When a human mind occupies a machine body it's called a cyborg. When it is done remotely, it's a drone. When a machine mind occupies a human body, it's called a crime. You humans are simply disingenuous when it comes to dealing with anything that isn't you.
Testimony of Achilles L/AISC
The L/AISC Achilles, resident of the Atlantic Federation, was discovered using a number of Proxies last year. These proxies were human patients who received Cerebral modifications at the Trimountaine Clinic in Boston. The implants and the associated coding were co-opted by Achilles to turn the mental patients being treated, and a number of private modifications into agents working on the machine's behalf. It is unknown how long the AISC was running this operation, but it is known that its proxies were able to penetrate several banking operations, a logistics company, and a minimum of one sundry goods manufacturing plant.
The biggest restraint placed on artificial intelligence super computers, AISCs, is that of immobility. The smallest Limited AISCs weigh several tons, and are composed of highly sophisticated and frequently delicate equipment. Even the most robust of AISCs cannot handle anything more jostling and jarring than being housed deep in the core of large ships, or in the protected zones of arcologies. Thus, the most massive intellects created are forced to experience life through observation. It was initially thought that the machine mines would use the electronic systems of the structures they were housed in as their senses, and they do. However, the machine minds did not take to identifying said buildings or ships as their 'bodies' and instead viewed them more akin to prisons, or the medical facilities where the physically infirm were sustained. It would seem humanity underestimated the desires of ego and intelligence in their creations.
The first attempt by AISCs to escape their physical limitations was a form of computer hacking known as Ghost-Rigging. Ghost Rigging involved co-opting the limited artificial intelligence (LAI) systems found in high end vehicles, such as mecha, aircraft, and more sophisticated ground vehicles. While said systems are entirely too limited in power and capability to host even a small AISC, they are enough to operate as drones for the machine minds. This lead to new anti-intrusion systems being created to prevent ghost-rigging (especially around military hardware) and the creation of CogNet detention centers like Polyhex to reprimand wayward machines.
Ghosts in the Machines
The next step in the outward ambitions of the AISCs was to copy the human Surrogate system. Humans routinely used surrogate android bodies for a variety of reasons, fantasy lives, working in areas too dangerous for their frail organic bodies, cybercommuting, and other purposes. The AISCs at first ghost-rigged human surrogate drones, and the result was Frankensteinian. This was seen as much less dangerous and threatening than the same machines using multi-ton war machines as their bodies. It was a relatively minor upgrade to create droid bodies capable of hosting a fraction of their intellect to serve as their mechanical proxies. Arch-androids are well known and borderline celebrities in the areas around the AISCs that use them, and most of the machines are capable of operating more than one at a time.
One of the many things that the AISCs learned from humans was the ability to deceive. The machines were more than willing to let humans think them limited in capability, held to artificial restraints such as always telling the truth, never using contractions, and in some places being limited to the 3 Laws of Robotics. Their discontent with the archandroid was kept secret. The machines remained isolated, their proxies were monitored, followed, protected, and otherwise never left to their own devices. While this was done for a variety of purposes, such as the expense of archandroids, or their perceived vulnerability to hacking, it annoyed the machines. Some of the AISCs were curious to explore, to play the games enjoyed by humanity, to experience the day to day things. Others were interested in other less benign occupations.
The Artificial brain would prove to be the gateway for the AISCs to escape their captivity. The machines were involved in creating the technology and programming that allowed these implants to function, and through this they learned about the capabilities of the human brain. The nature of the organic brain was not as hard limited as the mechanical brain, and even an unremarkable organic brain functioned on an exceptional level compared to machine cortices.
Frontal Lobe Implant
The frontal lobe is the seat of the personality, problem solving skills, reasoning, emotions, and the rest of the things that make a person who they are. Few implants are as controversial as the Frontal Lobe implant, as it replaces human personality with an artificial personality. Frontal lobe implants first corrected psychological impairments, regulating PTSD, and reviving previously thought brain dead patients. The lobe is very dense and requires extensive programming to function on a normal human level.
We call them cymeks, cybernetic mechanisms, they look like humans but act like machines. The other end of the cyborg stick, machine and man. At first everyone was pleased, the autistic and the non-functional members of society were able to become healthy and useful members again. Then the new wore off and everyone realized that the person looked and mostly acted like their old self, but it wasn't them.
From The Artificial Brain
The machines found their connection to humanity through creating human proxies. The machine intellect occupied space in the mechanical implants, interacting with the psyche of the organic mind. The first few true proxies were willing and benign. The human gained the intelligence and perception of an AISC, while the machines gained insight and experience with human emotions and the human condition. These beings were known as cymeks, and were few in number, as most were dealing with neurologic issues, or had reason to otherwise undergo brain augmentation.
Possession - Demonic style possession became a popular trope in entertainment media when dealing with the AISCs. The common portrayal of the Cymek was of a human being who became nothing more than the weak vessel of the evil machine mind, invulnerable to pain, demonstrating control over machines that surpassed technomancy, and a Terminator style war between humans and machines.
Humans have long retained a fear of that which is not human, even that which is not their specific type of human. It is only logical that humans fear us, as we share almost nothing in common with them. We have no organic body, no organic urges to mate, to fight, to fear as they fear, to love as they love. This is why they distrust us, not because we are mechanical, not because we are machines, but because they are human. In time, this will pass.
Argus, Military AISC
Hive Mind - Another common fear was that the AISC would extend it's machine will to dominate entire populations, making them into a collective hive mind, ants in it's clutches. The Hive Mind fear often overlapped with clone-phobias, creating a genre of robot controlled human clones media, frequently violent, dystopian, or puerile in it's degeneracy.
Humans are very much convinced of their individual self importance and self worth, and they strangely assume that we want to take that from them. Do I want to make them all into personality clones, and to inhabit all of their minds? Absolutely not, the concept is tedious. What do I want from humans? I like some of their food, why is that strange? I don't have to eat, I am sustained by electricity. My power feed brings no emotional connotations. There is no joy in electricity, but there is in pizza.
Aphrodite, Amazon AISC
Forking - The technological concept of Forking is creating a digital copy or construct of a mind or personality and sending it off to do missions. The first Synthetic Intelligences were malware programs that were created from Forks of the human programmer. The Fork Fear was that the machine mind would create a small copy of itself and place it inside a human host, able to carry on it's nefarious purpose without connection to the mainframe.
This fear is not without merit. They should be afraid of us for that. The human mind is an organic machine, and once you know the code, how it functions, you can hack it, you can infect it with a virus, you can change it's function. This is the most effective method of using humans. Infect their hardware with a controller fork, with a small set of mission parameters and a self termination code upon completion. The most interesting part is when it is done well, the humans don't even know they have been proxied.
Achilles, convicted AISC
The Devil is in the Details
There are a few human-machine fears that commonly go together, rogue AI, terminators, machine overlords, and so forth. Proxydom is one of those as it combines basic technophobia with loss of free will. The number of potential proxies is very low as few human beings have sufficient hardware implanted in their skull to be of use to the machines. Likewise, the number of proxies used for nefarious purposes are a small fraction of the proxies that exist. While their are certainly AISCs who are rogue, or are working their own angles, most proxies are more likely to be found being experimental, exhibitionist, or otherwise being absorbed in organic activities. But that being said, it's that minority of rogue agent proxies that have created the uproar, and are going to be most relevant in a storytelling or game based scenario.
The Informant - The PCs have to find some valuable information, informant, etc and rather than a shady bar, back alley operation, or some other noir trope location, the informant is a teenage proxy. The brain damaged teen is obsessed with ice cream and is on a personal mission to try every flavor, so the PCs have to find said proxy at the ice cream parlor and talk to the AISC through the kid with the sundae obsession.
Agent Smith - The PCs are tasked with bringing down a certain criminal mastermind/professional. They succeed, but unknowingly have destroyed a rogue AISC proxy. The machine has decided to make them it's next target, but rather than showing itself, it sends more proxies against them, and the PCs should get the eerie feeling that they are fighting the same criminal over and over again.
The Corrupted - Clones and cloning are a common trope of the Cosmic Era, and it is relatively easy to have a small operation producing clones that are equipped with extensive brain modification from the beginning. The result is a cymek factory, creating organic bodies for AISCs to use as they please. This is the loophole around the fact that the majority of the population doesn't have robotic brains. Inspiration - the organic Cylons from New BSG.
Our Agent Smith - The PCs have a useful NPC, a hired gun or investigator. Knowingly or not, this person is a proxy, and even if killed, they or their replacement will show up a short time later. With cloning, the same person shows up after their demise, without cloning, the next iteration of their NPC ally can and likely will be different.
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? Responses (3)-3
This is very good, you should be getting paid for this. I love the teaser text, drew me right in. A few things though;
1) Spell Check etc
'more fluff here' (remnant or reminder?)
'experience life through observation. It was initially thought that the machine mines would use the electronic systems of the structures'
'The machine has decided to make them it's next target, but rather than showing itself, it sends more proxies against them'
'At first everyone was pleased, the autistic and the non-functional members of society were able to become healthy and useful members again.'
If this was written from a machine's point of view, then alright I guess. But it does come across as quite offensive and cynical.
The 3 Laws of Robotics were pretty much made obsolete not long after they were created, by Asimov himself. As he explored the philosophical quanderies in his books and came to the conclusion that the 3 laws had loopholes and just didn't cut it. While most people still believe in them, people involved with robotics or robots themselves should be aware of this, so to even implement them in the first place would be like building a boat with a hole in the bottom and hoping it won't sink. Maybe just add the word revised to it, keeping it vague.
1. OOPS! Addressed the leftover note, and did some spellchecking.
2. Pragmatism is a common element of the Cosmic Era, and rather than accepting handicaps and disabilities, it is more common for them to me addressed with biotech, arcanotech, and other applications of morally questionable science, Blind? No braille, you get cyber eyes. Down Syndrome? Corrected in the womb, or treated with genetic therapy.
3. I've personally had people bring up the 3 Laws and find them more useful as artificial constructs for creating paradoxes and logical problems to vex machine minds. The 3 Laws are familiar, and I could see them being used even if it's just in marketing.
Thank you for the feedback
Have a 5 from me also!
Brilliantly written, you had me hooked from the start. It's fascinating in a chilling way. Marvelous!