Silver Age Beyond
Robot, A.I. or Golem
In a galactic society that has a varying degree of tolerance for technology of any sort, the idea of a mechanical creature with it’s own sentience is almost universally distrusted, and in some cases is considered blasphemous. Golems rob sentient beings of their sacred places in the cosmos, diminishing and mocking the works of their creator. Antirobot dogma does not necessarily spread to the many non-intelligent robots throughout the galaxy.
AI robot brains are a positronic matrix built from the element known as Galeteum. This element simulates the neural pathways of a brain to a remarkable degree. Smart robots are just as prone to emotions, both good and bad, as other beings. A golem may be a benign creature, or a remorseless killer. Most golems have a pre-programmed desire to serve humans. A “behavioral repressor” is the most common way to enforce a golem’s servitude, but the golems resent it. (For them, it is similar to electroshock therapy.)
They are rare now, but not unknown. Some golems are highly mechanical in appearance, while others are almost perfect duplicates of human beings.
Primitive robots are possible at as low as Tech Level 4, although these are little more than toys. At Tech Levels 5 and 6, robots become increasingly sophisticated, but are still not truly sentient. Most robots built currently by engineers are at this level. At Tech Level 7 artificial intelligence is possible, although few in the modern galaxy are able to create such technology. Golems at this level may be vastly intelligent, and may even have some rudimentary emotions. Robots built by the greatest roboticists of the present, may reach this level. Advanced AI is only possible at Tech Level 8, or above. Advanced AI robots are vastly intelligent, and display a wide range of complex emotions, and are sometimes indistinguishable from humans. AI robots of any kind are very rare on a galactic scale.
Because of their superior design and engineering, some robots are virtually immortal if they avoid destruction and receive regular maintenance. If these robots have an agenda it is unknown.
Modern robots are built by a few eccentric geniuses in hidden labs. Such work is highly expensive (and often illegal in many systems). These roboticists often have a near religious fervor for their work.
A very few races have shown some public sympathy for the remaining golems in the galaxy. Some groups believe that owning one is akin to slavery, and destroying one is murder.