Self Extracting Archives
Nanotech archive / mass-assembler.

One of the more interesting forms of archive is of course the "self extracting" archives - one of the most devastatingly dangerous things a sophont can find! In this, a package that looks at the situation and then builds what is needed - just plant your starship, city, army or biosphere. The problem (and reason most advanced civilizations try to avoid these things) is that while they usually get it right, they sometimes rebuild stuff that shouldn't be rebuilt (like the city next door, or the original biosphere). That has not stopped unscrupulous traders from selling them to eager frontier systems - and creative terrorists have found great uses of dropping archives in the wrong places. Having a starship grow out of the regolith shielding of a space habitat can be quite devastating!
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Development Notes
Text by Anders Sandberg
Initially published on 31 December 2001.