Knowledge Manipulation

Intro 7
Image from Bernd Helfert

As understanding of the physical basis of the storage of knowledge within the biological brain became better and better during the first centuries A.T., experimenters inevitably began to develop techniques to manipulate that knowledge. In most cases this was done for benevolent reasons, largely arising out of the use of similar technology to record the state of a sophont mind to allow it to be uploaded, in others there were more sinister motives behind the development of these technologies.

In general knowledge manipulation in biological brains was done using injected nanomachines to directly affect the synaptic structures of the brain relating to specific items of knowledge in a subtle manner. After many decades of research, techniques were developed to allow knowledge (and other functions) within the sophont (and non-sophont) brain to be rewritten at will, once the detailed structure of a given sophont brain had been mapped to a sufficient level of detail. This level of detail varies depending on the area where manipulation is to take place; some areas are very 'generic' and vary little from sophont to sophont; others are not.

This allows knowledge to be written into the mind of a sophont, erased from it, and also manipulated into other forms within it. And all, if done correctly, without the sophont being aware they have been manipulated at all.

There are two distinct types of knowledge that can be implanted into the sophont mind.

The first to be developed was the implantation of recordings of the knowledge of one sophont mind into another. However, there were problems with this approach. Knowledge in the sophont mind is inevitably associated with many other things, so sophonts who had this type of knowledge implanted often ended up with elements of the original knowledge holder's personality being implanted in them too. Some of this 'parasite knowledge' was harmless, but some, particularly when relating to violent or criminal skills, was most certainly not. This was particularly the case when knowledge implants were acquired on the black market, where less care was taken in the acquisition of the implantable knowledge-sets than was the case with legal implants.

These problems led to the development of 'standalone' knowledge-sets, developed entirely outside of any sophont mind, and implanted as such. Although these have the advantage of not possessing any 'parasite knowledge' their earlier versions were often harder to assimilate due to a lack of 'hooks' via which the implantee mind could incorporate the knowledge into itself. Later developments of the technology, however, removed these problems so that now most knowledge implants are entirely synthetic.

Because of the immense potential for abuse, in most places this technology is kept strictly regulated, in keeping with the Sophont's Bill of Rights. It is most commonly used for providing sophonts with a rapid education in factual material via Knowledge Implants, allowing them to make more productive use of their time than sitting in a classroom.

There have, over the millennia, been any number of instances of knowledge implantation being used in an abusive manner.

As a result, in conjunction with the explosive growth in baseline memetics at the end of the pre-Technocalypse era, this technology also led to the development of such long-lived meme complexes as those observed in the NoCoZo's initial agreement pattern and the Declaration of Baseline Rights.

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Development Notes
Text by Tony Jones
Initially published on 23 October 2004.