I had an idea recently. What if automatons were a thing in Airships? My original thought was a sort of AI module that would be a thing you could put on your ships instead of a bridge that would automate the ship in combat so you don't have to micro manage it. But now I'm thinking maybe it would be better if it just lowered the crew requirements of big ships, in addition to acting as a bridge?
The other thing I'm wondering is if it would take the form of a single big steampunk computer, or a bay that held a bunch of man sized robots? I mean, we already have a targeting computer, but it could be a different thing. Maybe both could work? Maybe the big AI lowers crew requirements (possibly to zero if you had enough?) while the robots acted as crew, only better than normal (eg, tougher, carry out tasks with greater efficiency, etc)?
They could be balanced by increased weight (robots are heavy, especially if you're limited to WWI tech!) fuel consumption (well they have to run off SOMETHING and the coal stores are literally right there...) or possibly even rebellion? Like, if your crew is automated enough, there is a chance that they -or even the ship itself!- could turn against you? Either through enemy action (steampunk hackers basically, or clackers, as they prefer to be known), or through their own initiative? Of course, they'd have to be miles better than human crew to justify THAT kind of weakness...
I don't know, I feel like this idea isn't really that well thought out, but I felt the need to share anyway.
I don't know what to make of automatons, especially in a steampunk universe. How big would the bot have to be in order to be functional? And seeing that, to generate ANY power, a suspendium crystal has to be atleast the size of a man. It's kind of a topic that, the more you think about it, the less it works.
But good idea nonetheless :D
Despite robots occupying a few other steampunk universes, I don't think robots and AI really fit into steampunk universes.
Air Lord, Engineering Corps
We have already discussed that automatons or weak AI will most likely not be a thing in Airships in another suggestions post (the one about 'fighters' and gunships).
Just had a thought: How about instead of wires and springs doing the work, instead have a special 'command bridge' module or something that is basically like a normal bridge but taller and more expensive, but promotes (retextures) some random deckhand to be a commander that will only work in the bridge and give AI control?