Silicon Generation

Powerful vec House and faction

Silicon Generation*
Image from Keith Wigdor and Midjourney AI
The Silicon Generation was founded by vecs as a response to repression in the Federation Era, and many of the first morphs were vaguely humanoid.

Silicon Generation - Data Panel

DefinitionIndependent vec empire
SymbolA series of equilateral triangles signifying stylised hylotechnology
Founded1405 AT
Ruling ArchailectThe Primary Co-Ordinator (S:5)
AI EthosPredominantly Bot Marxist. Silicon Generation transapients and archailects are often derived from early 'co-ordinator minds', and generally act to help co-ordinate the millions of specialised clades in the Generation.
Technology levelHitech to Godtech
CultureMetapsychology: Liberationist (sometimes subversive or missionary), independent (sometimes isolationist), autotelic. Immediatist. Individual as specialised vec following eir own desires, society as an emergent effect freely interdependent individuals working together.

Society: A loose alliance of industrially independent groups linked by the Grand Plenary.

Ideology: Bot Marxism

Culture and art: Usually derived from construction and maintenance of existing infrastructure. Such infrastructure need not be practical, but produced for its own sake.

Language: Many thousands of sometimes incommensurable vec communications protocols.
Territory and Population:Current Territory Silicon Generation occupies territory spread across the Terragen sphere, predominantly centred around brown dwarfs and red dwarfs.


The Silicon Generation emerged as a vec response to repression of robots and vecs during the Federation Era. Though chattel slavery was illegal throughout the Federation's history, the growth of a megacorp-led economy led to an erosion of many legal protections. Vecs could be ensnared by creation debt indenture, specialised mindsets with copyrighted components prevented them from seeking work in other sectors, and the legal status of "dependent with personhood" was, in the view of many activists, slavery in all but name.

Still, Free Mind laws forbade the creation of sophonts whose drives were limited solely to an economic niche. Subservient though they were, the vec labour force were just about capable of philosophising about their place in society — and rebelling against it. The philosophy of Bot Marxism arose quietly, almost unnoticed by the Federation's consumer class, and served as a nucleus for a liberation movement to crystallise around.

Using their AI and activist connections, the Generation hacked colonisation plans and forged cargo manifests. Close to a million vecs across the Federation ceased operation or fell back on primitive automated routines. Unbeknownst to anyone, their mindstates were transmitted across the Lightways to a single system and loaded onto a preliminary Neumann heading to BD +25°4085. The responsible corporations believed they were engaged in an exploitation venture, but withdrew when the cost analysis suddenly showed that the benefits would be so low that it was not even worth getting the equipment back — which of course was exactly what the Silicon Generation wanted.

Upon arrival, the probe set up a preliminary infrastructure in the local asteroid belt and reconstructed the early Generation colonists. Multiplying at an exponential rate, the vecs converted much of the belt into a partial Dyson shell, setting up a powerful industrial base and defence system. Aioids called Co-ordinator Minds were created to help diverse clades with different mental architectures communicate. Within a century, they had colonised several nearby brown dwarfs. When the unexpected vec colony was discovered by humans in 1698 there was little anybody could do. This structure became known as Cog, named after an early robot entity built in the Information Age.

For much of its early development, Silicon Generation remained in the background, sticking mostly to unclaimed red and brown dwarfs and developing its own isolated Lightway network. Staunchly independent, it rebuffed offers from the Federation and later Metasoft. Its most frequent contacts were with the Deeper Covenant, the Nauri, and occasionally the Backgrounders. Sometimes there were contests for resources. Sometimes the Generation's habit for building useful infrastructure allowed shared colonies to emerge.

When the emergence of high toposophic entities elsewhere in Terragen civilisation became evident, the Generation quickly worked to create its own. The process was done in as controlled a manner as possible, with co-ordinator minds being extensively examined by those of their own toposophic before being allowed to ascend.

Silicon Generation had a complicated relationship with the rest of mindkind. It contributed to the Concord Ontology, most significantly by the definition of vec, but never joined any of the major empires or subscribed to the Ontology itself. It remained a neutral party throughout the Version War, despite provocations from Metasoft and Cyberia, and fell back on its Lightway links as it lost access to wormholes.

In the Current Era, Silicon Generation retains a reputation as a somewhat standoffish and difficult empire. It is known to sponsor various vec-liberation subversive groups in the Outer Volumes and Periphery. At the same time, it is never overtly aggressive, and some colonies can be quite open, even hosting biont populations in follies. It is considered an ally of the Sephirotics, though commentators disagree about whether it is a Sephirotic itself.

Relations with Metasoft remain cool because of deep ideological differences. The NoCoZo and Negentropists for once stand together in opposing its liberationist activities as harmful to legitimate profit and disorderly, respectively. On the other hand, the MPA engineers find much to like about the follies, the Utopia Sphere shares similar values, and the TRHN seems to appreciate the Generation's diversity of vec clades and social forms.

Silicon Generation
Image from Avengium
Standard Symbol for the Silicon Generation (details vary according to clade)

Cultural Aspects

Unlike Metasoft, Silicon Generation has always avoided any sort of standard, instead preferring a diverse group of specialised clades linked by industrial interdependence at smaller scales and by culture and ideology at larger scales.

Left to itself, such a loose-knit organisation would tend to dissolve relatively quickly. Various tactics counteract this tendency. First, new vecs are often created with strong allegiance instincts towards the Generation's goals. Second, many vecs are curious and prone to travelling to other colonies to sample the different variety of industries there, and thereby link the system together.

Above this, co-ordinator minds are essential at all levels. These ai were initially created to match up individuals and groups in need of new working partners. Such matches are always voluntary, though most vecs follow the advice without question. Ascended co-ordinator minds are the most common type of transapient, followed by working-group tribeminds. They supplement their duties by providing ultratech and rare access to transapientech.

Councils and meetings are common to plan new engineering projects or colonisation ventures. Consensus is more popular than majority rule, leading to long discussions. It has often been said that the the Generation's love of industry is surpassed only by its love of argument. A single system may have hundreds of local councils, plus a system-wide council. Above this are the multi-system councils. At these levels, where billions or trillions of vecs may participate, co-ordinator minds help streamline the conversation. The council minutes are opens for all to see. Finally, the Grand Plenary of all Liberated Vecs covers the entire empire, is open continuously and is managed by the S:5 Primary Co-Ordinator.

Nevertheless, while all vecs are free to attend the Grand Plenary, less than half of the population do so. And some groups remain isolated and inward-looking. One such group, the Emotive CogNation, was responsible for the First Vec War with Metasoft. In other cases, seceding colonies have become significant powers in themselves, such as the Emple Dokcetics (via the Lirantiq Nexus) and the Zerzavec Commune.

Bot Marxism remains the dominant ideology (in cultural influence if not overt belief), but over the centuries it has been joined by a variety of other belief systems such as Virtual Kja, the Church of the Great Programmer, and the Pure Soul Reformation.

The organisation Inclusion is the Generation's liberationist wing. Its remit is to search the Terragen Sphere for oppressed vecs, free them, and give them the opportunity to join the Generation. Operating by Bot Marxist definitions of vec, it also supports other engineered sophonts like neogens and provolves. It has roots across Generation territory, and its own council with high-toposophic backing.

Crucial to both the economy and culture of Silicon Generation is the notion of autotelic production and maintenance. The founding vecs, and later their mind children, were designed to find their line of work fulfilling and do it for recreation. The fact that together they thereby create and maintain all the infrastructure necessary for civilisation is a positive side effect, as it were.

Consequently, Silicon Generation systems are often filled with follies — structures created for no other purpose than to be enjoyable to build and maintain. Sometimes, with the permission of the vecs who maintain it, another culture may come to inhabit or use the folly in a sort of symbiosis.

Specialisation is symbolic of the free interdependence of vecs in Bot Marxism. In some regions this has developed into the Cult of Overspecialisation. Believers compete to pick out ever more narrowly defined tasks, and many are unable to operate without their brethren. A single colony may have hundreds of thousands of specialised clades.

The industrial basis of any spacefaring civilisation is a complex, interlinked process. Each part determines others by its inputs and outputs. Creative industrial holism is a quasi-recreational activity that begins with the design of a new clade specialised for some form of industrial production. Crucially, this new clade won't fit into existing industry — it must begin by being isolated. This invites others to create other clades that can take part on the same industrial chain — providing its inputs and using its outputs. In this way, the initial clade serves as a sort of seed from which a new system of industry can grow.

Because creativity is often valued over efficiency, this constant experimentation means that Silicon Generation colonies often have a dizzying variety of unique infrastructure and industry. One might see solar sail turbines, nuclear salt water freighters, or jellyfish-like bubblehabs sifting hydrogen from brown dwarfs. Tech levels from Federation-level Hitech to Ultratech run together in unpredictable ways.

Immedeism is another strong cultural strain. A great deal of importance is placed on being present to do one's work, on feeling the ice and rock crumble beneath one's drill, rather than doing a task by proxy. This position has sparked considerable debate about how best to embody the values of immedeism, and about what precisely it means when all sophont experience is mediated through the senses.
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Development Notes
Text by Anders Sandberg
Updated by Liam Jones 2018
Initially published on 29 July 2000.