Technology Main Image
Image from Bernd Helfert

Technology - An evolving process of invention; the creation of tools and devices to shape and control the environment. Technology can be as simple as the use of naturally occurring sticks and rocks, or as complex as archai built godtech. Technology is a defining mark of some (but by no means all) sophont species and civilizations.

Technosphere -

[1] The interconnected matrix of technology that pervades known space under transapient supervision and control. Whole layers of sentience, technology, and virtuality are embodied and encoded here.

[2] The technological infrastructure that supports the everyday functioning of galactic society.

[3] An expanding sphere of civilization/technology, spreading outwards using von Neumann Probes or simple colonization. In most cases, it will gradually restructure matter and energy inside itself in various ways.

For thousands of years, throughout the known galaxy, technology has enabled the colonisation of solar systems and the spread of life and intelligence. In its application and purpose, in the depth of control it offers over matter and energy, in its toposophic level, and in the basic materials that it is built from or works with, technology demonstrates a variety, complexity, and scale rivaled only by life itself. The type and level of technology determines the capabilities of a society and the type of subsapient, sophont, and transapient beings that are able to comfortably exist within it. Often several technology types will coexist on a single world or habitat or within a single star system.

Core Technologies

Interior of Fata Morgana II Cylinder
Image from Steve Bowers

Eight core technologies form the material basis of Terragen civilization:
  • Nanotechnology
  • Biotechnology
  • Computronium
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Robotics
  • Virtual Reality
  • Metric Engineering
  • Spacecraft
Nanotechnology -

Nanotechnology may be biologically or mechanically based, although in practice these two tend to blur. What all nanotech has in common is the ability to manipulate matter on the scale of individual atoms, and thus to construct almost anything that can physically exist. In practice, nano-assemblers require the correct template or instructions and building material or feedstock. Even basic nanotechnology, often working in combination with robotics, provides an amazingly powerful and efficient tool for producing goods and manipulating the material world.

The introduction of the first crude nanotechnology during the 21st and 22nd centuries of Old Earth and Interplanetary Age civilization was hailed by many as the greatest revolution since the introduction of technology itself, and perhaps since the emergence of life on Earth. Even so, nanotech was an evolution rather than a revolution, and emerged from the pre-existing knowledge and devices.

Biotechnology -

Biotechnology includes everything from simple agriculture and animal domestication through genetics and organ transplants to advanced gengineering, provolution, neogenics and beyond.

Biotech is as creative as life itself. In the ten and a half millennia since the first crude attempts at gene-splicing on Old Earth, trillions of species of bioengineered organisms have been created, or have evolved from gengineered neogens. These range from the eternally young and cute Metaneko kitten to supercomputing bacteria to lickersucker domestic cleaners and grukovores acting as ecological maintenance machines, to say nothing of the billions of organisms designed simply for the sake of bringing a new species into the galaxy.

Computronium -

"Computronium" is a catchall term for a wide range of 'substances' comprised of very densely packed computational elements. From a human baseline's macro-scale point of view, they appear to be a continuous solid or gel-like material, much like human brain matter. Computronium is extremely fast and efficient and the huge number of processing units per unit volume means only a small amount is generally necessary for most tasks.

Like all computer equipment, there are many different grades and implementations, ranging over all levels of technology.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) -

Artificial Intelligence involves programming computers, non-sentient virtuals, nano, and bots to emulate sophont cognitive abilities, and eventually to acquire sophonce in their own right. It involves a large number of interrelated fields, including fuzzy logic, genetic algorithms, neural networks, pattern recognition, natural language processing, etc. AI comes in a variety of forms and levels of intelligence and is one of the most ubiquitous and deeply embedded technologies in civilization, used for everything from system spanning angelnets to personal virtual pets. In the Current Era, software packages are available that can automatically provolve non-sentient computational devices and programs into fully sophont members of society.

Robotics -

Robotics is the application of artificial intelligence to the control of machines; the art, science, and technology of designing and manufacturing robots and vecs. The field encompasses myriad diverse sub-parts, including bionics and biomimesis, navigation systems, sensors, pattern recognition methods, servos, molectronics, real-time control, autonomous behavior, aioid software, virch and utility fog simulations, and more.

Modern robots generally operate in symbiotic combination with nanotechnology. They may appear in almost any shape or form, from simple geometric shapes to everchanging masses of fog or liquid or gel - and everything in between. Depending on their function, robots may range from tens of nanometers to thousands of kilometers in their major dimensions.

Virtual Reality -

A virtual reality environment provides a convincing replacement for the visual, auditory, tactile, and other senses, including senses with no 'real world' equivalent. Initially (early Information Age), virtual reality required the use of bulky helmets to fully experience it. However, by the middle Information Age, interface technology had improved to the point where VR access could be provided by ubiquitous contact-lens-based systems and implanted retinal-imaging devices, as well as comparable devices for auditory and tactile "imaging". By the early Interplanetary Age, virch interfacing by direct stimulation of nerve pathways using neural implants had become the norm and the range, scale, and level of detail of the 'virtual world' had advanced to the point where the very best systems could produce limited experiences that were virtually indistinguishable from 'reality.'

If the Current Era, the Cybercosm contains more virtual environments then there are stars in the galaxy and is home to the vast majority of the Terragen population. Sophonts live their lives surrounded by augmented reality overlays and direct information feeds into their minds and anyone who wishes to may 'teleport' instantly into any of trillions of digital universes just by thinking about it.

Wormholes -

Traversable wormholes allow apparent 'faster-than-light' travel between two points in the Universe. A wormhole has two 'mouths' connected to each other via the wormhole 'throat,' which is kept open via the natural vacuum fluctuations of space-time. By entering one of the wormhole mouths and traveling through the warped space of the wormhole throat to the other mouth (a distance of anywhere from a few hundred meters to a few tens of kilometers), a signal or space vessel can quickly 'shortcut' between two locations separated by immense distances in 'normal space' without violating Special Relativity. Traversable wormholes are the only possible way to travel or send information between two points in less time than it takes a photon making the same trip through 'flatspace'. For various reasons, including virtual particle flooding and the formation of Cauchy horizons, wormholes cannot be used as time machines.

Spacecraft -

It is said that without ships there could be no galactic civilization. Information transfer through laser link and nanogauge wormhole alone is usually sufficient; but physical transport by spaceship is necessary to fully explore the galaxy and bind it together. The type of ship design, function, and drive has varied greatly throughout history and among the different polities, clades, cultures, and societies, but all ships serve a vital common purpose. Nothing symbolizes Terragen civilization as perfectly as the Ship.

Technology Scales

Planckscale1e-35 meters - The scale of strings, branes, and the quantum foam (from which wormholes are commonly extracted).
Attoscale1e-18 meters - The subatomic scale. The smallest magatoms have diameters of 3e-19 meters. No form of complex technology is known or rumored to work at this scale.
Femtoscale1e-15 meters - The atomic nucleus and/or the protons and neutrons that make it up. It is sometimes rumored that the archai wield technologies that operate at the femtoscale, but there is no credible evidence of this.
Picoscale1e-12 meters - The hydrogen atom as well as the wavelengths of X-rays and gamma rays. Some magmatter devices operate at the picoscale, although the extreme densities and energies associated with magmatter limit such technology to specialized applications and environments.
Nanoscale1e-9 meters - The DNA helix, many viruses, and the wavelength of the optical spectrum (baseline human version). The basic components of nanotechnology operate at this scale, although most complex nanodevices have dimensions measured in tens or hundreds of nanometers.
MesoscaleRange - 1e-9 to 1e-6 meters - usually around 1e-7 meters - Mesobots and MEMS of various types and capabilities. Colloquial term denoting anything larger than the nanoscale and smaller than the microscale. The exact size depends heavily on the context.
Microscale1e-6 meters - Bacteria, the water droplets in natural fog, and baseline human hairs. Microelectronics, microbots and finely structured materials all operate on the microscale and have been common among Terragens since the Information Age.
MacroscaleIntermediate between the micro- and the megascale. Generally, anything from 1e-3 to 1e4 meters. Macroscale tech tends to be 'dumb' (unable to react to the environment), unless it is informed by and built up from micro- meso- and nano-scale components.
MegascaleRange - > 1e4 meters with no upper limit. Space habitats, industrial facilities, and some spacecraft. Megascale constructs are built at all S-levels although the largest and/or most complex are usually created by transapients and archai.

Technology Levels

Shepherd Cube
Image from Steve Bowers

Technology used in the Terragen Sphere varies from simple stone age implements to miraculous-seeming "godtech" devices that are incomprehensible to ordinary sophonts. The type of tech used is determined by available resources and information, the choices of a society or of its transapient managers, and by the highest toposophic level of its members. A society and the level of the technologies it uses are profoundly related.

Representative Technologies by S-Level

Bronx Static rings
Image from Steve Bowers

The following is not intended to be an exhaustive listing of all the technologies employed by a particular Singularity Level, but rather a representative sampling. Bold entries indicate that the technology is low-ground ultratech - able to be used, manufactured, or even - in principle - invented by sophonts of a lower S-level, even if the higher S-level actually did so first. The details of this process can be complex, with most ultratech only being accessible in some fashion to the next lower S-level, while a few technologies may actually bridge two entire S-levels. In all cases, the qualitative and quantitative properties of the higher S-level version of the technology (complexity, output, quality, etc.) will be superior to even the best efforts of the lower S-levels unless limited by the laws of physics themselves.

Subsingularity/Modosophont (S0) Technologies

Energy and PropulsionNuclear fusion reactor/rocket | Antimatter mass production/rocket | Boostbeam | Room temperature superconductor | High efficiency (approx. 80 percent) solar collector | Plasma conduit | Beamed energy transmission | Laser ionization of interstellar medium | Magnetic drive sail | Interstellar travel (Low to medium velocity)
Materials and ManufacturingIndustrial production of carbon nanotube, graphene, and diamondoid | Autofabricator | Neumann self-replicating system | Forge Integrated Technology (FIT)
Information and ComputingTuringgrade and Superturing artificial intelligence | Direct Neural Interface | Exocortex/Exoself | Technotelepathy | Virtual reality | Robotics (synsect, blockbot, gelbot, etc.) | Mind Uploading (Destructive, Gradual, and Non-Destructive) | Backup and Copy | Optical phased array
Engineering and InfrastructureSpace elevator | Basic mass-stream supported structures (Orbital ring, Lofstrom loop, Supramundane plates and shells, Space fountain | Beamrider Network | Lightways | Utility fog/Smart matter/Basic angelnetting | Weather machine | Terraforming | Worldhouse | Bubblehab | Space habitats (O'Neill cylinder, Bishop ring, Mckendree cylinder, Diskworld, Freesphere, etc.)
Biotechnology and MedicineMedisystem | Biological immortality | Bodymod | Handtech | Genetic engineering (Nearbaselines, Superiors, Tweaks, Dyson tree, etc.) | Genestick | Anthropic provolution | Lazurogenics (basic) | Engenerator and Engeneration technology | Synthetic biology
WeaponsLaser weapons (Handheld and larger) | Basic particle beam weapons | Fusion explosive | Antimatter flechette | Boom bullet | Autowar | Guard security and war bots | Goo weapons (basic - limited replication) | Warchive

First Singularity/Low Transapient (S1) Technologies

Energy and PropulsionProton-proton fusion | Magnetic ramscoop | RAIR | Interstellar travel (medium to low relativistic) | Quantum impeller | Transfer plane
Materials and ManufacturingArtificial nucleosynthesis | Drexlerian swarm/goo type nanotechnology | Control methods for nano and synsect swarms of arbitrary size, environmental variability, and flexibility | Quantum nanotechnology
Information and ComputingMolecular computing and data storage | Rewrite | Binding | Perception hacking | Robot bush (10hr replication cycle) | Optical molasses | Bi-modal plasma energy/data systems
Engineering and InfrastructureHyperfog | Terraforming swarm | Self-replicating fusion reactor | Stellification engine | Chaos wand | Matrioshka Micronode | Starlifting | Dyson swarm
Biotechnology and MedicineNeuro-potential provolution | Neogenics (basic) | Lazurogenics (advanced) | Bailout
WeaponsAdvanced goo weapons (unlimited replication) | Aerovore | Spore weapons | Autowar seed | Exotic particle beams (neutron, muon)

Second Singularity/High Transapient (S2) Technologies

Energy and PropulsionMagnetic monopole synthesis | Magnetic monopole 'breeding' | Conversion reactor | Conversion drive
Materials and ManufacturingMonopole composites | Monopole doped materials | Robot bush (30min replication cycle) | Virtual power grid | Multi-spectral optical cooling/molasses systems | Artificial black hole/Deep Well Industrial Zone
Information and ComputingUltimate chip | Quantum entangled states of arbitrary size and longevity | Plasma-based power/data hybrid systems | Quantum teleportation of complex microscopic/simple macroscale objects
Engineering and InfrastructureMatrioshka processing swarm | Matrioshka micronode | Moon-brain processing node | Bio-Geo computing node | Plasma-based 'virtual power grid' | Shkadov Thruster
Biotechnology and MedicineIgnition-level provolution | Neogenics (advanced) | Planetary ecosystem restoration
WeaponsHellbore | Boostbomb | Quantum data storage spore weapons | Nicoll-Dyson laser

Third Singularity/Godling (S3) Technologies

Energy and PropulsionQ-Mirror | 'Pac-man' conversion drive | Starspark
Materials and ManufacturingMagmatter synthesis | Magmatter-matter composites | Magmatter constructs (cables, sheets, some moderately complex devices) | Q-Ball synthesis | Gamma-ray mirror
Information and ComputingMoon-brain | Gamma-ray fiber optics | Gamma-ray laser data transmission | Gamma-ray telescopes/microscopes
Engineering and InfrastructureBanks orbital | Worldring | Ederworld | Magmatter-based stellification engine | Matrioshka hypernode (basic) | Wormhole (basic) | Plasma technology is combined with magmatter to create faster and more powerful virtual power/data networks
Biotechnology and MedicineUltimate muscle
WeaponsConversion weapon | Gamma-ray laser weapon

Fourth Singularity/Archailect (S4) Technologies

Energy and PropulsionDisplacement drive | Depleted Q-ball battery (Q-crit)
Materials and ManufacturingComplex magmatter devices | Rapid chaotic damping to cool plasma using optical fields | Void bubble | Void factory (basic) | Weylforge
Information and ComputingPlasma processor | Jupiter brain | Matrioshka brain
Engineering and InfrastructureWormhole (advanced - transport and comm-gauge) | Ringworld | Topopolis | Niven cloud habitat | Mass-stream supported Dyson sphere | Wormhole Nexus | Argus Array
Biotechnology and MedicineMagmatter-based artificial lifeforms and ecosystems
WeaponsDisplacement cannon

Fifth Singularity/Greater Archailect (S5) Technologies

Energy and PropulsionHawking's knot | Depleted Q-ball mass/energy battery (Q-black hole) | Halo drive | Space-time catapult
Materials and ManufacturingQuench field | Void pocket | Stasis bubble
Information and ComputingGodstar | Neuron star | Matrioshka Hypernode (Omega class) | God web | Self-sustaining/self-guided plasma structures. Any part of the plasma structure can be used for power, computation, or communication as needed/desired.
Engineering and InfrastructureGrazer | Void factory (advanced) | Valhalla cluster | Aksijaha | Reality Intertextualization Project
Biotechnology and MedicineFast Forward - Experimental artificial neutron star ecology
WeaponsBlack Angel | Ghostlight | Metric bomb

Sixth Singularity/Greatest Archailect (S6) Technologies

Energy and PropulsionVoid drive
Materials and ManufacturingVoid factory (space-time construct)
Information and ComputingCluster brain | W-brain | Tipler oracle
Engineering and InfrastructureSephirotic empire | Basement universe | High Road
Biotechnology and MedicineExperiments in creation of plasma-based lifeforms
WeaponsImplosion weapon | Thunderbolt | Shatterbomb

Gift Technology

Conversion Drive Ship ::
Image from Steve Bowers

Many advanced technology packages have been given as gifts from transapients to modosophonts, especially those associated with monopoles. Some so-called ultra-tech gift technologies can be replicated by modosophonts for their own use, but the original development of these technologies occurred at transapient level. It may be the case that these 'gift' technologies might eventually have been developed by modosophonts eventually, but the transapients developed them much more rapidly.

Many other god-level technologies which have been obtained by modosophonts in various ways are completely incomprehensible and resist all attempts at replication and reverse-engineering; these are known as 'black-box' tech, gift technologies which have been deliberately designed so that modosophonts can use it with varying degrees of ease. The most extreme forms of black-box tech are capable of remarkable, seemingly magical results, and are known as clarketech. Clarketech is much sought-after and can be extremely hazardous.

Gift technologies are also exchanged between higher and lower transapients and archai at various levels, making the study of technology and toposophic level particularly problematic at times.

Technology Levels in Society

Helpers Icons and Fetishes

The Compatibility Doctrine

Transapient Derived Technologies

Reverse Engineering Transapientech

  • Cryptotechnology  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Technology which is hidden, obscure, or very rare.
  • Existech - Text by Anders Sandberg in his Transhumanist Terminology
    Existential technology. Any technological framework for self-determination and mastery over one's own destiny.
  • Hyposphere - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    The technogenic infrastructure that supports the everyday functioning of galactic society. Whole layers of sentience, technology, and virtualities are embodied and encoded here.
  • Imhotep  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    [1] [historical] administrator/scribe/priest/physician/architect who designed the first pyramid.
    [2] [noun or adj.] Generic term for an exceptional su or suborg using augmented reality for eir research.
  • Industrialization - Text by Stephen Inniss, after the original by M. Alan Kazlev
    The development of a manufacturing sector in a region's socioeconomy. The actual effects of industrialization vary dramatically according to the level and the type of the technologies employed and according to the local culture's prior experience with managing those technologies.
  • Metrology - Text by M. Alan Kazlev, from the original by Robert J. Hall
    The science of precise measurement, dealing with a variety of physical properties of materials and structures and both simple and complex systems, on both the nano (nanometrology) and macro scale, and the various associated tools and techniques for this. An important element in engineering design and manufacturing process.
  • Microtech  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Technology on the microscale (10-6 metres), including microelectronics, microbots and finely structured materials. Common among Terragens since the Information Age.
  • Nanosphere - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Generally, the part of a — usually nanoindustrialised or nanodeveloped — world (or more rarely habitat) that is pervaded or saturated by nanodevices — the realm of nano-interaction. Typical angelnets for example constitute a nanosphere.
  • Progression of Technology in the Terragen Civilisation  - Text by Todd Drashner and Steve Bowers
    A short outline of the development of technology in the Orion Arm.
  • Technoanimism  - Text by Stephen Inniss
    A common memeplex that reached currency in the Interplanetary Age with the advent of sentient and sapient ais, bots, and vecs and widespread gengineering and provolution.
  • Technocracy  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Government by technologically superior elite.
  • Technological Taboo  - Text by Mike Parisi
    Variant of the Encyclopaedia Everythingiana Worldbuilding Competition. The object of the game (whether real or virtual) is to achieve the highest "general" level of technology possible, while avoiding one or more specific "taboo" techs.
  • Technology Timeline  - Text by Steve Bowers
    Some technological events and discoveries of importance.
  • Technomage  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Broadly speaking, any individual who uses technologies that are clarketech ('magical') to the surrounding population. The word is used in at least three distinct senses.
  • Technomegism  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Doctrine that the final cosmic state will be one of intelligence augmentation and unlimited progress, enabled by ultratech and godtech of high toposophic entities.
  • Universal Constructor - Text by Anders Sandberg in his Transhuman Terminology
    A (hypothetical) machine (such as an ideal nanofab) capable of constructing anything that can be constructed. The physical analog of a universal computer.
  • Wizard's Apprentice Problem - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Failing to give a program or nanotech device a correct stopping condition.
Related Topics
Development Notes
Text by Todd Drashner - Updated 2019
From an original article by M. Alan Kazlev.
Initially published on 27 June 2000.

Technosphere definition derived from Mitchell Porter in Anders Sandberg's Transhuman Terminology.
Additional Information