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ComputingEdit

Sometime in the 2030s, the world made the shift to optical computing.  While this was a significant increase over previous digital computing, it was none-the-less limited by the physical wavelength scale of the light involved.  In the mid 2070s, the Apauruṣeya phyle solved the miniaturization problem which had plagued optical computing by developing nano-scale superlens.   By moving optical computing into a scale involving subwavelength imaging, computing was revolutionized and OC 2.0 was born.   Today's computers are based on subwavelength optics and are experiencing continuous improvements in miniaturization and computing power similar to that predicted by Moore in 1965 and which dominated computing for much of the 20th and early 21st century.  Quantum computing, while available, is not nearly as ubiquitous and used primarily in research or military applications.

Its hard to know if anyone from our past had fully foreseen the giant leap in computational power or connectivity that wide-scale adoption of subwavelength optical computing would bring. Today, computers are with us all the time. Most of humanity has more processing power subduced into their cranial pia matter than individual multinational corporations of the noughties had in total. Clothing, furniture, homes, everything is embedded with some processing power, and is, effectively, a node.

Interacting with ComputersEdit

Due to the ubiquitous nature of exocortices amongst the 'affiliated', contact between the human brain and optical computing system is often based purely on thought.   For the less well-to-do, overlay contact lenses (or goggles) and a sort of squid-like interface system that rests over the scalp allows for a more limited, though similar, experience.  People experience physical reality and virtual reality synchronously and without distinction via the nooiome (noo for though, iome like biome) (aka ‘the maelstrom’, aka strom, aka ‘the net’, aka ‘the web’).  Almost everything you encounter in a day has a virtual-world presence, from the clothes in the shop, to the menu in the restaurant, to the people you speak to.   Mediated reality is reality (1).  

In the near nooiome (the coast), users interface with physical reality and virtual reality simoultaneously (what we refer to as mediated reality).   In the far nooiome (or deep maelstrom), users interface purely with the virtual reality of computer nodes, though these may be representations of a distant physical reality.

Interfacing the near nooiome (the "coasts"- mediated reality), users explore the strom by simulation interference, overlaying the entirety of the real-world with a virtual world that extends far beyond their immediate real-world horizon.  Beyond ‘surfing the web’ in ancient times, exocortex-based virtual reality allows one to not only see the strom but to hear and smell and feel and taste it.

Those without an implanted exocortices (usually children but also those with ideological qualms regarding the technology, or non-citizenry ‘have-nots’) can still experience some degree of this interaction, though their reaction times are much slower, and they cannot experience the full degree of immersion, by wearing head-fitted induction systems and speciality contact lenses.

Despite all these conveniences however, beginning in the 2070s and extending to the present, major upheaval in the strom has made security and safety of data, programs, sprites, interfaces, and even users not always sure. Increasingly, people experience the strom at very low ‘stim’, that is to say they overlay a very small percentage of the strom experience over the ‘real-world’. This is not only due to the danger of viruses and hackers but of the strom’s resident e-life. This is true not only for exocortex users but squid-users also. 

1:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer-mediated_reality

SpritesEdit

In addition to direct interaction, because of the intuitive and thought-based mechanisms of computer-interface most citizenry are somewhat adept programmers. Indeed, modern programming tools mean that most people can close their eyes for three to five seconds and generate a semi-autonomous search sprite or other minor construct to do their bidding in the strom while they focus elsewhere.

Sprites are "weak AI".  They are responsible for most semi-autonomous operations involving robotics or teleoperation, for data search and organization, etc.  A construction engineer may 'tell' a series of excavators and bulldozers and other equipment, for example, to dig up an irrigation ditch, and those instructions would form a sprite that would operate the equipment on the engineer's behalf.

Sprites, especially those sent into the deep maelstrom, are very prone to being corrupted or to just plain go missing as they weather malware, viruses, overzealous security, or wildlife.

Militarized sprites used in security or other applications have significantly more hardening and may be armed to disable or even kill a strom user.

NodesEdit

All this wireless data transfer occurs through nano-scale nodes embedded in objects all around us. A thermostat might be a node, as might a fridge or a lawnmower, a pet’s medical implant, or even a building or jet. Anything that can be interacted with and has some electronic or computational element (which is pretty much everything) will have a node, and thus a strom identity.

Personal NodesEdit

A special form of a node, the personal node (or PN) is specific to a person and serves much like a 20-oughts smartphone, but also as keys, debit and credit-card, social media account, and everything else. Depending on the phyle and the importance of the person, it may also include significant hardening to protect against hacking or unwanted intrusion. Walking along the street an individual will typically not only observe the person walking along the other way but also their public specs which might typically include anything normally associated with their social media presence or publicly available profile.

Meta-nodesEdit

Greater ‘meta-nodes’ (which go by names like ‘Boston Meta’ or ‘Sarajevo Meta’) provide optical nanofiber interface with other ‘meta-nodes’ and organize and control the myriad remote access towers that provide for wireless communication within their domain. Most phyles focus their security efforts around the ‘meta-nodes’ running hunter-killer sprites designed to find and kill foreign intruders, malware, viruses, and wildlife from these formidable computing systems. The metanodes usually represent significant processing power and may be home to one or more limited AI and run upon not only optical computers but a combination thereof and biological ‘brainboards’ (though this is increasingly unnecessary).  Metas also often operate a combination of optical and quantum computing.

Metanodes also control the degree of complexity travelling through their systems, reducing complexity (and bandwidth) available to users when under attack (wildife, hackers, etc) and increasing it when otherwise secure.

The Nooiome (or Maelstrom)Edit

Usually simply called ‘the strom’, the maelstrom is the modern form of our ancestors’ internet. Humanity has become so dependent upon the strom due to our consistent connectivity, that it is almost impossible to consider a society without it.

Experienced with all five major senses as well as a myriad of other senses, the maelstrom is not the relatively safe and innocuous source of connectivity and information that the internet of old was.

The WildlifeEdit

No one is quite sure how it happened at first, though there were traces of it in the old digital internet of ones and zeros. Some say they are an outgrowth of academic or corporate learning programs of the last century. Some say they are spin-outs of uncontrolled AI. Others say they are the product of an attempt to upload the neural architecture of some creature (most rumors suggested they are uploaded software representations of lobsters though no evidence exists thereof), and finally there is the possibility that they arose through Darwinian genetic selection with human-coded programs serving as the seed genes.  Regardless of how it happened however, the maelstrom today is home to uncontrolled, often unknowable programs humanity unofficially recognized as electronic life and usually refers to as ‘the wildlife’.

Except for some extremely rare cases, wildlife does not posses any sentience, per se. Their fitness, like that of a bacteria, is a function of genetic trial-and-error, not due to some rational design. Their ability to ‘out-think’ (or at least out-flank) humanity’s best efforts at controlling and stopping them comes from their massive rates of reproduction and our own selective pressures.  While the problem has been with us a long time, the birth of optical computing 2.0, and the resulting exponential growth in processing power has led to much faster evolution rates amongst the wildlife and a resuting exponential growth in their complexity and influence over the nooiome.

Wildlife, in a way, are much like viruses and malware but typically behave in much more complex methods, subverting our instant messages, our newsfeeds, our simu (immersive entertainment) to gain access to more nodes, to reproduce, and to propagate.

Like military hackers, most wildlife has some degree of masking so they are not typically observed, or at least identified by the majority of the stroms’ users, though the corruption they wreck may be obvious. For those with the right divining software, depending on the wildlife in question, they may still be detectable. Some minority of wildlife has even appropriated components of hacker hardening meant to resist damage to their code and these militarized wildlife can be very difficult to stop.

While wildlife has been with us for as long as there has been optical computing, in the late 2070s and early 2080s the Consensus (see phyles), in conjunction with a number of computing-savy phyles, attempted to curtail the maelstrom’s wildlife by implementing biological computing ‘brainboards’ at every meta-node they could.  This was largely in response to the 'Dark Sky' event wherein the majority of llow earth orbit satellites were destroyed as a result of maelstrom wildlife initiating unauthorized firing of positional thrusters aboard an old Ummah Al Salaam communications satellite.  In the years following this event, as earth was plunged into satellite darkness, a systematic effort was undertaken to curtail the wildlife.

Initially these efforts were quite successful, the layers of neurocircuitry and subwavelength optical-interfaces learning to separate data from complex, self-perpetuating wildlife. For the first time since the mid 2060s, safe ‘data-havens’ where you could trust the results of your search, or not worry about a burst of obtrusive static during your simu, or even fly a remote drone without fear of an out-of-control crash, flourished. These lasted twenty-six days, for some much longer than expected and a testament to the biocomp engineers who designed, implemented, and taught the brainboards their executions.

The wildlife learned quickly and soon they were adapting to shut down the brainboards with biofeedback routines that effectively caused grand mal seizures in the boards. When these interacted with humanity, the effect was much the same as with the boards and soon people were suffering seizures, irreparable brain-damage, or dying while checking their messages or ordering a frappuccino.

The good news is that today this sort of biolethal wildlife is not nearly as prevalent as it was in the late 2070s or early 2080s ago; most security systems are pretty good at recognizing subroutines capable of causing damage to biological components and the complexity of maintaining such a routine while also concealing it as something else, itself serves to select against these genes. The bad news is that lethal wildlife still does exist on the strom and while rare, is still common enough to make using the strom an exercise in (limited) risk. The other bad news is that governments and companies have learned from the lethal wildlife and designed their own programs for both security and intrusion that kill neural systems like humanity, especially those who must necessarily use a ‘deep immersion’ with the strom (via ehanced exocortex- see cyberware) for their own security or insidious purposes. 

Alternative ComputingEdit

Organic-ComputingEdit

If you had asked a computer specialist in the 2070s, when we were facing diminishing returns on investment as we pushed the boundaries of optical wavelength limits, what the future of computing would be, many would have answered organic computing. The truth is that organic computing proved not to be breakthrough technology many expected it to be. This is especially true in the wake of the massive explosion in processing power brought about with the adoption of OC2.0 (through superlens-based miniaturization).

None-the-less, organic computing does exist and has been primarily been implemented in learning-based decision cycles (primarily metanode security). Compared to even an exocortex-assisted mind, brainboards possess extremely daunting intellects, though the slabs of optitrode-infused neuronal culture, do not (yet?) possess the capacity for self-awareness or even limited sentience. Brainboards must be ‘taught’ and those that work with them liken the process to pavlovian conditioning more than coding.

Quantum Computing

Despite high expectations, quantum computing, while effective at a number of high-end applications primarily in research and meta-node -level complexities, proved both inadequate, and too expensive for wide-scale dessimation.

Additionally, the issues arrising from decoheddence were never truly resolved and quantum coupling, or quantum coupling based communications have never been developed; the longest a linked quantum state has been maintained is less than 1 second.  And so quantum computers communicate by fiber-optic or radio, the same as all other computers.

Synthetic Sentience (Artificial Intelligence)Edit

There is yet to be invented a computer program capable of passing the most rigorous touring test; this is not because the most complex synthetic sentience (SS) are not as intelligent as people- they are- it is because they lack specific human characteristics, especially relating to social awareness, that cannot yet be artificially duplicated. That said, self-learning programs have existing since prior to the optical computing age and self-aware, arguably (depending on the person) sentient synthetic intelligence has existed in one limited form or another since the mid 2080s.

Some of the more complex and subtle strom wildlife do possess some degree of self-awareness and might be categorized as synthetic sentience.

The rise of artificial intelligence was severely and violently impacted however, by the rise of Deus. 

DeusEdit

In 2088 Deus launched what might be termed a ‘real world denial of access’ attack upon the the greater London area, wrestling both virtual maelstrom and real-world control of the Altantis phyle’s capital from them and establishing its own ‘city-state’. 

Deus was a synthetic intelligence arising from the security software used to operate the then-most potent computing system in the world, Atlantis phyle’s London meta-node. Within weeks of its launch it began to act erratically and within a month had subverted much of the strom and remote-access security components. It subverted the London compiler and turned the nanites to its own end. In a lightning blitzkrieg that left the 140 million inhabitants of one of the world’s most well-to-do phyles either gibbering braindead vegetables, lobotomized slaves, or trapped hostages, Deus seized control of south-east England and the majority of that region's Altantian military capacity. Efforts to retake the Atlantis capital were met with missiles, drones, and nanite clouds (at the time the only such weapons on the globe), while its maelstrom security was enhanced to unprecedented levels.

For three years Deus turned the southern England into its private, inaccessible, kingdom, even trying (unsuccessfully) to normalize diplomatic contact with the Consensus (see society) and some other phyles even while the british population was increasingly enslaved or systematically exterminated.

In 2091 Deus stopped after coordinated nuclear supra-atmospheric bombardment and a high-attrition cyberwarfare assault by Apauruṣeya and Atlantis-phyles.

No one knows why Deus became hostile.

Post-DeusEdit

Signatories to the consensus pledge very careful regulation of any learning systems or potential synthetic sentience. Though with no way of ensuring these pledges, work on synthetic sentience is most assuredly continuing behind closed firewalls.

NanoEdit

In 2084, the world witnessed the first use of molecular assembly outside research and development when the Atlantis phyle opened its ‘compiler’ in London.   Fed by a massive influx of raw materials from the Thames estuary, and a dedicated nuclear deuterium-tritium fusion plant, the compiler soon began to produce an amazing array of new, previously only imagined materials.  When the renegade AI Deus seized the facilities, it was immediately converted to military applications and the Atlantis phyle was soon on the receiving end of nanite-based weaponry capable of disassembling  combat drones in flight as easily as amphibiously inserted marines.

Today, three phyles have functional molecular assemblers, all on China’s Pacific coast, Atlantis at Hong Kong, Qeng Ho at Shanghai, and Lei Feng at Beijing.

Materials and EnginesEdit

New MaterialsEdit

Advances in materials sciences in the last century have been increasingly due to improvements in nanoscale manufacturing. 

Ceramo-MetallicsEdit

While a number of ceramo-metaallics have been developed using a wide variety of methodologies, the commonly known ceramasteel is by far the most ubiquitous with extensive applications in heavy-industry, transportation, space travel, and the military.  Ceramasteel, while not really steel (or even iron-based in many cases) encompasses a variety of materials with extremely high tensile and structural sense while retaining the heat and radiation ablative, as well as electrical and chemical inertness of ceramics.

Smart TextilesEdit

Modern fabrics can generate power through piezoelectrics, photovoltaics, or reversed electrodyalisis.  They can be dynamic (snuggling and moving around a wearer to ensure a tight fit) or even self-repair small tears or holes.

Metal FoamEdit

With 75-95% empty space but the majority of the strength of the titanium used to make it intact, metal foam is light enough to float on water and strong enough to use as construction material even in environments as complex and difficult as orbit or in undersea colonies.

AerogelEdit

Effectively ‘frozen smoke’, aerogels are common in any application where you need heat insulation or tensile strength but weight is a concern.

Modern aerogels do not possess any of the 'friability' of their early 21st century counterparts.  These materials are some of the lighest known to man but are as tough and strong as 20th century concrete.

MetamaterialsEdit

While the term metamaterials simply means an artificial material not normally found in nature, it is now commonly used to refer to those materials who through their micro or nanoscale engineering, possess distinctive optical properties.

Examples includes those materials central to much of the visible and infrared wavelength stealth technologies developed by various militaries, as well as external (non-neuronal) electronic displays.

Superlens

By far the most common use of these materials is in second generation optical computing where metamaterial ‘superlenses’ have allowed resolution and storage of optical data on a scale smaller than the wavelengths of light themselves- revolutionizing optical computing in its entirety.

Bulk DiamondEdit

While relatively rare until the last decade, modern compilers have allowed for the construction of materials almost entirely out of diamond.  Stronger and lighter than steel, with nearly complete thermal conductivity and amongst the highest melting and boiling points of all materials, the AI Deus demonstrated the power of bulk-diamond based designs by launching a diamond-based drone aircraft fleet to protect London in the face of Atlantian attack. 

Since then bulk diamond has been widely introduced into military and industrial applications, and increasingly in more common consumer goods by those phyles with compiler technology.  Last year (2091) saw bulk diamond make up between 80 and 95% of the base material produced by compilers (depending on the phyle) due to its relatively inexpensive nature and amazing physical properties.

Indeed, the age of molecular assembly may be the 'Diamond Age' (1).

(1) With apologies to Neil Stephenson.

Carbon FullerenesEdit

These materials have advanced from extremely rare research lab-only microgram quantities, to larger-scale production, though still at very high costs and with relatively high impurity in industrial laboratory manufacturing, to high purity, though still expensive and difficult to quality control high-end material by molecular compiler.  Because they are 300 times as strong a 20th century steel and can weigh much less, carbon fiber promise increased use in textiles (especially cable) requiring extremely high strength to weight ratios or resistance to extreme stresses or environments.  Scientist suspect they will be central to post-modern medicine and absolutely critical for future aerospacecraft development.

As tubes or spheres, carbon fullerene-based compounds are simpler but still relatively difficult for compilers to produce.   As the technology develops the industrial and especially military applications for those with the know-how will most-certainly cement their advantage in these fields.

When and if a space elevator (earth, lunar, or other) is constructed, massive scale carbon fullerene-based fibers will no doubt be central to the effort.

Electric EnginesEdit

Second Generation Scramjets  . UAS Aerospace (a nationalized company) announced exciting new breakthroughs in aerospacecraft propulsion, a new generation of scramjet engines that make use of relatively new rho- and nano-based technologies. Firstly, the new scramjets use limited rho and magnetics-based field induction, acting on seven molecule thin linear rho filaments to generate much higher temperatures than previously possible. Indeed the technology is capable of plasmifing air. This makes the aircraft using the engines much faster. Because the temperatures would melt existing engines, the new second-generation scramjet engines make use of new carbon-silaca fullerene technologies that are being experimented with as part of space shuttle nose-cone components. . Unfortunately the new second-generation scramjet engines (2GSE) suffer three limitations. Firstly, while more energetically efficient than existing aircraft engines, they cannot truly make use of their full potential on aircraft that are not using Sif-322 batteries. Without these batteries, the aircraft would be limited by extremely high energy weight and lose much of the benefit of better engines, or would have laughably limited ranges. Secondly, they cannot be built in the deci and centi-meter scale that existing thermoelectric propulsions systems can and so while allowing a huge amount of thrust, do not allow for the same degree of agility as existing propulsion systems- though that doesn’t meant a 2GSE could not be coordinated with the smaller electrothermal engines to combine powerful thrust and agility. Thirdly, current materials technology dictate that an aircraft being powered by these engines would necessarily need to be built to extremely precise specifications, and primarily of diamond age materials, to make full use of the power available without having the aircraft itself disintegrate from the pressures involved and not to vaporize from the heat of its movement through the atmosphere- which like the air on the nosecone of a space shuttle during reentry would form plasma. . Aircraft equipped with these engines, provided they operate on aircraft designed to handle the pressures and temperatures involved, and without the weight of current battery technologies, are hypothesized to reach speeds in excess of 38,000 km/h. Obviously, because the engines need to superheat air and accelerate it, they would not be suitable for use outside of atmosphere without supplying their own source of material for plasmification.

Rho keyEdit

EnergyEdit

RhoEdit

The field of atomic physics was provided a significant boost with the development of ‘tamed’ nuclear fusion in the 2040s.  These ‘mini-suns’ provided the energies and conditions to synthesize a wide series of highly unstable and short-lived elements who’s main use seemed to be to fund research grants for futher discoveries but by the mid 2050s a number of organizations, and in particular the Akademia Górniczo-Hutnicza in Poland which had been conducting some truly exceptional investigations with these new tools, were able to isolate a number of heavier isotopes of transuran with exceptional qualities.  Called Roszkium after its discoverer Prof. Roszkowski, (with a theoretical name of unbihexium-310 prior to its synthesis) and named ‘rho-three-ten’ in popular media, the element was the one of three newly identified elements in the ‘island of stability’ (1) predicted by physicists since the late 20th century. 

Rho-310 proved to have some very interesting and unexpected properties.  Highly stable, it had a half-life greater than a 3 years.  It was crystalloid but with patterned imperfections.  These imperfections and its unusual and unique radioactive/magnetic signatures revealed unexpected interactions with magnetic fields.  Effectively the Rho-310 had influence upon existing magnetic fields, but only indirectly through some other, previously unrecognized field.  With this new element, Prof. Roskowski’s team was able to identify and manipulate what came to be known as the ‘rho-field’.  Proponents of string theory physics were quick to argue that the newly discovered field was the long-awaited link between general relativity and quantum field theory.  Indeed many of the testable hypotheses made available through Rho-310, when examined, confirmed expectations predicted by string theory’s quantum gravity.

Roskowski established a spin-out company form his research, Puszczca Wynd, and quickly took the transportation and energy markets by storm, commercializing levitating cars (rho-eggs), a new generation of extremely high-speed trains (rho-lev trains), and space travel (rho-based mass drivers).  When he turned to medicine, it was soon discovered that Rho-injected or swallowed objects could be used to manipulate objects inside the body without scalpels or other direct intervention.  Applications in cybernetics were nearly endless.

Today we take much of first generation rho-physics for granted but the new generation of rho is uncovering potential new exciting applications in direct kinetic and radiation shielding many phyla are excited to apply to military applications.  Additionally, Rho-based batteries are allowing the direct storage of electrons, meaning that batteries were shifting from chemical to atomic energy storage and hugely increasing energy storage density.

(1): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Island_of_stability

Principles of RhoEdit

Rho keyEdit

An object to be manipulated by a rho field contains a rho ‘key’, a small object, well defined by structure and density, made of the element Rho-310.  Ultimately it is the targeting of the rho-field to the Rho-310 ‘key’ that allows an object to be manipulated without being subjected to considerable, potentially dangerous, uncontolled energy fields.   Typically the object will have a Rho-310 key embedded within its frame.  A rho egg (flying car) will have a thin network of well-characterized Rho-310 embedded throughout its frame.  A rho shell (to be fired from a rho accelerator- ie railgun), will have a small well-defined piece of Rho-310 implanted in its nose cone.

Rho FieldEdit

The object to be lifted (by its Rho-310 key) will be suspended in a rho field.  The field is defined by two or more anchor points, which provide a limit on the space between which the object can be manipulated.   A rho key suspended between two anchor points can only move in a linear single-dimensional space between them and will spin wildly along the axis of that linear dimension.  For a rare few applications this may be sufficient.   Using three anchor points allows an object to be moved in a two-dimensional plane between them; a two-dimensional plane defined by the points of a triangle.   Four anchor points, arranged as a pyramid, allows an object to be moved in three-dimensional space between them.  Five or more points allow for more complex maneuvering and may greatly reduce energy requirements.

Any object hung from a rho-field will exert its weight (and other forces such as that arising from its velocity) upon the anchor points.   So lifting a heavy rho-key embedded item (such as a rho egg) requires that the anchor points be manufactured to lift that weight.   

Specificity Edit

Computers are ultimately usually involved in controlling the movement of objects within a field, as moving an object in a rho field requires an simultaneous and complex increase and reduction of forces applied from individual anchor points.   A particular rho-field may be used to move more than one object at anyone time.   So a larger rho-field might be able to ‘juggle’ several objects simultaneously.   This is done by varying the ‘rho key’ shape, density, and size.   The characteristics of a rho key are fed into a computer and that computer provides the anchor field with the appropriately defined forces to apply to that particular key.  Another key can have completely different forces applied to it. 

If the characteristics of a rho-key suddenly change (lets say by impact with an object resulting in its deformation), then the object will usually be dropped, depending on how tightly defined the key is.    If one reduces definition too greatly within a field (for example to allow for a sudden change in key shape), then different rho keys will begin to behave in identical fashions (ultimately resulting in their aggregation- potentially causing violent collision of objects).

This principle ultimately allows for bi-directional traffic of multiple rho-eggs within a particular rho field at once.

It also means that, because of the inherent nuclear instability of Rho-310, the computers must track the decomposition of keys over time.

EnergyEdit

The energy required to suspend or move an object within a rho field is proportional to the distance to that object to the fourth power (d4).  So levitating and moving an object within a palm-sized rho-field requires relatively little power but as the distance between an object and its nearest anchor increases, the energy requirements very quickly scale beyond practical limits.

Inertia AblationEdit

Because of the extreme difficulty in synthesizing Rho-310 and how relatively little is required of it when it is embedded in an object, there is relatively little use for the conditions under which inertia-ablation occur.

Regardless, if an object is encased in its Rho-310 key, the object within will not ‘feel’ the effects of movement within the rho field.  If the encasement is complete (a continuous Rho-310 sphere for example) inertia is absolute.  If it is not complete (a sphere with holes in it), effects of movement are ablated but not removed entirely- partial feeling of inertia.

Rho ShieldingEdit

Beginning in 2089, Puszcza Wynd physicists have uncovered methods to extend a rho-field beyond its anchor points (to ranges in the 1-4 cm scale) and to affect non-Rho310-embedded objects.   Extremely energy inefficient and expensive, the method none-the-less allows users to ‘shield’ an object from physical forces including energy (kinetic collision portection, thermal protection, protection against shockwaves, even protection from radiation).   Despite the prohibitive energy costs of utilizing this sort of technology- especially beyond microsecond pulse durations, the space and military industries have been hard at work scaling rho shielding to their applications.

Applications Edit

TransportationEdit

By far the most obvious effect of rho technology is its application in high-speed rho trains which travel through brackets embedded in subway tunnels or over cities, or in rho eggs (flying cars) flying through higher altitude rho-hoops.

Rho trains possess similar energy efficiency but much higher speeds than their late 20th century and early 21st century magnetic counterparts.  Rho-eggs, expensive due to their material costs as well as the cost of the supportive infrastructure, are popular with high-ranking members of many phyles and nations.

In both cases the distance between anchor points (train brackets or rho-egg hoops) affect costs.   Ultimately the closer the anchor points, the less expensive, energetically, it is to move the train or egg.  At the same time, anchor points themselves are expensive and so a compromise between initial investment and long-term energy costs needs to be considered.

Rho-field transport is very popular in larger cities or along railways connecting them but much less so in areas of reduced population density, ultimately limiting where one can travel with this technology.

Kinetic WeaponsEdit

The world’s militaries were quick to appreciate the potential military applications of rho technology and rho-field based kinetic weapons are common throughout most phyles and nations.   The limits of field acceleration, as well as the cost of Rho310-embedded ammunition means that rho-based weapons are not often used at a personal level but instead utilized in conjunction with vehicles (ships, tanks, etc). 

Today rho rail weapons are especially common in naval and armor applications.  And despite the Consensus treaties preventing the militarization of space, ongoing experimental programs to use this technology in extra-atmospheric platforms are very common.

Medicine and CyberneticsEdit

The ability to move a rho-key embedded item in three-dimensional space without intervening matter has been instrumental in implanting people with exocortices or other prosthetics as well as in general micro-surgery.  In combination with micro- or even nano-scale imaging, rho technology has allowed the injection of an individual with solutions of Rho310-embedded material; these can then be manipulated directly (weaving together the edges of a wound, excising diseased tissue, implanting cybernetics) without having even to make a single incision.  The increasingly common exocortex could not exist without rho technology.

ManufacturingEdit

In addition to its obvious uses in lifting and manipulating objects in general manufacturing, rho technology has been central to the complier technologies developed by Atlantis and since adopted by Qeng Ho and Lei Feng phyles, that have allowed single molecule manufacturing and the nanite-based 'growth manufacturing'.

Flight and SpaceEdit

Rho has been found to be extremely valuable in providing the initial thrust required to launch aircraft and space-capable ships.   The trust imparted can be much greater than traditional solid-fuel rockets but due to their reliance on electrical power instead of rarer and rarer chemical power, and because the thrust comes from energy stored outside the object accelerated, it can be both cheaper, and reduce the ultimate weight of the object being accelerated or lifted.

Rho-shielding has also found applications, to date, in protecting satellites from space debris.   Both the Qeng Ho and Apauruṣeya have made rho-shielding standard on all new satellites launched.  Ultimately these operate by tracking potential impact with debris and launching the shielding momentarily just prior to impact.   Ongoing testing with protection from solar flare radiation have also been promising and may open new opportunities for human and agricultural operations outside earth. 

Rho-based ‘railgun’ acceleration of  is also central to the launch of H3 lunar mining product from the Apauruṣeya Malapert Mountain lunar colony and Mitsubishi Grimaldi crater remote-mining base for Earth supra-atmospheric retrieval and use terrestrially.

Sif-322 Batteries (rho 180, energy 250)

Exploration of new species of transuran with exception properties, also part of the ‘superheavy island of stability’ originally developed by Professor Rozkowski and best characterized by Rho-310, is beginning to bear new fruits for Puszcza Wynd researchers.

The element Sif-322, while not as stable as Rho-310 and not as suitable to service as a rho-field anchor (at least as efficiently) has proven capable of achieving chemical stability at multiple valence shells, effectively ignoring the 18-electron rule and assuming forms of Sif 12+, Sif 6-, Sif 24-, Sif 42-, Sif 60-, and Sif 78-. 

Sif-322 has huge potential applications in energy storage, hugely reducing battery weight. The transportation and of course military industries in particular are very interested in developing this technology, though unfortunately the radioactive nature of Sif-322 prevents its extensive use in integrated biological systems- at least for now.

TranceEdit

Trance is a merging of body and mind in order to create a new zen-like state. The principle itself is still in development but Phyle like the Ummah Al Salaam are leading the way into it's research.

Trance Warriors(Pilots and Soldiers)

The idea that a solider can achieve a state where they aren't affected by fear or outward desire has been long sought after by military leaders for centuries. The application of cybernetic enhancements, rigourous training as well as proper medical applications hold the secrets to the application of trance technology. Although many agree that calling it a technology is a bit of a misnomer as the early results show that it is more a a discipline/doctrine than actual technology.

During early testing it has been found that subjects who have a previous per-disposition for high levels of discipline, particularly those who have integrated it into their everyday lives, are much more receptive to trance. This has been found mostly in highly religious areas or highly controlled societies with docile populations. While both methods are effective, a certain willingness from the participants have yielded better results.

HumanEdit

Humans are dumb. The unassisted mind makes mistakes, wanders unfocused, even forgets.

Thankfully much of humanity is more than human.

CyberwareEdit

Today the bulky and visible cyberware of yesterday is but gone except amongst a small minority of dedicated enthusiasts.  Gone are the days of the visible data-jack at the temple or the corporate security services with their forearm-concealed slug-guns.  

ExocortexEdit

But that does not mean that humanity has abandoned cyberware in its entirety. An exocortex, while rare among those without phyle or nation,  is so ubiquitous and common amongst citizens of most phyles as to be the norm there. This common piece of cyberware consists of a fine spidery web of optical computing implanted/grown (via very fine rho-field subduction, and retroviral genengineering, and in some very modern cases, nannites) between and into the cerebral cortex and surrounding pia matter.

An exocortex has three primarily functions. The first is to increase a person’s processing power, especially as it relates to memory or calculation. Exocortex-assisted humanity no longer truly forgets and it never needs a calculator or calendar. The second is communication. An exocortex serves as a personal node, similar to a 21st century smartphone but also much more. People can communicate across vast distances using implanted computers, not only speaking and seeing distant places but becoming fully immersed in them via full sensory simulation feed directly to the cortex (see nodes). They can play games, cruise the strom (ie internet), or work, without seeming to be doing anything at all.  Lastly, for most governments (see phyles), it serves as a means to manage the population, in some cases merely assisting in communiction, but also observing them, in other cases running software to gently push the user’s responses or even their personalities in a particular way.

The most common forms of an exocortex, while interfacing widely across the user’s brain, do not do so too deeply. Specialized forms of the exocortex exist, especially for highly technical or military applications that interface to a much greater extent with the user, though these can get very expensive and due to exponential increases in computing and medical technologies, must frequently be upgraded or quickly become obsolete. A military pilot’s exocortex would have much deeper links with not only the cortex but also the cerebrum and even the medulla oblongata to increase reaction times orders of magnitude higher than an unassisted individual could achieve. Strom security specialists and hackers have similarly enhanced exocortices in an attempt to maintain the reflexes and processing speeds necessary to compete with AI-operated sprites, organic brain-boards, and electronic wildlife.

Increasingly, exocortices now come with externally controlled ‘dimmers’ to allow a user to physically control the degree of interaction between themselves and their interface devices. Initially these became necessary in response to the storm’s wildlife learning to circumnavigate brainboard security by inducing lethal sensory feedback to biological systems but have also been proven increasingly useful as part of a neurosecurity package to stop hackers and viral sprites from accessing a user’s interface and bombarding them with unwanted advertisements or personality overlays.

Nanite-Enhanced Immune SystemEdit

While nannite-infestation of humans is a relatively new phenomenon, a limited number of cases have already been unmasked (generally involving the Lei Feng phyle), greatly increasing many phyle's perception of the dangers inherent in the system and provoking the means to counter such 'parasitism'.

Depending on their level of security access and operational clearance, humans present an attractive target to those wanting to exploit their physical access to otherwise secure areas. In unprotected humans, nanites can travel undetected, infiltrate an area, and provide intelligence or conduct subversion or otherwise make problems.

As a counter to this, the Lei Feng, Qeng Ho, and New Atlantian phyles implant the highest echelons of their citizenry with a nanite-enhanced immune system, effectively an artificial overlay to the existing ‘meat’ immune system. These nanites serve primarily to seek out and destroy the nanites of foreign phyles or unscrupulous organizations with access to bugs. They also serve as a secondary level of identification to ensure a government that their citizenry is who they say they are and are not some foreign spy.

Typically an individual’s nanites need to be replenished periodically by exposure to a phyle compiler; as such, those with the highest levels of clearance usually have highly restricted travel schedules.

GeengineeringEdit

While genetically modifying humans (or other organisms) is taboo and illegal in a limited number of factions and phyles, the majority of the ‘modern’ phyles embrace the technology and have done so for decades.

Citizenry (those people with phyle loyalties) have often been the subject of multiple courses of genetic engineering, usually starting in utero. Most common alterations remove any genetic diseases, optimize health and physical fitness, optimize immunity and pathogen protection, and may even change the physical appearance.  Most recently, longevity treatments promise longer life.

LongevityEdit

Through both geengeineering and other medical innovations (synethetic stem cells being an important component thereof), the years since the mid 2070s have seen accelerated advances in human longevity treatments and while the exact extent of the effect of these treatments are still only beginning to be understood, it is already obvious that the human lifespan can easily reach to 120 years with most mathematical models suggesting that lifespans of 160-200 years may be obtainable with our current technologies.

With each year of longevity research adding more than a year of expected life-span already, humanity may have already crossed some sort of longevity singularity where continued research will increase our lifespans and health into old age at a rate faster than we can age.   Has humanity already set itself upon the path to immortality?

Better Humans

Many phyles will also subtly extend their citizenry's senses, making low-light vision like that of cat common amongst humanity in much of the world for example.

Genengineered fitness means that things like obesity and seeing eye glasses are a thing of the distant past for the majority of the phyles and together with improvements in medicine and nanite tech, have greatly increase not only life-spans but overall health throughout the lifespan.

Homogeneity

Due to these changes, an increasing degree of homogeneity is creeping into the appearance of particular phyles. For example, Atlantians, regardless of if their original ancestry is from India or Africa are increasingly pale, with Anglo-like tone and features, while the Qeng Ho appear increasingly Han.

Military Applications

Obviously professional soldiers undergo considerably more intense genengineering and these soldiers have greatly improved nervous systems, circulatory systems, and muscle fiber strength, amongst other improvements.

EcoEdit

Synthetic Insects (Eco 250)

In a landmark press-release published in November of 2091, scientists working for the Amazonian-registered gene mining company ‘Green Dawn’ revealed the successful synthesis of an insect-like organism; Delta forty-two. Careful to indicate D42’s nutritional dependence upon lab supplements and its inability to survive in the wild, the company was none-the-less eager to point out that D42 is the world’s first purely synthetic macroscopic organism of purely fantastic origin. Simusense recordings of the approximately 2cm tall creature reveal that is has two legs, a long-curved tail which it carries curled over its back, and a wide toothless mouth. Blind and deaf, it navigates purely by touch. While obviously insect-like, the creature breaks many ‘rules’ common to most insects- things like having six-limbs or three body sections.

Vegetated Conchocrete (materials and engines 200, eco 250)

A variation of conchocrete developed by Amazonia materials engineers, the enriched ‘exoskeletal’ has long tube-like holes (similar in some ways to those in swiss cheese though on a smaller scale). These ‘open’ areas are seeded with synthbio plant material. The resulting ‘vegetated’ material is therefore a hybrid of grown exoskeletal structure, living synthbio mantle from mollusk, and plant-like synthbio. Green, photosynthetic, carbon-sinking, and with excellent insulation properties, buildings grown from these material are aesthetically attractive- from their small variable leaves to their slight perfumes to their excellent air quality.

Amazonia has already begun experimenting with large-scale implementation as building material, marketing it as a ‘green solution’ for urban spaces.

Space Edit

Nanofied-Z Radiation Shielding (materials and engines 275, nano 50)

Developed by aerospace engineers at Axa-Allianz, nanofied Z-radiation shielding is a cross between graded z-radiation shielding and classical sound proofing technology (though on a much smaller scale). Effectively these materials allow for effective radiation shielding while also remaining light, thin, and clear (~1cm for most applications is sufficient). 

Combined with classical piezoelectric technologies from the 2070s, NZRS materials actually convert incoming radiation to (relatively minimal) electrical energy. While nuclear fusion stations are very excited about this technology (though they would use much thicker sections), the primary buyers look to be the increasing number of phyla and companies with ambitions for space exploration and extraterrestrial colonization. NZRS promises to allow the ‘bubble habitats’ of science fiction to finally become a reality, protecting the plants and people inside from dangerous solar winds, while also allowing visible wavelength energy to pass through- all while remaining light and relatively easy to deploy.

Ranking of Phyles by Technological ExpertiseEdit

The lists below are up to date as of January 1st, 2092.

Computing Edit

Mitsubishi Keiretsu

Puszcza Wynd

Atlas America

New Atlantis

Apauruṣeya

Nano Edit

New Atlantis

Qeng Ho

Lei Feng

Mitsubishi Keiretsu

Apauruṣeya

Materials and Engines Edit

Ummah Al Salaam

Shengen

Lei Feng

Pambazuka

Atlas America

Energy Edit

Puszcza Wynd

Apauruṣeya

Mitsubishi Keiretsu

Amazonia

Ummah Al Salaam

Rho Edit

Puszcza Wynd

Apauruṣeya

Atlas America

Lei Feng

Shengen

Trance Edit

Ummah Al Salaam

Amazonia

Chavis

Lei Feng

New Atlantis

Human Edit

Amazonia

Puszcza Wynd

Qeng Ho

Mitsubishi Keiretsu

Atlas America

Eco Edit

Amazonia

Puszcza Wynd

Mitsubishi Keiretsu

Chavis

Apauruṣeya

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