Link Key Tech

Some key technology concepts for Link.

Link works in robotics and AI, developing minds and bodies in parallel.

Robot Generations

Link’s key insight is that connection is what’s important, not composition. He builds robots out of simple and durable components, using only what is needed. He will avoid fancy materials or powerful but brittle processes, relying instead on simple chemistry.

As of the current Masks game, Leo has reached generation three and is planning gen four, while Aria is concentrating on generation five and six. Generation seven and above is for the future.

  1. Core modular technology: small pieces that plug together in useful and interesting ways. Like cells in a human body, but no ability to heal. A robot that looks like a robot.
  2. New module types: ability to pass for human, more granular transformation options (e.g. having Pneuma able to armor up, as compared to Otto just shifting limbs around to go from car to humanoid). A robot that can look human.
  3. Animal neurotech: creating robots with animal-level intelligence, but no independent consciousness. A robot that’s a movie or TV horse/dog/other-pet, smart but not sentient.
  4. VR neurotech: placing minds in virtual-reality worlds. These simulations can have their clocks run at different rates, to perform time-intensive tasks or somehow receive training.
  5. EC neurotech: Ephemeral Cerberus is a way to temporarily merge minds into a new entity. When the connection separates, both minds remember everything the combined mind experienced. A Gem Fusion or being made up of two or more other beings.
  6. Child neurotech: remixing a new mind with deep structures but no memories. The result is exactly like a newborn: a mind with potentials and the ability to learn, but without a personality or memories of its own. A robot baby.
  7. Green power: current robots are powered by a hyper-tech item called a Casimir Fractal. Leo would like to build robots that don’t depend on this, instead consuming solar power, or metabolizing food or similar substances. A robot that can eat food, or absorb sunlight like a plant.
  8. Module factory: a robot body that includes a sub-system for building new modules out of carbon or other elements. A robot that can (eventually) self-heal.
  9. Omni-factory: a robot body that can produce more modular components and connect them together internally. Also includes a miniaturized Heart Factory. A robot that could reproduce sexually or asexually (mixing with another mind, or creating a newborn of its own).
  10. Nano-factory: incorporating nanotechnology into robot construction, this option allows the robot to recycle its own damaged parts or more quickly create and position newly created modules. A robot with a significant regeneration ability or healing factor.

Neurotech

In Link’s world, minds are what brains do. The mind is not a separate entity or existence, it’s the name for the processing the brain constantly does.

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The basis of Link’s neurotech is the electro-mechanical brain. This is physically a thick chunk of material, about as big and heavy as a big softball made out of iron. Almost all of the weight is the heavy outer coating. The brain can take a bullet at close range without damage, though it is usually wrapped in much tougher armor when placed in a robot.

Regular computers are powered by electricity. They also use magnetic charge in their RAM and hard disks to hold onto their state. If the power goes out, the computer stops working, and you risk losing work on the hard drive if it becomes corrupted.

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The electro-mechanical brain uses electricity to operate, but doesn’t store anything with magnetic charge. Instead, think of it something like a record player on a turntable. As long as there’s current, the record will spin and you’ll get music, but it’s the grooves in the record itself that hold the music. If you cut power, the brain immediately stops processing, but will resume exactly where it left off if you apply power again.

heart-factory.jpg

Link uses a device called the Heart Factory to manipulate the contents of brains. The Heart Factory is a rack-mountable PC with a small hard drive of its own, containing the software used to operate it. It also contains six electro-mechanical brains inside it, as buffers for performing operations. It is normally connected to an uninterruptible power supply (UPS), with two independent power connections, for safety.

The current Heart Factory has two ports, labeled A and B. They can read from the neurochip in his own head, via an induction hookup, or be wired to any compatible robot brain to read or write data. The process of copying mental data back into a robot is called “remastering”. The machine also can not affect a normal human brain without some kind of external connection tech. For example, Link has a read-only neurochip, and Jason Quill has nanobots that allowed reading and writing.

There is no way to selectively modify memories, personality, or attitudes. Instead, the software operates holistically, performing certain preprogrammed actions on minds as a whole:

Fork or remix a single mind (Alice -> Bob or Alice -> Alice A + Alice B). This is how new AIs are created. The user puts themselves into a deeply meditative state, where they envision themselves as another person. The Heart Factory takes this projection and creates a new mind corresponding to it, using the source mind’s resources as a template. This is called a “remix”.

The limitations of this technique are the available mental agents. You can’t construct a new mind that has capabilities you simply do not. You can create someone who uses your capabilities more efficiently, or differently.

Alternately, the machine can do a straight copy, making a duplicate of an existing mind. This is called a “fork”. Link and his robots use this function to make mental backups of themselves, in case one of them should die.

Perform a Zipper merge (Alice A + Alice B -> Alice). If two forks of the same person exist, sharing most of their history, the machine can merge their mental resources back into a single mind. The process will reconcile any individual memories the forks have gained since the time they separated. For example, if Pneuma were split into two copies of herself, those two copies could be rejoined back into a single individual.

The longer two forks remain separated, and the more individual memories they gain, the harder a merge will be.

Perform a Victory merge (Alice + Bob -> AliceBob + Bob). This is the process of augmenting the mental resources of one mind with those of another. This can solve problems such as amnesia or psychological damage, letting the brain heal itself using “building materials” mined from another brain. This does no damage to the second mind - resources are copied, not moved or stolen.

If enough resources are copied, the result might be considered a new person, if their personality or abilities have shifted significantly.

Perform a Cerberus merge (Alice + Bob -> Alice + Bob + Carol). If two minds are able to focus on something sufficiently (a person, an ideal, a goal), the machine will combine them into a new entity whose ego is anchored by that focus. The result is a new mind, leaving the original donors’ minds intact.

The contributing minds can be very different, as long as they have sufficient overlap. Although this type of merge has been coded, it has never been attempted.