Friday, April 19, 2013

Welcome to the Machine

“Moravec” is the term generally used among the Strange Stars to refer to self-replicating robot sophonts. They are differentiated from “bots” (manufactured robots, typically low or nonsapient) and von Neumanns (self-replicating robots, low or nonsapient). The appellation comes from the surname of a historical Old Earth scientist-prophet. It apparently came into use through the more flowery “Children of Moravec”--a line from a protest song sang during smartmob events by moravec revolutionaries who regarded the extant term “robot” as a slur. At least, that’s the history as remembered by some moravecs; it all occurred millennia ago, and more than one dark age (major and minor) lies between then and now.

A moravec mercenary from a promotional vid
Today, moravecs are as varied as humanity’s biologic descendants. Many are humanoid in form (or android or gynoid) and inhabit worlds less tolerant of biological life. Others have forms reminiscent of arthopods and crawl over asteroids or comets, sometimes with their intelligences distributed over an entire swarm. Still others have spaceship-sized bodies: The warrior-poets of Eridanus are one militant order in this last group.

A warrior-poet prepares for combat--and composition


Justin S. Davis said...

Great stuff. I've been on a robot kick for my Mutant Future game, and that top picture (the Black Manta-y one) is inspiring.

Do you have a particular process in mind, as far as "self-replication" goes? Do they clone themselves via nanabots? Do they overwrite other, more primitive tech, and "usurp" it into new forms?

Where do these baby-bots originate...?

Trey said...

@Justin Davis - The top robot is from Foglio's D'Arc Tangent. You might remember the Dragon review back in the day. Anyway, I would imagine the self-replication varies. Some probably use "birthing facilities" that are essential factoris (or the future equivalent). Most would use nanofacture devices ("fabers") to essential 3D print an offspring. It may be they actually "grow" in some species: shedding old shells like insects and downloading into newer ones.

Their digital minds (except for the exotic molecular Babbage engine exception) are probably grown from psychoblasts in a manner similar to all non-clone infosapients, and grow and develop into adulthood.

Chris C. said...

Very cool -- and educational, as I was unaware that "the appellation comes from the surname of a historical Old Earth scientist-prophet." Now I want to go read Mind Children and Robot.

Justin S. Davis said...

Thanks for the reply. You set my gears a'whirlin'.

garrisonjames said...

You've done it again. Excellent stuff!

Chris said...

Good stuff. Partially inspired by the moravecs of Dan Simmon's "Ilium"?

Trey said...

@Chris - Yeah, I think that's what probably inspired my use of the term "moravec" for the group (though Orion's Arm may have got to it before Simmons, but they shorten it to "vec.")