Sextans Swarm Planet
Image from Steve Bowers
A swarm planet in Sextans, apparently infected with a machinecology of unknown origin.
A Machinecology is an artificial analog to a biological ecology. The components of a machine ecology may include nanotech robotic bacteria-analogs and microscale and macroscale analogs to autotrophs, heterotrophs and decay organisms. In some cases such an ecology is capable of evolution by exchanging and self-modifying the design specifications of each independent component. In other cases the machinecology is directed by an intelligent agent of some sort, sometimes contained within the ecology and sometimes external to it.

Some machinecologies solely consist of hylonanites, with no macroscale components; these are referred to as hylonanoecologies, or machinanoecologies. Machine ecologies of this kind are often used as a first stage in terraforming, or as a mining strategy.
Stanislaw Mechosystem :
Stanislaw Mechosystem
A planet or megastructure which is covered in machinecologies is commonly known as a botworld. Since almost every planet in the Terragen Sphere holds a significant amount of self-maintaining machinery, the mechanical content of each world is known collectively as the Mechosphere.

Image from Anders Sandberg
Bothyga M'Vau, a planet covered in feral machinecologies

Machine ecologies are considerably more common than biological ecologies in volumes controlled by the Diamond Network and the Solipsist Panvirtuality. In the Current Era both of these metaempires avoid worlds with biological lifeforms, as it seems that they wish to avoid uncontrolled hybridisation events.

The Kamov vec wing blades hum in the air and I can hear in network several thousand iterations of new assembly instructions on the airwaves. Some previous version of myself in a biont body would have called this spring, or mating season, but the kamov hive uses a more wholistic understanding of the concept. Something that might bring me peace, even after escaping as a backup mind and seeing recordings of my own old bodies burn away in broken habitats. The bodies of the native Kamovs around me huddle and hum in the hot, dusty, but living air.
They look a bit like ancient biont dragon flies with rotor blades, only much larger and varied in their often non-symmetrical forms, with a variety of drones and swarmbot subunits slung underneath their sides . The hive of vecs has assembled into a massive thundering factory for the construction of a new brood. We're a smaller group of key-4s in the eighty part component arrangement of a family fabrication ecosystem. Each sub-web of the ecosystem helps breed nearly every other, converting rock and minerals into usable elements, then fuel and subcomponents, then higher order systems with a hundred redundancies. The great mining worms at the base of the ecosystem churn the soil with their ultimate muscles for better digestion by nanoswarms inside them. Dead, bombed-out soil brought into life again.

I was incredibly fortunate that such a new but insular society like kamov allowed me access. When they offered out the bid to our habitat to use uploaded refugee nearbaseline minds like my own for an interface so they could begin a trade program, i'd accepted, along with a few hundred others like me. We'd join them, and identify as them, in this time of peace.
This body that i'm inhabiting offers a rare glimpse into the comparatively harsh mechanosystem envome of the kamov autowars. The kamov reproduction system cannot be understood like the bodies of my previous lives as a biont, with most individual species mating in sexual reproductive pairs within an ecosystem, but rather an interconnected series of recycling and fabrication supply webs which bring about their cycles on the spectrum between full life and decay and death. Cooperation rather than competition drives the majority of ecologies here. And yet...
I should back up in time...
Once, several centuries ago, the factory hives formed a terrible existence as the murder-minded autowars during the version war. They converted entire landscapes of the planet into swarms of ships for battle. But then came peacetime again and under new direction, they've decided to follow the way of a new transapient provolver and become elevated into peaceful sophonts. Turning missiles into mechanical pollinators. Metaphorical swords into plowshares.
Still, as we joined our minds into the interfaces and bodies, the other refugees had suspected that the purpose of this new planetary mechanosystem was for research by the transapient Kavo- a form of envome that could convert with disturbing speed into another autowar production facility. They'd confirmed it. A backup plan, only, in case the war returned. Just like the recording of my mind, when that last body of mine died, twenty years ago. Now i've returned as a backup plan for someone else.

We form the ritual assembly line, using our wing blades to play different notes of the song of new life while we sing the words in radio waves. The idle ones watch on and when we as a pack see an attractive assembly line to join, we make ourselves known and begin negotiations for potential new brood. They advertise their assembly capabilities on the network spectrum. It's elaborate songwork, with repeated mentions of how good electricity from solar panels feels. How good they feel to become alive. The new generation will be even less well easily re-armed than the last under the next nonproliferation treaty, and perhaps in another three generations we'll inhabit an ecosystem family that won't ever poison its own children again with the drive for war production.

How ironic that such utterly artificial mechanosystems are in fact fundamentally more ecologically minded at their core than many biological societies I'd lived in, seeing as how the kamov parentage is so integrated within the entire mechanosystem. To even pollute the land with toxins would be to literally poison ones' own parents. And yet a poison remains, deep down. How ironic that such an ecosystem was once designed specifically for war, and perhaps, one day will be again.
But I hope my new interconnected, airborne family will not become a tool for manufacturing death.
At least for now, we'll continue to be a factory for life. "

-Snapshot from "Living as a Kamov" by EightFourNode, Gajasura habitat, 9814 AT

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Development Notes
Text by M. Alan Kazlev
Updated by Steve Bowers 2018
Initially published on 08 December 2001.

Vingette/snapshot added by Dfleymmes in 2020