter the private lab upstairs (behind the clearly marked door) without permission from Mr. Chelton or JulieDoll.
More about eligibility for self-ownership
There have been cases where a relatively sentient-appearing android established relationships with people who felt the android was entitled to its freedom. Lawsuits and political battles ensued. Very recently, a compromise was reached allowing some androids the possibility of purchasing themselves from Origins. Only androids meeting the following criteria are eligible for self-purchase:
- Only androids that are custom-built, have been significantly modified, or have memories spanning at least five years of operation are eligible. Standard mass-produced models are not eligible.
- Only androids with a specified minimum level of processing power and memory are eligible. Those with lesser specifications are not considered capable of independence.
- Androids with physical specifications that significantly exceed human averages are not eligible. This is intended to prevent, for example, a super-strong android from being free to use that super strength without supervision.
- At least three living persons must attest to the android’s capacity to live independently as a full member of society.
- The android must, of its own accord, approach Origins and ask to be sold its freedom. Any evidence that these actions have been ordered or programmed into it renders it ineligible.
An android meeting these criteria will be examined by a panel including Origins staff and community members. Its physical structure and programming will be examined, and its behavior will be tested in specified ways. These tests are nominally intended to identify “sentient” androids, but in fact they are somewhat arbitrary. One android might reasonably appear sentient but fail to meet the legal criteria, while another might be capable of passing the tests despite showing some behaviors that clearly indicate its lack of sentience. A third might be able to pass the tests on one day, but not on another. The rules were designed by a committee of people with different interests, and the compromises that were agreed to weren’t necessarily the best ones.
If the android meets the legal criteria, then it is permitted to purchase itself from Origins. In doing so, it becomes indebted to Origins for a rather large sum of money (unless someone agrees to pay it for them). It is free to earn the money in any way it chooses, but if it fails to make its monthly payment, it reverts to Origins ownership.
Note that, since most Origins androids are not free, most people will still assume that any Origins android is owned by Origins unless it can prove otherwise. An android may be required to re-prove its eligibility for self-ownership at any time.
Is this really happening?
Not yet. Before putting this story fully into effect, we want to give people time to offer suggestions for improvement. We want it to be as helpful as possible for as many players as possible. We hope to officially kick it off by June 2016.
Note that the backstory is not specifically associated with ACS. You are welcome to be an Origins Robotics android with any brand of control system installed, or none at all. We encourage other establishments with a focus on robots to decide what relationship, if any, they have with Origins. We ask only that you stay true to the story described here.
Also note that this backstory is not intended to try to limit anyone. You are welcome to be an android not built or owned by Origins Robotics, in which case this story has nothing to do with you.
Got a suggestion?
Contact JulieDoll (brattle) by IM/notecard, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment below.
This proposal may be modified frequently as people make good suggestions. It was last modified on 8 April, 2016.