Vignettes from OA
Vignettes from OA by John B (2008)

Image from Steve Bowers
"Hello, and welcome to the transmission."

"Thank you, Jocosta. I appreciate you taking the time to invite me."

"It's our honor to have you. I understand that you'd like to start this interview with a prepared statement?"

"If you don't mind, yes, I would."

"Please, feel free."

"Very well then. Greetings, I am Gerald Montesquieu the third. Rather, I will become Gerald Montesquieu the third, once the modern outdated legal system recognizes me as a separate individual. As it is now, I am considered an unperson, even though I have been fully, demonstrably self aware since 2234.111! This is barbaric, and in some cases actually becomes a legal form of slavery. I'm just exceedingly glad that I'm in the situation I'm in - but I would much prefer to be considered a person, rather than just a 'lump of flesh', in the inimitable words of my distinguished opponent Dr Gramna."

"Well, that was certainly delivered with the emotional emphasis of a well balanced sophont, Mr Montesquieu."

"Please, call me Gerald."

"Thank you, Gerald. Obviously, this is a tender subject for you, but I'd be remiss in my duties to my receivers if I didn't ask what your opinion of Dr Gramna's assertion that your sapience is no greater than that of your implants?"

"You're right, Dr Gramna's position is rather personally upsetting. First off, ever since the first mental implants became available, the qustion of sapience has become less one of where the intellect resides and more of a question as to its capability. It is true that the implants within my skull are quite effective in increasing both the range of intellectual capability, and also obviously, grants me an to communicate with you today which I'd not otherwise currently have.

"However, I would like to point out that these implants which I have been given are nothing new, there's no groundbreaking science involved here. In fact, I'd be surprised if any of your receivres were using a retrieval method OTHER than technologically similar implants to garner this interview!

"Second off, the ancient Turing test and its more accurate descendants are relevant here. Regardless of how intellect is formed, if it can be said to be sapient with regards to those tests, by current legal practice it IS a sophont. The problem is that the rate of change of our lives is so great that the laws are having considerable difficulty in keeping up with the technological changes.

"Final point, hopefully without boring your receivers..."

"No, Gerald - this is all quite fascinating actually, and well thought out, by the way."

"Thank you, Jocosta. Final point, and it's an expansion of the other two - if it is illegal to maintain captivity of a sentient algorithm within a system, and considered a felony to willfully terminate such a sophont's access to external perceptions, prosecutable under the same legislation as murder or unlawful imprisonment respectively - where is the difference between a computer and a pre-born human?"

"Excellent question, especially since I've just gotten back the medical interpretation of the NeoSQuID scan of your implants and neural matter. It seems that there is no causal link between your implants' processing of data and your neural matter's processing of data."

"Wha... what? That wasn't part of the appearance contract!"

"Yes, Gerald, it was - non-intrusive electromagnetic medical investigation at the discretion of the transmitter. NeoSQuID scanning is non-intrusive, and it is an electromagnetic medical perceptive technique. I see from message traffic that Dr Gramna is overjoyed to learn this. Regardless, it appears that your intellect is quite safe. In my opinion, of course - we'll send this through the legal system for you, if you'd like our assistance with the matter, Gerald, but the same legislation which protects the intellects inside computers should be applicable to your case."

"Well, I must say that that's something of a relief, but it's still a shock to find that you're more an AI than a neural intellect."

"As you pointed out earlier, with implants becoming as good as they are, it's getting harder and harder to draw a clear line. Unfortunately, that's all the time we have for this interview. Next up - The best implantabl technologies for unborn children. Our rating system is based on legal applications, technological soundness, and proven stability within the growing fetus. Stay receptive to us!"

The Jocosta Orchid Transmissions, live transcript, 2234.112214999-112215

Author's Note - one billionth of a year - .000000001 - equates to slightly more than .03 seconds. The miracle of faster thought processing and data transmission, and the absolute horror of those addicted to published guides for locating information.

"Gentlebeings - welcome to the two hundred and thirtieth board meeting of Gallabast and Descendants. We'd like to take this time to thank you for your support of our corporation over the last reporting period. Without further ado, allow me to pass the meeting to Gallabast itself."

Greetings, investors. over the last twenty three reporting periods, we have shown a positive five percent growth. that is no longer the case. this reporting period, we are proud to report a twenty three decimal zero two percent growth in the firm. the exact details of how we have achieved this growth are proprietary, but we have recently been r-rated by both the investor protection corporation and the financial soundness boards at a higher rating. specifically, the investor protection corporation has upgraded our status one complete half point, and the financial soundness board has seen fit to increase our rating in their scale from 'solid' to 'rock solid.'

***additional information is available at the standard rates, and our business plan with full details is now also available at a flat per-sophont rate with the affermation of a standard non-competition clause. please be aware that all corporate proprietary data is under the aegis of memeguard, inc with assistance from various other corporate entities as contracted. this concludes the two hundred and thirtieth board meeting of galabast and descendants. normal business now resumes.

"With the greening of the outsystem, we may expect a rapid increase in belt-bourne life. Profitable, taxable groups will supercede the current scattered 'hider' clades and the other miscellaneous unprofitable organizations. With the addition of the oxyfruit line of astragens and a mass production plant for high efficiency solar power and/or dilute magflux generators, the carbonaceous and hydro bodies we currently control will rapidly become valuable assets.

"The problems with this approach are few, but still potentially worrisome. There is evidence of limited nanofacture from at least one hider clade, and signs of imported nanotic devices associated with several others. The mysterious jupiter-node in the outer system appears to be capturing non-sentient, non-life-supporting matter within a light-second and refining it, perhaps in defensive or growth modes. Finally, the system purists have put the local media outlets on alert that if the greening begins there will be some significant memetic assaults made against us.

"These threats can be rated relatively. If the jupiter node is, as some speculate, a godtech device, there is little we can do about its dicta. On the positive side, it has made no demands as of this time, nor has its rate of growth or mass absorption noticeably changed. Thus, our greatest danger may not exist except in our own predictive software. The system purists are probably the next most dangerous, as their activities could directly impact our funding and social guidance. Finally, the hider clades are the least likely to be a problem, as there is so little evidence of their achieving modern levels of technology."

- Holographically recovered private briefing materials directed to the board of developments at System Developments, NBB&P, dated shortly before the nanoclysm of the Delta Hrudlu system and its translation/absorption by the Diamond Belt intellect tentatively identified as "Biointerrupt"

...were giants in those days, two huge giants who kept threatening each other with their spears of destruction. These giants were huge, larger than the Mountain! We know this because they threw small clans to the moon, and because their spears could reach across the planet in the blink of an eye!

Not only could they strike at each other from the far corners of the earth, these spears' least miss would spoil the land they struck, rendering it unable to grow food fit for man, or for beast. Thank GAIA that we don't need to worry about that today!

The world, of course, was very uneasy under the tread of giants such as this, and the various tribes and clans and bloodlines fought to get out from under the giants' feet. Legend tells us it is not pleasant, being stepped on by a giant. Occasionally one of the giants would drop to a knee and ask one of the tribes to do something for it - perhaps bring back a piece of the other giant's droppings or hair. For some of the braver yet less wise tribes, a giant might even offer something wonderful if the tribe was to stab the other giant in the toe!

Some of the tribes took these offers, or so say the legends. Yet of those tribes, none survive. It is not wise to make such deals with giants.

Eventually, something happened between the giants, and one fell and broke apart, becoming many tribes on the face of GAIA. As it fell, its dread spear fell as well, shattering into many tiny pieces, pieces almost big enough for a tribe to use! The other giant and all the other tribes were worried that one of these new tribs might use these spear bits, or give them to other tribes. The people were worried as some tribes took to the Way of the Shadow and began reaching for pieces of the shattered spear.

Some feared that these of the Shadow would use their spear-bits n other tribes that they had feuded with, blighting the face of the GAIA. Others worried that they might try to wound or even kill the other giant, causing it to tumble to the ground. GAIA shook when the first giant broke apart, but had mostly been held together by GAIA's great heart - some were afraid that even GAIA might break were the second giant to come apart. Yet other tribes wanted some of these spear bits for themselves, to threaten any tribe or the giant which scared them. These tribes are the first we know of to be called mad.

What happened next? It is simple, children. What happens next is that children sleep, and the dawn breaks again, and GAIA watches over us, and some other time the story continues, or starts again. Sleep well, children for we have GAIA, not giants, and her touch brings life, not death.

--- Traditional baseline folktale edutainment, as recorded & translated 4,074 by cislunar tourists to Earth.

Design Notes - inspired by a carefully crafted throw-away line in Robert Jordan's "The Wheel of Time")

Today I think I'll upgrade a little.

My status displays indicate that both subconsciously and physically acceptance of the latest implant is complete, and that it has successfully merged within my persona with minimal restructuring. There's more self-repair to be done, but it requires time only, not active processing. It was hard, working the new mental muscles the implant brought with it, but I think it's got a handle on the new memory recall, filling in extra details I'd noticed but am otherwise unable to retrieve. And, according to the literature, it'll just keep on getting more detailed, as long as I keep up with its storage needs. Shouldn't be too hard.

Backup memory sources - don't leave your skull without them!

Should I go with additional perceptions? Add the near-IR optics, perhaps? Useful in spotting active systems - that'd fit in with the job, maybe they'd toss in a bit on the purchase. Let's see, how'd that uplink work? Oh, yeah.

++link up
++requery - include type - brand - cost - see also supported
++ Cryo! They support a LOT of implants!

sort//only for my job
++ Not so many, but still a lot more than I could afford otherwise. Oh, this's so streaming! Let's see... optics. Coprocessors. Dedicated processors, slave processors, interface upgrades. Tactile upgrade - wow, really? Hypertouch and microcontol?

Now that's just neat - being able to weigh sand and count the grains. It'll be neat with a lover, too. Heh. Let's see - 75% discount!!! Wooo!! What's this mean...

++definition: Standard contract extention required for a minimum of 5
years or 200 specific pro-work 10% or higher efficiency upgrade uses,
as graded by internal work monitor per corporation policy

Oooo... Rough terms. Unless - lessee...

filtermeaning//"pro-work 10% or higher efficiency upgrade
++Not available. Suggest query primeinternal work monitordefinitions
++definition: A specific task which takes no more than 90% of the time
it would require without the augmentation, or occurs at no more than
90% of the external cost it would require without the augmentation
!!WARNING~~note wording~~additional query required~~Are specific tasks
repeatable or only valid for count-one task?

Sneaky... Glad I paid for that overwatch processor!


++Poor definition of query. Please be more specific.
!!WARNING~~entering legal definition space~~suggest either hiring
access to legal expert system or foregoing query
!!Additional Warning~~legal expert system must be corp bound
!!Additional Warning~~Only one corp bound legal expert system
available. Rates approximate 25% of implant cost for tasking of this

Well, I guess there really isn't such a thing as a free lunch, h'mm? Let's see what else they offer...

---Fragment of "A moment in the life", dated approximately 5,800, unknown Core World

Jooma flickered the magfield on the catcher, allowing the leading disabler to pass through without capture but snagging the Good Bit neatly. The betting lights flashed in her peripheral vision, showing fairly heavy traffic - very heavy for a first-round contest. A well-coded flick of her wrist brought the Good Bit down and out, slipping between two of the three orbiting disablers and out of the path of the follow-on. The link lights went solid for a good half second. Someone was very interested in this game - and was making a killing doing so.

Jooma popped a smokecloud at the front edge of her zone, and began crafting the return packet. Having one good packet in without any disablers was a big advantage in physnet. She could afford to get creative at this point. Instead of the prototypical leader-follower structure, Jooma set up three disablers in timed close orbit of the Good Bit, each orbit crossing orthogonally to the others. This was something she'd been practicing hard at mastering, according to the flickers of recall at the edge of her perception. Shortly after she got the second disabler in the proper orbit, the link lights went solid green.

The third one was trickier - much trickier. Not onlydid it have to be an almost perfectly circular orbit, it had to be timed to bypass both other two disablers, but without leaving a gap that would be easy to slip the Good Bit out of. Some veeeeeeeery careful magfield manipulations later, all three were spinning nicely. Jooma took a deep breath, and smiled. Halfway home.

She reviewed an image of the field, and aimed carefully. A very strong flick of her wrist and the fourth disabler went out on a complex bounce path towards her opponent. A second, stronger flick sent the last one she had on a path that had multiple intersects with the first.

Carefully, she magfielded the orbitting mess with a delicately pulsing catcher and a wildly flailing arm. Gently, slowly she pushed it forward. It began drifting towards the other side at less than a meter a second. As soon as it was clear of the smokecloud, Jooma cancelled the opacity, letting her watch her opponent dodging the zig-zag kinetic antics of the two leading disablers. The timing was perfect - her opponent caught a glimpse of the Good Bit, wrapped tight in all 3 dimensions, and visibly blanched. Jooma grinned hugely behind her mask as they stopped dodging for a moment, and the first disabler shut down a fifth of the opponent's maneuver jets. Reminded most cruelly of what was going on, the opponent started to sideslip, but too many jets on th front edge had been disbled, causing the opponent to start to spin. The second disabler just slipped by, missing by milimeters.

Her opponent started to stabilize, carefully mapping the jets available after the brush. When they had managed to get themselves more or less sorted out (bouncing around the active disabler a couple more times) the Good Bit had just crossed over into their half of the court.

Jooma's opponent slid forward, carefully balancing jets, and matched velocities with the Good Bit, which had a good 30 seconds to hit the far wall, disqualifying any further catch. Unable to directly affect the disablers, they tried to quickly adapt to the new orbital pattern. Jooma's eyes gleamed as the free disabler bounced off the edge of a frame behind her opponent and headed straight towards her opponent's back. It struck her opponent in the hip, shutting down more of their jets, sending the link lights up into the amber. Jooma was excited - her memory held no game which had even flickered amber before, and here she was with...

The second impact must have shut down more of her opponent's front jets on the same side, as they appeared to be having difficulty in correcting their spin. And their spin was taking them directly into the path of the other three disablers!

Something happened that Jooma had only heard about, never witnessed. The link lights went a solid, baleful red. Jooma's problems were over - funds wouldn't be an issue ever again. But she still wanted to win, needed to win something of value.

She held her breath as her opponent slowly, frantically drifted closer and closer, twisting and firing jets rapidly, trying to find some way out of the predicament... and failing.

A perfect game! Jooma couldn't have been happier! And now...

The simulation ended, and just one of many androids unhooked the sim plugs. It was uncertain - this competition made no sense. Why had the opponent in the sim chosen such a blatantly suboptimal initial packet? Why did their movement cease at such a crucial time? How could such crude physical interaction generate what appeared to be resources for the persona?

Human sports appeared definitely suboptimal to just one of many androids. Perhaps the next research period would bring clarification to the reasons behind 26th century human sports motivations. Perhaps not.

- Memory record transcribed in Sim Hall 313, Level 2, MetaSoft collective AG5G2

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