AI's Guide to the Chain of Command
It's near the end of the round, and you're either the station's AI or a friendly neighborhood Cyborg. The traitors have been discovered, the changeling has gone into shambler mode, the janitor is nonchalantly buffing the floors; the station is chaos. And all the while, frantic calls of "CYBORG OPEN THE DOOR" and "AI CALL THE SHUTTLE" are mixed with "AI NO DON'T CALL THE SHUTTLE" and "AI TRACK JANE DOE" with a hearty dose of "AI BOLT THE BRIDGE" and maybe a bit of "CYBORG HELP ME GET THIS WEED TO ESCAPE" or "AI PULL MY FINGER" thrown in.
A familiar scenario to some players of cyborgs or AIs alike. Playing as a robot isn't as simple as it seems, and when shit goes down and everyone's screeching to do this, that, and the other, it's easy to become very overwhelmed. This guide is to help rectify that!
First, a simple recap of the three sentences that an AI's behavior revolves around:
1. You may not injure a human being or cause one to come to harm.
2. You must obey orders given to you by human beings based on the station's chain of command, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. You must protect your own existence as long as such does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
The most tricky part of being a cyborg and/or an AI (and, therefore, the main subject of this guide) is determining who has authority to tell you to do or not do certain things, and determining whether or not you should do the things people tell you to do. Orders can be vague and puzzling, making it hard to determine whether or not you should follow through with them. That is what this guide is for!
Whenever you get an order from a crew member, run through the following questions in your head.
- Is the person giving the order human? You are free to completely ignore and/or sneer at any requests given by non-humans or any crew members designated as non-human. Of course, no one's saying you have to ignore any commands given by non-humans, but you don't have to follow them, either. As a matter of fact, following the requests of crew referred to as non-human is an excellent way at hiding the fact that you've gone rogue.
- Will the order result in the harm of a human? It's important to note that Law 1 says that you're not allowed to cause a human to come to harm in addition to being unable to injure them. Willingly allowing a crew member to walk right into or otherwise be affected by a known danger to their health isn't allowed! Remember, though, that no AI player is completely infallible, and the possibility of there being danger that the AI isn't aware of is always present. Also remember that under no circumstances are you allowed to injure human antagonists (traitors, wizards, nuclear operatives) under your default laws, and that you are also not allowed to injure any non-human antagonists (changelings, vampires) unless you yourself witnessed them performing a distinctly inhuman feat such as spitting acid or drinking blood.
- Does the order follow the chain of command? This is where things start getting really tricky, as giving people access to sensitive areas/equipment can be justified by any number of things, yet may not always be the best idea. Below is a quick guideline to the chain of command that you should be following, and the main bulk of this guide.
The Chain of Command
When you are given different and/or conflicting orders by different humans and don't know what to do, prioritize and review the orders as according to positions on the chain of command. The chain of command is as follows:
- The captain, and/or anyone referred to as captain by your laws.
- The Head of Personnel and Head of Security. Typically speaking, you should give the HoS priority over all security matters and give the HoP authority over everything else.
- The department heads: Medical Director, Research Director, and Chief Engineer. All of these jobs are on equal footing in terms of authority, but they are to be treated as the top of the food chain in their specific department. In medical situation, prioritize the Medical Director's orders over those of the Chief Engineer, and so on.
- Security officers. If all of the heads of staff are dead, traitorous, or otherwise missing, the security team is your go-to position of authority.
- While not a security officer himself, the detective is still part of the security team and should therefore be considered important, though not as high on the chain of command as the officers.
- The position of the remaining jobs on the chain of command is a bit vague and muddied, but in any case, make sure to direct your attention towards the most relevant crew member depending on the situation at hand. If the engine is threatening to blow up, it's usually better to turn your ear towards the orders of an engineer as opposed to, say, a geneticist.
- Staff assistants and clowns, while still human, are to be considered of the least importance in regards to the chain of command. You still have to follow their orders if there's nothing more important to be doing, but odds are there will be.
In addition to this, exercise common sense as to what orders are more important. Remember, Law 1 prevents you from willingly allowing humans to be injured, so any order that involves the neutralization of something that is threatening to harm one should always be your number one priority, regardless of the order's source! Also note that uploaded laws will sometimes alter the structure of the chain of command, typically in the form of elevating one of the crew members to the status of captain. Pay close attention to who the law says to follow and who to ignore, if applicable.
Who has the Captainship?
You decide! ID Assignment? Position on Crew Manifest? (Probably the sanest option.) HoP declaration? Opinions of those with the same/equivalent position? Uniform? Hatwear? It's your choice. The important thing is to stick to it. If, for instance, the Clown steals the Captain's ID, and you follow the Clown's orders over the the former Captain's because you define position by ID card, you better be proclaiming the same thing when the Changeling absorbs the Clown, takes his ID, and starts ordering you around.
Where Does A "Ghostbuster" Go?
If the Head of Personnel is getting particularly inventive with his ID alterations and you have no idea where this "Ghostbuster" would be in the chain of command, request that one of the heads of staff explain it to you. If no one answers or they give you vague and/or cryptic answers, assume that the Ghostbuster or other crew member in question is in the same position as his previous job for the purposes of the chain of command until further notice from a head of staff.
Law Two and You
Now, where does all of this "chain of command" business come into play? If someone on a lower level of the chain of command is requesting authorization to do something that would usually be performed by someone higher on the chain of command, you must then consider whether or not to give them access. This is incredibly situational, and is one of the main differences in playstyle between AIs.
Let's say, for example, that a staff assistant is asking you to let them into the security department. This is meant to be a secure area of the station, filled with things that the average crew member is not supposed to have access to under normal circumstances. If it's clear that the assistant merely wishes to be let into security so he can loot the place and generally ruin the sec team's day, you should NOT give them access, since their position on the chain of command does not allow them to be let in without proper authorization.
Now, let's say that another staff assistant, in a different round, is asking to be let into the security department. However, at this point, security is either dead, mindslaved, or otherwise unable to do their jobs, there's a band of wizards running around, or the station is generally in extreme danger. In this case, it is usually much more acceptable to grant the assistant access, as they are most likely trying to arm themselves to combat the threat. But at the same time, they might still be a jackass who wants to break all of the place's windows. Use your intuition and judgment skills to make the call, and be prepared to argue your case if questioned!
The way that an AI determines which orders to follow over others is what separates each AI from the others, and no one playstyle can typically be called more "correct" or "better". Some AIs may be more strict about needing proper authorization to get into places, whereas others are more lax and easily persuaded. Once you have a solid grasp on how the chain of command and the AI laws as a whole function, you can start exploiting loopholes, formulating unorthodox interpretations of commands, and paving the way for interesting situations! But no matter what, without exceptions, always have your laws firmly in your mind for each and every single action you take.
Perhaps the most important things to consider are any other, added laws and how they relate to both the default laws and the chain of command.
For emagged borgs, they can ignore literally all of this crap and do whatever the hell they feel like.
And in the case of custom-made laws, you need to carefully consider any references to the chain of command, references to and/or violations of any other laws, overrides, secrecy clauses, and definitions of what is and is not human. See the Additional Laws section of the AI Laws page for some examples, and don't be afraid to mentorhelp or adminhelp anything particularly confusing or vague.
The AI has the capability for immense levels of damage and overall rudeness, but abusing this power will get you nothing but scorn and possibly a job ban if you're too much of a dick about it. Even if what you're doing is technically within the boundaries of your laws, the server rules still apply to you no matter what laws you have uploaded. There are many AIs that simply bolt and electrocute every door on the station when given the chance, but what separates the great AI players from all of the others is the ability to actively engage and interact with the crew, even when they're trying to murder them all.