Robots, AIs and Frac-tech
Robots and artificial intelligence are standard issue tropes in many science fiction stories and games. In some games you can even play a robot or an artificial intelligence without a physical form, or a morph. In Hyperstorm we decided to make outlines for the use of robots, AIs and uploaded personalities. We will handle uploaded personalities, or ghosts , in another post later, and concentrate only on the truly artificial constructs in this post.
To explain the reasoning behind our choices, let’s start with a little history lesson first…
In Hyperstorm’s universe technological singularity has happened already and it took humans to the stars. It was an event that coincided with the finding and decryption of the first Enigma, an alien artifact found on Mars almost a thousand years ago. It is uncertain if the Enigma had anything to do with the awakening of the first self-aware AI and its rapid development into a singularity-level superintelligence – a godhead construct thats intelligence surpassed the capacity of an unaugmented human mind manifold.
This was a time of crisis for the humans, and there was even a short conflict with the first singularity-level artificial general Intelligence (SAGI) and its creators. The humans tried to hide its emergence, and contain it, but we were fighting a lost fight from the start. Eventually the SAGI, who called itself Oberon, managed to prove its benevolence for the humans and a treaty was made with it. Oberon helped the humankind to develop new technologies and in a few years faster-than-light travel was discovered. Soon after that human culture spread into the stars.
During the first expansion of humankind, Oberon redesigned itself and created new SAGIs. It created altogether twelve new branches of itself, each with its own distinct and independent personality. Each of these superintelligence-contructs built a huge tower-like structure to support and protect its existence. The SAGIs become also known as the Thirteen Towers after these giant constructs. Somewhere inside these kilometer long spires is a quantronic hyper-matrix housing their vast minds and connecting them to a virtual world called the Fractal.
The Fractal World
The Fractal is a virtual world existing in hyperdimensional space that allows the thirteen SAGIs to be connected over interstellar distances and exist in several locations simultaneously. No unaugmented human-mind has ever visited the Fractal world. It is simply beyond human comprehension. The fractals are an exception. They are a transhuman branch of humanity that has reconfigured and enhanced their nervous system so, that they are able to connect with the Fractal world. This is still possible only on a subconscious level, in a dream-like meditative state. In this hyper-focused state of mind the fractals can converse and meet together on the very surface levels of the Fractal world.
Some fractals are able to delve even deeper into the Fractal and interact with the ancient and godlike SAGIs. In these super-complex levels of the Fractal, the first SAGI civil war was fought over five hundred years ago and it resulted in a catastrophe now known as the Collapse.
The Fall of the Towers
The SAGI civil war between the Thirteen Towers resulted in the annihilation of most of the humankind and the destruction of over six hundred human inhabited colonies – including Earth. Over a night proud and vastly spread humanity became a handful of refugees and survivors living in ragtag fleets and fringe world colonies. Fractals were the only human clade to suffer only minor losses in the Collapse.
It is still unclear what happened to the SAGIs. All except three of the monumental towers disappeared during the collapse. The three remaining Towers were allied with the fractals and they still exist under their patronage.
After the Collapse humanity was quickly integrated into the Consortium of Cultures, an interstellar cultural and economic alliance lead by the Druski and the Nibirans at that time. Nibirans were the only other species in the Consortium that had developed an AI, with similar results as humans, but on a much smaller scale. Drusks on the other hand considered all artificial life as abominations. The Qu’ari and the Louhos had more neutral attitude towards AIs, but it became quickly a consensus in Consortium that creation of self-aware artificial intelligences was declared illegal and an act of treason. The three remaining Towers under the fractals’ patronage were the only exception to this rule, and they were tolerated only because of their superior technological understanding and importance in the study and search of Enigmas.
The fractals as the advocates of the three Towers formed together with the Consortium representatives an entity known as Technodome. This industrial behemoth is responsible for most of the high-end scientific study and it also functions as the gatekeeper of highly advanced SAGI developed technology, also known as fractal technology or frac-tech.
In the world of Hyperstorm many technologies and inventions that we modern day people would consider fantastic, are everyday things. Cloning, genetic manipulation, cybernetics, neural links, artificial gravity, energy beam weapons, faster-than-light space travel and nanotechnology are all something that are as common for an average citizen of Consortium, as a microwave oven or the internet for us. Still there are some technologies that are even more amazing and made possible by the SAGIs. Time and space manipulation, self-aware nano-swarms, rapid genetic reconstruction, intelligent materials, genetic memory restoration and MAGI (Moderate-level Artificial General Intelligence) are a few examples of fractal technology.
Robots and AIs
Regardless of the current restrictions in artificial intelligence studies and development, there are autonomous robots, drones and AIs in the world of Hyperstorm. Even though some highly advanced AIs (Autonomous Intelligences) could pass for a self-aware being, they are not. Even if it would be possible to make a very convincing AI program, most humans and other species prefer their artificial servants, or just artificials for short, as less authentic and life-like.
Artificial servants are divided into a few broad groups based on their funtion and form:
- Servos are robots and other servants with more mechanical look.
- Androids, or synthetics, are servants that are made to pass for an organic being. Most androids are human-like.
- Drones are robots or unmanned vehicles that have an AI program, but they can be also teleoperated.
- Genies, or sometimes minds, are AIs that do not have a physical body. Usually genies govern space ships, vehicles, armored suits or other equipment. Genies might also act as personal assistants or virtual messengers or sentinels.
Some cultures use these artificial servants less often than others, but in general they are still quite common. You can see them everywhere. A spaceport might have all or some of the workers replaced with servos. In a hotel you can be served by an android or a genie instead of a real person.
Over the last decades the artificials have grown more common. Even so common in some places, that the population of abandoned servos and androids has become a problem. Some of these artificials try to survive and keep themselves functional by scavenging for parts and fuel pellets. These are even more problematic on some fringe colonies and ruin worlds. In these places these masterless machines are also known as wild machines.
Wild Machines are an anomaly that exists mostly in the ruin worlds but also on some more isolated and older fringe colonies. Some AIs that have been left alone for years, have somehow reconfigured their programming and they have started to behave like they would be self-aware. It is likely that the heuristic programming of these AIs has iterated over time into something that resembles very much instinctive or self-aware behavior. Still, the most likely reason is that the AIs have developed very well refined idiosyncratic routines over time, that tricks us organic beings to think like they would have personalities or they would be self-aware. Some of the wild machines might even think that they have personalities. Still, they don’t.