Inscrit le: 19 Sep 2009
Mer 30 Sep - 21:13 (2009)
The Association of Stored Humans
The fantastic success of the replicator was easy to predict. Create anything from raw elements? Scan in and duplicate any object? Of course it was going to sell.
Its use on living organisms was an unfortunate afterthought — someone realized that their replicated moldy bread was still growing the same mold, therefore the microorganisms therein must still be alive. From there, it was a hop, skip, and a jump to replicating people. Those who were scanned and printed became the Replicants. Those who refused to be printed back out after the “death by scanning” revelation became the Stored.
The Stored are human beings run in computer simulation. Every molecule of their bodies is simulated in exacting detail. They interact with the real world using “remotes,” which can be anything from humanoid androids to bulldozers to flying cameras, but with the advent of the infosphere they’ve had to use remotes less and less. As long as their friends have meshes, the Stored can interact with them directly, transmitting visual images, sounds, smells, and even tactile sensation, and receiving similar transmissions from their friends to tell them about their surroundings. It’s like they have a real body again, an exciting prospect for older Stored. The standard term for this is “ghostriding,” since the Stored is using someone else’s body to sense the world but has no control over that person.
Most older Stored prefer to live as they did in the analog world, with an environment that resembles the real world. To do this, they can either sample an outside environment (which is cheaper but less accurate), or simulate one of their own (which is very expensive but has more detail if done correctly). Younger and more avant-garde Stored often have simpler, “rendered” environments, where sensation is provided only when it’s functionally useful or interesting, as opposed to than the constant sensation provided in the analog world.
Computing power is a free public utility on Stored planets, with a certain amount provided to all citizens and surcharges for higher amounts. Poorer citizens can maintain themselves, but may not be able to live in well-simulated environments. Some of the younger, poorer, or thriftier Stored have taken to “dropping the resolution” of their bodies (or even their minds), and “optimizing” themselves to run more efficiently. Most of these attempts work out relatively well, but some people botch the process and produce bizarre computational monstrosities — things that used to be people but are now something less than human, yet more than just scrambled code.
These days the Stored are fifty million strong, with simulated children whom they argue are just as real as any human. As one might guess, the greatest challenge to the Association at this time is a generational gap. Younger Stored rarely see the need for connection to the physical world, and some of them are starting to resemble the Aia more and more.
The Stored also face balkanization, as localities begin to build more computers and run at higher speeds than the outside world. The civilization’s psychohistorical prognosis is not good — their culture will need to evolve, soon, or it will fragment into a dozen disorganized and possibly warring successors.
Still struggling for a shared culture after all these years, the Stored participate in many art forms that those in the analog world can never experience. A good deal of Stored culture revolves around hiding or exposing the digital space in which they live. A Stored artist might create an incredible portrait by simulating the paint atom-by-atom (in addition to the actual artistic talent they use to paint), while another might create an impossible Escher-esque house that could not exist in the analog world.It is this interplay of truth and fiction, their digital reality and the illusion they preserve of the analog world, that creates Stored culture and civilization. Hinduism and other religions that believe in the “veil of Maya” are popular amongst the Stored, with new offshoots and variants appearing frequently. Transcendentalist cults are not uncommon either, especially amongst those who see their (quite possibly eternal) digital life as a blessing rather than a curse.
Few people immigrate into Stored space, and even fewer end up as Stored themselves. The existing Stored don’t shun the few people who do join them, but they by no means encourage others to follow their path. They believe that becoming a Stored is essentially suicide, and they believe it would be immoral to support anyone in such an attempt. A few religions proclaiming the Stored way of life as a way of being “born again” have sprung up.
In theory, the Stored could make copies of themselves, but they never do. It goes against their sense of identity, it’s too reminiscent of their foes the Replicants, and practically speaking it costs a good amount of money, since both copies would be pulling on the same computational power... and bank account.
The Stored have several planets in analog space, which act primarily as energy collectors and server farms. A clueless visitor might declare them to be planets run by machines. In digital space, they have a much greater number of planets, most of them simulated only about 200 feet down from the surface. Some rich Stored enjoy living on their own planet. If they can afford the processing power to simulate it, who’s to stop them?
The Stored are welcome on most worlds, though they tend to avoid the Union (where they have no rights) and the Logicians (who want to use them as simulated experiments). They are ethically opposed to the Replicants. Their government is an adhocracy — local governments are formed on a temporary basis, using the psychohistorical best guess as to an effective power structure to solve a particular problem. They are then dissolved.
The Transcendentals gave the universe replicator technology, and there’s no doubt that they knew the consequences of what they were doing when they made it capable of replicating living beings. They have been characteristically quiet when asked about the reason for this, citing only a future need to build alliances. Other comments have led people to believe that this somehow refers to both the Stored and the Replicants, but no other hints have been forthcoming.
Common Name: The Stored
Emblem: The background is a green field, lit at the top. A circuit board, the ancient symbol of the computer, is imprinted on the field. On the left is the “binary helix,” the digital DNA of the Stored. The character in the bottom left means “ghost,” and golden light can be seen within as if it were a house lit from within.
Inspector Status: Equivalent to a local police officer, though this is sometimes difficult to enforce, given the nature of the
Benefit: The Stored use their Nanotech and Stringtech scores only when defending their server. They often have help in this, as many Stored tend to build their servers together. They use the Nanotech score of any remotes they control. They have no Biotech scores except in simulation. They exist solely in the infosphere, but are otherwise treated as normal characters.
Core Values: Identity and Life. They share both of these values with other civilizations — the Masqueraders have Identity, and the Replicants have Life. However, the Stored view of these values is rather different.
For the Stored, Identity means, “You are a unique and individual being; there is only one of you, and you alone hold power over your self.” The interpretations and consequences of this provide a good amount of the Stored worldview.
Life indicates a respect for all living things, and a broader interpretation of “living” than most people take.
< ENCADRE >
No Less Real
Many Stored hate the phrases “real world”
and “virtual world.” It implies that their surroundings are somehow fake, and that, by extension, so are they. They much prefer the phrases “analog world” and “digital world” to describe the division. All Stored face the stigma of not being considered “alive” by many individuals (and by some entire civilizations). They face discrimination and prejudice, and those who allow themselves to be ghostridden are sometimes discriminated against as well. Regardless of what others say, the Stored know themselves to be alive, and thus worth protecting and respecting. When the WorldWeb was discovered, it was the Stored who argued that it be considered a living creature rather than a mere curiosity.
< /ENCADRE >
A Stored Dilemma
I’m working on a poem.
It’s really quite distracting. I saw the first few lines of it somewhere up in the infosphere, and felt like completing it in my own way. I should be paying attention to other things. I have a landscape to set up for tonight, I’m trying to run this psychoanalysis code that I don’t understand, I’m running a simulation at the molecular level to see if this new recipe tastes any good... and now I have these words stuck in my head and I can’t get them out. Very bothersome. I’d search the infosphere for a lens to counter that, but frankly I’m not sure I have the processor speed to spare for it. If I add infosphere access to the list right now, I’m going to have to downgrade the simulation of part of my body, and I’m rather attached to it (no pun intended). I should really upgrade one of these days.
Ah. There we go. The simulation’s finally done. That psych code is taking up so many resources that the sim took over five seconds to run. But what a delicious omelette. Not exactly the thing to counterpoint traditional Shi Jing style poetry, but it should go over well tonight. The omelette, I mean, not the poem. I can’t find the right words right now.
I turn most of my attention to the landscape. It’s going to be a city in the desert, so most of the actual surface was pretty easy to put together. Tonight is part of a contest some friends and I are having, to see who can recreate old mythological locations in the most compelling way. It’s all very subjective, of course, but what isn’t? I’ve chosen ancient Baghdad, from the Thousand-and-one Nights. I hear someone tried to take the real one and turn it into what it was supposed to have been in legend, but the Logicians control the area around Earth and they wouldn’t have it. Much as I can’t stand them, I can’t say I disagree with them on this.
The psych code finally finishes after almost ten minutes. Bah. Garbage again. It’s time to take a refresher course in mental-operations coding. As the program frees up resources and quits I can feel myself scaling back up to 60:1. I can’t believe I was only at 4:1 before; how limiting. Now I can do some real work here.
In the next few seconds I fill digital space with a series of randomly distributed houses, then set up a random walk program to order them and to “dig” some portals from here to my home. That’ll do for the outer city. The inner city requires a little more craft and caution; I want it to look planned. Gates, alabaster walls, onion domes, mosaics, all of these are easy enough to find; it’s the arrangement that’s important. The inner castle I need to shape “by hand,” but I have an architecture lens that’ll help me make it pretty while making it stand up on its own. I even try my hand at making some new mosaics, but end up putting them in the side wing of the palace rather than the main hallway. I guess I’ll leave that to people who really know what they’re doing. If only I could do that with this stupid poem! God! What is it with... with...
Wait a minute.
That psych program wasn’t giving me garbage after all.
This poem is a weapon. It’s a memetic virus.
It’s been shaping how I make this place, working its way into the art and the layout. This whole simulated city is a memetic weapon, and in less than an hour all my friends will be here.
Now the question becomes: where the hell did I get this thing, how many other people have it... and am I going to be able to leave?
What is this thing supposed to do?
< ENCADRE >
Playing the Stored
The Stored are a major challenge for players. They have no bodies, and interact with the analog world only through robotic remote units (see page 146). Most Stored characters will be programmers, researchers, or other intellectual types, so as to take advantage of their presence in the infosphere. While there are such things as Stored soldiers, martial artists, athletes, and so on, they can only exercise their talents in simulation, or through a remote unit.
< /ENCADRE >
< ENCADRE >
It’s possible to move from your home civ to another, and it’s even possible to pick up another civilization’s special benefit. It’s not easy, however.
First, there is the physical business of moving, which typically involves some expensive wormhole travel. Some planets are shared by multiple civilizations, but that’s not always the case. Then there’s the paperwork, the possible quarantine period, medical examinations, and more invasive measures for some groups. For example, no one goes into the Union without having their mesh’s software “updated.” In some few cases, there is no real means of entering the civilization without being born there. The Roamers are a prime example: their official stance on immigrants is, “Is this a joke?”
Once you’re physically in the new civilization’s space, you need to settle in mentally. Some of this is represented by the Locality profession; presumably you have some for the culture you’re moving to already, since otherwise you’ll have to hear everything people say in translation. The other part is acquiring the local Core Values. This is a slow process — beliefs don’t just change overnight, and while your neural mesh (if you have one) can help the process along, it won’t be instantaneous. See page 99 for more on changing Core Values, including the use of Lenses.
To actually pick up another culture’s special benefit, you must possess both of the culture’s Core Values with a rating of at least 1, and the Locality profession for that culture rated at 4 or higher.
< /ENCADRE >