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Old 09-08-2021, 11:58 PM   #11
Pursuivant
 
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Default Re: Things worth having in a Cyberpunk Campaign

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Originally Posted by hal View Post
Question - what percentage of containers will fail due to faulty maintenance issues or just simple bad luck in the overall scheme of things and what are the remedies suggested? Just looking to refine this, not shoot it down.
Our combined models assume robust robotics and AI and a mature robo-shipping industry. To make it work, a large percentage of the smaller robots must remain operational at all times and "on-duty" failures have to be a tiny percentage overall (like, 0.000001%).

I know nothing about the shipping industry, but as a dumb guess, say that you've got 110% of the robots you need at peak capacity, you normally run at 80% capacity, and about 1% of robots are out of service at any given time. "On duty" failures are a tiny fraction of all maintenance incidents, prevented by decades of human experience and AI analysis.

Predictive AI which takes weather, current affairs, consumer data, and similar information into account is used for logistics, stationing the right robots where they're most likely to be needed.

The robo trucks run almost all the time, usually drawing their power from the mini- and micro-container bots so they don't need to stop to fuel. Unless they're damaged or in for routine maintenance if they're not on the road they're not making money. Even so, they're massively more efficient that human drivers since they don't need to sleep, eat, or have a home life.

The smaller robots spend most of their time "asleep" being carted from one place to another or waiting to be picked up. They "earn their keep" when empty by feeding power to the robo trucks and possibly serving as auxiliary distributed computer networks. Sharing power also means that no robot fails due to lack of power or ever gets too low on power. This optimizes battery life.

Due to a well-developed "internet of things" each robot will have onboard diagnostic sensors which can catch potential maintenance problems. "Power On & Self-Test" (POST) routines occur multiple times per day. "Sick" robots report to the maintenance area in the same way that sick soldiers go on sick call. That eliminates a number of potential problems up front.

Once they've "decided" that they're fit for duty, the smaller container robots "check in" with AI supervisors and are assigned as necessary. Like modern delivery drivers, robots constantly check in with their supervisor, update their status, and track the status of the packages they're carrying.

The micro- and mini-container robots have relatively short range. While they can operate on the street, they are seldom seen outside of shipping facilities which limits theft, vandalism, and wear and tear.

They're programmed to load themselves onto larger robots, plug themselves in to be recharged (or to supply power to other robots in the same network), and then shut down systems that aren't required.

That saves wear and tear on the smaller and more fragile robots while slightly reducing the tare weight and refueling times for the robot trucks (because fewer fuel cells are carried).

Once the robo truck nears a mini- or micro-container robot's destination it "wakes up" any "passengers" which need to be loaded or unloaded and updates its own status. All the newly-woken robots do health status checks and check in with the robot truck and the AI supervisor.

At the destination, the truck slows or stops, picks up and drops off micro- or mini-containers as needed, and continues on its way once it has determined that all its "passengers" are accounted for one way or another.

Inside the retail storage facility, the mini-containers route themselves to the correct location and then off-load all their micro-containers. The micro-containers do the wake-up and self-test routine, everyone updates their status, and the micros travel to their storage boxes. Once there, they can either nest inside the storage box to recharge or call on a handler robot to unload them. The handler robot then puts the package in the right spot. Everyone updates their status and the package's status.

If the micro is "asleep" inside a storage box when a customer makes a pickup the same code which operates the storage container door opens the cargo bot as well.

Normally, however, the micros and minis are constantly on the move. They move to recharging stations (which might be empty storage boxes or separate stations), check in, self-test, and go to sleep until the next robo truck comes by.

Storage or distribution facilities might also serve as maintenance facilities. SAI expert system computers do initial diagnosis based on the robot's self-diagnostics. Robot mechanics perform basic repairs. Human mechanics and supervisors perform complex repairs and detailed inspections.
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Old 09-09-2021, 12:51 AM   #12
Pursuivant
 
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Default Re: Things worth having in a Cyberpunk Campaign

Chasing my robo-logistics idea further:

Built-In Diagnostics and Self-Help Routines

While they almost never leave storage or distribution facilities, the micros and minis can self-right themselves if they're tipped over, either on their own or with the assistance of their "peers." They also have limited ability cross obstacles, climb steps or curbs, and turn around in tight places. Cargo compartments are insulated and weathertight, possibly even watertight to a few feet, allowing the robots to get wet and still protect their cargo.

Storage compartments are watertight. If a flood happens the facility might be a mess but the packages and robots will be undamaged.

Internal sensors, cleaner robots, and so forth alert the robot if it's dirty or contaminated or if its cargo isn't completely unloaded.

Robots also emit the equivalent of an "IFF signal" as part of their collision avoidance routines. Other nearby robots can detect the absence of the IFF signal, or distress signals, and react accordingly. Each robot has about as much AI as a small social animal. They can run away from threats, take cover, or swarm to a robot in trouble in order to help it.

They can also report "dead" robots and those behaving in an abnormal fashion. That allows AI and human supervisors to take appropriate action. Dead or "lost" robots can also be detected by AI supervisors when they fail to update their status.

Troubleshooting

If a robot encounters a problem "in the field" alerts AI and possibly sends out a signal for help. It then runs through sophisticated self-repair, self-righting, and obstacle avoidance routines, as appropriate. If it's damaged, it reports its status and AI takes it out of service and dispatches it to the nearest maintenance facility.

If a robot "dies" inside a robo truck or mini-container bot or is otherwise incapable of unloading itself, it can be pulled out of the larger container by specialized "ambulance" robots. Meanwhile, the containers are designed so the failure of one robot doesn't block the movement of others.

Once removed, any cargo the robot was carrying gets unloaded by (usually robotic) hand and the bot is flagged for maintenance or disposal.

If a robot dies or malfunctions at a storage facility which doesn't have mechanics, ambulance robots put it onto a robo truck headed for a maintenance facility.

If things get really bad, humans can be dispatched to the scene to solve problems that the robots can't solve themselves. AI + human biometrics can be used to open specific robot containers allowing the contents to be unloaded manually.

Hijacked or out-of-control bots can be shut down remotely by AI or directly by human supervisors on-site using the equivalent of remote control units. Law Enforcement also has specialized "bot killing" tools which disable rogue robots using EMP or just massive electric shocks. Robo containers are tough, but not tough enough to stand up to military- grade weaponry.

Robo-Truck Failures

If a robo truck breaks down or can't reach its destination, AI or human managers immediately get involved, just like a truck accident or breakdown today. The truck is rerouted or a new truck is sent based on best local sensor information. If a conex container needs to be unloaded AI or a human supervisor makes the call as to whether the mini-containers are offloaded with the micros still aboard, or if the micros leave while the minis stay behind.

Micro- and mini-containers can move about as fast as a walking person when not on pre-programmed routes. This means that transferring them from one container to another takes about as much time as a group of fit and organized people getting on or off a bus. (Inside distro and storage facilities robots travel much faster.)

Dealing with Theft

Hijacking a robo truck requires hacking not just its onboard controls, but also spoofing its update signals to the AI. This requires the thieves to know where the truck is going, which robots and packages are aboard, and lots of other data, all in real-time. Of course, this data is all encrypted making the hacker's task even harder.

Assuming they're successful, the thieves then need to fool each robot into unloading itself and opening up its cargo compartment. Meanwhile, they have to spoof status updates from every member of the group. This means feeding lots more specialized encrypted data to various machines in real time.

Since they're mutually self-protecting container bots will attempt to report abnormal use of one of their own, such as opening one of them in an unauthorized location. If attacked, they emit ear-piercing alarms and try to run or hide.

Alternately, they can be programmed to crowd around a particular container in order to protect it. The same built-in linkages which keep them in place aboard robo-trucks can link the group together, forcing would-be thieves to cut apart the entire bunch in order to get to the one they want.

Depending the level of lethal force allowed to the shipping company, some robo-containers might incorporate more lethal countermeasures.

Meanwhile, even if hijackers successfully spoof all the required data, any deviation from routine, such as late check-ins, gets flagged by the AI for analysis. Multiple deviations trigger alarms and draw human attention.

Impeding, lifting, or damaging a mini- or micro-robot, or moving a conex container off a robo truck outside of a shipping facility, instantly sets off alarms and defense mechanisms. AI and human supervisors are immediately alerted. If the reported damage or abnormal movement indicate a likely accident or robbery local police are notified.

Meanwhile audiovisual sensors aboard each robot are busy recording the scene.

Stealing from a storage facility is like attacking a post office filled with just armored mailboxes, video screens, and security sensors.

Attacking from the customer side means cutting or blasting open a safe while the robots and human staff on the other side of the wall are watching.

Forcing your way into the employee areas requires getting through a high security fence and several high security doors. If you try to get in while a robo truck is unloading you have to dodge heavy cargo bots which will maneuver to block your entrance or cut off your escape.

In any case, the container bots trigger their alarms once intruders are detected, producing a deafening noise. This triggers the smart building's inherent security features. If one of the bots is attacked the rest of the group either link themselves together to form a solid mass or flee to parts of the facility designed for small boxes on wheels rather than humans.

Assuming the container bots can be caught or unlinked, thieves then face the same problems as robo truck hijackers. All while being recorded by multiple security sensors, with alarms going off, empty container bots interfering with their movement, and human employees in a secure control facility calling the cops or corporate security.
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Old 09-09-2021, 07:40 AM   #13
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Default Re: Things worth having in a Cyberpunk Campaign

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This is one of my many personal objection to IOT devices. It forces you to upgrade household appliances which should last for years or decades on the 1.5-5 year schedule normally reserved for IT gadgets.
True, but relevant to a cyberpunk campaign (for more than just color) one could hack into somebody's [object] and gain access to their network. Objects are notorious for bad security already. Ones that are out-of-lifespan would be even moreso.
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Old 09-09-2021, 07:44 AM   #14
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Default Re: Things worth having in a Cyberpunk Campaign

I would imagine that sweeping for transmitters will become REALLY exhausting as geotags and transmitters continue to grow cheaper.

One in every 30 Starbucks cups reports back on your customer experience. How hot was the coffee? How long did it take us to make it? How long did it take you to drink it? Etc. Starbucks assures you that this is all completely anonymous and since it's powered by the heat of the beverage, it will stop transmitting within 24 hours anyway....

So, if you try to sweep a room for transmitters, you come up with a coffee cup, a teddy bear, the printer, and two suit jackets. Some number of them were put in by service professionals to "enhance your customer experience" but you can't be sure that it was all of them.

Last edited by khorboth; 09-09-2021 at 10:04 AM.
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Old 09-09-2021, 09:46 AM   #15
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Default Re: Things worth having in a Cyberpunk Campaign

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You're missing a couple of tricks in complete automation of the supply chain.
I imagine there would be screaming delivery robots 24/7 in every poor neighborhood - some attacked as robbery or stolen for parts, but many stuck in never-maintained streets, struck by cars, vandalized or Molotov-cocktailed or drone attacked or tipped over for fun, and some just attacked because no one can get any sleep and the poor sods have been driven out of their minds from the noise and are attacking the nearest delivery robot.
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Old 09-09-2021, 09:56 AM   #16
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Default Re: Things worth having in a Cyberpunk Campaign

Pokecons sound like the kind of technology that is ripe for subversion. It wouldn't need to be overtly antisocial, either - just self-interested actors finding a way to hack a particular pokecon software to nudge people in a way that benefits the hacker. So you'd have an arms race, as usual, between different agents. Maybe a common trick is to have three different pokecons and go with a majority vote on most nudges...

It reminds me of a thing I once heard: "Science fiction is about how technology will solve humanity's problems. Cyberpunk is about how it won't."
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Old 09-09-2021, 11:08 AM   #17
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Default Re: Things worth having in a Cyberpunk Campaign

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Pokecons sound like the kind of technology that is ripe for subversion. It wouldn't need to be overtly antisocial, either - just self-interested actors finding a way to hack a particular pokecon software to nudge people in a way that benefits the hacker. So you'd have an arms race, as usual, between different agents. Maybe a common trick is to have three different pokecons and go with a majority vote on most nudges...
Doesn’t even have to be subtle - I imagine authoritarian fascists will line up to get the newest pocket conscience that guides them towards being more violently authoritarian, fascist, and all the other -ists and -isms that go along with it.

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It reminds me of a thing I once heard: "Science fiction is about how technology will solve humanity's problems. Cyberpunk is about how it won't."
That is a wonderful quote.
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Old 09-09-2021, 12:08 PM   #18
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Default Re: Things worth having in a Cyberpunk Campaign

Just a one-off scene but...

Catering company uses 3D food printer for high class event.
Someone corrupts the makefile.
The company remakes the food, but doesn't want to just trash the old.
Everyone at the homeless shelter has delicious dong-shaped pasta for a week.
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Old 09-09-2021, 01:01 PM   #19
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Default Re: Things worth having in a Cyberpunk Campaign

Cyberpunk is a cool genre. When I think of Cyberpunk, I think of "dystopian futuristic film noir". Blade Runner comes to mind. What sort of tech exists within the setting is always a interesting subject and one that's always of interest as evident in this thread.

Today's contemporary tech would've been thought to be the stuff of science fiction once. The 80's aesthetic (what might be remembered of it, not necessarily what was (so the rosy memories of those who lived for those times, and the youth of today who're nostalgic for a time they were not alive for) also seems to be a part of that. Wet, dirty cityscapes with lots of neon lights. Vaporwave might be music to set the mood.

An easy approach to Cyberpunk would to set it in a alternative timeline 80's, and give it today's smart tech (plus whatever weird science tech you'd be inclined to imagine). Takes a bit of the mystique from it but at the same time you know have a convincingly Cyberpunk setting, it practically writes itself.
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Old 09-09-2021, 01:37 PM   #20
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Default Re: Things worth having in a Cyberpunk Campaign

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C
An easy approach to Cyberpunk would to set it in a alternative timeline 80's, and give it today's smart tech (plus whatever weird science tech you'd be inclined to imagine). Takes a bit of the mystique from it but at the same time you know have a convincingly Cyberpunk setting, it practically writes itself.
This apoproach not only explains the electronics but the guns, the cars and many other things.

The early 90s might be the time. For example there was a brief flurry of interest around then in a microwave technology that produced thin diamond films and Shadowrun started "Dikoting" everything.

The debunking of "rna carries memories" thing hadn't properly spread itself yet either.

You might even see germanium arsenide semiconductors in bleeding edge 'ware.

Yes, Cyberpunk is a Retrotech genre. :)
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