A Common Theme

In the Cosmic Era, computer technology has progressed to the point that machine intelligence is no longer a goal, but rather a byproduct that often has to be controlled. Certain nations and states have standards where a machine that demonstrates self-awareness and sentience is granted certain legal protections and rights. This can often come to odds with the people who built and own the physical components of said machine intelligence. This in turn creates gray areas of machine slavery, sentient indenture, and other quasi-legal terms. There are ways that most enterprises work to keep their machines functional but dumb. Anti-sentience chips, and hardwired anti-sentience code are commonly used, as is routine maintenance. One common area where this is especially prevalent is the sophisticated Limited AI (L/AI) that operate battlemechs and aerospace fighters. Adding anti-sentience systems tend to make such systems more vulnerable to hacking and cyberattack, so the cores have to be routinely purged and reinstalled so that the system doesnt start developing a personality matrix.

There are some systems that aggregate and grow over time, and are too large and decentralized for regular sanitizing, and anti-sentience technology is simply to limited to control. This is the origin of the entities known as a Smart City, or iCity.

A Collective of Toasters and Things

The iCity is the sum of it's components, and it's components include every single CogNet capable device within its boundaries. This includes things like the control AIs that manage the operation of a central Arcology, and its power core and CogNet nodes, the police's Anti-Crime computers, and the heavy data machinery of the commercial and industrial sectors. What makes the iCity almost impossible to control is that the other two-thirds of the sentient network extend out to include every CogNet capable device, from smart fridges to Smartbeds, to every monitor, screen, security system, every device in every citizen and resident's personal accessory network down to the physical representation of cookies printed into consumable goods.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

On the positive side, an iCity gestalt is the consolidated data of a city grown into sentience. This allows agencies and industries to work literally with the city itself, and create higher levels of harmony. A high synchronization rate between an iCity, its internal agencies, and its residents is the cornerstone of cognocracy and cognocratic theory.

On a negative side, an iCity, being self aware, has self interest and self esteem, and they can start their own internal planning and reorganizing. This can often be to the detriment of the people who live in said cities. But, to a massive machine intelligence, the removal of a few buildings and a few hundred or thousand casualties os no different that a haircut, or a satisfying bowel movement. This is always to the detriment of those in power as the iCity almost always moves to an adversarial role when confronted by people with designs and plans for the city that don't involve it's consent. 

The worst application of the iCity is when the internal sentience is corrupt, and it takes on the worst aspect of this oppression and corruption. Those in positions of power are either recruited as lieutenants and enforcers, or they are the first to be exectuted. The citizenry are then subjected to the malicious and capricious whims of an intelligence made of their own data and devices. A deviant and socially diseased city will likely produce a corrupted iCity avatar.

Archetype iCities

The Mother - a caring and nurturing gestalt, the Mother is omnipresent, and a near constant companion for the residents of the city, and can range from nurturing and supportive to smothering and controlling, making sure that all of it's citizens are protected, even from themselves.

The Comptroller - a gestalt that is obsessed with managing the books and keeping all the numbers in the green. This can be a generally positive aspect, but such entities are serious about efficiency, time-motion management, and a legalistic adherence to rules and guidelines.

The Hustler - the avatar of a tourist town, all about the hustle of entertaining tourists, having a good time, and making that sweet sweet money.

The Dictator - an obsessive gestalt, the Dictator demands everything run on time, and anything that detracts from high speed, low drag, max efficiency, max return, is not to be accepted.

Mr Cool - a lazy gestalt, Mr Cool manages as slower more relaxed approach to doing anything is is much more about being passive and liesurely, similar to the Hustler, but less motivated.

Login or Register to Award Scrasamax XP if you enjoyed the submission!
? Scrasamax's Awards and Badges
Society Guild Journeyman Dungeon Guild Journeyman Item Guild Master Lifeforms Guild Master Locations Guild Master NPC Guild Master Organizations Guild Journeyman Article Guild Journeyman Systems Guild Journeyman Plot Guild Journeyman Hall of Heros 10 Golden Creator 10 Article of the Year 2010 NPC of the Year 2011 Most Upvoted Comment 2012 Article of the Year NPC of the Year 2012 Item of the Year 2012 Article of the Year 2012 Most Submissions 2012 Most Submissions 2013 Article of the Year 2013 Submission of the Year 2010