A portmanteau of Kaku and engram. Dr. Kaku of the middle Petrol era posited the quantification of human emotion, while an engram is a cybertechnological recording of a human mind, a snapshot of a mental or emotional state.
The kakugram is purely a cognitive technology structure and can only exist inside the CogNet, a proper cybernetic cortex, or some other quantum storage medium. The majority of kakugrams are transmitted through the net. Moving a kakugram in physical form requires an external storage device such as a quantum drive, a SQUID chip, or hidden as encrypted data in a false container such as droid parts, concealed in a weapon, or even a cybernetic limb.
What is a kakugram?
A kakugram is quite simply an emotion captured in digital form. This data can then be used in the same fashion as a neurostimulant, inducing the same emotional state on the user of the kakugram.
The kakugram was developed in concept around the same time frame as the emote cube was being developed and quickly banned. The two items largely due the same thing, but through different means. Where the cube leads people into the desired emotional state, a kakugram inserted into a biofeedback system basically hijacks the limbic system and hotwires the emotional state into the user. One of the results of this is kaku-addiction.
The first generation of kakugrams were developed as therapeutic aids, allowing for a piece of arcanotech to short circuit psychological and emotional problems in mental patients. These first gen kakugrams are still readily available through medical centers and doctor guided treatment, but there is no street value for the carefully structured kakugrams used in the industry. The kaku of contentment or the euphoria of a psychological breakthrough is of little interest to a burned out junkie. Likewise for the kakus designed for post-partum depression, suicidial thoughts, sleep disorders, social anxiety, eating disorders and other low level non-violent mental disorders.
The entertainment industry briefly dallied in kakugrams, allowing viewers an emotional snapshot of headlining celebrities in their entertainment feeds. The porn side of the industry took off like a rocket, and detonated. The underground pornographic distributors found that creating and selling rape, snuff, and hardcore torture kakus made them a lot of money, and it the number of dead bodies and burned out kaku-actors was considered worth the profit and potential risk.
Innocent Joy - also known as Old Fashioned Christmas. This kakugram was created by children experiencing highly orchestrated borderline magical Christmases, full of whimsy, nostalgia, childhood innocence, and wide eyed open mouthed excitement. This kaku was banned after a serial killer used it prominently in his creation of murder masterpieces. Equally orchestrated, the killer known as Dead Eyes would perform elaborate death rituals, ceremonially torturing and mutilating his victims while Innocent Joy ran on a loop. The resultant snuff stream made murder and exciting and glorious to those watching it as it was to Dead Eyes. After a number of copy-cat killings in multiple cities, the feed streaming the snuff was found and shut down, and innocent joy was banned and confiscated.
Violation - a black market creation, Violation is simple to make, one only need wear a SQUIDband recorder while committing the crime of rape against another person. There are hundreds of variations of this kakugram, and possession of a Violation chip is considered a felony offense.
Grim Reaper - like Violation, Grim Reaper is an emotional recording of the act of murder.
Stormrider - a particularly vile variant of Violation, Stormrider is a tandem kakugram, created from engrams taken from both the perpetrator of rape and from the victim. Those who favor the use of this type of kakugram liken it to riding a storm, torn between the feelings of violation and horror from the victim with the excitement and sexual release of the perpetrator. The Grim Reaper application of this is known as a Ghostrider.
Endorphin Rush - the one attempt at militarized kakugrams, endorphin rush suppressed pain receptors, pushing the body into a fight or flight mode by making it think it has been injured, possibly severely. The hormone surge the comes from using the kakugram can increase strength, dampen pain sensitivity, overcome fear and inhibitions, and while it allowed soldiers to push through intimidating situations, it made them unpredictable and a following disruption of discipline and the chain of command. Street level endorphin rushes are used as intended combat drugs, but in street fights and gang wars.
Euphoria - a basic emotional feedback, Euphoria is a multi-layered composite kakugram composed of dozens of different feedbacks of euphoric states. The user gets not only a massive dose of the emotion, but almost everyone experiences the emotion differently. One user might pick up on the euphoria generated from 'She said yes/marriage proposal' while another would fixate on the 'Winning at the Buzzer' depending on their personality.
Why the Ban?
Kakugrams were banned for a number of reasons, but the most prominent reason was the level of social and economic disruption unregulated unrestricted access generated. Medical and psychological kakugrams are reusable, the chip isn't used up by being used. The street and black market kakugrams are limited use. Exploiting DRM technology, the majority of illegal kakugram chips are one shot. Once the chip is used, the data contained in it is erased. Thus, the demand for new chips remains high.
One of the downsides of reusable kakugrams is that individuals can build up a tolerance to the chip. While it is possible for a user to have a favorite that they can go back to time and time again, it is more common for the user to become jaded or cynical to the chip, which eventually erodes the effectiveness of the system.
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? Responses (3)-3
Ick (in the very best way). As disturbing and exploitable as everything else in this setting. The one thing I don't buy is that DRM tech is able to keep these things from being reused, not unless there have been extreme advances in that tech. People always find a way to crack DRM, even for just a limited time, and the hyper-intelligent AI of the Cosmic Era would probably have even less difficulty with that task.
Oooh, there's an idea -- using this tech to make AI even more 'lifelike'. No idea how it would translate, given that bots usually don't have glands or hormones to affect, but it might be another use for it.
If we can genetically engineer plants to be sterile and self-terminating, I see no reason for why in 350 years we can't make a flash drive that deletes itself the first time you use it, or a program that one of the core codes is deletion while it is running. You can't run it without deleting it, and it's not corps running this DRM, it's the hackers and other underground groups doing it, so there is every chance that if you did manage to get around the self-deletion, there is likely a nasty virus or hack waiting for you.
This really surprised me as something I had never imagined before but fits perfectly into a tech-driven future campaign. How it can fit into a game mechanically makes it even better; I see these as mental potions. All sorts can be created for all sorts of things, even as simple as:
- motivational feedback: 'Bob, I value you as a person. Yay Bob.'
- skill focus: getting in the 'zone' for something like picking locks or hacking
- empathy: it is much easier to interrogate someone who thinks you are their best friend
You can even do stuff with funny / marginal uses:
- today I am a turtle
- feel like your favorite performer did when they got that crowd applause
- record yourself for nostalgic purposes