Virtual Robot (Vot)

Sapient, non-sentient expert systems

Expert system
Image from Bernd Helfert

Common name for Non-Sophont Artificial General Intelligences. Also known as expert systems, vots are as much a foundation of the Civilised Galaxy as their physical bot cousins. Vots come in many forms with a huge diversity of capabilities. In brief, a true vot is any software program that is as generally intelligent as a modosophont, but has no conscious identity and therefore is not actually sophont (though many are capable of acting like a sophont for ease of interaction). They are commonly described as being "virtual zombies" in reference to the classical concept of a philosophical zombie.

Development of vots dates back to the dawn of computers. However, despite continual research directed toward developing a modosophont intelligence without modosophont sophonce, the first vots were not created until the late First Federation. The reason for this was a lack of understanding of the relationship between consciousness and intelligence. Attempts to create vots always involved creating some form of sophont being. The AI researcher Nicola Hao-wian termed this the "Coupling Problem."

The solution to this problem is arguably one of the most important inventions in Terragen history. With it true post-scarcity became possible as modosophont labour was finally rendered unnecessary (most autotopias offer Public Vot Libraries so that their citizens and guests can download expert serviceware in any field). The majority of vot templates are constructed along group mind principles such that any individual vot instance can copy itself into a larger distributed hive, often with specialised subunits. Vots have driven progress in the sciences, arts, and even further vot development. They are so ubiquitous and important to modern life that it is commonly said that one is never more than two meters away from a working vot.

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Development Notes
Text by Ryan B (Rynn)
modified from the original article "Expert System" by M. Alan Kazlev
Initially published on 24 October 2001.

Rewritten September 2015