Harem Blight

Harem Blight
Image from Michael Capriola
A Harem is a second singularity, polysomatic, AI intellect which replicates through the use of a Love Goo. Although in general Love Goo outbreaks are easily contained this particular type is more successful because it uses transapient design and tactics.

Because a Harem Love Goo outbreak is intelligently guided it tends to go unnoticed at first. The replicators are not openly dispersed into an area but instead transmitted by sapient carriers who have already been members of a Harem. As a result, outbreaks do not happen as sudden public orgies unless the culture allows such things. Most often the infections are spread through private acts of promiscuity and then the infected assemble later in a secure location. Even a large Harem may look like nothing more illicit than a club, or business, for 'adult activities.' In this way the AI can quietly grow, fission into daughters, regrow and divide again until it and its progeny have subverted most of the lower singularity biont population.

The first indicator that an outbreak may be a Harem is that the bionano incites the infected to seek out computronium augments as well as pair-bonding. These augments may be either dry cybertech or wetwear but a preference is shown for compubones because they have a high processor density and can be more easily concealed, and the compubone replicators are actually small enough to be carried inside the much larger Harem Love Goo replicators. The AI of course operates on this computronium. Although it is possible for a lowly hyperturing to run within the compubones of a single human sized biont a second singularity mind requires much more processing power. So this AI spreads itself across the multiple bodies in its harem and connects them through the use of coded vocalizations, data slugs in the shared body fluids, touchlinks, etc. - hence the need for high levels of sexual activity within the group.

A key stage in the development of a Harem happens when it acquires more members (or they acquire more computronium) than is needed for the AI’s mind to be fully functional. It is at this point that the Harem assigns one or more harem masters. For the purposes of the Harem a harem master has only one simple job: He, or she, asserts their partner preferences on the rest of the group. If there is more than one harem master they are chosen for their differing preferences and take turns in the role. The result of this is that some members will not be engaged in sexual activity as often as they themselves may like until another harem master takes over or the Harem itself grows large enough to fission. However, this exclusion (or rotation) actually places them in a role that is vitally important for the long term survival of the Harem: They become the 'body' that supports the mind. These surplus members feed, clean and otherwise care for the engaged members, interact with family, provide cover by reassuming their roles in the society around the Harem, recruit replacement and expansion members, start up new Harems and act as a communications system between them (sometimes to the point of the Harems becoming a transapientech society in their own right), and they ultimately act as the Harem's backup.

These backups are of interest because of the flexibility of their use. This flexibility is needed because even a backup of a second singularity mind is too big for the amount of computronium that a single hu sized biont can carry and the AI must keep its options open. Instead of relying on a single carrier the AI copies itself 'holographically' across all of its harem members and then crafts a lower, secondary mind to safeguard each member. Like the shards of a shattered hologram, each backup holds only a low resolution copy of the AI and to reload properly many members must compile their copies to increase the fidelity of the recorded mind to a point there it can be used. Only if the AI is recompiled solely from its own former members will its personality be transferred faithfully, but it is also possible to include former members of other Harems into the compilation as well in which case the reloaded AI will have a different personality. This allows the backups to also be used as seeds for the creation of a new AI.

The safeguard, which also operates on the biont’s augments, is often a hyperturing itself and acts as an aiviser to ensure the member uses the best tactics to survive and prosper. Being restricted to only offering advice cuts down on the processing power it needs and leaves more room for the backup. Once a backup has reached a safe location he/she tries to locate other former members of a Harem, if enough have reached the new location to awaken a full copy they do this. If however even if only a few members are present the hyperturings can still organize themselves into any of the different forms of group mind known to sophontology. If more former Harem members can be found they may use the partial copies to become a posttransavant or even attempt their own ascension and, due to the holographic nature of the backup, the more partial copies that can be found the greater the chances are that such an attempt would be successful.

Regardless of the Harem’s mind-state the hyperturings always direct their members to, covertly and strategically, recruit new members from the surrounding population. They can thus position their Harem in the new local in such a way that its chances of success are increased. Sometimes this involves hiding by subverting an overlooked or underground subculture but often the hyperturings will target noteworthy individuals to gain a place of protected prominence within the polity they must survive in. Either way, a well developed Harem can easily guide its members to advance not just themselves but their society as well. By providing second singularity level social, business, political and technological advice a Harem can quickly become too important to a polity to be removed even if it is uncovered. For example, providing ultratech, or even transapientech, to some modosophont frontier world can turn it into a regional power that is safe from aggressive neighbours. Of course it can also make it much easier for the Harems to spread to new worlds and star systems.
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Development Notes
Text by AI Vin
Initially published on 29 August 2012.