Engenerator Technology

Technology which allows uploaded personalities to be transferred into physical bodies, sometimes at interstellar distances

Image from Steve Bowers

Engenerators allow sophonts to transition from non synthetic/virtual clades into biont ones. This is achieved through the rapid synthesis of a mature biological body, accompanied by a sequential upload and download of the transferring sophont between their old form and the new.


Engenerators typically employ one of three methods when creating a biological body; for custom biological bodies the engenerator first synthesises an acellular skeleton and arranges it in a dense mesh of smart fibers. Bio-Synthesisers, using a DNA template (and other epigenetic biodata) deposit layers of pluripotent stem cells onto the skeleton. Nanosomes inside each cell and medicytes distributed through nascent tissues force the cells to rapidly differentiate and organise into the appropriate tissue types and sizes for their location. Mechanisms within the smart-mesh ensure optimum supply of nutrients and heat, as well as removal of waste, even before relevant biological structures have grown. After approximately one million seconds the body is complete, with the connectome shaped during central nervous system formation to match that of the download. Most nanosomes and medicytes are secreted through the renal system, though if desired others stay and form a personal medical system.

The second, and most common, method is nearly an order of magnitude faster at the cost of not producing a completely biological body. Rather than beginning with a skeleton the engenerator creates an appropriately-shaped framework called an 'armature', based on the user's desired physical and mental characteristics, including any memories which cannot be recreated by printing. As the armature is being constructed, synthetic tissues and prosthetic organs are installed within it. Originally these were drytech, but as techniques improved biotechnological creations became the norm. The result is a body that has all the appearance and capabilities of a biont one, even feeling identical to the sophont downloaded into it, despite being a sophisticated cyborg simulacrum. Over the course of several weeks the armature will digest the biosynthetic material of the body and itself, replacing it with natural tissue. This process is seamless and undetectable without medical grade diagnostic equipment.

The final of the standard methods combines an engenerator with an extensive warehouse of "larval" bodies. These "off-the-shelf" forms are comprised of common clades that the engenerator expects demand for. Often resembling adult sized embryos a lava can combine the fully complete organic product of the bio-synthetic method with the speed of the cybernetic, providing sufficient storage space has been allocated to meet the quantity and specificity of demand. When called upon to create a body an engenerator selects the closest match in stock in terms of clade, gender and proportions. Routine biosculpting is used to cosmetically alter the lava to meet requirements. Specialised nanosomes inside the nucleus of each cell work to snip the generic codes from the laval genome and paste in the client's. Pre-installed medisystems smooth over any irregularities arising from such rapid physical and genetic changes over the course of a few days (often unnoticeable though in rare cases results in minor flu-like symptoms).

History of Development

The technology for reading a human mind-state and transferring it into virtual form took many centuries to develop. At first uploading was only possible by external emulation; by the fourth century A.T. destructive uploading was possible, and the first true virtual humans were uploaded. See the history of uploading here. Virtual humans can be copied, and sent as data to distant locations. Many interstellar colony ships carried a number of virtual humans, and wireless transmission of virtuals was a reasonably commonplace event by the Early First Federation era; at this time the typical quantity of information contained in the description of a single virtual human was about 10e18 bits, a relatively small amount compared to the data in a typical virtual human in the Current Era.

Such virtual humans could be housed inside artificial robotic bodies (sometimes called rental bodies because they were subject to commercial leasing arrangements). This meant that a crude form of human transmission was available even in the early Second millennium, before the development of non-destructive uploading. A human (or other modosophont) could have his brain disassembled destructively, his mind state converted into virtual form, and then transmitted to a distant location. By 1130 A.T. virtual entities could be transmitted from one planet to another within a planetary system; some virtual humans elected to use rental bodies to regain some semblance of their former humanity, but many others remained in virtual form and took advantage of the many benefits of bodiless living.

Reliable non-destructive uploading was developed in 1145 A.T., allowing citizens of the First Federation to copy themselves relatively painlessly, while also remaining in their own original bodies. These copies were routinely sent as data packets, either stored in transportable memory chips or sent by tight-beam transmitter, to distant locations. The dream of ancient science fiction, teleportation from world to world, was coming true, although the transmission of living tissue was not possible.

On Eden a symbiotic society consisting of biological tweaked humans paired with electronic artificial intelligences (the so-called 'Guardian Angels') had developed. A small population of virtual humans also inhabited that world, but felt alienated from both the bioids and the aioids, being neither one nor the other. A team of virtuals, tweaks and angels at the Neurotechnology Institute at Lattir, led by the virtual human Vo Lettir of Lattir, developed a method of imprinting a human personality into a biological body in 1490. This development allowed virtual humans to join the biological half of Edenese society if they desired to do so.

The Audubon Engenerator

The first use of engenerators as a method of interstellar transfer was in 1555, during a colonisation expedition to Audubon. The superbright human crew of the colony ship Gosse began to experiment with the new engenerator technology and sent fifteen human minds forward to their destination, over a distance of nine light years, to an engenerator device constructed by autofac on the uninhabited surface of Audubon. Twelve of the bioxoxes created by this method survived, and the first interstellar engeneration event demonstrated the possibilities of this method.

The LinnEnt empire, an offshoot of the Terranova Foundation, was established specifically as an experiment to determine the usefulness of engeneration as a colonisation method. Engenerator devices were sent by rapid ship to new worlds, or created by already existing autofacs on others. A steady stream of uploaded personalities were sent to these distant worlds, together with DNA data and other physical details, and new bodies were built for the colonists in situ. Bolobo, Roanoke, Digit, Hammerstein, Twinkle and a dozen other worlds were settled in this way.

In some systems the responsibility of recreating so many new individuals appears to have been to heavy a burden for the AI systems who constructed and maintained the engenerator sites. At least three of the local AIs became obsessive and paranoid, using the armature mechanism already imbedded in each bioxox mind to control, repress and even destroy the unfortunate colonists.

In some cases virtual entities who had never been human were given biological bodies in these new colonies; by using a generic neogen tissue, an entirely fictional body could be created to house a mind that originated in a fictional virch scenario. The Fifth Men of Bolobo were an example of this: a population of simm personalities created as part of a long-running and popular adaptation of Olaf Stapledon's novel Last and First Men, these characters were given neogen bodies resembling their virtual images in the game. The Fifth Men were also given supposedly superbright-level brains to suit their characters; but for various reasons the local, paranoid and disturbed AI suppressed their superior intellect and drove them to extinction. Once the problems in the LinnEnt empire were exposed by NoCoZo relativists during the Integration, the engenerator method went out of fashion for an extended period.

Engeneration in the Current Era

The engenerator method has been used to good effect since the ComEmp period in various locations, using improved safeguards and more advanced copying and embodiment techniques which ensure hi-fidelity reproduction and freedom from mental interference on arrival.

In most cases the data required for engeneration is transmitted via the network of laser links known as the Lightways; this system extends through the Wormhole Nexus and far beyond, reaching almost every major Sephirotic colony in the Middle Regions and many worlds and systems in the Outer Volumes and Periphery. Another method of transporting this data is via datamodule, solid nuggets of information which can be transported like freight on conventional craft or in specialised dataships.

Many colonies in the Outer Volumes have been settled by engenerator tech; often by sending a small autofactory to a distant planet then beaming the mindstates and body-data for colonists to that world. Alternately the colonists may travel as datamodules with the autofac to be assembled upon arrival.

Transapientech engenerator technology is known to exist, and is used by the AI Gods to upload, transmit or embody living beings at a remarkable level of fidelity. This technology is believed to utilise quantum-level information, and is believed to be subject to the no-cloning theorem, so that only one instance of the entity can exist at any one time. Unlike modosophont-level hi-tech engeneration, godtech engeneration is believed by many to teleport the original entity, not a classical copy, although this is a controversial interpretation of the observed data.

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Development Notes
Text by Steve Bowers
Initially published on 11 December 2009.

Fiction featuring Engenerator Technology

On the Boat