Inscrit le: 19 Sep 2009
Dim 27 Sep - 18:32 (2009)
The Patent Office
In our universe there are literally an infinite number of stars, planets, and asteroids. While these are scattered across the vast emptiness of space, wormhole travel cares nothing for physical distance. All the riches of the universe can be had, if you have but the time and money to go and find them. Replicators can create the finest spices at a molecular level, not to mention flawlessly duplicating any physical object as simple as a dollar bill or a diamond. Transmutation arrays turn lead into gold, or a space station’s waste into breathable atmosphere.
In such a world, money is not — can not be! — represented by precious metals, spices, gemstones, or any physical object. Wealth is an abstract, generated by three things: inspiration, effort, and luck. Intellectual property is many times more valuable than physical property. A good idea will buy you dinner. An idea that could change the universe might buy you an entire planet.
The Patent Office is an extra-governmental organization empowered by the treaties it has signed with the universe’s many civilizations. Its mandate is simple to describe, but difficult to execute. Their day-to-day work is the somewhat boring job of registersing all forms of intellectual properly rightsand setting the minimum terms of each of these on a case-by-case basis. It is the Office that sets minimum prices for each invention, idea, name or work. Their more less common but more glamorous work is the enforcement of these regulations.
Your character in this game works for the Patent Office as an Inspector — a field agent. Calling you simply a Patent Office agent, however, is akin to calling a member of the Secret Service a “Treasury Officer.” There’s a bit more to the story than the name implies.
It is an open secret that the Transcendental Artificial Intelligences are the primary force behind the Patent Office, the reason why it was able to secure so many treaties and wield such immense and subtle power. These time-spanning machines are your character’s employers.
As an Inspector your character is officially required to travel to the many civilizations with which the Office has treaties, in order to be sure that intellectual property laws — the basis of the universal economy — are being obeyed. In some civilizations you will have law enforcement powers, while in others you will be merely an advisor or observer, with only whistle-blowing authority.
Other times, the official neutrality of the Patent Office will encourage civilizations with differing opinions to turn to it for arbitration. In such cases, it is you, the Inspectors, who are expected to settle disputes with fairness and good judgement.
Unofficially, your character will often be called upon to travel into civilizations in which you have no legal power or basic rights. Not all civilizations are interested in having an outside agency meddle with their laws. When you are sent to such places, it will typically be as the result of a terrible message the Transcendentals have received from their future selves. The technology of the current era can vaporize mountains, lay waste to whole planets, even interfere with the stars themselves. Misused, it can cause death and destruction on a massive scale. The Transcendentals are determined to lift all of humanity up to their level of vision, not just a “worthy” few. Such devastation is counter to their plans.
On some occasions your job will not be so humanitarian. Not all inventions are dangerous, and some are life-saving. Nonetheless, illegal duplication of a life-saving device is still a breach of law, and must be dealt with just as firmly. To you falls the unpleasant duty of informing doctors that they must cease using a patented procedure without paying the fee, or of warning lawmakers that their psychohistorical predictions cannot be produced for free. Such missions are rare, but cannot be avoided, lest the economy of all humanity collapse.