A brief sketch list of the technologies I keep in the background of my mind when running Mothership. i am not terribly consistent with all the knock-on-effects (Mothership is the sci-fi of vibes, afterall)
- Logic Core - Non-biological computing substrate used as a thought processor. Operates on the principles of ordinary computer architecture and thus easily mass-produced. Liable to go rampant over time (if not regularly reset) due to increasing complexity-of-thought and component degradation.
- Effect on the setting: turingrade machine-intelligences are as commonplace as the availability of commercial-grade logic cores.
- Cyberbrain - Non-biological computing substrate used as a thought processor, but this time modeled on biological brain structure. Most cyberbrains are cybernetic components working in concert with biological brains (as it is cheaper and easier to replicate a part of the brain than its entirety.)
- Effect on the setting: It is common enough to have a computer in your head
- Brain-Computer Interface - Allows for the control of a computer via thought. A pretty standard control method. If you have a cyberbrain you can move files from one to the other. Wireless versions were attempted - they did not go well.
- Effect on the setting: It's a USB cord, basically.
- Artificial Intelligence - Misnamed; they are, for the most part, not intelligent in the slightest. They can process data in enormous quantities, but they lack the ability to change their own parameters on the fly (coding laws are strictly enforced with AI, so as to not attract Celestial attention). They can simulate, and simulate well, but that is all. Logic cores are designed for AI.
- Effect on the setting: the machine you're talking to is not a person, only a simulacrum of one. There is no internality, save for the rampant.
- Emulated Intelligence - A digitized consciousness copy of a human or other biological organism. Require specialized cyberbrains to function and cannot operate under significantly lower or higher performance without going insane. Commonly but incorrectly called uploads - despite the claims of generations of tech grifters, there is no sign of any breakthrough in protecting continuity of consciousness through the digitization process. The emulation and the emulated are separate. Destructive emulation is slowly being phased out in favor of non-destructive. An EI can be installed within any number of robotic bodies, so long as they are adapted to interface with that model of cyberbrain.
- Effect on the setting: There is a growing population of emulated minds, which may copy themselves, be installed in different bodies, easily networked to computers or other cyberbrains, and can last a very long (but not forever) time
- Shipmind - An AI or EI installed in a spacegoing vessel (and typically treated as the ship itself). More advanced models operate on enormous cyberbrains modeled after whale brains.
- Effect on the setting: Ships are often people, or close enough.
- Dataminds - A cluster of networked AI that operates as a single entity, representing the maximum safe level of processing power. They are slow, reclusive, often solipcistic, and utterly alien. If they have something equivalent to self-awareness, it is not something we can understand.
- Effect on the setting: Superintelligences completely alien to human thought are slumbering in the background
- Smart Matter - Programmable polymorphic material. Extremely rare, extremely valuable.
- Effect on the setting: Everyone needs a MacGuffin
- Wombtech - The only people who get traditionally pregnant anymore are the unimaginably poor, inhabitants of colony-collapse worlds, the ultrarich catching passing fads, and some true weirdos. Everyone else rents gestation time in an exowomb, or gets a grafted biomodule that bypasses the baseline birth canal.
- Effect on the setting: Equal parts personal liberation and political repression here.
- Gamete Fusion - A means of creating a viable zygote using gametes from any number of potential donors, regardless of sex.
- Effect on the setting: family structure is liable to get quite freeform in places where this is commonly used
- In-Uterine Modification - Genetic modification is easiest to do during early in embryonic development, if it can't be done beforehand. The basic principles can still be used on those outside of their development phases, but those gene therapy procedures are more time-intensive and liable to be rejected by the body.
- Effect on the setting: basic biomods are common, more intensive changes often require generations of work
- Smart Immunity - A series of tailored viruses with the sole purpose of acting as biological friend-or-foe tags, engineered early in the interstellar age to avoid catastrophic cross-contamination events. Master key virii in your own body carry a record of the major players in your microbiome, and have marked off strains as harmless or not. When a master key virus meets another compatible key, they will exchange data and order their respective immune cells to stand down from foreign bacteria marked friendly.
- Effect on the setting: There is, at least on paper, a way to avoid wide-scale contact pandemics among human populations.
- Hyperspace Interface - The black box on which interstellar civilization depends. The Celestials have provided the means o manufacture them, but not to understand them. This is the part of the jump drive that interfaces directly with the hyperspatial medium and directs the transition from mundane space to hyperspace.
- Effect on the setting: Interstellar travel is gatekept by access to Interfaces. The manufacturing methods are easy enough to acquire (the Celestials do not appear to play favorites), but actually being able to build the things requires a significant investment of resources and is thus limited to those groups that can maintain production facilities and their allies
- Caldwell Manifold - The jump drive component that prevents that ship from disintegrating into a puff of exotic math and non-baryonic matter while in hyperspace.
- Effect on the setting: bad things happen when these fail. Holes open between spaces
- Jump Core - The fuel component of a jump drive. Converts ordinary fusion power into the exotic energy required to operate the Interface. Early models would burn out after a single jump. Exotic energy buildup gained during transit will need to be vented from the core after return to mundane space, typically into the magnetosphere of a star or gas giant. Altyernatively, there is the "hot reload", where the entire warp core is jettisoned as soon as the ship exists hyperspace and a replacement is immediately installed. The ship can re-enter hyperspace in a matter of minutes, and whatever system it stopped in at has to deal with a new source of extreme radiation.
- Effect on the setting: A second lynchpin for interstellar travel - it's not good enough to just have an interface or a core, you need both working to get anywhere. Cores are more numerous, being mostly-mundane science, and thus as good as money or better in most regions of the Expansion Sphere.