There is a bottleneck towards Strong AI in my universe. For whatever reason, no one has ever figured out an AI that is sufficiently autonomous to be left alone without intervention, and no one has figured out how to execute an uploaded copy of a human mind in silico. For deep space voyage, a Weak AI that cannot reliably react to unpredictable circumstances is not acceptable, and the common solution is to just send in a human crew with the computers on a ship. This however, is expensive since a ship now has to carry life support for a human crew. While delta-v is cheap, it isn't free.
There is an alternative, however. Caspar Units are heavily augmented humans who are semi-permanently wired into a ship or installation's computer systems. The Caspar Unit oversees the ships's systems directly and can reduce the amount of crew needed for a ship by up to 80%, allowing less life support and more cargo to be carried.
However, while the underdeveloped rim systems seem to not mind, and in many cases welcome the presence of Caspar Unit controlled ships, the superpowers of the galaxy have almost unanimously outlawed this technology within their borders, preferring to use the more traditional method of using actual crews. Why?
Caspar Units generally follow the regular human body plan. However they can demonstrate abnormal features (such as unusual eye and hair colors), making them relatively easy to identify. They are augmented with a direct neural interface to communicate with the ships, plus numerous other implants to either enhance signal processing or to increase their resilience under high-G maneuvers and vacuum exposure.
Caspar Units' bindings with their ships are semi-permanent, as they integrate the ships characteristics into their own psychology. Assigning a Caspar Unit to another ship is a time-consuming process involving much therapy and retraining, and rushed rebinding cause psychological problems. Caspar Units also have a measure of immortality, both in the classical sense (they generally don't die of natural causes), and in the sense that their mental states are automatically backed up by the ship's computers upon death through destructive uploading. If a suitable cloned body is available, the mind can be downloaded (again, destructively) to resurrect a Caspar Unit. Both the ship and the body has to be destroyed to permanently kill a Caspar Unit. A Caspar Unit that survives the destruction of the ship can be rebuilt into a new ship given sufficient time.
Addendum: Caspar Unit capabilities
Caspar Units have two methods of communicating with their ships. Low-bandwidth telepathy can function hundreds of kilometers away and allows exchange of small amounts of diagnostic data and commands for coarse maneuvers. Caspar Units must be plugged into their direct neural interfaces for precision maneuvering and combat. Most ships housing Caspar Units contain autonomous nanoforges and repair drones that allows the Caspar Unit to conduct any repair that can be jury-rigged by a human crew.
Modern day Caspar Units sometimes organize themselves into fleets, although many chose to be freelancers taking up what job that may come across them. Before the ban and the cataclysmic Dusk Wars, almost all Caspar Units were conscripted into the Navy or Merchant Marine.