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What's the point of servitors?

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If there is one resource the Imperium has in abundance, its manpower. There are untold billions on each hive planet and the Imperial Guard is beyond counting. So why bother creating servitors when manpower is so cheap. You need more strength, put more people on it. Is the enviroment too deadly for humans? Who cares as there's always more where they came from and the Emperor wants you to suffer.

In fact, I'd be hard pressed to think of any job servitors can do which regular humans could not. Not in the callous Imperium where human life has very little value, jobs are repetitive by nature and mostly inherited and indentured servants, penal workers and penitant workers are easily acquired.

 

So why 'waste' valuable technological resources on building & maintaining them?

 

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ranoncles said:

If there is one resource the Imperium has in abundance, its manpower. There are untold billions on each hive planet and the Imperial Guard is beyond counting. So why bother creating servitors when manpower is so cheap. You need more strength, put more people on it. Is the enviroment too deadly for humans? Who cares as there's always more where they came from and the Emperor wants you to suffer.

In fact, I'd be hard pressed to think of any job servitors can do which regular humans could not. Not in the callous Imperium where human life has very little value, jobs are repetitive by nature and mostly inherited and indentured servants, penal workers and penitant workers are easily acquired.

 

So why 'waste' valuable technological resources on building & maintaining them?


The Imperium does have manpower as it's main resource. Servitors are extensions of that very resource - they are made with the flesh of men condemned or santified to servitor-hood (most often the former). What servitors offer:

- A longer service time in preferable environments. 
- A way to redeem 'wasteful' parts of the population.
- Free valuable hands for jobs that require some modicum thought. 
- Create a workforce that doesn't require nourishment or personal space (ships and manufactorums benefit greatly).
- Can be upgraded to make a better firing platform/armored warrior than a typical human (Praetorian Servitors

So the main selling point of the Servitor is to augment the Imperium's main resource. =D

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The reason is that Servitors mostly do a better job than most humans will do. I gues you have the picture of a heavy lifting servitor in your head, nothing special but augmented to… well. lift heavy things. Even those servitors are very important and mostly you will see them aboard of ships where space is rare and many things happen simultaniously. Just take a look at modern aircraft carriers where everyone has to look for other things and where large carts of ammonution have to be managed. A servitor adds the strenght of several men into the space of one and also is less failalbe in his task. He does what he is made for and there he will be always better than the average man. Very good crafted servitors are also better than most other humans might ever become if they spent a livetime of training. But now lets look at more advanced servitors like scriptors that can write long passages like a modern printer but also work like a dictating machine and can actualy follow you. They do a good job and combine it with some comforts, nothing great, I agree with you here, but at least something usefull. And then we have the high-end servitors like the adeptus astartes or mechanicus fields them. For example a loot of space-marine crafts are servitor-controlled and only the most talented and most skilled human pilot might be a challenge for them. For example a Caestus Assault Ram can be controled by a servitor with unparalled accuracy and this is not a harmless task: the lives of 10 astartes are given into his hands. The same goes goes for the Skitarii Forces that field many servitors as mobile gun-platforms with devastating power. Also these are used to controll weapons in a huge variety of imperial vehicles.

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It is a good point really, why bother to augment manpower when manpower is cheap and plentiful. 

A couple of theories, all keeping in mind that "rule of cool" likely has something to do with it.

 

1. Servitors are valuable as a form of deterrence for criminals and dissidents, being turned into a lobotomized, cyborged slave is a fairly gruesome fate and one which encourages the masses to toe the line and underlines the futility of not serving the Imperium.

2. Servitors seem to last longer than conventional workers, given that skilled workers are presumably not as common the use of "mono-task" servitors who provide a dedicated service in a relatively high skill area that one wants to maintain such as pilot servitors, gun servitors, the ubiquitous servitors slaved into warship bridge stations or whatnot. Training a pilot and hanging onto one, especially when by definition they operate a means of escape, may not be as desirable as simply ensuring loyalty and long term functionality.

3. An extension of the above, if servitors can be programmed, an idea supported by some of the source material, then high skill servitors might in fact be faster to produce and cheaper to produce as well as cheaper to prodcue and longer lasting than conventional specialists in their area.

4. For low skill heavy lifting, an obvious candidate for mass labour instead, simple servitors aren't necessarily replacing workers so much as workers and machinery. Cyborg technology is clearly prevalent in 40k and it is possible that the economics of it make it cost effective over maintaining wage workers and heavy lifting equipment.

5. Certainly if you are also interested in loyalty, dependability, deniability, limiting witnesses, etc. they have a certain niche role. Note that in confined and controlled environments like the mines of sepheris secundus or the lower decks of warships vast quantities of fuctional slaves, either serfs or press-ganged ratings, fulfill many such tasks because the above considerations are largely irrelevant. If anything, servitors are more likely to be present in sensitive areas. The high incidence in literature directly corresponds with the fact that most literature focuses on more significant players, and the endless impoverished masses that make up the majority of the human population in 40k may have considerably less contact with servitors than we do as "observers."

6. The relatively irreversible and specialized modifications conducted on amny servitors may make them less than useful or functional in the rest of their lives and be reserved for servitors as a practicality. Why go to the trouble of modifying workers who try to move on, take a better job, work inconstantly, want spare time, need sleep, or commit suicide? Lobotomize and forget.

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one point I forgot to add that I think trumps all the others (lore wise), is that Servitors serve also as hallowed servants of the Omnissiah in the eyes of the Adeptus Mechanicus. This religious conotation would also serve to justify their existence. 

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Servitors fulfill the same needs as robots do in modern life. They perform some repetitive, monotonous tasks very efficiently and free up human resources to be used on other things.

In the warhammer universise, this could mean freeing up personnel for colonisation,war,  and repopulation.

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If there is one resource the Imperium has in abundance, its manpower. There are untold billions on each hive planet and the Imperial Guard is beyond counting. So why bother creating servitors when manpower is so cheap. You need more strength, put more people on it. Is the enviroment too deadly for humans? Who cares as there's always more where they came from and the Emperor wants you to suffer.

In fact, I'd be hard pressed to think of any job servitors can do which regular humans could not. Not in the callous Imperium where human life has very little value, jobs are repetitive by nature and mostly inherited and indentured servants, penal workers and penitant workers are easily acquired.

 

So why 'waste' valuable technological resources on building & maintaining them?

Because abundance of manpower doesn't necessarily make using it optimal.

 

There are jobs in the Imperium that are crucial to it's functioning, yet have the workers' life expectancy literally measured in seconds. In such conditions, there is no such thing as abundance of manpower - no matter how many people you send, they will die quicker than you can train them. Adapting the work environment so that workers survive often takes a lot of resources and the kind of creative technological solutions the Imperium rarely has to spare. At this point, utilizing task-built servitors is actually the callous and pragmatic solution.

 

It's important to remember that while the Imperium is generally a shithole, they don't just work people to death "for teh evulz!" Human life is cheap, indeed, but not so cheap as to be discarded recklessly in large quantities - not when failing to meet the quota means another world will be overrun by the enemies due to Guardsmen fighting there not getting their replacement lasguns after twenty long years of war, and not when entire worlds have been lost due to uprisings. The Imperium walks a fine line between squeezing the last drop of sweat out of people and not actually pushing them to the point when Chaos starts looking like a good alternative. This line is often crossed, but it's due to the general indolence of Imperial structures and small-minded greed of the ruling classes - never by design.

 

Also, it's not like Imperium doesn't have other resources than manpower in abundance as well. Overall, the Imperium is far from suffering a crisis of resources - it's problems are with logistics and management of said resources, thanks to crucial worlds not being self-sufficient and, again, the general indolence of the people who are supposed to control the flow of goods between worlds. Pragmatically speaking, this means if a world utilizes servitors, it can afford them without a fuss.

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The real point of servitors is to drive home the fact that the 40Kverse isn't your father's sci-fi universe, with wise-cracking robot butlers. Welcome to the Grim Darkness: step out of line here and that could be you shuffling around as a cyber-zombie for the next few centuries...

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One more thing: Imperium do have untold billions of man, but planet X in the sector Y got only 7,0 millions and can still use some hands to work.

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The real point of servitors is to drive home the fact that the 40Kverse isn't your father's sci-fi universe, with wise-cracking robot butlers. Welcome to the Grim Darkness: step out of line here and that could be you shuffling around as a cyber-zombie for the next few centuries...

That as well. It's beautiful how the Imperium considers thinking machines perverse, yet nobody bats an eyelid at hordes of cyber-zombies scuttling about doing menial work.

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True artificial intelligence is heresy so they augment bodies so that a human brain keeps them in check. Servitors are the replacement of AI robots like C-3PO, the lost in space robot, Robby the robot from forbidden planet. Think of them as Me house versus President Eden. One is still essentially human whereas the other is not.

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The main reason also why servitors are made and used is it gets around the ban on artificial intelligence in the Imperium. Slaving a monotask servitorized brain to something will get the same benefits of having a computer running a machine whilst not having the risk of a sentient AI. 

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That as well. It's beautiful how the Imperium considers thinking machines perverse, yet nobody bats an eyelid at hordes of cyber-zombies scuttling about doing menial work.

 

Or brains in a jar being labelled as "Machine Spirits", if anyone remembers the Land Raider poster from White Dwarf.  ;)

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That as well. It's beautiful how the Imperium considers thinking machines perverse, yet nobody bats an eyelid at hordes of cyber-zombies scuttling about doing menial work.

 

Or brains in a jar being labelled as "Machine Spirits", if anyone remembers the Land Raider poster from White Dwarf.  ;)

Yeah, I've seen it. Remember, kids, it's not AI if skulls are involved!

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This has been kicked around my group a few times.  One of the points brought up is 'when did servitors come into use?'  According to everything I have read, I would say after the end of the Dark Age of Technology.  Why?  Because, before that they had the Men of Iron.  They used the Men of Iron everywhere.  The Men of Iron used to do all of the repetitive tasks and boring work, while the humans got to hand out orders and only deal with the interesting stuff.  Then the Men of Iron rebelled. 

 

A voidship bridge has dozens (or hundreds) of servitors not because it looks cool, but because it needs them.  They act as interfaces, auxiliary processing units, and monitoring subroutines.  The Imperium relies on STCs that date back to the DAoT.  Those STCs assume that you have Men of Iron to interface with the equipment and do the tedious work.  The Imperium doesn't.  Therefore, they needed a replacement.  Servitors are that replacement.  They aren't as good, and you have to do replace the fleshy bits regularly, but that means that they aren't likely to rebel.  People are cheap, and people are parts...  Servitors are tougher, harder working, and more loyal.  They do not really think.  They are basically organic robots.  It is only the viceral fear of AI that keeps the Imperium from using true robots for many servitor tasks.  You can create robots wtihout AI (Shade Servitor for example).  The Ad Mech just has such a long history of hate and fear of AI that they can't even concieve of it.  The Imperium uses people in places where the servitors aren't required or where decision making is required. 

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An easy way around the no artificial life rule in the Imperium. They can also do heavy jobs others can't and can be equipped with specialized tools, more endurance, no dissent, if they get corrupted by most influences they can be mindscrubbed and start again easier. It's also a good psychological control mechanism. Holding the threat of lobotomy and servitorification over people makes them less likely to rebel. Sometimes the situation they are being used in is just more efficiently done with some specially equipped servitors. For all the Imperiums stagnation. The tech for servitor making/maintenance is very commonplace for the adeptus mechanicus.

Edited by Lexdamus

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