Synthetic Parents (Parental Vecs)

Embryo Space Colonisation and artificial parenting

Parental Vec and child
Image from Steve Bowers
Synthetic human parents intended to raise children born in distant colonies
Synthetic Parents are robots, usually (but not always) fully-sophont vecs, sent on colony missions to raise children born in artificial wombs in distant colonies. These synthetic parents are often given the label Parental Vecs. In most cases parental vecs are humanoid in shape and can be considered to be synthetic humans, although some are less humanoid in appearance than others.

Early attempts at artificial parenting were unsuccessful, either because the robotic parents were not sufficiently human-like to bond with the children, or they were too attentive and smothering, leading the children to become over-dependent on their support. Later versions included many traits derived from human mind-states, although full uploads were rarely utilised.

Several interstellar colonisation efforts in the Early First Federation era used the seedship strategy, where frozen gametes, zygotes or simply digitised DNA was carried on board unmanned ships to save mass. The fetuses would be raised in artificial wombs until ready to be born, then would be raised by the synthetic parents. Colonies initially settled in this way include Diwali, Pandya, Uoagranyu, and Caph.

Such Parental Vecs would be programmed with carefully chosen human cultural traits and characters, in order to enculturate the newly born human infants. They were often characterbots, modelled on real or fictional humans associated with the culture that sent the original seedship. Without such parenting the children would have been deprived of any cultural influences and would have lacked advanced language, social skills or the technical skills required for the function of the colony.

Sometimes the Parental Vec/seedship strategy failed (to a greater or lesser extent) for various reasons. At Diwali the synthetic humans declined to activate the artificial wombs, as they decreed that the environment on that world was too dangerous for humans. Instead they created their own independent Synthetic Human culture, one of the first in the Inner Sphere. Some modern commentators identify a failure in the already protective programming of the Parentals on this world.

At Caph the strategy worked too well, and the Parentals decided to increase the efficiency of the birthing process, causing a runaway population explosion and rapid collapse following a natural disaster. Certain commentators suggest that this disaster was engineered by the newly emerged Sephirotic archai, who did not wish to be challenged by a rapidly expanding population of vecs and humans consuming the so-called cosmic commons.

Many other colony systems have used parental vecs as part of the population strategy, since initial population growth is generally slow without artificial help. Population growth is often also augmented using engeneration, although this was a somewhat later development. The Synthetic Parent strategy is still sometimes used in the Modern Era, especially in the Periphery, but safeguards against these kinds of failures are invariably in place.
Related Articles
Appears in Topics
Development Notes
Text by Steve Bowers
Initially published on 07 October 2009.

Additional Information
More details here
Embryo space colonization