Medical Treatment

medical technology
Image from Bernd Helfert

Because of the vast diversity of physical entities that exists across Terragen space, there can be problems with providing them with medical treatment should it be required. In many places local polities legislate that people always carry either their full medical details and/or sufficient, often implanted, medical systems resources to allow them to maintain and repair themselves.

Precisely how much medical systems-ware (medical nano) is carried to maintain homeostasis varies with the individual, and what they (or their polities) consider to be the optimum. Medical systems to deal with trauma and abrupt damage can be more of a problem, both because the systems require energy to work (which can divert energy the body needs simply to stay alive) and also generates waste heat, which raises the possibility that the system can, conceivably, cook a person as it repairs them. There can also be problems and surprises in less cosmopolitan areas and on the fringes where the full details of all of the types of entities that exist are not known. Obviously this tends to be far less the case in angelnetted polities, where such information is generally maintained or obtained as a matter of course. However, there are also some angelnetted polities whose citizens do not see a need for such precautions, either deliberately or subconsciously considering the whole universe to be angelnetted, and thus safe. Additionally, the approaches to repair, renewal and health care across Terragen space are legion. Some people and/or polities prefer corporeal repair if it is at all possible. Some are content with cybernetic or other forms of body part replacement if required. Others are happy to simply upload and be done with it.

All this does not even begin to scratch the surface of the problems that can arise between polities and groups, where the attitude of a visiting sophont requiring medical treatment may be totally at odds with those of the people around it. In many cases, visitors have to either agree to abide by local rules (this is often the case in more draconian polities, which can thus come to be labelled as 'biont unfriendly' in most major travel guides and the like), or make their wishes known or available to the locals so that they may be abided by if required.

Baseline-level medics usually cannot cope with the full range of sophonts they might encounter without significant mental, and sometimes physical, augmentation, perhaps to SI:1 or above 'idiot' savant level. Dedicated expert systems are also used to assist, as well as dedicated referral systems. For this reason, many civilizations and polities simply do not employ baseline medical staff, relying instead on higher-S entities, and/or dedicated expert systems. Some higher-S entities simply ensure the repair of all injured sophonts within their polity. Other polities have no choice but to use baseline medics, or do not wish to control that aspect of their citizen's lives.

The expert and referral systems used in medicine are normally viewed as a very good idea, and many of them have replicated across different polities via their Known Net interfaces. However there have also, in the past, been problems with accidental or deliberate corruption of the medical databases while replicating them across the Net. For this reason most polities insist that only validated information and databases are used in the treatment of their citizens. Even in areas where it is not legislated that people carry their own medical systems many sophonts, particularly of the rarer or more unusual types, often carry their full medical and/or structural details with them, just in case. For those less trusting of receiving medical treatment from others, carrying a full suite of self-repair systems - medical nano and so on - is common.

SI:1 or greater medical systems can often figure out a new entity type from scratch in time to save them, but mistakes can still happen, especially with higher S sophonts on the very rare occasions when they require emergency treatment. Infectious diseases and metabolic conditions are one area where mistakes can easily be made, particularly when the subject relies on a symbiotic microflora or microfauna relationship.

To cope with trauma and abrupt damage that their carried or implanted medical systems cannot cope with, many sophonts use some form of 'bailout device'. In many cases this will simply override the bodies normal function, acting to keep the brain alive at the expense of everything else. In other cases this is an implant, often carried just inside the base of the user's skull, that monitors its wearer's vitals and, in case of life-threatening injury, uploads the person by destructively scanning their brain, in a pinch cannibalizing the surrounding tissue to fuel itself as it goes along. This will then leave the implant carrying information on the entity's body (normally loaded in advance) and a static 'snapshot' of their consciousness, all of which can be transmitted or retrieved ready for the person to be recreated.

In the vast majority of polities the concept of the hospital is vastly outmoded. Self-treatment for disease, poison and minor injury, usually by entity self-monitoring and repair below the conscious level, is the norm. Even if some form of specialized medical treatment is required, for example for trauma and abrupt damage, it is far more likely that a medic would visit the patient rather than vice versa. This is because of the inadvisability of moving an injured patient, and because in the current era a single person can easily carry enough equipment to treat an injured person, including nanomachine power sources and the means to ensure the victim is not cooked by the medical systems healing it. Essentially, for all but the most serious trauma, the hospital comes to the injured person rather than vice versa, and the social skills of the medic are at least as important as their medical skills. For the most serious injuries, any large-scale general assembly facilities can be programmed to provide all of the medical resources required. Given the ease of doing so, in most polities this sort of comprehensive medical service is provided as cheaply as running water, though others do require everyone to participate in or hold some form of health insurance.

  • Antinfector  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Hylonano or bionano device that provides immunity against various forms of goo, madverts, and other mentally and physically annoying phenomena.
  • Artiphage  - Text by Richard Baker and David Dye
    Artificial defence cells carried in the blood
  • Autonomous Doctors  - Text by Ryan B
    Also known as healers, robo-doctors, exodocs (with many more names varying by culture). Autonomous Doctors (autodocs) are a class of bot designed for medical intervention and treatment independent of sophont instruction.
  • Babel Plague  - Text by Anders Sandberg
    Human viral infection of artificial origin, likely developed as a bioweapon during the 300's.
  • Backup  - Text by Stephen Inniss
    A recording of the entire physical mind/body state of any entity created with the intent that it might be replicated at a later date.
  • Bacterics  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Use of bacteria in biotech - e.g. as simple biobots, as bionano processing nodes, and more.
  • Bailout Device  - Text by David Jackson
    Backup device intended to actively preserve itself in an emergency, if necessary by finding a new host.
  • Biomechanics - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Science that deals with the biont body as a mechanism to which the laws of physics are applied to study, treatment, and augment movement and athletic performance. Includes kinesiology, sports science, kinetic and athletic bioware and cyberware, and other topics.
  • Biomedical Engineering - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    The design and development of medical technology, especially medical nanotechnology. Includes design and development of customized medical nanobots, synthetic biomaterials, large, small, cellular, and subcellular-scale body imaging and sensors, bio- and cybernetic implants and augmentations.
  • Biostasis  - Text by Steve Bowers with comments by John B
    A means of preserving biological life in suspended animation over long journeys or in unsatisfactory environments.
  • Birth Control  - Text by Todd Drashner
    Regulating the population of reproductively capable biont sentients, or of neumann-capable vecs and ais. Because such sophonts have the tendency, if unregulated, to spread throughout the universe in the form of "pink goo" (for bionts) or analogous kinds of "goo", various birth control techniques are used by different cultures in the civilized galaxy.
  • Block  - Text by John B
    Block, aka Zombie, aka Splatter: A specialist neurotransmitter antagonist, Block prevents the transmission of pain signals via the baseline body's standard peripheral nervous system.
  • Blue Lung  - Text by Michael Walton
    A disease caused by an infection of lung tissue by semi-functional nanotech
  • Bootleg Celebrity Copying  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev, amended by Steve Bowers
    Making bootleg copies or character simulations of famous people.
  • Corpsicle - Text by Anders Sandberg
    A cryonically suspended biont. Originally an Information Era derogatory/humorous term, the word has largely been absorbed into the Anglic language family with no negative connotations.
    Also used: Cryonaut
  • Corpsiflakes  - Text by John B
    Diminutive term derived from Corpsicles.
  • Crashcache  - Text by Todd Drashner with contributions from David Jackson and John B
    Emergency medical/disaster survival device designed to safely contain the mind-states of multiple numbers (sometimes very large numbers) of sophonts.
  • Cryobiology - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    The study of the effect of low temperatures on biological systems. Theoretical and applied fields include preservation and long term storage of organ systems, cold temperature bio-nano, extremophile biota, etc.
  • Cryonic Suspension  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev, amended by Steve Bowers
    Suspending organic functions by the use of low temperatures to halt metabolic decay.
  • Cyborg Reproduction  - Text by Steve Bowers
    Acquired, inherited and engenerated cyborg characteristics
  • Deathism  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Set of beliefs and attitudes which glorify or accept death and reject immortality. Deathism became a particular moral issue from the late interplanetary period onwards, when advanced medical nanotech allowed an individual to prolong eir existence indefinitely. The widespread availability of reliable "copy" or mind upload technology in the First Federation period removed even the danger of accidental death, except for those who did not consider uploads to be part of their personal identity.
  • Destructive Uploading  - Text by Steve Bowers
    Reconstructing the mind of a human or other biont by disassembling their brain.
  • Dreadnought (nanobot) - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    A military or medical nanobot/mesobot that is excessively over-armed and armoured; replication speed and flexibility is sacrificed in favour of heavy duty actions, or offensive and defensive capacity.
  • Ephemeralism - Text by M. Alan Kazlev based on Anders Sandberg's Transhumanist Terminology
    A memeticity that claims, on religious or cultural grounds, that it is wrong to extend one's life-span. An Ephemeralist is a person who rejects immortalist technology and values (the result of deathist thinking).
  • Genematode  - Text by Steve Bowers
    A neogen/splice nematode-like defence system as an antiviral/antibacterial agent.
  • Hangover Helper - Text by John B
    Originally marketed in the Interplanetary Age as "Doctor Hadrian's Handy Hangover Helper". Variants or copies of this invention remain popular with human nearbaselines or other bionts who might be inclined to excessive use of alcohol on occasion. The Hangover Helper is an inexpensive easily self-administered dose of specialized blood-borne bionano devices that scrub toxins from the system and make other necessary repairs and adjustments, greatly aiding the recovery from alcohol overdose side-effects. The original version was 'not recommended for the metabolically adjusted or endocrine tweaked', but clade-specific variants were quick to emerge, as were variants to counter the aftereffects of other recreational drugs.
  • Hyperplacebo Effect  - Text by Tony Jones
    Directed use of the placebo effect by bionts for self-treatment without pharmaceuticals.
  • Immortechnics  - Text by Mark Plus, in Anders Sandberg's Transhuman Terminology
    Collectively, the technologies which are applied to attempt radical life extension, such as calorie-restricted dieting, cryonics, medical nano, uploading, etc.
  • Immune Designer  - Text by Anders Sandberg
    Designers of advanced nanotechnological, software, ecological and memetic immune systems to protect civilized systems from nanoswarms, software viruses, epidemics and blights.
  • Immunity Challenge  - Text by Mark Ryherd
    An Extreme Contest where challengers expose themselves to various pathogenic agents to test their immune systems.
  • Immunology  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    The study of the biont immune system, which defends the organism against the invasion of foreign substances, tissues, and organisms.
  • Inactivate - Text by After Max More in Anders Sandberg's Transhuman Terminology
    A person who is non-living but is not dead in the permanent sense. The person might be in biostasis, or shut-down mode or subsisting in data storage, awaiting downloading, and is not in any way active. This term may apply to any sort of being of any from (biont, vec, cyborg, aioid, etc.)
  • Laundry, The  - Text by Daniel Eliot Boese
    An everydaytech facility for cleansing, repairs, custom alterations, and more
  • Longevist - Text by Max More, in Anders Sandberg's Transhuman Terminology
    A sophont who seeks to extend their life beyond current norms (but who may not wish to live forever).
  • Medicine - Text by M. Alan Kazlev from original write-up by Robert J. Hall
    Treatment or prevention of diseases, injuries, and physical disorders in organic beings. Includes study of anatomy and physiology, diagnosis of the illness, use of medical bionano and hylonano, pharmaceuticals, invasive and non-invasive surgical techniques, holistic healing, xenomedicine, virtual medicine, and historical medicine.
  • Medicyte  - Text by Ryan B
    Generic term for all types of invasive microscopic robots used in medicine.
  • Memory Box - Text by Todd Drashner
    Data storage unit used to contain the mind-state. Also contains a digitized copy of the owners biocode to allow the nano- construction of a new body if the original is destroyed. A standard memory box is a rectangular solid approximately of dimension 3x1.5x.75cm. Memory boxes are typically copied at least three times and the copies kept in separate locations. They are also built to be as close to indestructible as their owners can afford. A standard design typically involves multilayer buckytube shells interspersed with foamed ceramic thermal insulation.
  • Mnemonet - Text by Todd Drashner
    Biocybernetic network of nanodevices grown in an organic brain and working to constantly record the owners brain activity and memories. The contents of the network are periodically downloaded to a central file and integrated into the mind-state stored there. If the owner dies for some reason, the mind-state is activated and instantiated in a new body to continue the life of the original. Mnemonets are also used to expand the memory of the user when the original organic memory has reached its limits due to the length of the users lifespan. In the more advanced systems, mnemonets designs are written into the gene-code of all citizens so that they develop as part of the natural growth process of a fetus and child.
  • Nanobar  - Text by John B
    A thin film material which prevents nanotic devices from affecting it, or penetrating it.
  • Nanobot  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev; amended by Stephen Inniss and Ryan B
    A hylotech, biotech or syntech bot that uses nanoscale mechanisms and manipulates objects on the nanoscale. By convention nanobots are less than one micrometre in size; larger bots enabled by nanotech are referred to as mesobots, cytobots, or microbots, or if they are still larger then they may be called as mitebots, synsects, or simply bots.
  • Nanochondria - Text by Anders Sandberg in his Transhuman Terminology
    Hylonano or bionano devices existing inside living cells, participating in their biochemistry (like mitochondria) and/or assembling various structures. A type of nanosome.
  • Nanoferon: Nanotech Inhibitors  - Text by Michael Boncher
    A subset of blue goo nano-defenses, made up of extremely complex large molecules of very specific shape, bonding and size. They act in a fashion similar to antibodies in a biological system.
  • Nanoflu  - Text by John B
    Fever resulting from nanoinfection or response.
  • Nanomedicine  - Text by Ryan B
    The use of nanites to repair damage and boost the biont immune system.
  • Nanomedicine First Aid Kit (N-FAK)   - Text by Ryan B
    Automated nanomedicine kit.
  • Nanoskin - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Bionano or hylonano augment or application that completely covers the wearer/user's skin, forming a second dermal layer and providing environmental protection and intelligence augmentation.
  • Nanosome - Text by Anders Sandberg, in Transhuman Terminology
    Generic term for any nanodevices (whether hylo or bio) existing symbiotically inside biological cells, doing mechanosynthesis and disassembly for it and replicating with the cell.
  • Nanostasis - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Suspension of all biological activity, by infusing the patient with cryoprotective chemicals and freezing or vitrifying (cryonic suspension), or by chemically bonding cellular components in place. See Biostasis.
  • Omnimed   - Text by Ryan B
    Small white pills containing totipotent medibots
  • Pantropy  - Text by Steve Bowers
    The practice of adapting humans (and other bionts) to live comfortably in a planetary environment rather than attempting to change that environment to resemble the home world.
  • Personal Medical System - Capabilities   - Text by Ryan B
    Artificial medisystems have a number of standard capabilities.
  • Personal Medical Systems (Medisystems)   - Text by Ryan B
    Artificial medical systems within the body of a biont.
  • Pharmacology - Text by M. Alan Kazlev from the original by Robert J. Hall
    The study of the physiological and pathological effects of drugs, as well as synthesis of new drugs by various means. Also may includes specialized fields such as pharmacracy, nanopharming, herbalism, the biochemistry of drugs, psychotropics, nanotweaked drugs, and natural drugs and drug analogues.
  • Recombinant DNA - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Basic primitive technique used in gengineering, dating back to early Information Age Old Earth. It involves cutting the DNA into discrete segments, and then recombining the segments to form new genes. The recombinant DNA molecule is then inserted into a cell.
  • Reproductive Technologies  - Text by Tony Jones and the AI Vin
    A variety of technologies have been invented to make pregnancy and labour easier for mammalian Terragens.
  • Respirocyte  - Text by Steve Bowers and Todd Drashner
    Bloodborne, approximately 1-micron-diameter spherical nanomedical device that acts as an artificial mechanical red blood cell.
  • Saqmiya Lice - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    So named after the region where the first outbreak occurred (Saqmiya-5 hab, STC volume). Hypermutational body lice with symbiotic bionano. They tend to prefer moist body surfaces.
  • Sentient Cancer  - Text by Anders Sandberg
    Software/nanotech perversion of nanocytes or nanochondria of beings or objects with symbiotic nanosystems. While large-scale perversions gain the most publicity, small outbreaks of opportunistic or expansionist alife are far more common. One form of minor perversion that has recently emerged as a serious threat is sentient cancer.
  • Surgicon  - Text by Ryan B
    Ancient and highly versatile medical/augmentation technology, also known as a HealStrip, Corrector and Active-Dressing.
  • Synbiome - Text by iancampbell
    This term refers to the complex of geneered and neogenic commensal organisms, nanomachines and nanoscale communications pathways present in most sapient bionts, which first became available in high-tech polities. The word came about as an extension of the word "microbiome", a term for the large number of micro-organisms (with a few just about visible to unaugmented human eyesight) that inhabit most, if not all, biological organisms. The synbiome usually incorporates the biont's nanomedical system among its functions. A synbiome also includes a signalling system, designed to alert the host biont to requirements for minerals and other substances not required by unaugmented bionts.
  • Technocyte  - Text by Anders Sandberg, in his Transhuman Terminology. Updated by Ryan B
    A synthetic autonomous machine of microscale dimensions and smaller intended to operate within a biont's body.
  • Thanatology  - Text by Steve Bowers
    The study of life and death as experienced in the Sephirotic Empires.
  • Vacuum Equipment  - Text by Todd Drashner
    Thinsuits, airdust, nanolungs: the basic requirements for vacuum survival.
  • Vasculoid Circulatory Replacement System  - Text by Steve Bowers and Ryan B
    Artificial Blood
  • Vector (epidemiology) - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Any medium, method, biotic organism, known net protocol, cultural environment, or vehicle for the transmission of a replicator, particularly biological pathogens, ai viruses, madverts, or memes. Almost anything can be a vector for some for of replicator or another.
Related Topics
Development Notes
Text by Tony Jones

Initially published on 24 April 2004.

Additional Information