Considering Technological Implications In Protostar!
This is, more than anything, just a bit of a note to myself. I’m sort of committing to a path wherein I’m going to work on Dystopian Review and the next Protostar novel quite extensively, which is a great thing! So let me think this through a bit, and in the process give you a little ‘behind the scenes’ on how I map out my plot-lines with respect to technology. Spoilers: It’s gonna be beautifully simple.
Lahira Ocean is the Captain of the Messenger and the Vice-Admiral in charge of Humanity’s Fourth Fleet. Honestly, as I’ve explored other Science Fiction and Futurist viewpoints on the concept of interstellar warfare (I’d recommend Issac Arthur’s videos; they’re long, but provide great detail on a topic and if you’ve ever dug audio-books, think of it like that; visuals are rare and mostly for added context or just plain awesomeness), well, it’s a hell of a strange notion that we frail-ass Humans, as upgrade-able as we might be, would be taking part in any sort of warfare. That could be the entire focus of this blog, but I’d rather go somewhere else with it.
This research effort has led me to reconsider some of the technology that Humankind has available to itself in the late 2480’s, and their implications for plot construction:
- Faster-Than-Light (FTL) travel technology exists, meaning that Humans can zip around the Galaxy with whatever speeds are necessary for the plot to work. If that sounds lazy, well, it sort of is; and it always has been, for science-fiction writers, given that whatever excuse we come up with (I used a hand-waving application of the Alcubierre Drive, a real concept that’s far from proven) in order to make impossible things like FTL possible. As I’m sure you know, the main goal of such a ‘system’ within the Protostar universe is to allow me to create time-tables. In the very first chapter of Memoirs Of The Messenger, Lahira utilizes the gravity well of interstellar objects to create a boost, and to cut down her vessel’s travel time. That’s a very real phenomenon, but I’m sure I applied it in nonsensical ways simply to demonstrate that Lahira was exceptionally skilled at using the technology available to her (I.E. running 500 simulations so she could study the maneuver before she made it) to, in essence, catch up with the plot. She got herself where she needed to be to meet with the alien vessels; and only someone as good as Lahira could pull that off.
We won’t even touch on sending information at FTL speeds.
- Brain-To-Machine Interfaces exist, meaning that Humans can have cybernetic implants installed to allow them to communicate with computers. This isn’t an obligatory aspect of society, given one can achieve a lesser effect with a network of electrodes, but by the time of the Automatic Apocalypse, Humanity has developed full-fledged virtual reality, similar to The Matrix (which is where I first really encountered the tech being populated; it’s predated by Shadowrun, William Gibson’s Neuromancer, Altered Carbon, and more!), where one’s entire consciousness can be duplicated in digital form. Multiple starships can pool computing power to simulate entire virtual battles. The implications and their leading questions are obvious - what happens if you’re in virtual reality and your body dies? What happens if your brain is still intact upon death, can you be downloaded? What happens if your VR environment gets hacked?
- Artificial Gravity exists, meaning that even planets have been “gravity-equipped” in order to make them more pleasant for Humans. This is one of the biggest advancements imaginable, given that, you know, we evolved with Earth’s gravity and most planets aren’t going to share that environment for our pleasure. Even if we could tolerate slight variations (either through simulated gravity, exercise, or sheer bone-crushing determination), the flora and fauna we’d want to bring with us wouldn’t - you can’t have pets in 1.2x Earth’s Gravity, and definitely can’t survive 100x gravity training chambers, either. …Unless, I guess, you’ve got magical, physics-transcending powers, I suppose, but Protostar actually doesn’t incorporate that.
- Fully Sapient Artificial Intelligence exists, in the form of the Automatons. While I’ve dipped a little into how their society works (mainly, that they only create new members when it’s for a purpose; that four “Code-Donors” serve as parents, each shaping part of the child’s whole; and, as revealed by Amber, that the process of being born is intensely unpleasant for any infant Automaton; and that they are highly democratic in nature), the truth is that the threat they represent to Humanity is vastly under-stated, and for good reason. It is absolutely possible for a single AI to control multiple bodies - suggesting they might possibly control entire fleets of drone ships. Think of it this way: An individual might simply appear to ‘be’ like a Human, or to ‘be’ a star-ship; they might ‘be’ both of those pieces, at once, and possibly more; they might also ‘be’ an entire star system’s worth of mining equipment. While they have no prejudicial distrust for other aliens, they did bring calamity upon their creators. Lastly, they definitely have trust issues, and are not directly beholden to any other species.
Overall; these factors and more mean that Human life is very different in the 2480’s than it is, today. It’s so different, in fact, that I have no blessed idea how we’d pull off Faster-Than-Light technology. We might simply not be able to. In fact, I can only really see one significant possibility within the near-to-mid future, and that’s the idea of a fully-Sapient AI being a thing which I’m fairly certain could be developed.
I even talk a little bit about AI (at least, the notion of building a SKYNET) in the latest Dystopian Review!
Well, I hope that was a fun little read. I have no idea what to really say about it, other than - Have a great day!