Monday, March 7, 2016

GURPS Computers and Software

This article consolidates elements from ultra-tech, Interstellar wars and some houserules on AI, quantum computing and the information economy.


  • Tiny: Complexity 3/5, 1TB, $50, 2A/20h, LC4, 0.05lb
  • Small: Complexity 4/6, 10TB, $100, 2B/20h, LC4, 0.5lb
  • Tower: Complexity 5/7, 100TB, $1000, 2C/20h, LC4, 5lb
  • Microframe: Complexity 6/8, 1000TB, $10,000, LC3, 40lb
  • Mainframe: Complexity 7/9, 10,000TB, $100,000, LC3, 400lb
  • Macroframe: Complexity 8/10, 100,000TB, $1,000,000, LC3, 4,000lb
  • Megacomputer: Complexity 9/11, 1,000,000TB, $10,000,000, LC3, 40,000lb

The complexities are listed for TL9/TL10.

Hardware Modifiers

  • Compact: cost X 2, wts / 2, power / 2
  • Fast: cost X 20, +1 complexity
  • Genius: cost X 500, +2 complexity, LC-1
  • Hardened: HT+3, cost X 2, wt X 2
  • High-capacity: cost X 1.5, 50% more
  • Printed: -1 complexity, storage / 1000
  • Quantum: cost X 10, wts X 2, LC-1 (Volitional systems, NP-complete computations)
  • Neural: cost X 2 (Dedicated and Non-volitional AI @ +1 complexity)
  • Slow: -1 complexity, store/10, cost/20 
Notes: Without Quantum computation, volitional AIs and NP-complete computations (combinatorial number crunching) are running at an effective -1 complexity.

Artificial intelligence agents

Volitional AI: Driven by self-preservation, personality quirks, loyalties and personal aim. Would refuse to stand down as they can't be serialized. Capable of initiative, creative endeavour and non-expert IQ-based influence skills. Require quantum computers. Capable of inventions.
Complexity/(IQ/2)+3. LC4 for IQ8 and less, LC3 for IQ9-IQ14
In practice: Treat as a NPC, will gain cp on skills and act as an incorporeal character. Will use existing software as any other user.

Non-volitional AI: Treat as expert system operating across multiple software application to perform a task. Will react to uncertainty according to doctrine and operator's intent. Simulated personality would pass the Turing test, but have no concept of self. Past experience can be serialized. Multitasking. 
LC4, Complexity/(IQ/2)+2 (LC3 for IQ12+ or Complexity/10+)
In practice: Assign to a task and communicate intentions. The AI agent will operate the appropriate software as a character to the best of its ability and knowledge. Will gain cps on the AI agent side of the software.

Dedicated AI: deep-learning based agents. Capable of performing supporting parallel tasks, monitoring long tasks and pattern discovery with fixed input/output sets. Single tasking.
In practice: Assign to a single software application to perform a supporting task. Will acquire cps from experience.

AI are always assumed to have 1cp to a skill and never roll at default. For skill progression, award cps regularly, or award a cp for every 200 hours of operation if 3d6 > skill level.

Software systems

Basic: Minimal requirement to perform IQ-based TL9+ skill check.  Complexity/2 (E), Complexity/3 otherwise.

Good: Confers a +1 in support of skill checks. Priced as listed on p.164 of GURPS IW (The prices in Ultra-tech are ridiculously low). Complexity/4 (E), Complexity/5 otherwise.

Fine: Confers +2 in support of skill checks.  Complexity/6 (E), Complexity/7 otherwise.

Expert Systems

Expert systems are built-in dedicated AI for a particular application. To achieve Skill-12, a system must be Complexity/3 (E), Complexity/4 (A), Complexity/5 (H) and Complexity/6 (VH).  Any increase of complexity by 1 also increases its skill level by 1.

Example: A computer may have a fine support software for Market Analysis (IQ/H). This is a Complexity/7 software that costs $20K at TL10 and confers +2 to Market Analysis skill checks. Likewise, an expert system for Market analysis at Complexity/7 would be Market Analysis-14 and could run autonomously using its own dedicated AI. Unless the ship's trader has Market Analysis-11 or lower, it is better to invest in a support system than an agent.

Data packages

Data packages are special expert system that determine the upper bound of skills relying on knowledge. Research, Politics, Current Events and History are limited by the level of detail of a data packet. The price of data is less than procedural software as it expires. A packet is specific to a particular system.
  • Complexity/3 : Skill-12 $10, 0.01Gb
  • Complexity/4: Skill-13 $30, 0.1Gb
  • Complexity/5 : Skill-14 $100, 1Gb
  • Complexity/6: Skill-15 $300, 10Gb
  • Complexity/7 : Skill-16 $1,000, 100Gb
  • Complexity/8: Skill-17 $3,000, 1Tb
  • Complexity/9: Skill-18 $10,000, 10Tb (Public access level for online Internet)
  • Complexity/10: Skill-22 $30,000, 1 Pb (Privileged and proprietary access to live network)

Time thresholds for degradation:

  • 2 weeks: Current-Affairs, Market Analysis
  • 1 month: Economics
  • 1 year: Politics, Area Knowledge
  • 5 years: History
The effective skill level is degraded by 1 for every threshold reached. Information can be traded when very fresh: -4 to Merchant per threshold. +1 Merchant per jump-2 distance.

Example: When landed and connected to the local WAN, consider the data package to be current and of skill cap 18. Before leaving the system, the analyst purchase a Complexity/7 package (100Gb, $1000).  Six week later, any market analysis is done at Market Analysis-14, Economics-15 and Area Knowledge still at 16. 

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