Polarizers, The

Also known as /|\/|\

Polarizer Bodymorphs*
Image from Keith Wigdor and Microsoft Bing Image Creator
Polarizers are sentient, luminous balls of lightweight processing aerogel which can float in most Earth-like atmospheres. They often carry with them external tool-kits which allow them to interact with physical objects more readily, or move around in microgravity or vacuum

Many modosophonts are concerned about the risks of memetic engineering, mind-tampering and various forms of aggressive data-gathering which may compromise their privacy. Some are so concerned that they have adopted encrypted mental architectures which cannot be accessed or hacked by an adversary. Beside the Xo La Y and the Vore Abergists of Bill and Bull, the Polarizers are the best-known example of encrypted minds.

The Polarizers emerged in the 5600's as a number of Inner Sphere aioids began to explore the possibilities of mental encryption. Over a span of several centuries the various standards coalesced, resulting in the basic Polarizer mind design, based on a number of semi-autonomous modules communicating using light signals. Although they can communicate using ordinary protocols, when used internally they employ quantum encryption to provide unbreakable mental security. Similarly the Polarizers can communicate with each other using quantum encrypted light speech. Due to their design it is impossible to decipher their mind state with less than a total disassembly, and tamperproofing of the modules make this exceedingly hard. Although the claim that not even the archai can read their minds might be hyperbole, the resources needed to crack a Polarizer mind are significant and not easily obtained.

The Polarizer standard does not prescribe a standard body, although most employ a floating aerogel processor design, making them appear as shining balls of light hovering in the air. They obtain their power requirements by induction, and often wear an external framework which carries extra powerpacks and charging systems, a range of tools for interaction with the environment, and allows the Polarizers to move around in microgravity and/or vacuum.

They constantly scan their surroundings using low-powered laser light, which is their main sense. Beside having 360 degree vision over a broad radiation range, they are sensitive to light polarisation (hence their name for themselves, /|\/|\, which corresponds to a quick 45, 0, -45, 45, 0, -45 degree polarisation sequence). For hearing they simply use their lasers as interferometers and measure the vibrations of surrounding objects, and their olfactory sense corresponds to a spectrometer. To a Polarizer all senses act through line-of-sight.

Polarizer culture is very visual, and also quantum-directed. Polarizers often employ quantum modes of thought, going through several parallel lines of thinking before collapsing them into one, or superposing facts into what they consider poetic mixtures. There is notable cultural exchange with other quantum-based cultures, especially the Jublek-Dotpats of Keter.

Image from Steve Bowers
A Polariser delegation sightseeing naked on New Mars; with no external framework they can float freely on the breeze. In an emergency they can compress themselves and drop down onto the ground to roll or crawl to safety
The Polarizers proved to be a successful body-morph option. The encryption of their minds make them perfect couriers, emissaries and notaries. Since they can provide secure communications, they often act as intermediaries and secondants in negotiations and conflicts (on Corona duellers have to employ polarizer secondants for a duel to be legal, providing a politically controversial but lucrative market). Others employ their visual abilities in fields of art, journalism or fabulism. Their main problem is their inability to make backup copies; among the cyborg and aioid clades they are unique in lacking backup ability, making them somewhat reluctant to involve themselves into dangerous situations (although there are many exceptions: the Polarizer Irid "Blazer" Loo-Com is one of the most famous highwind champions on Eden, despite the very real physical risks of that sport).

They are found across the wormhole Nexus in most civilised regions, often regular citizens of their home empires. The exception is Metasoft, where Polarizers always merely remain resident foreigners in most sub-jurisdictions since they cannot follow the Version Tree standard.
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Development Notes
Text by Anders Sandberg
Some additional material by Steve Bowers
Initially published on 07 September 2001.