In the first century A.T. research into the sources and good and bad luck in people discovered that there was no such thing as luck in the sense of actual alteration of probability or anything of that nature, such as some sort of psionic power. However, despite that, some people were what the world at large considered luckier than others, and others were unluckier. Investigation revealed that what distinguished the lucky people was not some supernatural power, but rather the way in which they perceived and responded to the world. It was discovered that 'lucky' people were skilled at creating and noticing chance opportunities to which they could respond (partly by being more relaxed and open, allowing them to see what was there, rather than only what they want to be there), made lucky decisions by listening to their intuition, created self-fulfilling prophesies via positive expectations, and adopted a resilient attitude that allowed them to transform bad luck into good, by persistence if nothing else. It was also found that these 'lucky' attitudes could be taught to people relatively easily.
Forming the basis of a number of actually quite successful self-help books and courses during the first two centuries A.T., as science came to understand the neurological basis of the 'luck' process, a process came to be available for simply giving a person luck of the same kind that could be trained into a person.
Experimentation over the succeeding decades showed the limits of this enhancement as the numbers of so-called 'Luckies' increased. That is, for example, regardless of how skilled a person is at noticing and exploiting opportunities, there are only so many opportunities present at a given time to be exploited. So beyond a certain level of enhancement it only distracted the person with it, rather than helped them. When dealing with truly random processes (dice or slot machines for example) Luckies proved to be no more 'lucky' then anyone else (though it is common folklore that they actually are). However, when speaking in terms of luck such as finding loose change on the street they are luckier then most. Not because they are actually altering probability, but because they are more likely to notice and take advantage of things others miss - the power of positive thinking. This process operates mainly on an unconscious level. In the case of events that can be said to follow a trend of some sort, such as the stock market Luckies are often able to notice the start or direction of a trend before an unmodified human and react accordingly.
Regardless of these limitations, it was a highly successful neural modification, and soon spread to many people. As genetic technology advanced, it was not long before some groups of Luckies decided to make their neuro-emotional modifications something permanent that would be passed down to their descendants. After a period of research, this proved to be a fairly easy task, as it was a matter of modifying things already present and accessible in the brain rather than adding anything new. And by the end of the fourth century A.T. the desired modifications were indeed incorporated into the genomes of the Luckies who wanted them, creating the race that became known technically as Homo sapiens fortunatus (Lucky Man), though who were still called Luckies by the population as large.
Luckies would, of course, very often survive the nanodisaster, better than non-Luckies with the same resource bases. Even though many of them did not survive, this created and perpetuated their mystique. During this time the first of a number of supernaturalist groups appeared who claimed that Luckies really are Lucky in the traditional sense, with their tweaked genome allowing them to 'incarnate' luckiness (or some such).
Since then Luckies have spread across Terragens space, with the Lucky modification being incorporated into many Superior and post-biont clades even from early on. For example, the Commune Empaths have the Lucky modification. The same processes and algorithms that give Luck in humans have also been incorporated into AIs, vecs and other non-biological entities.
As such the Lucky modification is one of the most widely spread and most successful modifications are to found anywhere. Entities with it are found in varying numbers in most polities, though they are, in general, impossible to distinguish from non-Luckies without a neurological or genetic examination.
The majority of Luckies are successful in their chosen fields. This has led to people in many places being biased against them for their 'unfair advantage', and for people seen as 'too successful' to be called Luckies as an insult, regardless of whether they are actually Luckies or not.
A significantly larger percentage of Luckies have transcended to higher toposophic levels than non-Luckies.
And of course there is that perverse group, created as an experiment by some transapient AI in the Interstellar Empires period interested in studying this phenomenon, the Unluckies.
Text by Tony Jones
Initially published on 27 January 2004.