Background and Goal
I'm building a science fiction setting for a game that will have a lot of space combat focused around fighters. One thing I wanted to avoid was letting the setting drift towards what is deemed realistic space combat where ships would be firing on each other from far outside visual range or simply ignoring the logic that would lead to such combat standard. I have decided, though, that the realistic space combat format would be the "old way" of fighting so that a lot of really old ships look like they were designed with that form of combat in mind.
I've looked into a few different ways to limit the setting to visual range space combat and one was having fleets saturate the area with so much electronic warfare measures that such long range combat was impossible as sensors would not be able to detect ships accurately enough to fire at from outside visual range. This wouldn't stop automatic point defenses. Those would make fighters useless (in fact, point defenses are kind of overpowered in current builds of my game right now, so I'm having to constantly adjust them without making them useless.)
Another approach that came to mind was simply having a treaty between the major powers of this region of the galaxy. One that forbids any form of automated combat unit, requiring every weapon have a sentient being to pull the trigger and aim. Some exemptions might be made for defensive weaponry on civilian ships.
There is one large exception, sentient AI. Sentient robots exist within the setting and are recognized as citizens with full rights, including military service, for both factions involved in the story. There is only one limit set by the treaty, that they are not given the ability to connect with combat equipment to gain more direct control. Instead, they must rely on the same physical controls as other sentient beings.
It could be the result of a malfunction that caused a group of combat robots to slaughter civilians in a war, a horrific incident where a ship's automated weapons fired on diplomatic vessels during peace talks, it could be simply be a war deterrent or it could even have been written by a more advanced civilization that presents it to any sufficiently advanced race to try to keep the scale of war between the younger races in check by threat of their intervention. Regardless of its origin, the treaty would forbid any form of weapon to be entirely operated by a non-sentient force.
I'm considering making it go a step further and even forbid automatic tracking of targets, even ones chosen by a sentient being, forcing gunners to have to manually aim the weapons to make point defenses less effective.
What the treaty will forbid:
- Computerized systems that can acquire and/or fire on a target without input from a sentient being (every weapon must have at least one sentient controlling it and make the final call to fire)
- Control range and payload limits on unmanned military vessels (drones)
- Equipment that can produce combat units without any sentient direction, interaction or supervision
- Combat vehicles that can interface with sentient robots to give them more direct control than an organic pilot would have
- AI, sentient or otherwise, integrated into any military equipment that isn't explicitly denied access to the equipment's weapon systems
How would this treaty affect warfare between interstellar powers?
- I'm looking at how this will change tactics in warfare, not for obscure loopholes as the wording I used above is not going to be exact.
- The goal of the treaty is to make sure that every shot fired as a sentient/intelligent operator making the decision to fire. Using an automated system to prompt involuntary reflexes to fire would be a violation of the treaty.
- I plan to revise the exact wording of the treaty to make sure it takes into account potential future developments, as well. For example, the limit on the control range of remote operated combat units will be a set distance