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Angelnet

Angelnet
Image from Steve Bowers

An angelnet is any all-pervasive distributed processing supervision and safety infrastructure. Angelnets are found on many developed worlds and megastructures, and in many smaller habs of all kinds in polities throughout Terragen space. They protect sapient populations or important local subsystems and other valued beings or objects by eliminating both accidents and deliberate attacks. The archetypical angelnet is designed and operated by a transapient intellect, and consists of ubiquitous utility fog plus the region's machines and bots. Less pervasive or less sophisticated angelnets are also widely used.

Within its own sphere of influence, such an angelnet has seemingly supernatural powers to observe, predict and intervene in pursuit of its designer's goals. While this is the most powerful application, any dense and highly networked system of technology, even one employing only middletech and designed by ordinary sophonts, can have a similar though lesser effect. Angelnetting is more a concept than any one particular implementation. Secondary functionality of angelnets varies widely, but includes distributed processing capabilities, networking, weather control, paraterraforming, conservation and recycling, nanotopia infrastructure, mechosystems, Known Net relaying, virchworlds and virch-rl interfacing, cliology, environmental protocols, and scanning of underground and above ground features and structures. All of the major modern archailect-ruled worlds and capitals are heavily angelnetted.

Although the first crude utility fog based angelnets date back to the First Federation period, transapient angelnetting as experienced by most modern sapient beings only became common with the extensive intertoposophic infrastructures that arose with the Sephirotic hyperpolities and their guiding archailects. Their appearance revolutionized life in the developed regions by conferring freedom from injury and nearly complete protection from crimes or accidents. They were also integrally linked with nanotopia infrastructure on the one hand and higher transapient and archailect distributing processing on the other, enabling "the gods" to be intimately present in all aspects of the life of the sophonts under their care.

For most sapient beings, angelnets are welcome because they remove all worry and anxiety with regard to physical want or safety without restricting free will, and at the same time provide vast resources and options. This promise of comfort and security together with personal power and autonomy is one reason for the popularity of life in the Sephirotic nanotopias, as opposed to the more precarious existence of The Wilds and feral regions. A complete transapient-designed angelnet has a 0.0 level hazard rating within its sphere of influence and within the toposophic parameters of its operator.

Some critics question Sephirotic benevolence in creating angelnet systems, or claim it makes ordinary sophonts overly dependent on the Archailects. For instance the hu supremacist philosopher and polemicist Adam Alwaysbaseline and his school argue that angelnets remove true freedom of choice because they eliminate the option of self-harm. Advocates of angelnets counter that those who wish to engage in dangerous extreme sports, or even in other more deliberate self-harm, are still allowed to do so in standard Sephirotic angelnets provided that this desire is not the result of a psychological, physiological, or memetic dysfunction that would override true free will. Critics of this approach point out that it is the angelnet's designers and operators who ultimately determine what may be defined as a "dysfunction".

Angelnets are rated by factors of toposophic level (and resulting predictive power), and pervasiveness (response time, consistency of coverage, and density of units). For example a second toposophic angelnet is more effective, and gives a better defence against more dangers, than a first toposophic angelnet of the same pervasiveness, but a first toposophic angelnet of high pervasiveness may catch a problem that a low pervasiveness second toposophic angelnet might miss. Many polities only have a partial angelnet, which does not confer the same safety level as a complete angelnet. These have hazard ratings rising from 0.1 to 1.0 or more (but almost always less than 2.0), depending on the degree of partiality.

While advanced angelnets may be based on nanotechnology and utility fog, this does not always have to be the case. For instance an angelnet may instead employ specialized synsects, or a network of all the local appliances, bots, and vehicles, or perhaps unobtrusive sensors and overrides in local animal and plant life. Some very low tech or intentionally minimal angelnets rely solely on a networked and automated police force, or on highly networked and ubiquitous communication among citizens. The most pervasive angelnets employ many different technology scales and strategies, to cover every contingency.

Not all angelnets are friendly. The term demon-net is sometimes used for such networks. The terms may even be relative, in that one population's angelnet may be another's demon-net. Outside Sephirotic regions for instance some angelnets may protect the locals but may be neutral to outsiders or invaders, neither protecting nor attacking them, but others respond aggressively to outsiders, whether with gentle but impenetrable obstruction or with damaging or lethal force that is comparable to the way a biont's immune system attacks foreign microbes. These may systems be regarded as 'demon-nets' by trespassers. Many "ahuman" AIs use these more aggressive angelnets/demon-nets as a means of protecting their subsystems from interference or attack or infestation by ordinary sophonts. Ahuman systems are notorious for disassembling unauthorized intruders without warning, sometimes immediately and sometimes after inexplicably tolerating them for hours, days, or even years. Yet worse fates may await those who find themselves within the equivalent of demon-net in a blight or perversity; in such regions disassembly and death is a relatively fortunate outcome.

For most bionts within the civilized galaxy, angelnets are synonymous with comfort and peace of mind, and are a powerful symbol of Sephirotic civilization and the virtues of transapientech in general.

 
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    One side effect of large amounts of low-tech utility fog (or other lower-tech nanites) in a terran-standard atmosphere has come to be called 'Angelnet Fog'. Effectively, each nanite or microbot acts as the seed for a raindrop, with water coalescing out of the atmosphere onto its surface. This tends (in poorly regulated angelnets) to lead to high degrees of mist and fog at ground level. It can be an interesting phenomenon to fly into an angelnetted city from above the angelnetting, seeing large, odd-shaped 'columns' of fog, only later to realize that what you're seeing is the angelnet fog surrounding various buildings.
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Development Notes
Text by M. Alan Kazlev, with additions by John B and Stephen Inniss

Initially published on 10 November 2004.

 
 
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