With the discovery of the Genet process in 2093, which allowed production of simulated living tissues from inorganic materials, and the advances made in artificial intelligence in the past 40 years, the construction of androids has become possible for the first time. These “artificial men” are used in areas where robots would be too conspicuous or “real” members of the species might fall short of the mark. The most advanced of these androids is the I-bot, which is almost impossible to tell apart from a living being and typically resembles one of the races that make up the Alliance. The I-bot is also programmed to simulate reasoning, deduction, and even emotion although it cannot actually feel emotions. In short, it is a fully functional artificially intelligent being.
Androids have many advantages over their living counterparts. They are extremely strong and fast, and have the lightning-quick processing abilities of a computer. They enjoy the best of both worlds where skills are concerned. I-bots can be programmed with necessary skills as well as learn new skills as they are exposed to them in the outside world – a first among artificial intelligences. They can even use Rent-A-Skill chips. Their synthetic skin is slightly tougher than a human’s, and the android can take much more damage and still remain functional. I-bots do not need to eat or sleep, but can fake these activities to maintain the illusion of a being real being. I-bots have a lifespan identical to the average member of the species they are built to mimic, and never require recharging.
In addition, I-bots, while extremely advanced as far as artificial intelligence goes, are nowhere near as good at learning as humans. While the I-bot will start out more skilled than other party members, they will eventually be passed by the faster learning “normals.”
I-bots have no culture of their own, but are generally intrigued by the cultural interactions of other creatures. They see these interactions as instructional. It isn’t unusual to see the party I-bot staring intently as you attempt to romance your significant other, and chances are he won’t even realize he’s doing anything wrong!
The first I-bot came off the manufacturing line in 2261 AD. Since then, they have gained widespread acceptance among law enforcement agencies, and are now being used in other hazardous, high-performance fields. There has been some resistance to the advent of androids, though. Many philosophers and sentient rights organizations question whether owning an artificially intelligent being isn’t just another form of slavery. Some Humans fear a repeat of the Gen Wars, with the faster, smarter, and stronger I-bots going rogue in force and attempting to take over. BioCyberdyne, the primary manufacturer of I-bots, denies that such an event is possible. However, certain organized movements are protesting I-bot employment in many high-risk, otherwise high-paying, jobs (on starships, for example). The results of this unrest remain to be seen.
I-bots have no real emotions, and will find almost any situation, from a steamy romance to an attacking Star Troll, to be “interesting.” They are able to imitate enough emotion to pass for the race they are built to mimic.
I-bots are manufactured using Bipolyrene, a highly advanced plastic-like material that is used to create artificial organs, tissues, and so on. Outwardly, they all appear to be a member of whatever species they have been built to resemble, and only a detailed bio-scan will show them to be artificial. Matrix use cannot be built into an I-bot. I-bots can use cybernetics that can be implanted, including skill chips, but can not have limbs or organs replaced. They are affected by neuroweapons as if they were an actual member of the species they are built to mimic. Chatilians will not detect any abnormalities when attempting to use telepathy on an I-bot.
I-bots are usually assigned to dangerous jobs that require a high degree of skill to perform well. They don’t usually get put out in the field as grunts; an I-bot is much too valuable to waste that way. That’s what mercenary Battlelords are for!