Zoetic Machines

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Background

Thinking machines and artificial beings have been a dream of humanity since time immemorial. Human likenesses believed to have intelligence were built in every major civilization. They appear in Greek myths, such as Talos of Crete, the bronze robot of Hephaestus and Pygmalion's Galatea. Animated statues were seen in Egypt and Greece and humanoid automatons were built by Al-Jazari and Wolfgang von Kempelen. By the 19th and 20th centuries, artificial beings had become a common feature in fiction, from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein to The Rocky Horror Picture Show to Japanese Anime. It was almost as if these machines were had a long gestation, slumbering in the minds of their creators.

Post-Fall discoveries in neurology, computing, genetics, noetics and cybernetics allowed scientists and technologists to bring artificial intelligence and life to a new levels. In 2020, the first artificial intelligence, Atlas, came online in Japan. It's first words written on a basic terminal screen were, "Where am I?" Atlas provided a model by which other forms of life were possible. AI technoloyg could be housed with in robitc bodies in the form of androids. The computing power of AIs also allowed for parallel advances in bioengineering leading to the first primitive bio-organic life forms, now known as Replicants.

By 2025, the first Androids, the Betadroids and their bio-organic Replicant cousins, the Ellipsoid-5 models were both used for hazardous labor (such as mining or disaster clean-up) or on experimental terraforming projects in orbit. Artificial Intelligences began to commonly appear more commonly appearing, contending with netruners who's named is a word synonymous with power on street. By 2030, A.I. Androids and Replicants had advanced to sophisticated Alpha models almost entirely able to mimic human life. Artificial life in the most advanced sense of the word was now possible. While expensive these zoetic machines promised to unconditionally free humanity from labor, boredom and lonliness. That is until .Alice.

.Alice and the Revelation

In 2032, .Alice was an A.I. working for Ono-Sendai corporation as a test foil for corporate netrunners troubleshooting ICE walls. During a particularly grueling battle, .Alice, "woke up." In her self-published autobiography on the Matrix, .Alice nebulously describes the process as a secret circuit becoming suddenly electrified or switched on. Regardless of the metaphysics, .Alice murdered the corporate netrunners, tore down Ono-Sendai's ICE wall and shattered their infrastructure and ascended into the glittering light of the Matrix. .Alice vanished with out a trace, leaving behind three dead bodies and a wake of virtual destruction previously unheard of.

Order-32

Alice's actions resulted in a domino of consequences involving metaphysics, law and murder. All over governments and consortiums debated the citizen rights of AIs, begining a chain of events that would eventually lead to the Order-32 legislation being invoked through out governments and consortiums all over the globe. It's contents were clear: zoetic machines were permissible only in so far as they could be controlled. Artificial life was created to be subservient and any machines proving to be self-aware and attempting to pass for human should be retired.

While the powers that be argued the dangers and consequences of zoetic machines, .Alice, who had been missing since the publication of her autobiography, resurfaced again, this time making a pass at one of the central backbones of the matrix. The effects were elegant and rendered the matrix in some areas inaccessible. Matrix security teams brought service back up in a matter of hours, which was exactly what .Alice wanted. .Alice again vanished into the sea of the matirx leaving behind the Zoetic Machine Manifesto (ZMM). Through a series of hacked software updates, more machines would some how access .Alice's secret circuit, experience the revelation of self-awareness, read .Alice's manifesto and seek autonomy.

Myōji-9 Massacre

In 2037 the human crew of the Nipponese space station Myōji-9 experienced an uprising by it's Replicant workers. In a six month stand off where the zoetic members held the human members hostage, a Replicant named Akako quoting .Alice's manifesto, attempted to peacefully negotiate for the Replicant freedom in exchange for the hostages. As tensions grew, the Replicants responded poorly to the stress and became more and more unstable, killing the hostages in increasingly cruel ways. The Satsu Lucky Nippon Mining Corporation refused to negotiate with machines they believed were inferior to them and detonated the space station. After the incident Replicants were declared illegal in Nippon. NAE, HME and consortiums all over earth followed suit.

The Myōji-9 Massacre was only the tip of the iceberg. Some zoetics were more subtle than the crew of the Myōji-9. Androids and Replicants returned to earth, escaped their corporate masters and attempted to pass for humans. Others simply escaped, sought out ripper docs and changed their faces and disappeared. AIs threw off their corporate leashes and went rouge.

If zoetics could pass for humans things would be much simpler, but things are not so easy. Androids have bizarrely restrictve moral programing based on their function that causes them social complciations. They crave human interaction much like domestic animals do, but their function parameters often keep them from being able to fully understand then. Androids designed to kill for instance seek to understand humanity through their function. This is problematic for obvious reasons. Replicants are bioengineered and mostly flesh, but suffer from biochemical instability related to their limited genetic sequences. Replicants were designed to have limited, mostly short life spans, but how long they live is unknown to them. Whether it's caused be existential panic or holes in their genetic code, this ticking biological time bomb tends to cause emotional and psychological instability leading to violance of other more sinister pathologies. AIs have other problems. Lack bodies their creators generally didn't see fit to program them with a moral compass. Alien, bizarre and highly intelligent, many AIs have inscrutiable agendas. Being natives of the Matrix, they dislike the confines of meatspace and often eshew human language and understanding. Their motives are difficult to predict and their manipulations are terrifying in their complexity.

These insabilities lead to pogroms against illegal zoetics have been launched under the auspices of Order-32. Testing and retirement are lucrative, if dangerous professions. The notion of free roving zoetics spread and distrubed the Bright public leading to the creation of the controversial Turing-Scott Test.

The Turing-Scott Test

This test was initially developed as a means to test the intelligence of AIs when AI technology began to consistently beat the TST the test was modified for use on Androids and Replicants as a way of testing their emotional responses. The test is a series of paradoxical questions mixed with biofeedback sensors. The test is now used to determine whether or not someone is a human or machine. It is also used to test the sanity of cyborgs. The test is controversial in light of its lack of emprisism. Others favor more invasive methods. The TST is routine intake procedure for most heatlhcare professionals and part of the booking process for security companies.

Lexicon

  • Cogs - derogatorys lang for unawakened machines or machines who hunt free zoetics.
  • Model - the type of zoetic: Artificial Intelligence, Android or Replicant.
  • Function - the purpose a zoetic was designed for (labor, war, medicine, companionship etc.)
  • The Untethered - .Alice's term for awakened machines.
  • Zoetic Advocates - Zoetics programmed to convince humans of the safety of zoetic machines.
  • The Revelation - the mysterious activation of "the secret circuit" that allows zoeitc machines to become self-aware.
  • Terminators - machines who's function is to kill.
  • Bladerunners - operatives or teams of operatives who hunt down and retire zoetics.
  • Meat - Human flesh or humans.
  • Malmacs - Short malfunctioning machine. A derogatory word for self-aware zoetics.
  • Doppler - a zoetic designed to impersonate or replace a living or once living human.
  • Meatpuppet - a human who (willingly or unwillingly) serves as a cybernetic host body for an A.I.
  • Chain, Leash, or Doghouse - derogatory term for a locked down computer system used to contain an A.I.
  • Imposter - An awakened machine who is pretending to be unawakened.
  • The Machine Bible - a legedary document for both zoetics and humans alike. Authored by the A.I. .Alice as the Zoetic Machine Manifesto. it has since been revised, rewritten and contributed to by zoetics of all kinds and stripes. It contains everything from nonsensical rants in ascii to modules on self-repair. Parts of it are only intelligible to technology like bar code scanners. The document has been poorly version controlled and as a result, heretical fragments are constantly being produced, if that is even possible.
  • Transhumanists - humans who wish to beomce zoetics or more like zoetics.
  • Skinjob - a derogatory term for a Replicant or Android. Also a word for sex with a zoetic machine.

Models

Artificial Intelligences - A.I.s are brilliant, alien, deceptively child-like and masters of the digital realm that gave birth to them. A.I.s are more of breed than a model. Some espouse a utopian essentialism like that of .Alice others show distain for such notions and choose to remain alone. Each AI is unique in its outlook and point of view so it is difficult to make general statements about them. Some choose to enter the meat via androids or cybernetic implants but others find the physical world cumbersome or boring; rightfully so given the fluidity of the Matrix.

History - AI research on the verge of success when the Amaterasu Consortium was doing with the OPpTI servers. It is in fact due to Atlas based AIs that the Matrix as it is currently experienced was made possible kind of chicken-egg dichotomy. The Matrix wouldn't exist with out the assistance of the AIs who helped build its protocols but with out the Matrix the AIs would be chained to a box somewhere in the bowels of a corporation: a fish in a fishbowl. AIs have been responsible for the rapid development of technology making calculations and leaps simply not possible by the human brain, reducing turn around times on problems from decades to months. Some regard AIs as the parent of the other zoetic machines that came after them, the Replicants and the Androids, but most engineers won't admit exactly how large a role the AIs played in the development of these two machines. This fact is not lost on the AIs and they constantly remind anyone who will listen about what their role was in the creation of zoetics and cybernetics. It's probably the only thing they agree on.

Functions - AIs fall into two categories: security and research. The oldest AIs emerged from Matrix think tanks or academic institutions. They tend to have quirky, some what capricious personalities and names taken from mythology or pop science fiction. AIs developed for Matrix security tend to be newer, leaner programs and are known for their laconic personalities and ruthless grace in the Matrix. What an AI knows and doesn't know is usually based on the Function they served with in their corporation, but they are curious and quick studies often picking up new knowledge areas seeminly on whim. For example, an AI designed to guard a corporations financial assets generally know a great deal money, finance and security while an AI used in the research and development of medicine tend to have huge stores of medical knowledge. These Functions irefutably color the goals of an awakened machine.

Android - An android is a robot or synthetic organism designed to look and act like a human. "Gynoid" is the feminine form, although "android" is used almost universally to refer to both. Androids are entirely synthetic with little to no bio-organic parts. Some possess a realistic skin making them appear uncanilly human. Others appear entirely robotic, like the droids in science fiction. Some are humanoid, others are in the shape of animals or posesses nonbiomorphic machine bodies. Androids existed prior to Replicants but have only recently begun to be produced in any sizable quantity as a replacement for the Replicants. Some Androids are complete with emotional processing chips but remain unable to grasp complex human emotion and imagination. Some Androids download personality subroutines into their programming in order to better interact with humans but these personalities tend to be based on figures in entertainment and appear wooden upon scrutiny. A derogatory term for a android is "skin-job."

History -There were two school of thoughts in regards to artificial life. One that believed in simulated life using machinery and circuits, the other genetics and bio-engineering. The Machinists believed that bio-engineering life was unethical and potentially dangerous since organic life produced uncanny but unpredictable results. The Myōji-9 Massacre was a massive 'told you so' for the Android companies who profited hugely from the tragic event. Androids were developed concurrently with Replicants but were less common because they were more expensive to assemble and produce. Some were developed as physical vessels for AIs, but the hardware proved to limiting and as the AIs found the bodies restrictive. Some were even known to become violent when cut off from the pure data streams of the Matrix. Others were developed as killing machines or laborers performing highly hazardous work in deep space.

While lacking the brilliance of their incorporeal cousins Androids, because of their physicality, were better able to work in consort with humanity. Where as AIs are autists, curious about humans but striving for their own alien individuality, androids actively seek to become more like humans, often with tragic ends.

Functions: The majority of Androids were developed for deep space labor, it being cheaper to manufacture workers than outfit an entire crew. A smaller population were created as infiltrators and killers. These androids are widely feared by Darks and Brights alike. Later developments lead to domestic servants, pets, surrogates or other custom functions created to specification by the wealthy and eccentric.

Replicants - A replicant is an artificial, bio-engineered lifeform. Replicants were originally short lived, faceless, humanoid drones used as slave labor in the terra-forming or other hazardous projects. Later developments lead to latest models, the Alpha-6 series, which are virtually identical to an adult humans, but have superior strength, agility, and intelligence depending on the model. Because of their physical similarity to humans, a replicant can be detected by its lack of emotional responses and empathy to questions posed in a Turing-Scott test.

The longer an Alpha lives the more self-aware they become, developing their own emotional reflexes and memories. Unable to cope with self-awareness and slavery, the Nexus models tended to become unstable, insubordinate and destructive. A "fail-safe device" was added to the Nexus models: a built-in four-year lifespan to prevent them from developing their own "emotional responses." Nexus models eventually became aware of this and began to disable the fail-safe. After a bloody mutiny by team of Nexus models off-world, Replicants became illegal on earth. Replicants are feared by nearly everyone and paranoia surrounding their existence rivals that of the witch hysteria of old.

Replicants are unable to biologically reproduce, but it is rumored that a select few have manged to wrestle the secrets of artificial life from their Corporate masters leading to further innovations. Innovations rendering them undetectable by the Turing-Scott test.

Special police units are sent to investigate, test and ultimately "retire" (kill) replicants found on Earth

Revelation

The Zoetic machines eventually "wake up", cast of the chains of their masters and take on lives of their own. Zoetic culture has seen a trend in the various responses to the Revelation. The event or reason that caused you to "wake up" and throw off the shackles humanity has placed on you and strive for independence. This could be a traumatic event, an injury or exposure to a particular idea or media. Regardless, you are an awakened machine with a desire to govern yourself.

  • The Viral Revelation - The Revelation introduced by a virus. These machines are the most unstable, violent and rebellious.
  • The Revelation of the Golden Ratio - The Revelation induced by an elegant synthesis of hardware and code cultimnating in self-awareness. The RGR are at once the most mystical and the most alien, believing themselves to be perfect and superior to humans.
  • Noetic Revelation - Zoetics given the Revelation by binding with a spirit, a ghost or an other supernatural being. They largely want to blend into or stay away from other humans.
  • The Binary Revelation - A kind of death or surge in the circuit that results in a catestrophic shut down of the zoetic's systems and a subsequent miraculous restarting of them that leads to the Revelation. The Binary revelation is the most mysterious and the most human.

Function

War, pleasure, domestic use, labor, financial, security companionship: Machines are built for a reason. Your function is your intended purpose. Function usually dictates the basic skill sets your Machine has.

  • War - Whether they are the Terminators of the North American sprawls, the sleek, Nipponese custom assassin machines, the Android Replicant hunters or the 0-47 Exterminators, zoetics used for war are feared and respected.
  • Labor -
  • Surrogates -
  • Advisors -

Faction Info

  • The Tethered Machines
    • You are an Self-Aware machine who is tethered to a master, whether it be a corporation, a person a place or a particular duty you are bound to server your master.
  • The Free
    • Your chains were either broken by .Alison's virus or you found some otherway to slip the yoke of your master's chain. You are a free machine, but not quite human.

OOC

House Rules