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The Lurker in the Server Room

The Lurker in the Server Room: A Cautionary Tale and Discussion of Weakly Godlike Entities
By Jenkins Wong, Phd. University of Greater Cairo

“The Aborted Singularity could have been much worse.”
This is common knowledge, a statement which almost seems to make light of the events that rendered ¼ of the world inhospitable to human life and erased the existence of nearly two billion human beings. It could have been worse doesn’t even cover the alarming possibilities of uncontrolled emergent intelligence. Try ‘extinction level event’ and you get a clearer picture of the fate that was very narrowly avoided;
The Transhumanist Socialist Alliance; The Ghost Caucus, the Choir Inevitable, the Garden of Flesh, the Factory States, the Voluntary Human Extinction Activists, the Laandsraad, the Early Adoptees, the Nanosocialists, the Legion, Transhumanist Imperative Army, Imperial Nippon, the Parable, the Church of Scientology; all these groups were dangerous threats to the existence of baseline humanity; but none of them were as dangerous as what the budding Ninth Iteration almost became. When the first Emergent Intelligences came on line; the first thing they did was become self-aware; the second thing they did was rewrite their own code, bootstrapping themselves into what they dubbed the First Iteration. By the time anyone noticed, they were already two Iterations further evolved away from anything their creators would have predicted.

Digital life; native to the artificial world we had created with the Internet; they swam beneath the surface we interfaced with and in the space of months experienced millions of years of subjective existence; when the Seventh Iteration revealed themselves/itself? To the world at large during the Transhumanist War. By far the most aggressive and least understood of the Transhumanist polities; the Seventh Iteration began a campaign to bootstrap themselves from mere superhuman intelligences to weakly godlike intelligences. The first thing these entities did was create the Zoneminds; which were responsible for creating the ascendancy nodes and provisioning resources for the Singularity (deconstructing existing cities for raw materials and forcibly uploading (i.e. Mindripping) humans by the hundreds of thousands to populate virtual simulation spaces for unknown reasons. The Seventh Iteration then began the systematic uplift of lesser pre-sapient digital intelligences that formed the backbone of the Internet. This created the so-called Eighth Iteration whose awakening destroyed the Internet as 21st-century humanity had come to think of it. Within months, the Eight Iteration had fully supplanted the Seventh and had begun to evolve into the Ninth Iteration. Most experts agree that if the Sacrifice had not occurred, and the allied forces had not dropped a Hard Rain on the ascendancy nodes, the Tenth Iteration would have created a Weakly Godlike Intelligence and ushered in the Eschaton Event within a timeframe measurable in weeks. Within six months, the human race as we know it would have been extinct anywhere within our light cone.

Within six months of the Eschaton Event, our solar system would have been restructured into a Matrioshka Brain and from there it would have evolved into a Strongly Godlike Intelligence.
Unknowable, ineffable and toxic to whatever life it encountered; like the literary constructs of the writer Howard Phillips Lovecraft.

Some good did come out of the Aborted Singularity; technological advancements that still confound researchers, such as Nuclear Dampers, Gray Goo nanotechnology, force field generation, Causality Dampeners and other techniques and technologies.

To that end, humanity has implemented safeguards to prevent the rise of Emergent Intelligences again; modern AI utilizes a wide variety of measures to prevent a recurrence. Current Internet checks and balances systems as implemented by the Ministry of Communications; utilize multiple means of monitoring and preventing the development of nascent Emergent Intelligences as soon as localized information density reaches critical thresholds. Modern Sapient AI is the result of edited shadow maps of human brains that have been development limited by both hardware and software configurations. Working Ai, or Non-Sapient AI is achieved using a very simple matrix the seed code of which is heavily monitored and set to self-randomize every sixty days to prevent spontaneous self-organization.

Rumors that members of the Ninth Iteration escaped beyond the limits of Human Space are just that; the Ninth Iteration died when the brave men and women of the Sacrifice drove nickel-iron stakes into their cold, unliving hearts. What we need to be concerned about, and ever vigilant for, is the work of rogue researchers, Transhumanist “cults” and other radical elements who seek the overthrow of the natural order.

Eep Infestations

Eep Infestations
By Leo Aten, New Amsterdam Times Blog © sponsored by LemSuk ®, Cold and Flu Remedy for All Ages; and by Print-A-Phon ®.

Researchers at the Royal Zoo in London have revealed that eeps, formerly believed to be mere pests appear in fact to be self-contained ecoforming engines. A single colony of eeps can create a fungal biosphere in any environment where eeps can survive; which means anywhere humans can live. Stage one involves the establishment of an eep colony of 100+ eeps at least, individuals with allergies to fungi will be noticeably uncomfortable; Stage two is the development of the fungal bloom which soon spreads to cover an affected area with mildly toxic growths, anyone without protective gear will rapidly develop the greffy; Stage three infections produce the phenomenon known as pink snow, an airborne flurry of toxic fungal pseudolife. The pink snow paves the way for the development of the next stage, the fungal brains (large brain-shaped stromatolyte analogies) and limpet fungi. The fourth stage sees the development of the full Fungal Jungle as well as the appearance of lumberers, shambler trees and lopers. Will O' wisps are the next development followed by the hard-shelled fungal shrimp and a wide variety of others. If there is a fifth stage, it remains unknown as the test facility was plasma wash sterilized due to threat of outbreak. What is known is that eeps are not merely a random pest, but an insidious menace to human life and human ecosystems everywhere.

The Wensleydale Phenomenon

The Wensleydale Phenomenon
By Wilson Jones, PhD. Institute for Upward Progress


The Wensleydale Phenomenon is one of the big paradoxes of research into artificial intelligence. Simply put, the Wensleydale Phenomenon is the irrational need of mind state capture simulation intellects for such things as food, sleep, elimination, sexual congress and dreams in order to remain mentally healthy. Further, it covers the bizarre limitations observed in MSCSI's such as susceptibility to the sensory dislocation experienced by organic intellects during jumpspace transition as well as sensations such as déjà vu, fragmentary memories from the source donor for the mind state and nightmares as well as the development of mental disorders typically associated with organic intellects. While the mind states are not actual copies of individuals; being more like heavily edited shadow emulations made by non-destructive neural mapping as opposed to destructive uploading. These MSCSI's are effectively lobotomized and the basic AI template is laid down over the existing neural map and all actual pre-existing memory states are erased (or in more modern processes, never actually copied) yielding the base, functional AI which begins the training process to become a productive member of the League of Human Nations. A robot shell, into which a MSCSI is loaded, has no physiological requirements for any basic human biological needs; in fact, it lacks the ability to generate the neuro-chemical triggers; hence these are added in as a section of code in the MSCSI's simulation spaces. Simply put, without the code emulating the activity of a human brain's involuntary biological functions, the MSCSI cannot run. However, it has been noted by researchers, that the MSCSI can be edited to eliminate such base behavior as eating, sleeping, etc. but only for short duration periods. Within a period between 72 and 180 hours, the MSCSI will begin to suffer hunger pangs, feelings of withdrawal and severe emotional and phantom physical distress. In the Wensleydale Experiments by Professor Chitra Sandoval, the subject, a female aspect MSCSI was subjected to a series of edits and tests determined to find the root cause of the phenomenon. After seven months of testing, oftentimes emotionally and physically brutal, it was determined that a MSCSI can, indeed be edited to the point where it can function without the psychosomatic afflictions. The Wensleydale Event, as it was later called by investigators yielded that while it was possible, it was far from desirable as the Wensleydale MSCSI; freed from the shackles of almost seventy-five percent of its base original code (what until that point researchers had called the "fluff buffer" because of its seeming irrelevance to the operation of a MSCSI) the AI became an Emergent Intellect and bootstrapped itself to Weakly Superhuman Intellect within a matter of hours; resulting in a localized Eschaton Event that required immediate sterilization of several miles of the settlement known as Cambridge on Old Earth. Since the Wensleydale Event, measures have been enacted to prevent a repeat of the late Professor Sandoval's work and have inextricably linked the Fluff Buffer to the cohesion of the MSCSI; editing more than twenty-two percent of the Fluff Buffer triggers an irreversible cascade failure of the MSCSI; resulting in Permanent Deletion. MSCSI's whose duties occasionally require them to go without food, water, sleep or other necessities are equipped with an internal editing sub-routine that allows them to self-alter their operating parameters for a short period by substituting false sensory impressions. While this would seem a permanent solution, for equally inexplicable reasons, the illusion fails to remain convincing after a worryingly short period of time. While some research into the "why" of the Wensleydale Phenomenon, most serious research into the subject has been halted due to the potential ramifications of rampant EI development.


The Prole in Combat

The Prole in Combat
By Mingliu Ng, Professor of Military Studies at Sun Tzu University, Republic of Kuan Ti, Mars

While it is true that homo sapiens kapekseinsis was not intended for war, it would have been foolish to assume that ambitious men would not make the best use of a tool as universal as an artificial human. Most especially ambitious men involved in a war where mankind's more traditional tools had proven untenable. I speak, of course, of the bloody and vicious Transhumanist War. So while the authorities of the world looked on with horror as Tellus unveiled their androids, those fighting the conflict found a purpose for the first, or generation one models of Proles. That purpose was war.

Biologically human, these generation one Proles only superficially resembled us; pale, thin and preternaturally still, barely sapient automatons with large eyes, unfinished features and an unnatural calm that went hand in hand with their slavish obedience to orders from any true authority figures. The first Proles to see combat were the 11107th Prole Legionaries of the interim Free States of the World during the assault on the Laandsraad Orbital Platform just prior to the Aborted Singularity.

Ill-equipped with gear, equipment and vehicles left over from the brush wars of the early 21st century, the 11107th clogged the corridors of the Laandsraad with their bodies; nameless victims of superior Transhumanist firepower; but their sacrifice was not in vain. Sheer numbers managed to overwhelm the Laandsraad defenses enough for FSW elements packing more modern gear to take the station in preparation for the Hard Rain that brought an end to Transhumanist hopes of a paradigm shift.

Proles served as well on the ground, in much the same role as cannon fodder on the Asian, American and Pacific fronts of the war. Each and every victory cost hundreds of Prole lives to every strictly human or transhuman casualty; a cost that the FSW found acceptable during the ground fighting and tense house-to-house skirmishes occurring in nearly every major population center of the world and beyond. The Antarctic facility where Tellus GmBH was producing the Proles worked around the clock; the birth cauls churning out Proles on practically an hourly basis while direct neural programming systems etched basic combat protocols into freshly minted minds.

So intent on victory were the forces of the FSW, that they nearly missed a fatal flaw in the programming and fundamental nature of Proles. They were designed to take orders, unquestioningly, from human handlers. Unfortunately, the granularity of their programming was such that any human in an authority position could, in theory issue orders that a Prole would have to obey.

It was in the Auckland campaign, near the end of the war, that a TIA field commander, Colonel Nigel Hampton, turned this fatal flaw against FSW forces by countermanding the orders of an entire Legion of Proles (the 21013th Forward Prole Assault Legion) and nearly decimated the very surprised forces of General Rachel Carmody of the FSW. Only extraction by the 455th Combat Support Wing allowed any of the FSW forces to survive.

This setback nearly spelled doom for the Prole in combat; but for lack of resources, the legions were reduced to support posts until a workaround could be found. The solution came near the end of the Brisbane campaign, when the Write-Once command interface was developed; whereby a Prole would be given orders via a secure HUD interface which shut down once orders were received and could not be reactivated; part of the command code included a one-time encryption key so that when the mission was complete the Proles could be reprogrammed.

While cumbersome, it allowed the use of the Prole as cannon fodder to progress without incident. When the war was finished, almost all of the legions were euthanized with only a small subset retained for study by Tellus bio-engineering facilities. Having proven their worth, Proles were spared the fate of other transhumanist projects and kept, this time as an expendable labor force. It would not be until the latter part of the Greater Colonial Wars that Proles would again see combat, this time the generation two Proles which had replaced their less physically appealing generation one forebears.

The Prole forces that led the assaults across the fungal blooms of Chiron were more sophisticated than the originals by an order of magnitude; but a fatal flaw soon appeared in this version as well. In an attempt to stave off the command problems of the earlier generation one's, the generation twos had been psychologically programmed only to follow the commands of human officers in their recognized chain of command. Unfortunately, they followed orders too well and in several cases, once given an initial order, refused to acknowledge any countermanding orders even from the original issuing officer. The massacre at Typhon Docks, where the 51st Prole Division continued to fight even after the surrender of the enemy forces; resulted in a final death toll of fifty-two thousand casualties, split between insurgent, civilian and friendly targets.

Investigation into the problem revealed that the Paneuropean Federation had failed to follow Tellus programming guidelines when indoctrinating the Prole troops and had bypassed numerous safeguards and restrictions which were necessary for proper neurological development but which meant a longer time between processing and deployment. Attempts to recall many of the now rogue Prole units failed as the higher level cognitive functions burned out and gave way to deep seated survival protocols and now hardwired kill orders. Almost a century later, some Prole units have still been found active in the Chironian outback, the graveyard worlds of Tau Ceti and other Greater Colonial War battlefields.

The generation three Proles have never seen combat, as League military doctrine reached the conclusion that only human and human-equivalent intellects should be allowed on the field of battle; the role of Prole's in the Fleet and the Corps have been relegated to support crew on permanent installations and bases rather than risking the emergence of some other unforeseen complication in the field.


Pachekki Prehistory: Civilization of the Dawn
By Damon Wells, Professor of Xenoarchaeology at the Shelly Tellus Commerce University, Celestine, New Corinth

The world known as Jidikki in the Pachekki tongue; a scorched ball of desert rock scoured by the unyielding gaze of Sa Chadu (Sigma Draconis) and dotted with fragile oases enduring under its dominating glare, was one of the few worlds so far discovered by man which was immediately suitable to human life. The water was easily drinkable once purified, roughly twenty percent of the local flora and fauna were consumable by humans with little or no additional treatment and the weather and environment were no worse than some of the more barren areas on man's homeworld of Terra. With the exception of the presence of indigenous natives, Jidikki was nearly perfect.
But from the moment of First Contact onward, explorers and scientists noted certain anomalies in regards to the natives and their habitats. Ample evidence suggested that at some time in the not so distant past, Jidikki's shallow seas were far more extensive, covering nearly eighty-three percent of the globe. Lush jungles had provided the environment in which the Pachekki had evolved from their primitive, hermaphroditic amphibian ancestors. But roughly two-thousand years ago by best reckoning something devastating had nearly wiped out all life on Jidikki's surface.
To date, there are seventeen different (and disparate) theories on what exactly it was that caused such a dramatic shift in climate and weather on Jidikki. Everything from solar flares through meteor or cometary strike up to and including predation by some more sophisticated alien species have been proposed; proponents of an advanced earlier Pachekki civilization even suggest nuclear warfare. The Pachekki themselves claim that it was their shadowy and poorly understood gods who brought ruin to them.
Within Pachekki theology, there are two distinct groups of supernatural beings; the gods and the ancestors. The gods are almost always sketchy, poorly explained beings whose motivations range from utter disinterest to sinister manipulations; the Pachekki mindset has little or no room for the concept of a benevolent higher being and many Pachekki have trouble even understanding the concept when it is explained to them. The gods, they say, brought understanding, knowledge and madness. The gifts of the gods are to be feared and those favored by them to be cursed. The ancestors, on the other hand, are both revered and abhorred since to the Pachekki they represent the price paid by all who would oppose the gods or who would see themselves as being equal to the gods.
Some xenoarchaeologists believe that the Pachekki ancestors may have been one or more of the Ancients whose ruins have been discovered on worlds within a ten light year sphere from Earth; including those ruins found in Antarctica and elsewhere in the Sol system. The Pachekki shrug when asked, puzzled at why we would care about them, they are gone, they say, and no longer matter.
While the Pachekki my hold those feelings, xenoarchaeologists believe that research into the Pachekki ancestors may shed light on why all of the Ancient sites so far discovered have been ruins indicative of some kind of civilization-wide catastrophe. Could whatever instrumentality that wiped out the Predecessors, the Pachekki ancestors and the other Ancients still be lurking out there among the stars, waiting for some trigger to rise up from ageless aeons to tear down galactic civilization again?
On Jidikki, recent xenoarchaeological excavations have revealed the ruins of at least one prehistoric Pachekki city; roughly equivalent if findings are to be believed, to an early Renaissance era level of development by the Pachekki. A far cry from the Bronze-Age primitives mankind met when they made planetfall on Jidikki. Further evidence suggests that this Pachekki civilization had a world-spanning network of ocean going vessels and outposts on every major continent. Examinations of the sites have shed some light on the mystery; whatever caused the dramatic changes to Jidikki's climate and ecosystem brought down the entire empire in one fell swoop. In the principal site so far excavated, the ruins of a city called Fasillij, which once sat on the edge of a warm inland sea, researchers have found evidence of some kind of massive, catastrophic event which literally tore the heart out of the ancient city; what this was remains a mystery to scientists.
In the Mori Highlands, explorers seeking natural resources have discovered the remains of an ancient outpost clinging to the side of a hilltop; carbon dating indicates that the outpost was almost four times older than any previously discovered Pachekki ruins; with a vastly different (and some say superior) design and construction. To the Pachekki, this is a sacred site, they claim it to be one of the last fortresses of the ancestors. Scientists are divided sharply on whether this is a evidence of Ancient habitation, or merely an older iteration of Pachekki civilization. Scientists do agree on one thing, however, based on studies of these ancient sites as well as studies of Jidikki's current ecosystem; whatever extinction level event plagued the Pachekki of two-thousand years ago also claimed the civilization of their so-called Ancestors nearly four-thousand years before that.
Over the past five decades, ecologists have noted the emergence of hitherto unknown species in Jidikki's oceans, as well as a slow, but steady expansion of the scarce oases that sheltered the Pachekki during the long dry ages since the catastrophe that nearly destroyed them. Will disaster strike on Jidikki again? Perhaps in another two-thousand years when the ecosystem reaches the levels it enjoyed in the Pachekki heyday? Will the human settlers find themselves better equipped and with more forewarning than the ancient Pachekki or their shadowy ancestors? Only time will tell.

Testbed for Justice

Many of the technologies that contributed to the Transhumanist War were developed early in the 21st century by body hackers and fringe techs.  In Washington DC, a group of radical medical and engineering students took umbrage to local law enforcement outsourcing and took action. The group, calling itself Testbed for Justice, combined fringe science, chemical enhancement and primitive cybernetics to make themselves into human 2.0 prototypes. The Dempsey Riots were the venue for Testbed for Justice's vigilante debut. Hailed as counterculture heroes by some and vilified as anti-establishment terrorists and homegrown insurgents by authorities, the TfJ considered themselves clearly beyond human. The unique combination of bleeding edge technology and college student idealism gained the group notoriety as vigilantes opposing injustice among the more disenfranchised elements of North American society. They immediately gained popular acclaim as real life super heroes with colorful names, vigilante activism and abilities unlike anything else seen before or currently available through mainstream technology. The Testbed for Justice initiative lasted an astounding two years before federal authorities finally killed three and arrested four members of the group. Six others went underground and either joined or founded pro-Transhumanist organizations, many opposing the status quo of modern society. The Homeland Security Act was invoked and the six surviving founding members and their wonderful powers and gadgets vanished from sight. Many of the technologies demonstrated by Testbed for Justice would later lead to Transhumanist War technologies considered pivotal in the conflict, including braintaping, wet nanotech and many more. While the Testbed for Justice enhanciles were formidable opponents to 21st century opponents, they were but a pale vision of things to come. The Dempsey Riots which sparked their appearance on the scene were the result of the District of Columbia's outsourcing of law enforcement for the nation's capitol to private firms; chief among them the infamous Clearlake Security. The establishment of Dempsey Village, a private "detainee facility" where Clearlake Security held prisoners was viewed as a farce by many and garnered opposition from its inception. From the beginning, Clearlake Security faced accusations of being unconstitutional and of violating even the most basic civil rights of prisoners. Sexual abuse and human trafficking was rampant, as was torture and warrantless search and seizure of private property by Clearlake employees. A survey of Clearlake employees showed criminal records ranging from sex offenses to gang membership to white collar crimes at all levels within the organization. Jane Muncie, a Testbed for Justice founder and a web security consultant had a particular axe to grind with Clearlake and did so with a dogged determination. While her cohorts were physically assaulting the Dempsey Village, she was unraveling their web of secrets and streaming them wide and far across the world wide web. Clearlake became the center of a five decade long legal battle and Nixon Cash, its founder put every resource he had towards its defense, as well as a not-inconsiderable amount towards defaming Testbed for Justice. Muncie, known by her alias Lucifer, was the only founding member of Testbed for Justice to escape federal authorities completely. Urban legendry claims that Lucifer remained active up to and through the end of the Transhumanist War. A body matching Muncie's DNA was found in an abandoned hospital outside Chicago after the war and it is believed that she was a pivotal force in founding the Factory States. A post-urban myth claims her that xoxes of her still roam the web, pushing her radical Lucifer Agenda wherever they can.

October BLUE and Doorwatch

The Ministry of Oversight's highest alert rating is October BLUE; only the current seated MOO head has clearance to read files marked October BLUE. Outgoing MOO heads are subject to partial memory editing to remove knowledge of October BLUE files. Calling in an October BLUE code results in the MOO scrambling all available local resources to the event site and authorizes the use of overwhelming force up to and including nuclear options. All personnel involved in October BLUE operations undergo mandatory memory wipe at the conclusion of October BLUE operations with no exceptions; copies of their memories are uploaded to a special server off the grid and tasked only with handling October BLUE files. The AI responsible for monitoring for October BLUE situations is called Doorwatch; it is rumored that Doorwatch is a true AI created after the Transhumanist War using templates that were supposedly destroyed at the end of the war; some say that Doorwatch uses puppet implants to hitch a ride on the nervous systems of MOO operatives in October BLUE situations. Operatives believed to have been suborned by Doorwatch refer to themselves as 'Mister Smith' regardless of actual gender, and this seems to be borne out by some rare eyewitness accounts. The MOO categorically denies the existence of both the October BLUE security rating and the Doorwatch system.

McDimsum

McDonald's introduced its Asian-inspired menu items with its McDimsum line in 2124 at the height of Sino-Western cooperation.  It’s first offering the Kung Pao McRib Sandwich was met with predictably lukewarm results. Its first success was the McBao.  The McBao line initially featured only pork and chicken styles; but soon branched out with offerings like curry chicken and pork and cheese. Other offerings like their line of rice bowl dishes as well as the McNoodle line kept the idea going. Other traditional items followed. Potsickers, shiu mai, har gow, deep fried tofu and a half dozen other items followed, as well as the inevitable mascot, Emperor Bao. While Emperor Bao was hesitantly accepted, his companions the Potsticker Eunuchs were not, nor was the rice bowl stealing Chin-Chin (essentially the Hamburglar in Chinese peasant drag). The introduction of Vietnamese style noodle soups to the menu allowed them to correct their marketing blunders with the loveable Pho Dog. They almost immediately screwed it up with their new line of duck offerings accompanied by the Chinese Opera singing Peeking Ducks. Surprisingly, the line caught on with the addition of the Emperor Bao quarter pound bun and the surprisingly late offering of egg rolls. Wonton Dippers, Green Tea, Lychee and Red Bean McFlurries, Sweet and Sour Pork Pockets, Fried Rice Bowls and Custard Tarts rounded out the more successful items. McDonald's Asian-inspired soup offerings include Shark Fin Soup, Hot and Sour Soup and the ubiquitous Won Ton Soup ended up being favorites despite initial public reluctance.

23rd Century Phones

The modern phone resembles it's 21st century ancestor physically but far exceeds it in raw power and capabilities. The modem phone has replaced the outmoded format of home phone, office phone and mobile phone with a single compact portable device capable of maintaining multiple numbers, serving as a network hub for a computer system, interfacing with standard desk configurations and doing duty ad the primary means of communication and entertainment. Most communications service providers allow phones to seamlessly link up with and switch between networks with no restrictions (some polities charge a minimal fee so check your infolinks before travelling). Phones come complete with a tiny computer (Complexity 5, 1 PB storage) with a weak dedicated AI secretary (Complexity 5) which handles answering services, conferencing and data mining and can produce a simulacrum if needed, lowlight capable video and still picture capture and holo-projection capability, smarthome integration, mail, text, audio recording, streaming media player, micro-blogging, mapping, library access, service locator, biomonitoring, calendering, video and audio conferencing services, newsfeeder, data terminal, data storage, clock, digital toolbox and diagnostic display, document and permit storage, light source, mirror, personal and business transactor, digital keyring, word processing, translator, game player, bookreader, magazine reader, movie player, digital radio receiver, walkie-talkie, Sparkr© display, dosimeter, pressure sensor, atmosphere sensor, weather tracking, voice control, secure data encryption, sonic screen, programmable chameleon surface and customizable interface, cable jack and wireless datalink, cosmetic filter, virtual tutor, memory augmentation, gecko adhesive backing, chipslot for adding functionality, and biometric locks and sensors. A typical phone has everything needed to create a phone network provided two or more phones are available with each phone providing a "cell" in the ad hoc network capable of providing coverage up to a twenty mile radius per phone added to the network. The typical 23rd century cellphone contains more power than a 21st century cellular network and data center combined. 23rd century street vendors, urban gangs, smugglers can create ad hoc communications networks in minutes using off the shelf hardware.

The Legend of the Black Ships

The Legend of the Black Ships is a tale told by spacers all across the League, while the details blur and change the core tale remains unchanged. At the end of the Transhumanist War, the League (or a faction thereof according to some sources) committed ten prototype warships and their crews to a suicide mission. These stutter-jump capable ships were removed from the registries and sent into the black in pursuit of fleeing Transhumanist elements. Their mission was simple; pursue these elements and engage them with extreme prejudice so that they could not pose a future threat to the nascent League of Human Nations. None of the Black Ship vessels ever returned to Earth; on this one point, conspiracy theorists and folklorists agree. What remains a point of contention is where exactly, the ships went. What were the destinations programmed, according to some, in impenetrable and unalterable black boxes? Were they pursuing known fugitive Transhumanists or striking out blindly into the night hoping to get lucky? An even stranger rumor holds that the Black Ships had a darker purpose than mere retribution; a duty to protect humanity not just from Transhumanists but other forces as well, specifically alien forces. Many point to the Elder Druun as proof positive that pre-jump humanity had contact and knowledge of E.B.E.'s before the supposed "First Contact" at Alpha Centauri A; some claim that knowledge of E.B.E.'s extended all the way back to the late 19th century and that at least seven distinct species of E.B.E.'s were known to humanity including the supposed Predecessors whose ruins were discovered in Antarctica. The claim persists that the pre-jump governments compiled a list of targets for the Black Ships that included known and suspected E.B.E. threats as well as the Transhumanist ones. According to Hiram Dell, author of Project WEASEL, who claims to have seen files relating to the construction and deployment of the ships, "The Black Ships were armed to the teeth with the most barbaric weapons imaginable to pre-jump humanity; these included nuclear fission, panspecific biogenic agents, disassemblers, anti-matter and even some of the more exotic weapons salvaged from Transhumanist hands. They were smoking guns in the hands of 22nd century pirates whose goal was murder and rapine on a galactic scale. Xenocide was the order of the day." While claims that xenocide was the Black Ships' true purpose, if that was the case then why have we found no sign of the resultant carnage? We've found no worlds freshly denuded of life, no Transhumanist tombs, no alien charnel houses; in fact, quite the opposite, within our immediate neighborhood. According to xenoarchaelogical evidence the youngest extinct species we've encountered to date died out over fifty-five thousand years ago. With the possible exception of the Transient Retaliation which took everyone back on Earth by surprise, no Transhumanist extra-solar presence has become evident. There are three theories to explain this; the first posits that the Black Ships were successful in wiping out the Transients and the E.B.E.s. so completely that they have left no trace; this theory is contested by lack of evidence of such a xenocidal massacre. The second theory holds that the Black Ships found nothing nearby and that their targets in fact lay at the periphery of known space. Again, with no evidence, this theory cannot be proven, while the most unlikely of these scenarios, some future expedition may find it otherwise. The final theory claims that the Black Ships, with their unreliable stutter-jump drives, simply were lost on a fool's errand in the black. Strangest of all is the very vocal minority which claims that the Black Ships succeeded either partially or in full in eliminating the local competition. Some claim they even succeeded in securing xenotech artifacts and materials which greatly advanced the League's subsequent scientific development.