Environmental Optimization Protocols

Specialized software coding designed to modify a sophont's local environment for maximum comfort and enjoyment

living space
Image from Juan Ochoa
The original environmental optimization protocols were developed during the Interplanetary Age and were designed to maintain and control the environmental machinery of various types of habitats and spacecraft. Initially fairly crude and limited to simple habitat-wide adjustments of temperature, pressure, and lighting, the technology gradually developed ever finer levels of control and as a consequence ever greater options for personalization.

Using a combination of simple nanotechnology and wireless networking it was possible by the mid-Interplanetary Age for a well-off individual to enter a properly equipped locale, such as a hotel or resort, and have their room automatically reconfigure itself to their preferred color scheme, temperature, and choice of electronic entertainment and artwork options before they had even reached it, the preset preference data being contained in the user's personal profile and transmitted to the hotel's computers at the moment of check in. For wealthy individuals this convenience could be carried even further, with a user's personal profile containing a list of the sophont's favorite food recipes and drink preferences, any or all of which could be prepared on the spot by dedicated chefs and mixologists working from a customized menu generated for the user at meal time.

As is the case with so many technologies, such "environmental optimization devices" were spread widely and consequently dropped in price. What had been the purview of the very wealthy and then the well-to-do moved into the realm of the common professional sophont and then became standard for all. And of course the technology continued to advance.

By the time of the Technocalypse, it was not uncommon for a sophont to not only have their surroundings and meals (usually nano-synthesized) customized to their preferences wherever they went, but their clothing as well. Most sophonts who spent any significant amount of time traveling, whether for business or pleasure, maintained an extensive data base of clothing designs, any of which could be rapidly created by autotailors or specialized nanofabs, both of which were readily available and provided services at very modest prices. Certainly far less than the cost of transporting a box full of clothing across even planetary distances, let alone interplanetary. And the wealthiest individuals could spend their time in luxurious utility fog equipped surrounds, in which practically everything one experienced could be customized.

The Technocalypse brought the development and use of environmental optimization technologies to an abrupt halt for a period of some centuries. However, the technology was eventually revived and this time came all the way into its own, primarily due to the transapient creation of angelnets. It was at this time that the concept of an "environmental optimization protocol" evolved.

In their most complete form, Environmental Optimization Protocols are designed to provide a sophont with a virtually "perfect" environment at all times and in all ways, with no deliberate commands from the user. Using the dense network of sensors and nanoprocessors already contained within an angelnet as well as sensors infused throughout the brain and body of the sophont living within it, the angelnet continuously monitors the being's physical and mental condition and modifies the local environment accordingly to produce an optimized experience. All aspects of the sophont's existence, including temperature, direction and intensity of lighting and air currents, and even what they see, hear, and smell is continuously adjusted from moment to moment to provide the most pleasurable possible experience. By monitoring the sophont's physiology the system can detect when they are about to reach a state of hunger or thirst sufficient to trigger a desire for refreshment and provide precisely the item the sophont will find most satisfying. Living within the embrace of an angelnet running an Environmental Optimization Protocol a sophont will never experience environmental discomfort unless they wish to. And because an angelnet permits completely personalized environmental control, even multiple sophonts living together can each experience optimized living conditions with no interference from their companions' environmental surrounds.

Although it might seem that living within an angelnetted environment running an optimization protocol would be an addictive and likely detrimental experience, in practice this is rarely the case. Most sophonts rapidly tire of an endless string of "perfect" and perfectly artificial experiences and choose to either deactivate or limit their local protocols. The most common reaction is to restrict the use of EOPs to specific times, such as holidays and celebrations, or places such as resorts, social gathering complexes, and (on a more personal level) sleeping and bathing facilities.

Even in those areas where Environmental Optimization Protocols are used almost continuously an interesting phenomenon has often been observed to arise. Sensing their user's imminent discomfort and boredom with never-ending "perfect" experiences, many angelnets will adjust themselves accordingly and begin to produce random periods of less than optimized conditions, thereby providing the sophont with just enough discomfort to provide a "perfect" amount of variety.

Environmental Optimization Protocols are by no means considered an ideal solution by all. Many cultures consider them an overindulgence or a sign of weakness and decadence in the users. Other, usually hu supremacist or supremacist sympathetic cultures, worry that the supposedly benign protocols are actually a poison pill used by the archai to control and manipulate modosophonts. In their view, the seemingly "perfect" environment is actually a tool to help the "false gods" maintain their oppressive grip on the hearts and minds of their perfectly duped subjects. The majority of Terragen civilization finds such paranoia quaintly amusing, of course.
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Development Notes
Text by Todd Drashner
Initially published on 23 November 2009.