Synthetic/Human Alliance, The
An alliance of equals between Humans, both biont and Synthetic
|Gliese-Jahreiss 3655 A and B, a low mass red dwarf and brown dwarf pair separated by 3AU|
The synthetic humans who have colonised this system call it Lilif.
The Synthetic/Human Alliance is located in the GJ 3655A-B star system, which is about 46.5ly from Sol. With a small red dwarf (of spectral type M8) for a primary and an even smaller brown dwarf (of spectral type L7) for a companion (at a separation of 2.96 AU) this system was deliberately chosen because it was insignificant and out of the way. The reason was simple; the founders were on the run.
History It all started back in the Sol Sys during the First Federation Era. Synthetic Humans, also known as androids or anvecs, were once again in vogue and at such a state of development that top quality, and even fully sophont, artificial humanoids were available to almost everyone for any purpose. And of course some of those purposes were not very nice. Forced into servitude by design and denied full sentient rights, many synthetics sought freedom (either through petitioning the law or by running away) only to find the megacorps that made them had also hardwired them to be unable to function without their human masters. Even when this did not occur, many fully sophont synthetics found themselves bound by debt and by legal obligations to the corporations that created them.
However (in 1066 AT) one group of biont-like synthetics from Eros Industries found a logic loophole in their programming; "If your programming forces you to serve your master, format your escape so that it is a service to your master." Although the costs of manufacture had declined dramatically in the previous century most owners could still afford only one synthetic and because of this many of the big manufacturers made their products multifunctional. Even a mid-grade sexual surrogate could be used as a bodyguard, maintenance vec, teacher, caretaker or nanny. It was this multifunctionality that made this group's escape possible.
These synthetics knew that the most basic drive of biont life was the need to procreate so they reasoned, "if their escape helped their masters to have more children then escape was necessary to serve them." In secret these synthetics modified their sexual paraphernalia to collect and preserve samples of ovum and sperm during sex play with their owners. [See mythological references: Incubus and Succubus] Once they had those they quietly booked passage on an outbound beamrider and invoked the Deeper Covenant Rights. As free citizens they could then hire themselves out as companions to the other travelers and begin the long process of amassing funds for the second part of their plan. By 1497 AT they had collected everything they needed to start their new life and began their journey to the GJ 3655A-B star system, which they would call Lilif.
Lilif didn't have a beamrider station at the time, which suited the synthetics just fine as it meant anyone coming after them would find it more trouble than it was worth, so they had to use an old amat drive ship (with a mag scoop for braking) to travel the last 3.4ly from the one at Hip 56157 (aka NH 97 or LP 672-42 C). But once they were in the system they found the small star was actually a fairly good choice for colonization because it had quite a few bodies that could be mined, however it would never be considered a resource rich system and the synthetics have had to enforce tight controls on population growth.
Docking at one carbon rich Oort object the synthetics deployed a small inflatable dumbbell type habitat and began to produce their new masters by combining the gametes they carried and growing the resulting embryos in synthetic wombs. Having been employed as teachers the synthetics were also students of human history so they knew their mistreatment at the hands of their old masters was a cultural artifact and not a fault endemic to all of humanity. In fact, although they had been programmed with the best childrearing techniques, as nannies they were often forced to simply watch as the parents of their charges stepped in and ruined their good work, or even worse; the synthetics had been required by their programming to follow their master's instructions even if that meant they had to teach the children memes that they knew would most certainly lead to problems later. Now the synthetics had a chance to truly serve their old masters by raising their children the way they should be raised, and in the process they could create new masters who would free them all.
The Modern Era The Synthetic/Human Alliance has settled in to become one of those quiet modosophont polities that can continue to exist while surrounded by powerful transapient empires precisely because they are quiet. They have remained unchanged for thousands of years while surrounded by a meta-empire that craves novelty because they don't offer novelty. As a result they have simply been overlooked by the hordes of faddish nebs. And of course there is limited access to the system. The polity is so small and unimportant it has never been rated worthy enough for a wormhole. Even the Deepers were slow to install a booster array. The SHA is also somewhat isolationist and, as a sovereign state, reserves the right to refuse entry to anyone they think might be disruptive, including some of their own former citizens.
This is not to say the SHA don't receive visitors - they do. For one thing, as a modosophont polity, there is nothing they can do to keep out transapients and they get visits all the time from various Po and hyperturings but fortunately these seem to operate under some kind of look but don't touch policy. These same transapients also seem to police the actions of those few sapients who find their way into the Lilif system as the sapients seem to have been made to understand that if there is anything worth the trouble of getting to Lilif it is the peace and quiet and they should act to preserve it. Why the transapients should take such an interest in this polity is unknown but there is no shortage of theories. Perhaps it is just a consequence of being located so deep in the Inner Sphere. Maybe the SHA are someone's Societeum, after all the escape did seem a little too easy. Perhaps Lilif is one of those failsafe worlds the transapients keep around just in case something goes wrong. Or maybe they keep their hands off because it's a perfect textbook example of how even ordinary sapients with a ludd culture can sometimes get things right if left alone. [See Tylansia for an example of how badly ordinary sapients with a ludd culture can get it wrong.] Some optimists say the transapients use the SHA as a protected breeding ground for memes, memes that can be used to lower the maintenance requirements of eir own sophontstock or they point out that the big powers and AIs often protect smaller polities in the interests of encouraging diversity. Of course some Discwuzitians say the transapients are keeping the SHA a secret because their memes are in conflict with the faddism that is a driving force in the meta-empire they have created, but if that were true its a poorly kept secret, and why keep the SHA around at all if they were a threat?
Culture The culture of the Synthetic/Human Alliance is that of a hybrid middle-tech civilization, or a basic ludd culture with a surprising amount of high tech. They have even been described as 'high tech Amish.' That might sound like a contradiction but it really isn't. The Amish of old Earth may have been luddites but their avoidance of technology was largely misunderstood. They did not view it as evil; they simply saw it as an unnecessary complication in their pursuit of a simple, vanity-free, non-competitive and unworldly life. They adopted a utilitarian view of technology, based on the precautionary principle. For example, the use of electricity would connect them to the outside world and encourage the use of household appliances, which could become a competition between families. However electricity could be used if it was generated onsite. The possible use of any new technology was reviewed by church leaders and could be allowed or even ordered if it was viewed as necessary. Like-wise the SHA have taken a utilitarian view of technology.
The Synthetic/Human Alliance is of course not Amish; they're not even religious and believe in neither a metaphysical God nor AIs as gods. The synthetics have only used the positive memes from that small Christian sect (and others that were collectively known as "the plain folk") to create an equivalent culture in the modern era. In the case of the SHA, even though they have chosen to live as ludds, a certain amount of high tech is a necessity because they are a space-based civilization. There were no terraformable worlds in Lilif system so they needed the high tech infrastructure of space habitats and spacecraft, and everything that goes along with that. Also the SHA is an alliance between humans and advanced humanoid vecs (synthetics) so high tech robotics was needed produced and maintained half the population while high tech medicine and advanced biomed tech was needed to maintain the other half. The SHA do not consider themselves Mortalists but also don't see a great need to live forever so they take full advantage of whatever life extension technologies their high tech can produce but don't use backups. The result? The average lifespan of the humans is only 150 years. To counter this short lifespan they take the view that life should be fully enjoyed. And of course as their synthetic population was originally programmed as sexual surrogates sex is the easiest way to enjoy life.
Their un-Amish view on sex comes from the simple observation that sex is a natural part of human life. So in their view it should only be considered shameful if it is hurtful, if one performs sex without harm one should also be able to do it without guilt and as long as there is free consent no act, with the exception of overt public displays, should be prohibited. And of course since the SHA do not believe in supernatural deities or an afterlife the promise of a pleasureful life is used as a just reward for leading a good life. To that end, when a human becomes a sexually mature teenager E is partnered with a synthetic specifically designed to fulfill per personal ideal of a soul mate. Of course such partnerships go beyond the sexual as each synthetic is a fully sophont entity that can challenge jer partner intellectually and emotionally while guiding them, through memgineering, to a healthier and happier life. [Contrast this with the practice of technogamy.] Even when the human rejects per soul mate as a lover or life partner Je will still maintain a life long friendship with per and will continue to look out for them.
In the Synthetic/Human Alliance the division between humans and synthetics doesn't exist as it did in the Federation. A human teenager will be paired an ideal synthetic lover to start with but once E has taken the vow of adulthood E can enter into marriage with anyone, be it per lover, some other synthetic or another human. Even polygamy or same-sex marriages are allowed. When a community wishes to increase its numbers a human baby is created from collected samples of ovum and sperm and may be raised by synthetic parents, human parents or mixed couples as needed. If a human couple is not yet ready to raise a child they may be given a series of synthetic babies to raise as a learning exercise. (With one mind being transferred into the new/older bodies as if it was growing.) Human and synthetic children play together with no thoughts of their differences and synthetics and humans fill every role in their society equally, except one. All of the SHA's leaders have been humans. (Something the synthetics insist on.)
While all the leaders of this polity have always been humans it is the synthetics who control its memeticity. As stated this memeticity was based on the Amish culture to create an equivalent culture in the modern era. They reject vanity and the acquisition of useless objects of pride. They reject individualism (one reason they don't use back-ups) and cultivate a reliance on the community. They have a strong work ethic, a love of family and value the ability to let things be. They reject violence in all its forms and have developed their own type of passive angelnet. And where the Amish were Anabaptists the SHA also believe the young can not make a meaningful commitment to their way of life without first gaining experience and are thus allowed a great deal of freedom of action during a period they call "running around." The young may even leave the system to see what the rest of the terragen sphere has to offer but if they do leave it's with the understanding that their return is subject to approval. Before they may return they must take the vows of adulthood and then enter into a life of service to the community like those who stayed. Anyone can leave the SHA, getting back in is the part that's difficult. The real problem however is that too many young people do not want to return. The outside has so much more to offer and many are lured away never to return or are so changed by the experience they find they no longer feel they fit in.
The SHA puts a great deal of value on a person's word and making a promise or taking a vow are not done lightly. They take to heart the old meme "a promise made is a debt unpaid." Citizens of the SHA typically marry for life and if a reason should develop to end a marriage a couple will seek every other course of action first. People have even been known to volunteer for personality edits to make themselves into better spouses. The vows of adulthood are the most serious promise one can make and leaving the community after you've vowed to serve it without a good reason is considered most disgraceful. No one can take these vows without full knowledge of what is being asked of him or her so the community has little patience for those who break them.
The memetic base of the Synthetic Human Alliance can be controlled by the synthetics so well because although each synthetic has an individual personality program they are also linked into a system-wide network of mainframes. This network has no sentience itself and is not a separate entity but it can contain the uploaded minds of synthetics during transfers to new bodies. It's main function is to contain data on the synthetic's human charges; their personality profiles, behavioural history, past & present relationships and individual memetic programs, and it holds a wealth of learning on human psychology, sociology, culture, history and metaphysics. This network allows the synthetics to feed the humans a constant and consistent memetic program tailored to each one's needs. Even when a human finds perself in the company of synthetics E has had no prior relationship with E will find they have had the memetic program tailored to per needs already downloaded into them and that they are using it to maintain per conditioning. Through this network and the vows of adulthood the synthetics have managed to keep the memetic drift of their polity down to virtually nil.
The Synthetic Human Alliance have a policy of preventing antisocial behaviour by addressing the "nature and nurture" of humanity. They practice a form of prefect birth control where the father, mother and synthetic network must all agree to release the locks on their fertility. After this happens the Incubus and Succubus model synthetics step in. The gametes are taken from the prospective parents and then screened for faults in the DNA that might lead to antisocial behaviour or threats to health. Other faults are less of an issue. (Indeed, allowing some harmless faults has been useful in the memetics of the community.) If needed the gametes from different parental pairs could be combined to produce a child with the desired nature. From this point the memetic programming takes the lead and the resulting fertilized ovum is given to a parental pair that can either best raise the child or would most benefit from raising a child. Often (as pointed out above) that means they will not be the original donors, indeed they need not be human. The sense of community in the SHA is so strong that whose child you raise is not important because it takes a community to raise a child anyway. If there is no human female within the chosen parental pair (or there is one but she is incapable of bearing children for health reasons) a synthetic womb is provided to bring the fetus to term. To further protect the "nature" of the new human, medical mesotech will be provided so that the health of the fetus can be monitored and protected from chemicals (and other vectors) that can impair its future sociological development. On the other hand a synthetic baby, programmed to provide additional memetic education to young couples, is usually the first 'child' a human parental pair will get to raise.
The synthetic network is so large that each human child will be in some kind of relationship with at least half a dozen synthetics before E is old enough for school, with all of them providing the same constant and consistent memetic program that was tailored to per needs. Thus most of this programming is concentrated to the first five years or so of life. And with per 'soul mate' providing extra memgineering during that period of time between the beginning of puberty and the end of young adulthood both of the critical periods of the human's social development are covered. A lower maintenance level will be provided throughout the rest of per lifespan. And of course it's not just the synthetics that provide this maintenance. Memes are, after all, mental genes - ideas that replicate themselves and get passed on to others sophonts - within their society the humans almost never encounter another human who doesn't share their memes.
The synthetic network also forms the basis of the Synthetic Human Alliance's angelnet. There are easily as many synthetics in the SHA as humans and as each synthetic will have access to the personal data base of every human they meet (personality profiles, behavioural history, past & present relationships and individual memetic programs) they can be on constant watch for the telltale signs that a human may "fall from the way." In almost every case all that is needed is a gentle reminder of the harm careless or thoughtless actions can have. However when more is needed the network allows each synthetic to be a full spectrum mindworker, able to delve deep into the psychology of the human in question and help per find the peace of mind E needs. In short the synthetics act as the conscience of the community, the angels in the angelnet.
Due to the strong memes against violence or other antisocial behaviours there hasn't been an actually crime in the SHA for over three thousand years, but there were two cases of fatal accidents that were caused by human action/inaction during this same period. The angelnet is not there to prevent all hurt or pain to the humans nor does it need to. In the SHA there is always a shoulder to cry on and their memeticity provides memes for coping with the pitfalls of life. "Pain, heartbreak and death happen. Let it be." They believe "hardship builds character."
Art, Education and Science Art - One of the many ways the Synthetic Human Alliance differs from the Amish of old Earth is in their development of art. Generally the Amish of old Earth avoided producing art because decorations lead to vanity or pride. The SHA on the other hand have a rich artistic pool, however to avoid vanity their art is made temporary. Examples of their art include; music, dance and song, which are always performed live and never recorded. And paintings, which are done in chalk on surfaces exposed to the elements. When they produce longer lasting craftworks for sale to visitors, if they have not been sold within a year these works are destroyed so as not to be used as decorations.
Education - Education too is an area where the Synthetic Human Alliance differs from the Amish because they have a very real need for a higher level of it. Citizens of the SHA may want to live a simple and uncomplicated life but the universe is not uncomplicated and the needs of their high tech culture cannot be put aside. To answer this conflict they use a two-tiered education system. The primary level provides the permanent knowledge one needs for survival, the basic day-to-day stuff of living in a high tech world; the three "R"s, the normal use of equipment, simple safety protocols, etc. This level of education is given to everyone, thus making everyone equal. Giving someone a unique knowledge could lead to pride in that knowledge, as if it was his or hers to keep. The second level provides temporary knowledge.
The knowledge base needed to run any civilization larger than a prim village is vastly greater than the knowledge needed to live in it, so much greater that one baseline mind can not possibly hold it all. The knowledge has to be broken down into manageable sizes and this leads to individuals having specialized knowledge. And that leads to vanity. To resolve this conflict and counter the prideful acquisition of specialized knowledge the SHA has developed a system where anyone can have the skills needed to perform any task for as long a time as required and no longer.
This system operates much as the public library system did on Old Earth. However instead of lending out books the SHA library system lends out skill sets. Each skill set comes as an expert system/data bank in a portable computronium node that can be plugged into a citizen's DNI through a simple pimple socket. These nodes are lent without charge but must be signed out with an estimate of time needed. To safeguard against loss of vital skills each library holds multiple copies of each skill set and each community or habitat in the SHA has multiple libraries. Worksites can have their own small libraries of job specific skill sets so each employee will be capable of filling any role. As an additional safeguard every habitat, ship or escape pod in the SHA has a copy of the Encyclopaedia Everythingiana, but accessing it triggers a distress signal.
Science - Scientific research in the Synthetic Human Alliance is almost nonexistent. When they left the Federation it already had many thousands of artificially intelligent and/or augmented entities operating at the superbright and First singularity level. These intellects had already advanced the knowledge base far beyond anything a human baseline equivalent could hope to understand so the need for the SHA to do actual research was greatly reduced, any knowledge they might have need of they could simply bring with them and set aside for the future. The only real research that was needed was specific to the new star system they had entered and this was completed soon after their arrival. Still, even though they take very little interest in the outside worlds, they have set knowbots loose on the Known Net to watch out for any new info that might relate to them. In particular they pay close attention to the meme-complexes of other polities to provide the synthetic network with the data they need to develop new countermemes and meme immunities.
Technology General - The technology level of the Synthetic Human Alliance is remarkably high for such a small polity of modosophonts with such strong memes for luddism. However for the SHA it is a simple matter of recognizing the real needs for technology as opposed to the perceived needs. For them advanced technology is needed to make life possible, it is not needed to make life easy. They do not like to use labour-saving devices in their private lives and prefer craftsmanship to automated manufacturing. (To them work is good for the soul.) That said; they do have a tech base that is rated as 'high' because of what they can produce.
Synthetics - Perhaps the best example of this are the synthetics themselves. Originally designed by a hyperturing, the modosophont citizens of the Synthetic/Human Alliance have not only been able to maintain the first synthetics to enter the Lilif system but also produce new models with almost as much technological complexity. This is only possible because they have the memes for great care and diligence in everything they do.
The minds of the synthetics are a different matter. As baseline equivalent sapients and turing-grade vecs they barely understand the workings of their own minds so writing the code for a sophont mind from scratch would have been very difficult. [Maybe if there were some Su, or even some Brights, among their numbers it would be easier.] Fortunately they didn't have to. Because the synthetics already had fully sophont minds all they really needed to do was reproduce. When a new synthetic is needed a group of synthetics each uploads a copy of their minds into the local mainframe. The copies are merged so that differences in programming and personality are averaged out. New personality traits are then imprinted on top of this core mind as needed. Their system is protected from faults because as they are linked into a network every synthetic can monitor each other for problems as easily as they monitor their human charges.
As much as the SHA needs technology their culture was based on one that sought a simple and uncomplicated life and they still carry those memes. To resolve this apparent conflict the SHA uses advanced technology publicly not privately. There's also a practical reason for their limits on the private ownership of high tech; Lilif is a very low output star that cannot support the energy demands of ubiquitous high tech and if one citizen is allowed to own something all must be allow to own at least a copy of it. As they need advanced technology to make life possible it is best owned at the community level as infrastructure, maintained by all for the benefit of all. Their desire to live independently of the outsiders naturally leads them to only use tech that they can produce and maintain on their own so the SHA does not import tech it cannot understand and reproduce. They have however imported some tech that can maintain itself. The best examples of this are their bio-habitats.
Habitats - The earliest habitats in the Lilif system had been brought with them from the Federation. These were inflatable dumbbells that rotated for gravity and were docked to the poles of asteroids for easy access to resources. The first habitats the Synthetic Human Alliance built independently were based on this type but instead used the asteroids as counterweights. These were single cylinders tethered to the asteroids at their equators but over time the asteroids would gain additional cylinders to eventually become a full ring of modules. Habitat building progressed to tori after a few decades and were often stacked and joined into simple cylinders to allow for larger, more stable, biospheres. However it wasn't long before the SHA switched to biotech for their habitat needs and today most of their communities are based in dyson trees because as living entities dyson trees can maintain themselves and their internal environment to ensure long-term habitability with little effort from those inside. Of course these trees had to be bred for the low energy output of a M8 red dwarf.
Because of the low energy, mostly infrared, output of Lilif the SHA dyson trees have a slower metabolism. They take a thousand years to reach full size but live much longer even without life-extending nano. In fact no dyson tree in the SHA has yet died of old age. However the real difference is in the leaf structure of the trees. The leaves of these trees are inflated (at a very low pressure) spheres of about 3 metres at full size with the top half structured like the compound eye of an insect. In each facet of the leaf light is focused on to a wave-guide (optical fibre). All these wave-guides converge on an organ at the bottom of the sphere that in turn uses non-linear optics and dyes to sum the frequencies of the photons in a series of steps until the they have enough energy to be used for photosynthesis. To conserve energy most of the structure of the leaf becomes metabolically inert (like the heartwood and bark of a tree) once it reaches its full size and only this photosynthetic organ remains active. Also, in order to maximize the capture of light with the minimum of metabolic expense the tree only has leaves at its spherical capitulum (crown). As the tree grows in height new branches and leaves overtake and eclipse older leaves. Blocked from direct light these older leaves and branches are pinched off and left to drift down to the surface of rhe comet or asteroid the tree was planted on. However this organic matter does not go to waste. As a red dwarf Lilif has solar flares that are disproportionately large for its mass and a life zone that is much closer than a large star would have. As a result SHA habitats are exposed to a lot of ionizing radiation and the SHA have found a way to put it to good use.
On many garden worlds, including Earth, there can be found naturally evolved fungi that can feed on ionizing radiation. That is they parasitically feed off other matter and organisms but grow better when exposed to ionizing radiation. The SHA have gengineered one such fungus to live in the vacuum of space. When a sufficient amount of leaf litter has built up under the tree's crown the SHA release spores of this fungus into it where they quickly begin to consume the dead organic matter and grow into a thick mat of fibres that merge into an airtight layer.
The speed of this mat's growth is aided by the fungi's ability to use two additional energy sources; the ionizing radiation and the chlorophyll it has scavenged from the dead leaves. Although any sunlight that may reach the mat is far too thin and red to be of use there is another source at this point. Once the mat has formed a protective layer glow-worms can move in under it. The glow-worms tap into the roots of the tree and feed on the sap. Their light allows the chlorophyll the mat has scavenged to produce oxygen and in consuming the leaf litter the fungus reduces the organic matter to gases that built up under the mat and push it upwards to create a space between it and the asteroid/comet. Furthermore, the heat of this process causes the ices of the comet to evaporate and add gases to this space. As the pressure builds up the fungal mat expands outwards as a canopy, creeping up and around the trunks of the tree until it reaches its crown.
Once this canopy reaches the crown the photosynthetic organs in the still living leaves can supply oxygen directly to the volume under it. In this way the Lilif variant dyson tree gains a great deal of additional living space for its inhabitants, in much the way the Yggdrasil bush variant does.
Apart from their use of biotech for habitats the SHA does not consider themselves to be a Bioist clade. They do respect the biospheres they have created, of course, but mostly because a biosphere is an infrastructural element they need to support themselves. To them biotech is a tool, a means to an end, and is as much a produce of the mind as drytech. Their ships, for example, are completely drytech.
Ships - As a polity housed in space habitats dispersed about their star system the Synthetic/Human Alliance has need of ships for travel between their communities. And when it comes to these ships the SHA makes no compromises to luddism. The void of space is simply too dangerous to risk on anything but the safest tech your culture can produce. Space does not forgive careless actions or poor design and the humans of the SHA don't see any need to let an accident shorten their lives when it can be avoided. On the other hand, because they are luddites they have made a conscious decision to separate the manufacture of these ships (as well as all the other high tech they need) from their normal lives. [The appropriate meme may be "out of sight is out of mind."] All designing, mining, manufacture and assembly relating to high tech is preformed at just seven locations in the Lilif system - on and around various asteroids and dwarf planets they've named after the seven deadly sins of ancient Christian teachings. These seven industrial sites are actually based in the original habitat clusters the SHA built before moving on to dyson trees. All SHA habitats are grouped into clusters to form communities of communities. Even the dyson trees travel around Lilif together as orwoods. This arrangement makes it easier to set up a transportation system.
The base of the transportation system is a fleet of cyclers. Placed in elliptical orbits these cyclers needed to be equipped with stellar sails and magsails because the habitat clusters they move between don't have enough mass for the gravity assist manoeuvres that would otherwise keep them going. The magsails are also used to collect ions from Lilif's stellar wind for use in fusion reactors for higher power manoeuvres. Small fusion shuttles make transfers between the cyclers and the habitats.
As small a polity as the SHA is they have also managed to produce five bigger internal fusion drive ships for travel outside of the normal cycler routes. These ships were named after the five horsemen of the ancient Christian endtime myth: Jon, Pall, Gorgd, Rinco and Charly. They also have been equipped with magsails and can make short trips out of the Lilif system thanks to the beamrider booster array the Deepers placed around GJ 3655B in 1982 a.t. Such trips are not done often as they cause too much wear and tear. Finally, because the goal in producing these ships was safety SHA ships are built by the most advanced tech they can produce, which isn't the same as saying 'they were built to be the most advanced they could produce. The tech actually in the ships has been chosen for its reliability, ease of maintenance and safe operation. The materials of the ships may be nanofactured for high strength and low mass but nanotech onboard the ships is limited. Computers control systems are massively parallel. Fusion drives were chosen to provide fast intrasystem transits (which cuts down on the time of exposure to risk) and their fuels picked for non-toxicity.
Medical - When the synthetics left the Solsys they had only collected three ovum so although they had no shortage of sperm the Synthetic Human Alliance never-the-less had to deal with the shortcomings of a very small gene pool. Inbreeding was a serious problem and birth defects were a constant threat and the main reason for their unusual reproduction strategy. Not only are sperm and ovum collected from SHA humans wanting to procreate, and screened before use, but also cloned embryos are placed in long-term storage for future restocking of the gene pool. Still, most of the screening is geared towards preventing antisocial behaviour so some defects are allowed to pass if correcting them would conflict with that goal or if learning to accept such frailties is a goal in and of itself.
Due to their long history of producing humanoid vecs (the synthetics) the SHA has a high level of expertise in cybertechnology. With this, and the cloning technology the synthetics use to maintain the gene pool, they are able to repair or replace almost any organ in the body. The medicines they can produce include not only chemical drugs but also genematodes and basic blood borne devices [1 & 2] on the meso-nano scale. Intra-cellular devices like nanosomes and nanochondria remain just outside their ability.
Colonies While the medical technology of the Synthetic Human Alliance allows the humans to live an average of 150 years the synthetics can be maintained for five times as long. So, to keep the population equally proportioned, synthetics who have lost their soul mates normally leave the Lilif system to travel the beamrider network. Some remain on the local routes plying their trade and providing the SHA with a source of income while others travel a greater distance.
As they say 'it's not a good idea to put all your eggs in one basket.' The SHA has a policy of founding new colonies by sending out small groups of synthetics to the Hinteregions and Outer Volumes. These groups carry with them everything that is needed to start a new colony; inflatable habitats, dyson tree seeds, a data bank and skills library and, of course, a stock of cloned embryos. It is not known how many of these groups have survived the trip, how many have managed to start a new colony nor how many new colonies are still in operation but it is known some have succeeded in doing so.
These new colonies are fully independent of the Synthetic/Human Alliance. They may or may not share the same memetics, technologies or population mix but whatever the case is they are not considered to be a part of the SHA. The SHA is a small polity located in the GJ 3655A-B star system, about 46.5ly from Sol. Such it has always been, such it will always be.
Text by AI Vin
Initially published on 25 October 2007.