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In the latest iteration of Shadowrun there are a number of things present that were absent in 2050, namely the wireless matrix and (more) ubiquitous AI. It seems clear that it (still) isn't possible to host an AI in the amount of space occupied by (say) a troll. But, with the wireless matrix it seems like an AI could easily possess and operate a wireless bipedal drone. Has this happened in canon yet? If so, can you provide a citation? If not, what kind of in game technological limitations would be expected to limit such a feat?

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    \$\begingroup\$ There are two questions here. It hasn't happened in canon (not that I know of), but it is definitely technologically possible (my players did it). You might also want to define "android". Is a bipedal drone an android only if it has AI? What about a bipedal drone running on autosofts? \$\endgroup\$ – Cristol.GdM Sep 14 '14 at 18:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ What I meant was that the question is "Are there androids" and androids and AI are two very different things \$\endgroup\$ – Cristol.GdM Sep 14 '14 at 23:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ Not only can AI in SR4 have a "home node" smaller than a Troll, a vending machine is a listed example. The computational power in 2075's Sixth World seems to be adequate for AIs to be supported in even simple devices. \$\endgroup\$ – Attackfarm Sep 21 '14 at 6:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ ...which should probably be an answer rather than extensive comments. I'll proceed to do that. \$\endgroup\$ – Cristol.GdM Sep 22 '14 at 18:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ One of the three stock AIs in Runner's Companion for SR4 is a Feral AI whose home node is a robotic dog. An android is an anthroform chassis, I know, but it's practically the same. I'd post an answer but the OP is asking just about 5th ed. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Nov 1 '14 at 6:13
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There are several questions here, and so several answers. For the sake of this, we'll define "android" as "robot made to look like a metahuman". Cyborgs and cyberzombies are a discussion for another day.

Are there androids?

Yup.

The Mitsuhama Akiyama is "a lightweight humanoid frame designed to appear as a small child". (Arsenal p120)

The Mitsuhama Otomo is "custom built with a unique appearance and designed to replicate the look of a specific metatype and sex". (Arsenal p121)

The Renraku Manservant is "a humanoid walker drone made to look slightly smaller than the average human and showing a humble posture". (Arsenal p121)

The Mitsuhama Tomino's description mentions that "while still humanoid, a Tomino cannot pass for metahuman. They are much bulkier than even a troll in full military grade armor". (Arsenal p122)

Are there ways to put AIs in androids?

Yup.

An AI can reside in any kind of node. Drones are nodes. Androids are drones. It is mentioned explicitly in Runner's Companion (p89):

Every [AI] has its own home node. This home could be a nexus, or a commlink, or a vending machine, or even a drone (which would allow it to interact more effectively with the physical world).

The only limitation is that an AI's Response and Signal are the same as the Response and Signal of the node it is located in at the time. So an android with poor Response/Signal would kind of limit an AI a bit.

Has it been done before?

Nope.

...or rather, I don't think so.

It is always difficult to say with any certitude that something has never been done before, but I don't remember seeing any mention of it. For some reason, humanoid drones seems to be kind of a taboo not only in the Shadowrun universe, but also in the Shadowrun editorial line.

There has been cyborgs, cyberzombies, paraplegic riggers using bipedal drones, but as far as I know, no AI using bipedal drones yet.

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I know there is a limitation concerning AI about jacking in a drone (they could command it via program, but lacking motor cortex, they can't jump in).

Being their own personna, they can't replace another one (like a Meat and flesh couldn't replace a smartgun system). Not all sources are out for 5e, but you can check the ruling in Unwired and Runner Companion (which has a full section concerning AI Player character).

Edit: Attackfarm is right (comment below). Since AI are usually born from a preexisting program/function, the Piloting Origin quality (Runner Companion p91) shows the specific case of an AI born from the Pilot program, with a BP cost reflecting if the use of Autosoft is a allowed (10BPs) or not (5BP).

I've not read every novel/sourcebook yet (I've started back the old novels, and currently at the eleventh one), but I've yet to read it. Two entries worth of note were added recently to old lore (circa 2054) from Shadowrun Returns : Dragonfall. Considering the spoiler nature of these entries, check out "mkvi cyberzombie" and "apex firewing"

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  • \$\begingroup\$ That is an interesting point about the motor cortex. If there is no equivalent, then works that also suggest that AIs in VR don't have a lot of complexity in the range of motions for their icon? \$\endgroup\$ – russellpierce Sep 14 '14 at 18:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, motion in VR is really an abstract notion, in a world of data, subject to the sculpting of the location (or user own sculpting). Technically, since they are programs native from there, they are amongst the most effective entities in the Virtual Reality realm. \$\endgroup\$ – Liack Sep 15 '14 at 14:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ Page 91 of SR4's Runner's Companion has a quality specifically for an AI character to be able to jump into rigged vehicles. While this is SR4, I doubt AIs would have lost this ability in the last few years. \$\endgroup\$ – Attackfarm Sep 21 '14 at 6:29
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"Netcat" in Rigger 5.0 has this to say about the Shiawase I-Doll (pg. 148):

  • Some of the more human-centric AIs have been trying them out as bodies, to interact more with the metahuman world. The limited processing power is crippling, however, and most don’t stay for long.
  • Netcat

The S-K Direktionssekretar also has this (also pg. 148):

  • I’m told that there are dozens of these models in place with fully customized appearances, blended in at important institutions all over the world such as banks, megacorporate offices, the Intercontinental Climate Data Center, and so on. These dopplegangers blend in with society but send regular reports back to their dragon master or, if the need is great enough, they can be remotely activated to sabotage a facility, direct finances his way, or any number of other acts of espionage.
  • Plan 9

But as the other answers detailed, this topic doesn't seem to get anything beyond a passing mention.

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