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Why don't Most Starships Use More Automated Systems

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#1
Gilamar Skirata

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I feel like its something often forgotten about in the every day of Star Wars but this video brought up the question that I have asked myself on several occasions. I think its a question that is interesting to ask here as well as we've gone on our own technological path on Chaos. I've seen many a ship or station assume that the technology of automation is both widespread AND reliable but Legends would say differently (obviously with some inconsistency as was common with Legends). I think its doubly interesting because if we take our factory rules and apply the sort of norms or limits they've set on us, it could be a safe assumption that we have actually lost a lot of the tech that was either prevalent or on its way into the mainstream. Anyways, after watching the video below I want to know your thoughts on the state of Chaos' automation in ships. I think if I ever put automated guns or systems in a ship sub again I'll think back to some of the weaknesses mentioned in the video.

 



#2
Coren Starchaser

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Star Wars was written in a more non-automated time frame, IMO.

Maybe everything else is catchingup. It doesn't really go with the like space-desert-steam-punk thing SW has going on. mostly.

 

Yeah?


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#3
Arage Bao

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Back when I was building up my PMC, Didact Defense Solutions, I actually went the way of heavy automation, AI/Droid Brains, etc for its fleet.

Was very fun to do.

But yeah, you are right, we don't really see it done often on Chaos. I know the CIS Major Faction has a leaning towards it, but that shouldn't be surprising considering their canon background. I can't really name another faction that has substantial focus on it.

More plz.

Edited by Daro Tarsi, 10 September 2018 - 06:03 PM.

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#4
Scherezade deWinter

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I am a Master at using that Auto-Pilot button.


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#5
Gilamar Skirata

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Daro Tarsi what do you think about his point on SW tendency to combine the ideas of AI and Droid brains making those sorts of systems gain almost minds of their own?

 



#6
Neri Rashal

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I know that for Chaos, the board lore *does* directly involve the loss of some technology during the Gulag Plague and the 400 years of darkness, to help explain why 800 years after the movies we're still using a lot of the same basic tech. 


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#7
Khonsu Amon

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For me, I’ve found myself in love with the prospect of highly automated vessels - due to the fact that it can justify for a significantly reduced crew count and allow for warships to swap out habitation blocks for something else - like additional hangar bays or weapon’s batteries, etc. After watching Eckhart’s video - I’ve found myself agreeing with several of his points, but shaking my head and disagreeing with others. 
 
His research and information seem to be solely based around the Clone Wars/ Galactic Civil War Era - when there was only a handful of truly automated warships (aside from the vast swarms of droid starfighters.) For example; I give to you the Recusant - which was a highly automated CIS warship that saw service in the Clone Wars and the Civil War thereafter, but ran into several of the issues that Eckhart mentioned; like the lowered reaction time and apparently the inability to keep themselves from colliding into other ships. While utterly comical, I don’t believe it should hold any weight when compared to “modern” designs that have been translated to Chaos’ Factory. We’re talking almost eight hundred years of possible technological advancement here, despite the large-scale stagnation that’s prevalent during the lengthy ‘Legends’ canon history, and the massive technological regression that’s happened during the Gulag plague. 
 
I’ll touch on those points later, but I’m going to hit up the seemingly consistent concept that’s been generally utilized by some authors - that is that droids are unable to react faster than an organic being - therefore are a bunch of bumbling buffoons like the B1 battle droids. I don’t agree with that. They were originally designed to be remotely operated, and were given a retrofitted module that allowed them some more independence - but were still constrained by the original designs. Thus, making the B2 a superior model as they were designed to specifically counter the flaws of their predecessor (but still suffering from drawbacks of their own.) While not listed, I believe these droids had the foundations of what would later become the Heuristic processor - something that was considered as advanced during that Era. These processors allowed for a Droid to learn by doing - much in the way that organic beings do - without having been previously instructed.
 
However, you could argue that these processors weren’t that advanced since it’s been proven throughout SW history that Droids develop a personality over time - something that occurs naturally during operation without a memory-wipe.
 
So, with those processors, a starship’s automated systems - especially weapons - would eventually become more and more dangerous over time, as they absorbed a wealth of information (should they survive one battle, before moving onto the next.) I’d see them of being able to counteract that weakness of being slow to react easily, and adapting to an organic’s innate ability to be creative; as they’ve seen it happen before and were able to develop an effective counterattack. The same could be said of the more mundane systems, as they’d be able to learn from any errors and strive to make themselves more efficient the next time something similar happens. Therefore, that leads me to believe that a Droid would be a more competent and effective replacement to the Organic alternative, and would be capable of following through with his duties far faster than a nimble-fingered sentient. Especially if the droid brain was programmed, and equipped with the appropriate cognitive modules like a heuristic processor. At least, that’s how I see it in my eyes - you may see it differently. Lol
 
Now, this leads me towards (admittedly unlisted) evidence of automation in the years after the Clone Wars and the Civil War. As the basis for my argument, I’m using the Imperial II-Class SD as the foundation - since it’s the most prominent fixture of the Civil War era and a deadly vessel in its own right. This warship has a crew complement of roughly 37,000 people - which is an insane number when fully staffed, and compared to the warship I’ll be listing afterwards. Yes, I could list any number of Mon Cala vessels, as they roughly measured up to their Imperial counterparts and were capable of operating with a significantly reduced crew count. As the reason why was never listed, or brushed off as the superiority of Dac’s Engineering, I figure that there was a degree of automation brought into play. Something that wasn’t really considered of during the timeframe all this information was generated - as it was basically WWII naval fights in space. 
 
If you skip ahead one hundred years in the ‘legends,’ you’ll find that the ImpStar II was replaced by the Pellaeon-Class SD which was reportedly larger than the standard ISD-II; that had a significantly reduced crew complement. Like, we’re talking of a difference of nearly 28,000 people. Sadly, there’s nothing in the article that states the vessel is automated, but that’s the way I’m interpreting it - especially to justify the massively reduced numbers on an allegedly larger warship. 
 
However, with the advantages that come from automating your warship - there comes with it a whole host of drawbacks, which can drastically hamper your starship’s capabilities. The first, and foremost issue is counteracting the deadly effects of an electromagnetic pulse - which can effectively cripple the vessel if not shielded properly. Even then, it’s something you’d ideally still have to be cognizant of as that integrated shielding can only resist so much before it fails, and forces the Starship to submit to the effects of the EMP. Something similar could be said of the various intricacies of Electronic Warfare; which any warship worth its weight in salt would have effective countermeasure(s) for, but can only do so much in the long-run as there have been some fanon submissions made to counteract these systems. 
 
In conclusion, and honestly surmising my giant rant, I see automation becoming more commonplace as we drive technology forward ICly, and effectively replacing an organic crewmember with an artificial one; that’s not hindered by the “human error” factor. This could be further enhanced by having a connected transceiver built into the droid brains that remotely connect them to a central computer core - from which they could be commanded by a significantly smaller organic complement or even an Artificial Intelligence; something already found in almost every droid in Star Wars canon. 

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#8
Gilamar Skirata

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If you skip ahead one hundred years in the ‘legends,’ you’ll find that the ImpStar II was replaced by the Pellaeon-Class SD which was reportedly larger than the standard ISD-II; that had a significantly reduced crew complement. Like, we’re talking of a difference of nearly 28,000 people.

 

This is true, its a large difference, however I think here the argument loses a little weight when you factor in that an ISD II can be run with 5000 people. Also I don't think automation has to do with the signifigant drop in as much a way as you think. If you look at just the guns on the Palleon vs the ISD, the Palleon has just under 20 individual gun emplacements (22 if you count the tractor beam projectors but I imagine a single person could handle those three) where as the ISD II has well over 150 individual guns. I think the key here is power efficiency. Because the ISD II has 7 times as many weapons systems yet the Palleon would crush it in a one on one fight. I think the systems have gotten better and require less people and power. I wouldn't be surprised if multiple systems could be handled by a single person then, not that functions have necessarily been automated or heavily augmented by droid brains.

 

His research and information seem to be solely based around the Clone Wars/ Galactic Civil War Era

He brings up Old Republic tech as well, which to me along with all the "No droids allowed", the terrible Clone Wars, and the loss of the Katana Fleet he mentions all seem like triggers to *not* invest highly into ship automation.  

 

We’re talking almost eight hundred years of possible technological advancement here, despite the large-scale stagnation that’s prevalent during the lengthy ‘Legends’ canon history, and the massive technological regression that’s happened during the Gulag plague.

 

I think the SW universe's tendency to take long periods of time to show any signs of technological shifts or advancements coupled with the technological regression would dissagre with you here.

 

Ultimately it was not my intention to say we shouldn't see a lot of automation, but rather I feel that if its going to be in places, I think it would be cool if someone specialized in it and went all in to overcome the things mentioned in the video. I don't think for example, MandalMotors could pull off a heavily automated ship without many of the drawbacks, simply because few people have made that sort of tech readily available. But if a government went all in or a company went all in...I think that would be cool and give an area or company that identity. "Yeah, -insert X location here-'s got the best droid brains on the market" 



#9
Khonsu Amon

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Gilamar Skirata - If you're comparing the face value gun counts between the ISD-II and the PSD - then yes, you'd be correct regarding the power efficiency factor. However, as the article for the Pellaeon itself states that it has slightly more of an armament than the ISD-II - I can't help but feel those numbers are wrong and don't accurately represent the true combat capabilities of the vessel. Something, thanks to Disney's takeover of the SW-IP we'll never see expanded upon, as the Legacy era is effectively a non-existent and alternate timeline. 

 

Old Republic tech is a vast and broad subject to touch on, which is why I didn't bother to bring it up. Droids and their predecessors were found on warships since the time of Xim the Despot, mostly acting as a shipboard complement of soldiers - but still. It's possible that there were Droids, and or droid brains acting as an automated feature on a starship. Something we'll never truly know until Disney decides to flesh out that Era of Nucanon in one respect or another. You'll note that a lot of the major issues have happened during the Rise of the Empire Era - yet fades after the Empire's been defeated. One of the companies that an alternate account of mine operates has a Fleet Tender that's the size of the aforementioned starships and is heavily automated. It's just under four hundred metres in length and can be operated by Six people. 

 

The major reason behind a lack of automated systems was the upfront cost it required in order to make the translation from a conceptual idea to the production floor. It was far too expensive for the New Republic for them to fully overhaul their fleet with the New Class Modernization program, and something that produced only a limited run of vessels as the whole operation came into play during a period of peace. The credits would've been better suited elsewhere, and there was a massive amount of vessels leftover from the Galactic Civil War that'd do the job considerably cheaper than a new-fangled piece of tech.

 

When it comes to the periods of technological stagnation, I mentioned that it was possible a plethora of things happened offscreen before Chaos' timeline comes into play. In a period of just over a century, the technology of Star Wars finds itself making leaps and bounds - with greater yields of efficiency and untold/offscreen possibilities. I mean, there's a starfighter in the Legacy era that's supposedly got deflector shields that rival a frigate! So, who's to say what is what - as everything from 130 ABY to 850 ABY is open to interpretation (despite the technological regression, which has been pretty much made null-and-void by this point.) You may see a Six, but I may see a Nine. :P

 

As for your last point of discussion? This may be some shameless self-plugging, but also is kinda why I've been filling in the lore with my assumptions and such, as my company has been focusing on highly automating their warships. From automated recon drones to massive battleships with a crew of a just over a thousand, Republic Engineering's going and has gone all in - in that respect. However, with the factory being closed for the time being, I've been chipping away at fleshing out my collection of droids and automated systems. 


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#10
John Locke

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I'll throw in my two cents here, though I don't think I can come close to matching Khonsu's impressive examination. 

 

I'd agree that everyone's made good points and I'll need to go back and research the lore a bit before weighing in on why we didn't see increasing automation in Star Wars but I think Khonsu was on the right track when he said it's expensive to overhaul an entire fleet, and for something like the empire, or the Ne republic that just wasn't necessary. 

 

As far as Chaos itself goes, I think that there is some automation going on, but it tend to be pushed to people who enjoy that style of futuristic tech. The limitation on AI placed by the factory played a small part in that, it was possible to get around it by using droid brains but without a governing AI the job becomes much harder to explain away. A droid brain can be very good at its specific task, but to manage all tasks like Cortana or Romi are capable of is easier if we're in possession of more widespread AI. It's not impossible to use droid brains to replicate the process, but it would take a lot of droid brains to reproduce one AI. 

 

 


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#11
Captain Larraq

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Hackers, Cylons, Boarding Parties, Rogue AI.

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#12
Jay Scott Clark

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1. World War II Aircraft

2. The Omni Galactic Event

3. SW technology is kittens, etc



#13
Kaine Australis

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#14
VildarnTentoria

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Cause Star Wars technology advances rather slowly. Especially since the galaxy keeps getting torn apart by wars between force users who use basically magic anyway. Also if you read the katana fleet you’ll know that automating vessels has been constantly attempted but usually doesn’t end well. Also the Empire is lead by people who enjoy the idea of using people as tools.
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#15
Cyrus Tregessar

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Jay is spot on with the real reasons.

But manual fire control in space is simply absurd. The scenes of guns being spun and fired directly by crew is a clear throwback to WW2 footage of small caliber AA defenses on ships. Never mind that such weapons were hilariously ineffective and by 1943 most major caliber guns had radar assisted gun directors.

All modern major weapon systems are nearly fully automated, though they may retain manual backup systems.

I assume Star Wars ships are on a similar level at the least.

The other side of the coin is big ships are presumably big for some practical reason, and lots of people need increasingly lots more people to support them. Now the ISDs 36,000 is pretty crazy, but you're also talking about a ship roughly five times the size of a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier. 10-15,000 is not all that unreasonable especially once you factor in troops, flight crew, etc.

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#16
Gilamar Skirata

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I assume Star Wars ships are on a similar level at the least.

 

That's what the convo is about. Why they AREN'T there haha Even all the way up to Legacy era most guns were manually manned. Kind of bouncing off of Khonsu and what they were saying they were doing with their ships...If your ships don't have ANY of the weaknesses that would be associated with a droid brain controlling your guns its either waaaaaaaaay ahead of its time, manual, or prone to other vulnerabilities.

 

*probably

 

A little off topic here but:

That assumption that things are "at least" as advanced as our rl time or that "realistic" space battle tactics would be common in Star Wars are things injected into sw rp that at least to me, make fleeting pretty awkward 

 

 



#17
Gir Quee

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People have hit a lot of good points already, so I'll bring up some random thoughts and areas to further the breadth of this subject.

 

I'm kind of surprised that no-one's mentioned the Lucrehulk Battleship. A ~3000 meter battleship with only 150-350 crew, meaning that it has several more orders of guns rather than crew. The products of Nerfworks may also illustrate the practical viability of fully automated starships: these seem to mostly have personality issues which limits their practicality in independent operation, which suggests that while the systems can be effective, they need long-term organic oversight.

 

On the flip side, having a more organic crew based crew has benefits that automation cannot provide, mostly in adaptability. It's not hard for a organic gunner to pick up a blaster and start defending against an internal boarding threat. A hardwired droid brain can't do that. It's also not hard for an organic to creatively adapt to different situations that aren't in its professional description (like putting out a fire for damage control purposes). Most droids seem to have very limited ability for their programming to adapt to that, unless we're talking about higher end droids, which then become much more costly than organic labor. As a sidenote to this, a lot of starship crew numbers may NOT be the number actually needed to run the ship at a single time, as there are some references to a Watch System in some Star Wars sources. This means that such ships may have extra manpower during war and battles, meaning that there is actually again more flexibility for a ship captain to replace different losses in damaged areas, to provide better defense against boarders, to do damage control, or to take control of prize vessels. While these are roles that droids might be able to fulfill, adaptability to fulfill these different roles may be something that's easier to practically achieve with an organic.

 

The largest takeway I see from these examples is that while it's entirely possible to make an extremely (or completely) automated starships, for many users' practical purposes, a blended system of organics and automation would be ideal in terms of performance and cost efficiency.


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#18
Cyrus Tregessar

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That assumption that things are "at least" as advanced as our rl time or that "realistic" space battle tactics would be common in Star Wars are things injected into sw rp that at least to me, make fleeting pretty awkward

Man I've got half a blog post written about exactly this because it absolutely is a point that makes fleeting awkward, especially for new people.

I need to get back to that.

For what it's worth, if your ships are crewed, theres a 150% guarantee they're using some variant of a watch system.

Edited by Cyrus Tregessar, 13 September 2018 - 01:25 AM.

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#19
Natalija

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Personaly, I dont think the guns on SW ships are manual-fire controled. I think they are senzor-assisted (at lest the big cap ship guns, the smaler point-defence ones like those on the Falcon are obviusly manual-targeted), but they need human(oid) input to pick out targets and prioritize. I think the actual aiming and firing is done automaticly, on that input. Thats why I seen on one cross-sektion of a Star Destroyer, that they got "fire control" areas insyde the turets. Why wuld they have fire control areas if they are manual-fire? You just need a scope and a triger. Fire "control" only makes sense if its actualy a computer-based sistem, that is given tasks by a human operator. Same as turrets in modern tanks. Aiming and firing is done by a computer, the gunner just programs it to track and target the enemy, and picks vhich enemy to target.

 

So basicly, there is alot of automation in SW, imo, but it is dependant on human input. Just like real world. And also imo, too much automation is bad. No AI wil ever be maked that can match human creativity and adaptibility. Droids are all wel and good, but they cant think creativly, like that Kamino clone-master sayed to Kenobi in Ep II . And I agree.



#20
Gir Quee

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Fire "control" only makes sense if its actualy a computer-based sistem, that is given tasks by a human operator. Same as turrets in modern tanks. Aiming and firing is done by a computer, the gunner just programs it to track and target the enemy, and picks vhich enemy to target.

 

This seems to be pretty likely, given technology ranges from basic targeting computers to sophisticated Target Acquisition and Tracking system.

 

I would imagine that organics using technology like that can bring their ability pretty close to the most advanced targeting droid brains, which is why we probably don't hear much about droid targeting ability (through processing power) being vastly superior to organic gunners.


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