/|\/|\ (Aka Polarizers, lightballs)
Image from Steve Bowers
A Polariser delegation sightseeing on New Mars

Many clades have been so worried by the risks of mind-tampering and various forms of information gathering that they have turned to encrypted thought processes. Beside the Xo La Y and the Vore Abergist , the /|\/|\ are the most well-known example of encrypted minds.

The /|\/|\ emerged in the 5600's as a number of Inner Sphere nanocyborg clades began to explore the possibilities of encrypted minds. Over a span of several centuries the various standards coalesced, resulting in the basic /|\/|\ mind design. It was 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 /|\/|\ 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 /|\/|\ are significant and not easily obtained.

The /|\/|\ standard does not prescribe a standard body, although most employ a floating nanoaerogel design making them appear as shining balls of light hovering in the air. 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 /|\/|\ all senses act through line-of-sight.

/|\/|\ culture is very visual, and also quantum-directed. /|\/|\ 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.

The /|\/|\ proved to be a successful clade. 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 /|\/|\ 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 /|\/|\ 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 the /|\/|\ 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
Initially published on 07 September 2001.