Moravec Robots

Image from Juan Ochoa

Although the terms are often blurred, and in some polities and cultures even interchangeable, the term "vec" (named for the Information Age roboticist and ai researcher Hans Moravec) is generally used to distinguish turing- and superturing-grade mobile robots with full sophonce from presapient robots, which became known as "bots". The first "moravec robots" appeared circa 186 A.T.; before this date independently mobile robots were limited to sub-human intelligence by law. Even so, the first mobile vecs were large objects, resembling tanks or locomotives rather than humanoids, because the processors required to produce an artificial sophont entity were still quite bulky. As processors became smaller over time, the minimum size of a sophont vec became smaller, until they reached approximately the same size as a baseline human during the Nanotech Age.

Of all the major categories of sophont beings in the pre-Technocalypse era, none had to face as much exploitation, prejudice, ignorance, and cruelty, as the vecs. Long after ai were recognized as persons and provolved animals were given full citizenship and accepted as rational beings the equal of humans, after laws were passed giving full Sentient Rights to splices (even if these were not always enforced), and the raising and slaughtering of sentient baseline animals for food was banned in every civilized biosphere, the vecs were all too often still seen as machine-workers and servants by the majority of bionts, especially among the less educated, the ludds, the conservative status quo social groups, and baseline supremacists. This despite the fact that the average vec of the late Interplanetary Period, had a complexity of nano-machined parts equal to that of any biological organism.

Even so, the amount of prejudice and persecution was never as great as has been reported by some contemporary historians, still less the lurid historical dramas of Vec slavery. From the beginning there were communities of technophiles and technospherists, of artificial intelligence explorers, of minskyites and moravecians, of transhumanists, and Buddhists, of Cosmists and cyborgs, who recognized the intelligent and sentient nature of vecs from the very beginning. These sympathetic sophonts established societies both on Old Earth and in space where vecs interacted with humans on equal footing, and these increased in number and influence over the decades and centuries.

But ultimately it was the rise to power of the great vec Houses and empires like the MetaSoft Version Tree and Silicon Generation, and the part they and other vec clades played in the formulation of the Second Federation Ontology, that finally won vecs everywhere once and for all and for all time the same Universal Sentient Rights enjoyed by every other conscious entity in the Civilized Galaxy.

For many thousands of years, vecs have interacted with bionts in all aspects of life. They are seen throughout the civilized worlds as beings with heart and soul and feelings like any other, never again to suffer the humiliating slavery of the hu supremacists and others who would oppress and use them as subservient machines.

Of course, out among some of the lesser worlds and biospheres of the Periphery where an enlightened central government is neither strong nor common, and civilization may give way to petty despotism, things have not really changed much since the bad old days.....

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Development Notes
Text by M. Alan Kazlev

Initially published on 03 July 2000.