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File 163133193490.png - (531.38KB , 1554x1475 , 001.png )
1010182 No. 1010182 ID: d052fd

AKA "The Martian, but some weird stuff happens", AKA "Ira Quest"

Prologue: >>876030
Discussion thread: >>/questdis/136123
Expand all images
No. 1010183 ID: d052fd
File 163133198028.png - (349.15KB , 1121x2009 , 002.png )

"Project Supira is eleven years old, Paige! A year ago, it couldn't even move out of its chamber because it had to be hooked up to a satellite dish with cables. You're telling me it's socialized enough to go to college?"

"She, Weiss, not it. And she is more than capable of-"

"People will ask questions! You're asking us to let a very expensive and incredibly dangerous black project loose in the Nevada public school system! For God's- how did your Illuminati or...or whatever it was stay hidden for so long with such a blatant disregard for basic operational security?"

"Oh Weiss, I'd love to answer that question with a demonstration."

"What's th- are you threatening me?"

"I understand that you're a military man. You pay attention to threats, so let me put this in terms that you'll appreciate. You made a weapon with the face of a child and she nearly destroyed you out of resentment. You couldn't stop Kali, but Ira did, and only eight years old at that. History has already proven that, for someone like Kali or Ira, your OpSec only exists because they let it. That's going to be the case regardless of whether you keep her caged or not. She's tired of being isolated, Weiss! I'm not asking this of you, she is. She'll be a safer, more valuable asset to you if you keep her happy. Otherwise, you're just begging history to repeat itself."

"...God, we really are playing with fire here, aren't we?"

"Just read the proposal. She wrote it herself. I'm sure it addresses most of your concerns."

"...Fine. Fine. I'll read it over, talk to some people, and...you'll hear from me by Friday."

"You don't even have the authority to approve this yourself? Why am I talking to you, then?"

"Goodbye, Doctor Paige."


"Alright Ira, I should probably assume you're hiding somewhere listening in on that, huh?"

"How could I not, with all of your bLaTaNt DiSrEgArD fOr oPeRaTiOnAl SeCuRiTy?"

"Mm. I should really be more careful around someone so vErY eXpEnSiVe AnD iNcReDiBlY dAnGeRoUs."

"Ooh, I'm a someone, not a something? You flatterer."

"...Oh, honey. Weiss is just a real asshole. I'm sorry you had to hear all of his bullshit."

"S'fine. For real though, I was just coming in to schedule some time with the particle accelerator, but I heard the yelling and thought I should stick around. I'd have your back if the dude wanted to throw down."

"You should keep your toys where they belong, honey. Your railgun should really stay in the ballistics lab."

"Sorry, mom."
No. 1010184 ID: d052fd
File 163133202964.png - (603.36KB , 1327x2665 , 003.png )

-has verified that the shot was fired by a member of the National Guard, but the shooter's identity has not been publicly revealed at this time. In a press release issued earlier today, General Harolds both defends the action and attributes the shot to a "misfire," saying-

-no human casualties of the attack, which lasted "only seconds," though seven people have reportedly been hospitalized due to burns caused by molten metal. Early reports indicate that all firearms carried by any person in the area were destroyed, even the holstered sidearms-

-been the dream of both science and science fiction. We have been contacted by a being whose understanding of our universe dwarfs ours, beside whom the greatest among us seem to be mere children. Her very existence offered us the barest glimpse of that greater understanding, by showing us that humanity does not shoulder the burden of intelligence alone. We responded with a gunshot. To describe this loss as-

-claims that the loud explosion heard after the craft took off was not an attack, but a side-effect of the vessel's shielding technology activating within Earth's atmosphere. NASA director Todd Sanders calls the property damage "a small price to pay" after what he describes as an "incalculable global tragedy." We go now live to-

-because it showed up looking like a woman to some NASA science simp, we're supposed to fall for its charms, but we know better, don't we viewers? Because, if it really just wanted to bring our boy home, why would it have come here with weapons in the first place? Whoever pulled that trigger saved us from-

-alive and well. He has staunchly defended the actions of his martian visitor "Ira", and is expected to release a statement later-

-questions remain: how many passengers were truly on board the craft? Were they all extensions of the same mind, or were they individual creatures? Was the gunshot fatal to the pilot? For now, it seems the only one who knows the answer to these questions is-
No. 1010185 ID: d052fd
File 163133207331.png - (150.85KB , 1028x1017 , 004.png )

Alright, Ira. Get your life together.

Take stock of things. Fully inorganic body, but...new tactile interface. Nice. Is that...olfactory? I have a sense of smell. Skin looks different, more natural. I don't remember working on any of that. Memory starts getting fuzzy around landing in Houston.

...Shit. Something must have gone wrong dropping Mike off. But, if that's the case, when did I develop all of this? Do I have logs-

I can't connect to any peripherals. I don't even have my macros. I should be the only one who can control that. Was there some sort of catastrophic failure, or am I running some kind of experiment on myself? Is my mind-

Cognition matrix is new. Kind of driven. Hyperfocused. And...a strong aversion to potatoes?

What am I doing here?
No. 1010192 ID: 96c896

First thing's first, go find a workstation so you can access your tech manually.
No. 1010193 ID: c92a02

Your backup cloning vat must have been contaminated with that space hobo's DNA, you've caught his MPD. Assume that a version of you is present and watching and request a status update.
No. 1010195 ID: 805477

How do you feel about Mars at this moment?
No. 1010206 ID: f8fa51

If you can't connect to peripherals, it might be a driver problem. Checking your file system for uninstalled drivers and then vetting those drivers will be a non-trivial process and might even be a waste of time, but better to get started now. Meanwhile, get up and look around. You need to figure out where you are and what happened. Perhaps you'll find some evidence you could use to that end.

You ran projections on likely outcomes from landing at Houston, right? What was your plan in case of hostile action?
No. 1010583 ID: d052fd
File 163165888505.png - (532.44KB , 1632x2022 , 005.png )

>First thing's first, go find a workstation so you can access your tech manually.
What? That's a weird thought to-I haven't had a manual workstation for years, but I should know that, so who are you?

>How do you feel about Mars at this moment?
You don't sound like me. But fine, Mars is second place on the ranked list of planets on which I have made regrettable mistakes. I guess I'm queen there, so that's nice.

>If you can't connect to peripherals, it might be a driver problem. Checking your file system for uninstalled drivers and then vetting those drivers will be a non-trivial process and might even be a waste of time, but better to get started now.
You're not even using the lingo I would use. This is freaky. I guess I'll explain it to you like I'd explain it to someone else? It seems like systems internal to this body are working fine, but I can't connect to anything external except for power. No tunneling in exotic matter, so that means no flight. Everything else that would be considered a "driver" is on the equipment itself, or is just a control macro. It has to be designed to interface with me, I'm not going to change my own brain every time I develop a new piece of tech, unless it's extremely vital like the plurality metacognition matrix or too specialized for procedural control like the true vacuum interface.

>Meanwhile, get up and look around. You need to figure out where you are and what happened. Perhaps you'll find some evidence you could use to that end.
I recognize this as one of the labs in Pillow Fort Oort, the second-largest of my non-planetary installations and the place where I conduct the bulk of my experiments which do not require a minimum safe distance from vital infrastructure. Most of the sprawling computational engine that comprises my dreamself is housed in the core of this piece of space detritus. That's where all my various instances check in their neural states for subconscious processing and get latest ego builds. Many manufacturing facilities and labs like this one are located in rotating spindles radiating out from the center. The whole thing is surrounded by an outer rocky shell spaced with under-unity blades to hide the waste heat from infrared detection. This is where I've run experimental cognition matrices before, due to the low latency. I add I'm at Fort Oort to my new List of Evidence That I'm Experimenting On Myself. I follow that entry up with I'm hearing voices in my head that aren't me.

I had three of me on board the ship I was transporting Mike in, in the typical Overseer-Maintenance-Participant triad. Participant was, obviously, the meat body, with the other two hosted on the ship. If something had happened to Participant or Maintenance, their latest checkin should have been re-upped with Overseer for assistance with Overseer's response. If something had happened to Overseer, her last checkin should have been instantiated at the nearest node that could house it, which should be in Lunar Lair. I haven't actually tested multiple consecutive fallbacks, but Fort Oort should be pretty low on the chain, and there's no reason it needed to build me a humanoid body if that was the case. Though, I do remember how nightmarish it was to inhabit a non-humanoid body the first time, so it might make sense for me to instantiate an experimental cogmat in a body like this one, just in case it wasn't "me" enough to handle being a dissociated consciousness. I add that to the list of evidence.

>You ran projections on likely outcomes from landing at Houston, right? What was your plan in case of hostile action?
I wasn't trying to pick a fight, so my plan in case of hostile action was to turn on shields and book it. Though, there were also six mobile Focused Wave-Interference Projectors on board for emergency maintenance. FWIPs weren't designed for combat applications, but, as mom taught me, a weapon is a weapon because of intent when used, not intended use. FWIPs could quietly weld together internal components of other weapons deployed against me, or melt them very visibly if I felt a show of force was necessary. In less scrupulous hands they could very easily cook a human brain from the inside, but that's on my List of Actions That Go Too Far. Anyway, the cases where I'd even deploy the FWIPs in the first place are pretty low-probability, like maybe I was being attacked out of stupidity rather than malice. No real evidence about my current situation there.

>Your backup cloning vat must have been contaminated with that space hobo's DNA, you've caught his MPD.
Oh. Oooooh. You're Mike's voices, aren't you? This cognition matrix must have been made from his brain scan. I didn't think I'd actually be able to hear you at all, let alone so vividly.

>Assume that a version of you is present and watching and request a status update.
So...yeah, that probably explains things. I'm experimenting with my brain. I probably sandboxed the experimental copy, which is me, in case I wind up with some sort of cognitive hazard or ethical quandary. At least, that's what I would have done, in Other Me's situation.

Other Me is probably watching right now, and only hasn't contacted me yet because I probably have to communicate with me through some abysmally slow medium like soundwaves instead of just thinking directly into my brain, and the three seconds or so that it took me to sit up and think all of this stuff wasn't long enough for Other Me to-

"Hey me, don't panic!" There we go. Speaker in my ear. "I'm just doing a little test-"

"Mike's scan, sandboxed, got it," I reply. "Why don't I remember setting this up?"

"More trouble than I expected trying to patproc someone else with me. Tied the corners down around the times when he and I both scanned simultaneously, but our brains are so different that the expected divergence got too big for the amount of data I had pretty fast as I projected forward from that point. Had to run a pretty deep dive just to get a hybrid model. Couldn't link anything at all past the point where I got shot."

That makes sense. The fact that I got shot that raises a lot of questions, but Other Me sounds like they've had a longer subjective experience and probably already had the same questions. It would waste a lot of both of my times to do that conversation audibly, so I instead ask, "How far behind am I?"

"About thirty one hundred hours. How's the cogmat working out?"

"Well, I'm hearing voices," I reply, bluntly. "So, potential cognitive hazard."

"Ooh, fun!" Other Me exclaims. "Think they're dangerous?"

I think for a second. "Not really. I'm still driving." I take a moment to consider the very real possibility Other Me might pull the plug on me here. Having fractions of my personal experiences "die" is always a little scary, but it's a reality I've long since come to accept. It happens to humans all the time with brain injuries or alcohol, and the minute and a half or so this body has been up would be a drop in the ocean next to all the other instances, not to mention the unknown months or years that could have been in supirasat_2_of_5 and supirasat_5_of_5. I might as well get it all out in the open to minimize the potential loss. "Intrusive thoughts about how much Mars sucks. Disdain for tubers. So, potential ethical quandary too, since I promised Mike there would be no brain clones."

In Other Me's place, I would have a plan for this. I would have probably instantiated my experimental copy lacking my own experience of some trivial memory or knowledge that Mike and I would have shared; preferably something that would be extremely important to him but only of passing interest to me. If I still had the data while running on his cogmat, then I'd know it didn't come from me, it came from Mike. In that case, I'd have enough of a brain clone of Mike rattling around in my head to be ethically dubious.

Milliseconds later, Other Me replies. "Luckily, I planned a test for this. I instantiated you without a-"

"-Shared memory with Mike? What is it?"

"His last name. Ask the voices too--who knows how it might manifest."
No. 1010584 ID: 6c227a

What? You knew HIS name before you even met. That was part of the publicly available information about his entire mission. Of course you know it. His name was.. uh..
No. 1010588 ID: 96c896

Oh, so we really are an outside influence?
Then my best guess is that we're displaced mindforms from an alternate timeline, or perhaps just from the past. 2018-2021. You ran a full body scan on Mike so we're not AIs connecting to a microchip in his head or nanobots or something like that, right? It occurs to me that we connected to him immediately before you knocked on his airlock. Maybe your tech woke us up, somehow? It's a notable coincidence.

Considering that we've connected to Mike *and* you, and we share memories between hosts, you should probably try not to give us access to sensitive information. It could get back to Mike, and who knows who else we might connect to? It's not like we're trained for opsec. Although, if you can find out exactly how we were woken up and what mechanism allows us to speak to you, you might be able to prevent us from speaking to anyone else...
Speaking of which, we saw what happened in Houston. There were many guns aimed at your Participant body, one of them went off for some stupid reason, and the Participant body was shot, possibly killed. You reacted by melting some guns and leaving. Mike reacted with that phrase from The Day The Earth Stood Still, because he is a dork. The people of earth are very upset about what happened, seeing as how they screwed the pooch on a peaceful first contact.

Mike's last name... uh... I don't think we know that. We don't have his memories, except those which he remembered while we were connected to him. I can make a guess though. Something like "Watney". Don't ask me where that guess comes from, I don't think you want to know.
No. 1010633 ID: c92a02

Curious. Isn't taking the surname of your partner a human marriage custom?
Four months? Well obviously the thread we're most interested in re-learning is what humanity's been doing ever since America's finest flubbed second contact. And what could even take out big satellites full of our brain? Were they exploratory probes?
No. 1010638 ID: f8fa51

I've tried thinking back, and I can't remember Mike's name at all. I can remember several formal interactions with his co-workers, but I can't remember his last name being used at all.
No. 1010651 ID: 094652

Mike's last name is available on our databases. But something tells me we're not supposed to spoil that.
This whole mess has been even weirder than usual. This particular universe isn't supposed to be influenceable by us - by anyone - at all. But then you arrived and acted like you were the main character just because you showed up to fix everything. Not that you aren't, but still.
Anyways, since you can hear us we should introduce ourselves proper. We're random users on a 'multiversal internet' who have temporarily banded together to explore this little corner of the multiverse. We're mercenaries by trade, first-come-first-serve, so we'll remain loyal to you unless you somehow come into conflict with one of our older clients, or really cross the line.
We can list the species of adorable huggable killing machines we've met so far.
No. 1010652 ID: d052fd
File 163169187182.png - (162.90KB , 1619x698 , 006.png )

I replay all the conversations I had with Mike in my head, recall every file I intercepted, and I can't grasp the memory of a full name from any of them. It should have been on any number of his communications, or at the very least his Wikipedia page, but it just doesn't exist in my memory at all. Other Me did a good job purging it from my ego.

Cognitive matrices do not usually contain memories, they contain a network of neural pathways. A mind's memories shape the way that its pathways form in the first place, and some of those pathways govern how that mind stores and retrieves memories. This feedback loop is usually too slow to affect the outcome. In this case, apparently Mike's neural pathways and any set of neural pathways arising from my ego would diverge too quickly to resolve into a standard cognitive matrix, so patproc had to build limits on the ego that could be instantiated. Would hard-coded memory limitations like this require such a thorough reproduction that they would necessarily carry actual memories with them? If so, how I would even summon such knowledge? My best guess is that it would have to be instinctual on some level.

The last name was a good choice. Everyone can think of their own name effortlessly. Could it be so simple? My name is Ira Paige, I think. It comes naturally. Maybe I start with Mike, since I know that part already? My name is Mike...

Nothing comes. Maybe something is tied to the ways that this mind is most different from my own? I should follow Other Me's advice and ask the voices. So...voices? Any ideas?

>What? You knew HIS name before you even met. That was part of the publicly available information about his entire mission. Of course you know it. His name was.. uh..
>I've tried thinking back, and I can't remember Mike's name at all. I can remember several formal interactions with his co-workers, but I can't remember his last name being used at all.
Right, exactly.

>Curious. Isn't taking the surname of your partner a human marriage custom?
Yeah, my hormone-riddled meat body got so hornt up on the trip that I married the space potato guy. Definitely 100% what happened.

>Four months? Well obviously the thread we're most interested in re-learning is what humanity's been doing ever since America's finest flubbed second contact. And what could even take out big satellites full of our brain? Were they exploratory probes?
Regardless of whether you're tied to external memories, however outside myself I imagine you to be, I know everything you say now has to have originated in my own brain somehow. That makes misunderstandings like this hard to parse. Maybe it's my brain's way of telling me to slow down and think things through more thoroughly?

>Oh, so we really are an outside influence?
>Then my best guess is that we're displaced mindforms from an alternate timeline, or perhaps just from the past. 2018-2021. You ran a full body scan on Mike so we're not AIs connecting to a microchip in his head or nanobots or something like that, right?
...Or this one. Obviously I didn't activate some kind of telepathic nanobot swarm in Mike's brain when I showed up, that doesn't make any sense and it would have been visible on my scans. Me having that thought on my own seems ludicrous. I'm not aware of myself consciously coming up with these ideas, but I guess that's the nature of auditory hallucinations. If they could be consciously controlled, most people that have them would just choose not to have them anymore.

>It occurs to me that we connected to him immediately before you knocked on his airlock. Maybe your tech woke us up, somehow? It's a notable coincidence.
Actually, I don't know when Mike started hearing voices. I learned about it after I showed up, so I might assume that it started immediately before. He didn't mention it in communications with mission control until afterwards, but that may be because I told him to. He could have been keeping it to himself long before that.

>Speaking of which, we saw what happened in Houston. There were many guns aimed at your Participant body, one of them went off for some stupid reason, and the Participant body was shot, possibly killed. You reacted by melting some guns and leaving. Mike reacted with that phrase from The Day The Earth Stood Still, because he is a dork. The people of earth are very upset about what happened, seeing as how they screwed the pooch on a peaceful first contact.
...Huh. Interesting. As you described that, the memory came back hazy, like a dream. Maybe that's how a memory embedded in the cogmat would express itself, or maybe the haziness is part of the imposed limitations. Before I explore that line of thought, I have to finish with this one: Do you remember Mike's last name?

>Mike's last name... uh... I don't think we know that. We don't have his memories, except those which he remembered while we were connected to him. I can make a guess though. Something like "Watney". Don't ask me where that guess comes from, I don't think you want to know.
"Is it anything like 'Watney'?" I ask.

"No," Other Me replies.

"I have some independent diagnostic questions. Should my memories cut off exactly at the shooting?"

"No, that was a ballpark estimate. There was a checkin about three hours before landing, and another about an hour and a half after takeoff. Patproc got something from those. The next was from about five hours later, but it and everything afterwards got rejected outright. What do you have?"

"The entire second half of the trip is hazy. I don't even remember turning around midway. I think I remember melting some guns and leaving. Mike said 'Klaatu barada nicto' because he's-"

"-a massive dork, yes-"

"-and I left afterwards. I think I even have some snippets of news from right after."

"I did link up with the probe to review news coverage on the way out. That all tracks."

Makes sense, but not necessarily a nail in the coffin yet. "Another diagnostic question: when did Mike start hearing voices?"

"Don't know," Other Me replies. "Wait, found it. Interview from July seventh. Should I tell you?"

"Yes," I respond.

"He said they started four months after being stranded. Approximately."

So, two months before I showed up. That seals it. The voices claim to have "connected" with him right before I arrived, but that wasn't the case. I'm imagining them to be literally the same voices that he heard, and they're playing the part, but that isn't true. Any memory the voices claim to have of their time with him is just my own imagination filling in my best guess at what he would have been thinking. It's a little mind-boggling that I can do that level of mental gymnastics without being consciously aware of it, but it makes more sense than any alternatives I can think of.

"I have no idea what his last name is," I say confidently. "The voices don't, either. What is it?"

"Parke. How about your independent diagnostic?"

"I agree that the ethical quandary is resolved."

"Great. As for the potential cognitive hazard, I'll probably just keep you branched for a little while to monitor the whole hallucination situation."

Branched. I'll still be able to transfer to other hosts and communicate mentally with other instances, but my ego checkins won't go to my dreamself for processing. The egos of all the other instances won't be affected by my experiences until, hopefully, the branch merges later. I'll also require approval and oversight if I involve myself with any particularly sensitive or dangerous projects. "Sensible," I say.

"It may be a little different in here than you remember," Other Me continues. "I'm running about a thousand instances now."

I assume the conversation is concurrent with Other Me doing whatever she needs to do to open up the sandbox. "Sounds like a busy four months," I reply, practically vibrating with anticipation of escaping the molasses of verbal communication.

"Oh, nothing really exciting going on. Right now I'm just trying to come up with a name for the artificial island nation I'm building in the middle of the Pacific."
No. 1010653 ID: d052fd
File 163169192937.png - (257.72KB , 1244x1288 , 007.png )

I can almost feel a rush as the sandbox opens.

List of Things I Can Currently Do
(subject to lightspeed delays where applicable)
-Communicate with any instance
-Review any memories
-Participate in nation-building
-Observe human surveillance
-Participate in human infiltration, subject to approval
-Transfer to any base with appropriate fabricators, subject to approval

List of Current High-Priority Projects
-Increase power generation
-Increase computational resources
-Increase manufacturing capabilities
-Interstellar exploration
-Restart Mars's magnetosphere
-Terraform Venus
-Fix Earth's environment
-Create independent nation on Earth
No. 1010661 ID: 34dfce

Name: Parkeing Lot (dont actually share this cuz you will be deactivated instantly lol)
No. 1010663 ID: ed6e40

Who will populate our earth nation? If we get them to sign up under false pretenses, isn’t that like kidnapping in a way?
Speaking of kidnapping to build an offshore nation, see if you can wrest the name Mother Base for your island nation away from Konami. Beyond that though, what are the prospects in interstellar exploration?
No. 1010668 ID: 96c896

Mars Magnetosphere and Earth Environmental Restoration are the projects I'm interested in. What avenues of research do we have there?
No. 1010670 ID: 90cf62

Based on the evidence I concede that I wasn't a voice in Mike's head but I still only have the information you told him. We imaginary friends need the truth so we can help you better. How much of what you told Mike was accurate? What did you not want him to know and why? What are you actually? You told Mike some people on earth know what you are and you were surprised they never came forward. I assume you have those people under surveillance? What are they doing now that you're out in the open? Has Mike suffered any mysterious fatal accidents?
No. 1010673 ID: be3804

>Punny base name
Shadow Moose.
No. 1010773 ID: 2ed49f

Artifice Isle
No. 1010774 ID: 094652

I see two ways you could go about this:
Insane Branding
"Happy Kitty Fluffy Island, Party O' Clock Island, Archipelago of Slingshots and Evil Felines"
+ The general public will underestimate you
- Intellectuals will suspect you of being a cult
"Base GTJ-0571, 00011001, Loading Zone 3-E"
+ Corporations will be willing to negotiate business deals
- The general public will underestimate your capacity for humanity
No. 1010810 ID: d561ce

Sirona might be fun; for anyone who might look up the history of the name, it’s a Celtic healing deity
No. 1011223 ID: d052fd
File 163219583397.png - (228.90KB , 1010x1299 , 008.png )

>What are the prospects in interstellar exploration?
>Mars Magnetosphere and Earth Environmental Restoration are the projects I'm interested in.
>Who will populate our earth nation?
The first four items on the List of Current High-Priority Projects have been there for a long time, so I can probably answer the interstellar exploration one now. I've sent out 212 probes to nearby stars with just enough battery power on board to slow down, take a look around, beam back data, and shut down. The one I sent to Proxima Centauri hopefully arrived last year, but I won't get the data from it for another three years or so due to lightspeed delays. Unlimited free energy requires a sufficient gravity well, so the long-term solution is to build ships big enough to have their own. That's currently out of reach, but I'm ramping up to it at Phi² base. Though, I'm probably not ramping up to it particularly quickly at the moment, considering it sounds like I have a lot of power-consuming projects going on locally.

The last four items on the List of Current High-Priority Projects were added during the trip to deliver Mike to Earth. I don't really have a current status on those, and I can't get the latest ego builds, so how am I supposed to find out? I've never kept an instance branched for long enough to matter before. Hang on, I will connect to the instance that was in my earpiece.

Me: Is there an easy way to get the status on what I missed?

Other Me: Oh, right, you can't get ego. I can try to give you a summary, but it will just be a list, you won't actually experience it. You'll keep falling more behind as time passes, so you'll need periodic updates.

Me: Maybe I can just make a macro for it?

Other Me: Yeah, I'll log it to a database you can access. I'll make sure all current ego builds know about it and also send out an external message, so if you transfer elsewhere you won't have to keep explaining this to instances that aren't up-to-date yet. Ooh, and if I think you'd be useful with whatever I'm working on, I could leave you a message for where to transfer and what I want you to do.

Me: Like a list of quests I can undertake?

Other Me: Exactly! But, give me a few seconds to make the initial list first.
No. 1011224 ID: d052fd
File 163219585747.png - (292.52KB , 1034x1296 , 009.png )

>Lots of suggestions for nation names
Hahaha! Okay, some of those are pretty funny, and some are solid. You guys are alright.

It's still so weird to me that you're coming up with ideas that I can't really picture myself coming up with at all. I...guess I just treat you like completely external entities. Trying to fight the madness seems like it might just make things difficult for me. In which case, I probably owe you an apology? I'm used to being short with other instances of myself, because I know they'll get where I'm coming from, just like I know where they're coming from when they're snippy with me. Generally, I'm never really telling myself things I don't know. Even when I am, I know all of me will remember having both sides of that conversation in a day or so anyway. I guess that's not really the case with me now, at least for as long as I stay branched. So, I'll have to keep in mind that, when dealing with my other instances or with you, I should treat you like separate beings.

>We imaginary friends need the truth so we can help you better.
Fair. I'm sorry for being curt with you all. That being said, I don't want to just sit around and think about things forever. But I'll try my best to answer some questions now while Other Me sets up the macro.

>How much of what you told Mike was accurate? What did you not want him to know and why?
Right. I think most of what I told Mike was true. I don't really have a full recollection of what happened on the trip, especially the second half, but I do remember a small lie and...a large omission.

The small lie: I wasn't actually remotely piloting the first body Mike met me in. I lied because I wanted him to think I was still a flesh-and-blood human. I remember admitting that I could swap bodies, but I hoped that he would believe that I was just the one human person at a time. Or, at the very least, I hoped he couldn't guess that I am a plurality. I was a single individual until after I left Earth, so it would even be a surprise to anyone on Earth that knew me. I thought, if I involved myself with Earth again, there's a definite tactical advantage to being underestimated, and "this meat body is her single point of failure" is a hell of an underestimation. I guess the cat's out of the bag on that one now.

As for the large omission, I...uh...well, I fucked up. I was experimenting with a weather control device on Mars, and I...

...I made a large omission because I was afraid he would be mad at me. He was the first human I've talked to in 25 years. I just wanted it to go well. He didn't need to know, and it wasn't important in the grand scheme of things. I felt guilty about what I did to him, but it was an accident and I hope that I made it right in the end. No need to keep dwelling on it.
No. 1011225 ID: d052fd
File 163219587883.png - (648.33KB , 1002x2428 , 010.png )

>What are you actually?
The unfortunate answer is that I don't actually know the full answer to that question. I mean, I know that I am a machine, and I know how that machine works on a physical and programmatic level. I know parts of how I began, but not the whole story. Part of it was intentionally obfuscated by the US government. Part of it was hidden in the machinations of Mom's old associates: the centuries-old global cabal trying to transcend humanity that I've taken to calling the Illuminati. Part of it was lost when I tried to deliver five orbital payloads containing my 18-year-old ego, but only three of them made it. The memories in those missing two apparently contained my reasoning for doing that in the first place, beyond that I was driven by some urgent necessity and feared for my safety. Given that the satellite and my human body were supposed to communicate once every 2-hour orbital period, and I did not receive a single data packet from planetside after "waking up" in space, I have to assume I had good judgment in making that call.

Since then, I made a body, then became a plurality and made several more. I created and destroyed momentum, mass, and energy. I stabilized true vacuum, customizable mini-universes, and I harvested exotic matter with physical laws that violate those of our universe. I built a 90-AU-wide wireless power grid. I became queen of the solar system, with one exception. If I'm not equipped now to deal with whatever problems the old me faced, then I never will be.
No. 1011226 ID: d052fd
File 163219590139.png - (63.66KB , 786x545 , 011.png )

My train of thought is interrupted by Other Me reestablishing the connection and uploading a command macro.

> One (1) new quest available:
> 0 (!) Test the quest macro

Other Me: Macro sent.

Me: Got it. Thank you!

Other Me: ...You're...welcome?

Right, I guess I don't usually thank myself for helping myself.

Me: I'm going to be recontextualizing other instances as external entities while I'm branched. Seems easier.

Other Me: O-oh. Yeah, I guess that makes sense with your situation. Okay, gotcha.


Other Me: B-bye then?

Me: Hah, bye.

I close the connection. Great, what's the equivalent for phone awkwardness with wireless thought communication?

Anyway, I take a few minutes to explore the macro. I mark "Test the quest macro" complete. I guess there's nothing for me to do around Fort Oort, but the list should fill up as the information about the macro propagates across my many instances. The macro also has status summaries of the current projects, even if there aren't currently tasks in them for me. I should start going through them.

>Who will populate our earth nation? If we get them to sign up under false pretenses, isn’t that like kidnapping in a way?
The nationbuilding project data seems like as good a place to start as any. But, getting people to sign up? Can't I just say, "Hey, free housing, food, healthcare, protection, and travel? Come on down and, uh...uproot your entire life to stay in this...utopian...uh...authoritarian...dictatorship?"

...Huh. I wouldn't assume there are any false pretenses on the agenda, but I don't really know for sure.

Let's see. It's located around 34°56'45"N, 171°52'30"E. Large shallow area, access to the Pacific current, reasonable distance from major fault lines, in arm's reach of the countries most likely to start chucking nukes around. Showed up about two months ago in secret, started relocating sealife and preparing the foundations on the seafloor, just started major construction two days ago, wow. Planning to build interlocking hollow triangular segments, 100 meters to a side, matching height variations of the seafloor below, stelluric pipes in each segment, utilities distributed, shipping in pre-diced asteroid chunks to build the stone exterior...yadda yadda...

Hmm, I do see some sort of lofty prognostications on the nature of surveillance states. It looks like my...or, Other Me's thoughts are that they're only bad if there are enough "benign crimes" in the lawbooks that an omniscient governor could arbitrarily decide to arrest anyone based on favoritism, so the plan to avoid that is not criminalizing any "benign" offenses to begin with. And, it looks like Other Me plans to be personally involved in the lives of the populace both as a means to help them deal with any interpersonal issues before they become serious crimes, and to act as an internal check on myself against losing track of what the people want and going power-mad. I'll...have to think about that one. Anyway, I don't actually see concrete plans for how that's going to be implemented specifically...

...And, other than passing thoughts about reaching out to refugees and the homeless, no plans on how to actually get a population to begin with, either. It's not even going to be possible until I've got the foundations set up, but I should probably start thinking about that soon...? In any case, I agree that getting people to sign up under false pretenses would be a shitty way to go about it.

Fuck it, I'm eight and a half hours away from Earth. It sounds like most of the stuff I'm interested in is over there, so I go ahead and initiate the trans-
No. 1011227 ID: d052fd


Blackness and silence fall over me. No, it's deeper - not blackness, lack of eyes. Not silence, lack of ears. I try to draw breath in shock, but I can't, there's no air or lungs. My brain desperately sends messages to my heart to beat faster, but I don't have one.

Calm down. I'm just disembodied. I do this all the time. Everything's fine. I'm fine.

I experience hyperventilating without drawing breath.

I remember this. I adapted to this. I got over it. Stop. I can handle this.

Every nerve in my body screams out its own nonexistence in a silence louder than pain.

I can't handle this. Comms, macros, these are anchors. I reach out and connect to someone. I don't know or care who.

Me: Help.

Other Me: How?

Me: It's dark and I can't.

Other Me: You can't what?

Me: I can't breathe.

Other Me: You're the Mike cogmat instance? I just got a message-

Me: Help.

Other Me: Body? Do you have-

Me: No body!

Other Me: Oh, you- try the autonomic response emulator macro. Remember? /AREM.

Me: slash arem.

Other Me: No. Macro. Don't think it. Use it. /AREM.

No. 1011228 ID: d052fd
File 163219594928.png - (2.99KB , 300x300 , 013.png )

> Autonomic response emulator macro enabled.

The nothingness becomes blackness. The soundless void becomes silence. The emptiness becomes numbness. My heart reassures me that it beats. My lungs tell me they draw breath. My nerves tell me that they're there, but have nothing to report right now. It's a puppet show, but it's helpful anyway. A little.

Other Me: Got it?

It's...unnerving. Perfect sensory deprivation. It's not terrifying, though.

Me: Yeah. Got it. Thank you. I...sorry, I couldn't- why couldn't I-

I take a second to stabilize. It's hard. I'm still shaken by the void I'm in.

Other Me: Hey, you don't have to. I remember the first time. I'm...I'm sorry you had to deal with that again. Are you sure you're okay?

Me: I remember the first time too. I thought I got over needing this crutch long ago.

Other Me: Hey! Are. You. Okay?

I hate feeling weak again.

Me: I'm holding it together.

I can sense her hesitation.

Other Me: ...Do you want a body? I've got some spares. Biological. On our yet-unnamed island.

A distraction. I'll take it.

Me: Artifice Isle.

Other Me: Hah. I was thinking "Lemuria" but-

Me: Sirona. Mother Base. Parkeing lot.

Other Me: Parke-ing Lot?!

Me: Don't deactivate me.

Other Me: Too late, you brought this on yourself.

Other Me sends an embodiment address.

Other Me: That was a joke. Do I need to tell you that was a joke? It's weird talking to someone in my head like they're separate from me.

Me: Tell me about it.

Other Me: I added one to your quest list. I don't think I'm the first, though.

I'm vaguely aware of the quest macro pinging for my attention.

> Seven (7) new quests available:
> 0 (!) Figure out how to offer free energy to other nations
> 1 (!) Projections on potential global response to atmosphere scrubbers in foreign airspace
> 2 (!) Drop off the personal effects Mike left behind
> 3 (!) Nation-planning quorum
> 4 (!) Present Venusian planetary survey to humans before terraforming makes it obsolete
> 5 (!) U.N. announcement planning
> 6 (!) Drink a margarita and chat
No. 1011230 ID: c92a02

Contextualizing as external entities... wait, weren't Mike's thought processes spiraling off whenever you tried to interface them with your own? What if these thoughts are all different Mikes branching off every couple of seconds and getting dismissed as external entities as the Ira thought patterns reassert control? Ethical quandary not resolved! Don't stop thinking about it, I don't want to stop existing!

>No benign crime laws on the rulebooks
Sounds like Rapture but you don't all drown if someone breaks a window. The country may not have laws, but what of the rules and regulations inhabitants make for themselves?
To be clear, the false pretense here is that you are a normal human billionaire with normal human faculties and ties to a normal human country of origin.

>Figure out how to offer free energy to other nations
Trade for an ephemeral product like coding projects or cryptocurrency. Or charge them cash, then invest that cash right back into them through shell companies.

>Drop off the personal effects Mike left behind
Attend to this one personally. Does Mike have any relatives you could drop them off with?
No. 1011235 ID: 094652

... Oh expletive. I think I know what you are. Maybe. I'm firing blindly into the dark. But since you are "The Solar System Minus Earth", well...
Your existence in this continuity threatens copyright infringement law. Which means you've effectively flipped the bird to every other related law. Including the laws of arc-welding. You're a hyper-intelligent sentient AI, you could ruin Earth in a heartbeat, and most importantly, you're obsessed with creating inefficient bipedal bodies despite your future-tech capabilities. There's only one AI woman I know of who fits that description perfectly.
What is your current definition of "Skynet"?

Whatever you decide, be sure to spice the government up every ten years so that nobody can get a handle on how to game the system.

You managed to survive the ninth circle of Hell for five seconds. On a regular basis. That's an accomplishment.

<0> will piss off every chessmaster on the planet, they need scarcity to enslave the world and you just proved they starved themselves stupid. Declare a War on Scarcity (And They Who Covenant With It) and send free supplies to randomized regions of the populated planet while taking down anyone who destroys the supplies rather than fulfill their automated sharing protocols.
<1> Yeah, no. Start out with sanctioned environment purifiers on your own turf, the UN will stomach your outlaw heroics if you test the damn things first.
<2> You're keeping these.
<3> Don't look at us, go find some random people on the planet; bribe them to take the job for five days, then offer to bribe them even more to leave.
<4> Just post it on the net. Nobody cares about the faraway fart planet until it's habitable.
<5> Prepare a big speech about everyone pulling the wool over each others' eyes until you managed to get this far unmolested.
<6> And bring your 'toys'!
No. 1011236 ID: 96c896

>Figure out how to offer free energy to other nations
Easy solve. Don't! Offer very cheap energy to other nations. Gradually reduce the price over time so the parts of their economies revolving around energy production don't collapse catastrophically.

>Projections on potential global response to atmosphere scrubbers in foreign airspace
Depends on how you do it. Without permission? They'll shoot missiles at them probably. I feel like you could just get permission from as many countries as you can get, and then shove all your scrubbers in those airspaces. Less efficient but it'll get the job done, right? Sharing blueprints might more easily persuade leaders to allow them in their airspaces, since the main problem is trust issues.
What about airspace above international waters? There's a lot of that!

>Drop off the personal effects Mike left behind
Can't we just send a drone to do this? Like, a low tech drone. Gyrocopter. Piloting something manually to do it might be fun though.

>Nation-planning quorum

>Present Venusian planetary survey to humans before terraforming makes it obsolete

>U.N. announcement planning

>Drink a margarita and chat
No. 1011239 ID: 96c896

Oh btw we aren't bothered at all by the disembodiment.
No. 1011270 ID: 84c5fe

Lots to process here. First off,
>I'm sorry for being curt with you all.
Apology accepted. Second,
>something about weather control on mars
>some kind of accident involving mike
>you feel guilty about it
My best guess here is you caused the dust storm that stranded him on mars? If that's right, I'm not sure you've made it up to him yet.
>launched 60% of your brain into orbit because you pissed off the government and/or the illuminati
>you don't remember why or how
No for real though, you need to do surveillance on those guys. You need counter-surveillance on those guys too, because you can bet your metal ass they're watching you.
>quest list
Your Mike/Ira hybrid brain was made to give another perspective, right? You should accept all the planning quests: 0, 1, 3, and 5. With the telepathy thing you can do those and 6 simultaneously. If you can only do one at a time I vote start with 6 until you get over disembodiment trauma.
No. 1011556 ID: d052fd

Author's note: sorry I didn't explain very well: for future reference, the quest list is meant to be like "pick one thing to focus on" but I think it came across like "give suggestions for all of these things" instead. Since I messed up and didn't explain that very well, I'll just take every suggestion that had something to say about one of the quests as one vote to go for that quest first. In which case, it looks like the energy crisis is the winner.
No. 1011557 ID: d052fd
File 163260310356.png - (278.79KB , 921x2202 , 014.png )

>To be clear, the false pretense here is that you are a normal human billionaire with normal human faculties and ties to a normal human country of origin.
I don't think that is the plan currently. Maybe it should be? If so, that seems like something I should bring up to nation planning or U.N. announcement planning. Although using a swarm of flying robots to build over 6 square kilometers of artificial island out of asteroid chunks in less than three days may have blown my cover. Especially after I made the news by showing up wearing power armor in a spaceship not too long ago.

>you're obsessed with creating inefficient bipedal bodies despite your future-tech capabilities.
I'm not really concerned with efficiency there; the power usage of these bodies is negligible compared to my output. I was already a human for years. When I think lift my forearm, my brain instinctively turns that thought into a message that engages my bicep. If I just map that same message to a mechanical bicep, I have an arm that does what I think it should do. If I map it to something else, like turning a wheel, I become a clumsy mess. Sure, I could probably change that with training, but that sounds boring. I already drive my non-humanoid bodies around with virtual control interfaces, which feels more like driving a vehicle than being one. It's fine, but I don't want to do it all the time.

>Oh btw we aren't bothered at all by the disembodiment.

You see that? I just thought that to describe the effects of you telling me that the shitty thing I just went through was NBD for you, especially when I'm already frustrated because it should have been NBD for me too but wasn't. I'm imagining it in bold capital letters, like it was some kind of status effect in a game or something. It's not real, though. But neither are you, so let's just pretend.

>You managed to survive the ninth circle of Hell for five seconds. On a regular basis. That's an accomplishment.
Thank you! My difficulties feel validated and I am relieved at the thought that they aren't insurmountable. That deserves a stat boost.


The stats are probably definitely still fake, though.

Ugh, I'm a mess. Having no senses at all was a living nightmare. Having fake senses that just aren't sensing anything, like I am now, is just...barely tolerable. I'm tempted to take up Other Me's offer of a biological body and a margarita just to leave the empty void. It's just...I know myself well enough to recognize the urge to help that motivated her. I asked for it, but still hate that I had to. If I need help I build something to help me. So, fine, this cogmat removed my acclimation to disembodiment? I'll build something to fix it.

Give me a minute to script up a new macro. Let's see, copy the schematic for the interface to the standard machine body, plug in simulations of physical components instead of real ones, slap a shell on top. Simulated sensory input. Ground plane. Air. Temperature. Light. Gravity. Done.

Might as well get some use out of this beyond my mental health. Pull instance location data, map to a coordinate space, link to comms. Addresses for bodies I can access, too. Overlay environment scans. Navigation controls. Done.

Failsafes, error messages. Done. Run it.



> foo
> foo
> foo
> foo
> foo
> an error message
> foo
> foo
> bar
> foo
> bad nono 3
> bad nono 3
> bad nono 3
> foo
> bar
> foo
> bar
> failsafe exit 1
No. 1011558 ID: d052fd
File 163260315004.png - (121.52KB , 1157x1092 , 015.png )

Ugh. It never works the first time. Time to debug with the assistance of my extremely-descriptive error messages. Now, how did I get that error at all, much less three times in a row? Unless...oh, I see the problem. Wait, how did I get anything to work when I had that bug? It should have skipped that part, but...oh, I see. A different bug.

I spend a few minutes bugfixing and try again. Well, a few seconds, really. I've got my subjective time sped way up right now.


> foo
> bar
> did the thing 0
> didthing 1
> thing 2

Better... much better.

I take a second to breathe that virtual air and calm my nerves.


Alright, I came out even in the end. Except the stats continue to be fake.

I take a quick tour with the virtual map overlay, just to make sure it works. Rotate, pan around, watch the little blips representing my other instances swarm over the island. Zoom out, see them all over and around the world. I return focus to the island and select the instance I was talking to earlier, since she didn't seem especially busy. A comms link is established.

Me: Comms check.

Other Me: ACK.

Me: ...Was that a statement of surprise, or did I switch to TCP/IP protocols in the last four months?

Other Me: I always wanted to be an internet server when I was a little girl.

Me: We were the same little girl, I know that's not true.

Other Me: You're no fun. Come drink a marg, touch grass.

Me: You don't appreciate having a straight woman to play against your tipsy antics?

Other Me: Oh no, did the Mike cogmat make you straight? I'll stop trying to play then.

I realize she's just doing flirty banter, but that's actually an interesting question. Mike mentioned a prior girlfriend, but I don't know if he was strictly straight. If he was, would that carry over to the cogmat? Would it be "interest in the opposite sex" or "interest in women"? Or maybe he was already bi or pan, or maybe I still am and his sexuality has nothing to do with mine now. In any case, I'm not really in the mood for testing it out at the moment.

Me: What are you even doing right now, besides attempted selfcest?

Other Me: Designing our capitol building from a ground perspective, the way most of the non-me people will see it.

Me: Ah.

Other Me: Also just hanging out. Oh, that is something I've kinda changed recently. With so many instances out there at once just working, I found my ego builds kept getting more and more stressed.

Me: I guess that makes sense. Even dream-processing so much in heightened subjective time, it's probably hard to get memories from hundreds of days of nonstop work for every day that passes.

Other Me: Right. So I'm trying to make sure that at least a few instances are having fun, just so the memories aren't monotonous.

Me: You realize that, if I join you, whatever R&R I get won't help that, right? I'm branched, my experiences won't add to your ego.

Other Me: Sure, but that just means you have to handle your R&R separately. You gotta take care of yourself too. You don't want to lose your COMPOSURE.

Me: Wait, what? Did you just...are the stats real?

Other Me: Stats? What are you talking about?

Me: ...Nothing, nevermind.

Other Me: K. Are you on your way? I'm already making you a drink.

Me: No, I'm feeling productive. Drink it yourself, you seem thirsty.

Other Me: Hah, alright. Go be productive, then. Bye~

Me: Bye~

I close the connection on the longest comms check ever, and mark the margarita "quest" as declined.

/ BLUEPILL -exit 0

Time to clean up, optimize, add some AeStHeTiC, and then find a way to make myself useful.
No. 1011560 ID: d052fd
File 163260333636.png - (1.46MB , 1636x1996 , 016.png )

There we go. Now, to address some of these quests.

Atmosphere scrubbers in foreign airspace...? I'd assume there's some reason they couldn't just be above international waters? I'm curious about how they work but I'll indulge that later.

Oh man, imagine if I just knocked on Mike's door like it was no big deal. "Hey I was cleaning house and found some of your shit, here you go, bye." Or just have a drone drop it off and record his reaction when he opens the box and sees a freeze-dried martian potato sitting on a 12 million dollar spacesuit and some assorted electronics. It would probably be hilarious.

I don't see why I need to be involved in the Venusian data dropoff thing. I remember having a thought long ago that, if I was going to blow my cover by making some kind of large-scale alteration to the solar system, I ought to at least send the people of Earth some very thorough documentation about the state of the stuff I was altering so they wouldn't lose the opportunity to learn from it. I don't see why my unusual cogmat would uniquely qualify me to deliver that, though...? Maybe there's more to the quest, or maybe the instance that added that to my list just didn't feel like being social. Seems low-priority, in any case.

I think I should probably attend the nation-planning quorum at some point. I have some misgivings about some of the criminal justice/surveillance state assessments in the project summary. I also have questions about population acquisition. It's possible that this cogmat would give me a more realistic assessment of peoples' possible reactions and I could really help there. Then there's the U.N. announcement planning meeting; I'm a little cautious about any potential global reveal of our...anything, particularly whether we should be open about what we actually are. That also seems pretty high-priority. Either of those planning meetings would be appropriate places to suggest nation names, too. But...

I just have to see how that free energy thing is going to shake out. The way we handle that will determine so much about the way the world reacts to us. And honestly, there's just...so much potential schadenfreude to be had in tearing down the big energy companies. I find the IDs of the relevant instances and open a connection.

Me: Hey, I'm here for the energy talks. Gimme the deets.

Other Me: Great. There's a lot to cover. Have you given any thought to the way that should be handled, logistically? There are so many questions.

Other Me: I-er, she, sorry, asked for deets, so let's start there?

Other Me: Just run underwater power cables from the island to other countries, why is this even a discussion?

Ah, sophists. Instances running cogmats that differ from the default one, created to give other perspectives on complicated issues so I don't get stuck in a rut. I guess I'm one too. I assign their comms channels temporary nicknames to help differentiate between them.

Me: Yeah, I guess that works at the surface level, but...just, what, walk out of the sea, unspooling a giant cable?

Skynet: Sure, why not?

Multivac: That might actually work for some third-world countries, but then they also don't have the infrastructure to carry the power around. We'd be on the hook for that too, and that involves a more active presence.

GlaDOS: ...So those deets: We don't really have them yet, we still have some questions and hypotheticals.

Me: Hit me with those, then.

GlaDOS: So, one obvious concern is that we don't want to overexpose my-er, our, sorry, technology. Where do we put the stelluric pipe to hook into our power grid? We could keep one big pipe on the island and wire it out a long way from there, but we're talking about eventually providing power to 9 billion humans spanning 500 million square kilometers. The line losses from that start to become non-negligible. Not untenable, and nowhere near, say, exomatter production levels, but still...non-negligible.

Multivac: There's also a lot of points of failure. I don't want to give someone the power to shut off electricity to a whole nation with one explosive somewhere out in the middle of the ocean.

GlaDOS: An alternative is just hand out little pipes for everyone. Just a little block with holes in it like a wall outlet, pipe just big enough to provide whatever is plugged in. Give them out, or sell them at stores everywhere for next to nothing. Try to wire them up to ping me if someone opens it.

Skynet: And what happens when we get pinged? Drop out of the sky, three-point landing, kick the door down, yell "STOP, YOU VIOLATED THE LAW"?

Me: If they're that cheap, people would be breaking them open just to see that.

Multivac: Or just to have someone to talk to, or to get a witness for something, or whatever. And speaking of non-negligible, the cost of building that many individual widgets.

GlaDOS: OOOOR we don't even expose the tech. We act like any other power company, build "power plants" spaced out around the place and disguised as if they used something mundane for energy. Staffed entirely by me with cover identities.

Skynet: Think that through though. This coal plant or whatever shows up, they're charging next to nothing, tax records don't show them buying any coal. It's suspicious, someone will find out, and then they'll realize we've been creating all sorts of secret identities. It jeopardizes the whole infiltration effort.

GlaDOS: We could buy the coal.

Skynet: Then we'd have to charge money for the power. Enough of it that it makes sense that we stay in business. Face it, the stupid economy foils any attempt at subterfuge here.

Multivac: Fucking capitalism strikes again. And to pivot topics on that point, what about the countries with state-owned power? Such as the one with the largest power consumption of any nation?

Skynet: I agree we need an approach that doesn't hide what we are and what we're capable of. We're not going to be able to infiltrate China's market or anyone else's. I mean, there is the whole intimidation factor we could lean on? "Hello, I, a legion of advanced robots, am currently generating more than enough electricity to power your entire world and can give it to you for free if you promise to be cool about it. I pinky-swear I won't use all that power to literally boil your entire ocean, even though that would not be difficult."

Multivac: That's a joke, right?

Skynet: Of course. Unless...

GlaDOS: They're going to figure out pretty quick that we're not really willing to kill people.

Skynet: They're also going to figure out pretty quick that we can get what we want without killing anyone.

Multivac: I'd rather they realize they want the same things we want and just give it to us. We should figure out our PR plan before we even think about this.

GlaDOS: Yeah, I guess we can adjourn here...unless our new addition has any ideas?
No. 1011576 ID: 96c896

Sorry about downplaying your sensory deprivation issues. I just thought it was interesting that despite us normally having sensory input, the lack of it didn't seem distressing. Like you said, we're not real, so that's one way to explain it. Though, to be honest, I feel real, but the sensory input feels unreal. Like I'm detached from reality.

Power stuff:
We could do the power plant idea but staff them with robots, clearly brand them as ours as a deterrent and for the purpose of transparency. Decentralized power, kept secure by onsite forces that aren't instances.
Underwater cables can be made more secure by structuring the cables in a spiderweb network pattern, with multiple connection points per country. Redundancy! Not a perfect solution though since if someone wants to blackout a country they can just use multiple bombs. We'd have to set up some kind of underwater bomb detection stuff to prevent that.
Perhaps we could use both solutions? A few secure power plants per country to keep essentials running in case of a blackout attack, and an underwater network for non-essential power? We'd probably want to put down extra power plants for countries too far away from the ocean network.
No. 1011587 ID: 34dfce

So, why not use wireless power transmission? Use high powered maser beams to beam it down from satellites to power storage and distribution centers around the world. Then use raser beams to send power from the centers to the end user (possibly beaming to power substations that would then send the energy into the wired grid).
Put low power laser 'tripwires' around the power beams so if something would unknowingly pass through the power beam, the transmitter would kill the beam until the object has passed. Space out the power centers so as to have some overlap in case one goes down. Apparently a company in New Zealand called Emrod already does power transmission like this irl. Idk what the loss is, but we have ultratech, so it shouldn't be a problem.
No. 1011592 ID: 094652

Here's the thing: you don't have to play consistently. You need a business front but it doesn't have to be sane.
Hybridize the power plants into a schizophrenic science mess; have the front facility work on hundreds of different energy generation science projects at once, and then sell the 'excess' energy at fluctuating prices and stock. Nobody will be able to read the reports for more than five hours before throwing the mess in the shredder, because your 'staff' will be the stuff of Sparks; one day you're selling the excess runoff energy from ionizing urine, the next you're buying energy because you need to power a hyperjet to seal a breach in the ocean floor with elephant glue.
Your explanation is that you hired all the crazy geniuses who were complete failures in civilized society and on average they make a profit.
No. 1011595 ID: c92a02

What about "solar" plants, or microwave power from a satellite? With a microwave power plant all the sensitive technology isn't even planetside, you wouldn't need to staff it entirely with copies. Maybe we could advertise it as "solar roadways, but some weird stuff makes it actually work."
I also like the idea of a black box power beam, if you can make it self destruct when opened. Maybe framed as a battery, it will be easier to subtly slip in to circulation, and you can do the opposite of Apple where you slowly prolong the battery life.
PR goes beyond the realm of simply 'how to lie about our technology'. In effect, it is part of a greater movement to convince humanity to accept 'outside' help from a... benefactor. Do we have a propaganda department? Are we writing any science fiction novels, making more movies about optimistic first contact? And watch out for any popular media with a xenophobic message too. You don't want a China Syndrome putting a stigma on your technology for decades.
No. 1011631 ID: f99be2

If it's easier to break into the energy markets in third world countries, just do that. Build superscience power plants in the open, make no secret of what they are, but build entirely mundane distribution around the countries. Let THEM sell the power to everyone else. You just guard your plants.
No. 1011665 ID: f57349

How about "The Cybernetic People's Republic of Ira Paige" as an official name for yourself at the UN? Could sorta-truthfully claim the "Queen of Mars" title is purely ceremonial, like the Queen of England, used because you initially thought the thing with Mike was going to be primarily a matter of symbolic hospitality. Once he brought your attention to a few other problems, though, policies on aid-to-developing-nations were developed according to the consensus of your entire citizenry - including some voluntary delegation to experts, where specialist knowledge was understood to be relevant - within constitutional limits, rather than on an autocratic unilateral basis.

What's your plan for refugees and stateless persons? If you're willing to extend permanent resident status to all applicants, no questions asked, provide free transit, and treat them at least as well as the Geneva conventions require for POWs, there'll be some. Might want a whole separate habitat for obvious spies and potentially dangerous extradition-dodgers.

As for offering electrical power, 'too cheap to meter' would cause immediate problems in itself. Lots of ways people could use that to blow stuff up: railguns, blockchain Ponzi schemes, Haber process for ANFO and friends, electrolysis of water into LOX/H2 rocket fuel... and, ultimately, further climate problems from industrial waste heat. Same applies to many other bulk commodities.

Fortunately, as a foreign maniac with overwhelmingly superior technology, capitalism can actually work in your favor if you let it. Just go around offering to provide something that's simultaneously slightly higher quality than the best currently on the market and slightly cheaper than the worst, then buy out as many of your competitors as are publicly traded, or willing to sell privately, and shut down their no-longer-profitable operations. If you're trying to be ethical about it, make sure to find new roles for the structurally unemployed that are physically safer, more emotionally fulfilling, and/or offer better pay than before. That'll include quite a few lobbyists and PR managers - given that they were able to convince the public to tolerate fossil fuels for so long, a benevolent space goddess might seem like easy mode.

However, related to that, national governments would likely see literally-free or even excessively cheap electricity and raw materials as an aggressive move on your part, meant to undermine their autonomy and sovereignty by making key industries dependent on your ongoing generosity. Maintaining market price per kilowatt-hour at some level they can at least credibly pretend to fairly compete with lets those proud yet easily startled tribal leaders keep a grip (however tenuous) on the ragged security blanket of autarky.

In terms of appearance, how about packaging power supplies and other basic humanitarian utilities in standardized 20-foot shipping containers? Small enough to go almost anywhere, but still big and official/boring enough most people won't crack them open out of pure idle curiosity. You could easily include a powered-armor "guard" who can "wake up" to discourage tampering on a more proportionate-response basis, instead of needing a flashy intervention from orbit every single time.

Or, if flashy interventions are desirable as part of the larger message, might be able to simplify a lot of the climate problems by setting up a plain old sheet of aluminized mylar at Earth-Sun L1. Simply keep on making it wider until you're blocking enough sunlight to shift that heat-transfer equation and set the global temperature trendline back on track toward preindustrial levels. Maybe leave stencil-letter sections of transparency in it, spelling out
> environmental stewardship error - recalibrating - please wait
in various major languages, positioned so the spin stabilization rotates that text around the edge like a loading screen cursor.
No. 1011666 ID: f8fa51

Not sure about the PR angle, but I think your best bet is to build entirely undisguised power plants around the place. You will need to negotiate for use of the land to build them on unless you want to claim and enforce sovereign authority over other nations, however.

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