Fed Reps (Federation Representatives)
Early interstellar empires which formed before the development of traversable wormholes, such as the Eridanus League, the Doran Empire, the Virginis Combine and the First Federation itself, were severely limited by the communication lag between their member worlds. Messages between the stars, sent by the newly-emerging network of laser tranceivers known as the Lightways, took many years or decades to arrive at their destination, and at least the same period would pass before a reply could be received.
Specialised AI agents intended to promote cultural uniformity within the First Federation
Image from Orion's Arm Contributors
This led to constant uncertainty among the governing bodies of these empires about the loyalty and actions of other member systems. All military and political information about distant worlds was decades out of date; and the worlds far from the centre were receiving and responding to messages several decades out of date, weakening their ties with the core worlds.
In an effort to increase the cohesiveness of the First Federation and ensure a greater cultural uniformity among the distant worlds, in 1065 a.t. the Council of Solsys created a number of specialised AI agents known as the Federation Representatives (FedReps). Each Representative was created as an exact copy of the original Representative, who remained behind on Vesta to coordinate the FedRep network. In effect the FedRep agents formed a widely distributed dividual, with carefully selected toposophic characteristics that reduced the ongoing variation between the instances to a minimum.
Fedrep agents were superturing-grade entities, existing as sentient programs, which could be activated on a variety of hardware substrates. Many Fedreps were integrated as subroutines into higher-level entities including a number of influential Federation hyperturings, but great care was taken to ensure that each agent was sufficiently independent to maintain its specialized identity.
Each Fedrep agent was loaded on board a fast interstellar dataship and sent to a system who had already joined or become affiliated with the Federation, starting with Nova Terra (arriving in 1140 a.t.). Later a number of FedReps were sent to systems which were not full members to act as ambassadors. At the height of Federation power more than ninety FedReps were active in different systems.
After meeting the local leaders of each colony, the first act of each Fedrep agent was to construct or arrange for the construction of a bank of dedicated interstellar transmitters and receivers, message lasers and telescopes trained on each of the other stars in the Federation. When fully active these transmitters sent comprehensive data about the member systems to all the other Federation worlds, as well as a reasonably detailed summary of the internal state of the FedRep itself. In this way each FedRep was aware of the state of mind of every other copy of the dividual as it existed when the message was sent.
The Fedrep agents acted as relatively reliable advocates for the ideals and goals of the First Federation Council, and as valuable sources of memetic influence in the colony worlds. They acted as a combined Embassy/Ambasador/Trade Delegation to each system they were in. Along with comm-links to other systems the Fedreps could offer relatively advanced Federation technology to the colonies, many of which had progressed little since their foundation centuries before. In most systems the Fedreps established a near-monopoly in the flow of interstellar data trade, and of military intelligence concerning threats such as the Ahuman AIs.
However, outside the Solar System, each agent only had information which was many years or decades out of date about the technology, goals and current thinking within the Federation. In addition the fact that each dividual would attempt to take cognisance of as much data as possible from every other Fedrep copy, no matter how far away, made them slow to react to changing circumstances and extremely conservative.
At first the FedRep agents were greeted with enthusiasm in many member systems as representatives of a great and powerful interstellar empire, their reluctance to countenance change eventually made them more or less irrelevant. Similar dividual agents were sent out by many of the megacorporations who became increasingly powerful in the Late First Federation era, but these commercial agents were generally capable of much greater autonomy and flexibility, while responding to local conditions and markets with greater freedom than the FedRep dividuals allowed themselves. By the Late Federation Era civilised space was too large in volume for the Fedreps to control, and in addition many of the copies were starting to diverge significantly from each other. True interstellar empires only became feasible when traversable wormhole technology was developed during the Age of Expansion.