Aren't biomorphs already alive?

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Aeroz Aeroz's picture
Aren't biomorphs already alive?

So you pop out a fresh splicer ready for an ego to be sleeved. But isn't the splicer already a living human being before an ego is uploaded, doesn't it have its own ego? Sure its a blank slate but so was I when I was born. The morph is fully capable of learning and developing its own identity.

So aren't you technically killing the native ego of the morph?

If not sedated wouldn't a biomorph move and act like a newborn?

Or is there some "spark of life" that keeps biomorphs as empty meat-suits until an ego is uploaded?

Zoombie Zoombie's picture
Re: Aren't biomorphs already alive?

Well, I think you can have one or the other. Children ARE being born - and they tend to be born as splicers, with non-invasive nanosurgery implanting things like mesh inserts and cortical stacks. They mature and are taught as per the normal axiom of their clade: Group supervised by AGIs, creches with rotating parent units, retro nuclear families, and so on.

Then, there are morphs earmarked for people to sleeve in. If you can "fix" an ego into a morph, it seems like it'd be childishly simple to have nanobots continually keep the brain "neutral", and thus, prevent even the beginning formations that happen inside of a womb.

Some people might find this uncomfortable, but I don't see many people foregoing a body for the sake of a potential person.

Decivre Decivre's picture
Re: Aren't biomorphs already alive?

I work under the assumption that there are three ways that a biomorph can be made.

  1. The "natural way", also known as the "fun way". This process actually produces an ego as a byproduct of the process, in the same way you were produced. It also requires a long period of time for the morph to grow to term. Though there are disagreements on this, I work under the assumption that most biomorphs can do this with a morph of the same clade (though I think pods are sterile).
  2. The "artificial way". This is the use of an exowomb and various biotechnological means to produce a child. This, like the natural way, produces an ego and requires a full growth period. Used by people who are in neuter bodies, or don't wish to go through all the nasty parts of childbirth, or simply do not have the genetics for raising a child the natural way (such as two synthmorphs that want a biomorph baby).
  3. The "consumer way". This is the method that a person uses to get a new sleeve, rather than a child. The biomorph is grown in an exowomb similar to the artificial way, but hormone treatments and alterations to the growth process force the morph to reach an adult form in 3 years or so. The body is grown with the mind in something similar to a persistent vegetative state... there is no ego within it at any point in time.

Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age.

Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.

Xagroth Xagroth's picture
Re: Aren't biomorphs already alive?

Also, it is explicitely said in the core book that when an ego leaves a morph, the morph's brain (or cyberbrain) is wiped clean (in the case of the biomorph, using nanomachines to destroy the neuron's connections that were built to store the ego).

If youhave a problem with that, of course, you can always use synthmorphs or pods. There are a lot of good options in those fields, and I am sure you can even get some extra creation points by inccorporating this to your character as some sort of honor code, mind adjustment, phobia (to be wiped from a biomorph), or similar.

Smokeskin Smokeskin's picture
Re: Aren't biomorphs already alive?

Aeroz wrote:
So you pop out a fresh splicer ready for an ego to be sleeved. But isn't the splicer already a living human being before an ego is uploaded, doesn't it have its own ego? Sure its a blank slate but so was I when I was born. The morph is fully capable of learning and developing its own identity.

So aren't you technically killing the native ego of the morph?

If not sedated wouldn't a biomorph move and act like a newborn?

Newborns aren't clean slates, they've been receiving sensory input and processing it for months. On the other hand, grown sleeve wil have a fully developed brain. One we thing we don't know though is how thoroughly the morph minds are wiped. They might not have the circuitry left that is needed to get a conscious mind to develop, so they'd need an ego imprint restore it - that could be your missing spark of life.

I don't see a moral problem either way though. I don't buy the potential human argument - even a fertilized egg is a potential human, should that be given human rights too?

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Aren't biomorphs already alive?

Smokeskin wrote:
I don't see a moral problem either way though. I don't buy the potential human argument - even a fertilized egg is a potential human, should that be given human rights too?

It gets even better in recent research, which has shown that one can most likely turn stem cells into embryos. Is every stem cell a person?

More seriously, growing an "empty" adult body is a tricky biotechnology problem. You want to have the brain in place and with some functionality beyond simple brain-stem life support. In order to develop, the visual system needs to have experience: the retinas produce waves of activity that help organize the optic nerve and visual cortex so that neighbouring points in the eye are connected to neighbouring points in the cortex. The difference and similarity between what is seen in the left and right visual field help organise the visual cortex into a "zebra pattern" of ocular dominance stripes - if early visual experience doesn't happen, visual perception is forever scrambled. Most likely this is the same for many other brain systems: they need to develop through some use to become adult. The body might have a few similar issues: to develop well muscles, bones and joints need to move, and this might go beyond just normal electrical stimulation.

This leaves us with a somewhat eerie picture of the biomorph "factory": the brains are developing directly under control over nanomachines that keep them from developing any individuality, move connections into the appropriate pattern "by hand" but also induce various activity patterns so the system can self-organize into a functioning state. This involves the bodies moving and reacting in a lot of ways: they might not at all be serenely hanging in the transparent clone tanks but actively "sleepwalking", playing, speaking, experiencing emotions and perceptions at a high rate. The place is full of mindless or controlled activity, with systems constantly checking, training and measuring. In the end the morphs need to be run through quality control where all aspects of transhuman function are checked.

Suuri Pyynönen, Skinthetics: "There is a part of the job we rarely talk about. That is the final quality test, FEI: full ego integration. By this point we know all parts are working fine. We have run local tests checking that the emotional range is full, that the basic motor- and perception hierarchies are up to spec, that memory consolidation runs smoothly, and so on. But we don't know for certain that the whole system works. We know enough not to be reductionists: sometimes local quirks in different subsystems interfere, wrecking the whole experience.

So we sleeve an ego into the morph and check that it works fine.

Now, this is where ethics becomes tricky. You can sleeve it in and keep it asleep, running tests in unconscious mode. This doesn't really tell us since we are dis-integrated as minds during sleep anyway. Running an awake ego is a far better test... except that sometimes the morph is faulty, and of course the ego has to be wiped at the end of FEI. Having the same ego uploaded and downloaded in a dozen morphs each day, week in and out, would of course drive them insane. Just imagine that job! So instead it has to be a fork that is close enough neurally to an alpha to be a good test, but has no legal rights and does not mind being wiped at the end of the test.

We call him Bill.

I think he was based on one of our founders, old Willian Imgenberg, but I am not sure. The name might have been a joke. I literally meet hundreds of him every day."

Extropian

Tyrnis Tyrnis's picture
Re: Aren't biomorphs already alive?

Presumably the commercial biomorph manufacturers have developed a way to prevent higher brain functions from ever being able to develop, so they're essentially creating humans that are inherently in a vegetative state and have no capability to develop beyond that until they receive an ego imprint.

Bill's job is almost assuredly done by indentures. You want someone with the experience of having a human body so they can make sure everything feels the way it's supposed to, but they need no real skills other than being able to move around and put the biomorph through its paces under the watchful gaze of the medical team.

Aeroz Aeroz's picture
Re: Aren't biomorphs already alive?

Smokeskin wrote:

I don't see a moral problem either way though. I don't buy the potential human argument - even a fertilized egg is a potential human, should that be given human rights too?

it was never a matter of rights of a potential humans, besides a hardlined minority, its a matter of when that individual IS a human. At what point do you say "this is a human and has the rights of one". You cant even use the old liberal stand by of "after birth" with a morph since its not born its decanted from a tank. Suppose you could count that as, birth, but then that would mean biomorphs are humans and thus it is wrong.

I see three options. Which are mostly touched upon already in this thread

They could have a process that simply keeps the brain fully formed but not sentient.

Possible most are willfully ignorant of all this and choose to just believe biomorphs are "empty"

Third would be a shift in morals and philosophy that the infantile mentally retarded mind of a fresh biomorph doesn't qualify it as human. With our shift to transhumans it wouldn't surprise me if this happened

I'm guessing it was all three but at different times. Originally they ignored the implication that they were killing people upon resleeving, and by the time it sunk in people were too used to using morphs to view it as wrong.

Still I imagine by now they do not need an active mind to develop the morph. Sure to work properly the brain needs to be used, but same could be said of the body. Being in microgravity would seriously mess you up but morphs have a way to prevent that so I dont see why we wouldn't develop similar tech for the mind.

Though I can see why we might never see resleeving, even if ambiguous society will not allow the process just to let the rich live forever.* After all we are against cloning even if the result is treated as an equal.

*I know eventually everyone will have it, but initially it will only be available to the wealthy and the lower class will view it as the elite now literally killing the disenfranchised to make their lives better.

Smokeskin Smokeskin's picture
Re: Aren't biomorphs already alive?

Aeroz wrote:

it was never a matter of rights of a potential humans, besides a hardlined minority, its a matter of when that individual IS a human. At what point do you say "this is a human and has the rights of one". You cant even use the old liberal stand by of "after birth" with a morph since its not born its decanted from a tank. Suppose you could count that as, birth, but then that would mean biomorphs are humans and thus it is wrong.

Human after birth is a horrible criteria.

Just go with conscious mind as a requirement for personhood, and everything should be fine. Then you don't have to worry about potential humans or keeping brain dead bodies alive.

Aeroz wrote:

After all we are against cloning even if the result is treated as an equal.

I'm not against cloning. I don't really see the big deal. I've even known two sets of identical twins, they weren't scary at all.

Smokeskin Smokeskin's picture
Re: Aren't biomorphs already alive?

Arenamontanus wrote:

More seriously, growing an "empty" adult body is a tricky biotechnology problem. You want to have the brain in place and with some functionality beyond simple brain-stem life support. In order to develop, the visual system needs to have experience: the retinas produce waves of activity that help organize the optic nerve and visual cortex so that neighbouring points in the eye are connected to neighbouring points in the cortex. The difference and similarity between what is seen in the left and right visual field help organise the visual cortex into a "zebra pattern" of ocular dominance stripes - if early visual experience doesn't happen, visual perception is forever scrambled. Most likely this is the same for many other brain systems: they need to develop through some use to become adult. The body might have a few similar issues: to develop well muscles, bones and joints need to move, and this might go beyond just normal electrical stimulation.

Ego bridges could cover that part of the nervous system too though.

GreyBrother GreyBrother's picture
Re: Aren't biomorphs already alive?

Smokeskin wrote:
Just go with conscious mind as a requirement for personhood, and everything should be fine.

There's a problem with that.
As far as i know, we still struggle with defining "conscious mind" and still can't figure out, if and when a mind is conscious.
Smokeskin Smokeskin's picture
Re: Aren't biomorphs already alive?

It is more of a theoretical problem though. Actually applying it in practice seems very easy, and it gives consistent and reasonable results, unlike other definitions of personhood that I'm aware of.

Xagroth Xagroth's picture
Re: Aren't biomorphs already alive?

Smokeskin wrote:
It is more of a theoretical problem though. Actually applying it in practice seems very easy, and it gives consistent and reasonable results, unlike other definitions of personhood that I'm aware of.

I bet the "definition of personhood" is more of a problem in corporate space (Planetary Consortium and Morningstar controlled habitats) than everywhere else... Mostly because it might help getting more obedient indenturees, if they are told that their only property is some cold storage space, and they are living on "borrowed" processing power...

WooMod WooMod's picture
Re: Aren't biomorphs already alive?

GreyBrother wrote:

There's a problem with that.
As far as i know, we still struggle with defining "conscious mind" and still can't figure out, if and when a mind is conscious.

Sapience is a pretty good and reasonable line, and we know that develops in humans at around 3 years of age.
So there ya go.



Anarhista Anarhista's picture
Re: Aren't biomorphs already alive?

Well, since transhumans 'kill' themselves during each egocasting, resleeving... and billions of infomorphs/uploaded minds are waiting for the any kind of morph, this inconvenient (truth;) is hardly going to matter...

What would I like to do is put a little bug in the system, so that fragments of EVERYONE FIRST ego in the morph always stays (let's say, full ego wiping is too expensive) so during the night when you are sleeping original personality emerges and do... stuff you later find out. Very good for the paranoid ones :D

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish.

Xagroth Xagroth's picture
Re: Aren't biomorphs already alive?

Anarhista wrote:

What would I like to do is put a little bug in the system, so that fragments of EVERYONE FIRST ego in the morph always stays (let's say, full ego wiping is too expensive) so during the night when you are sleeping original personality emerges and do... stuff you later find out. Very good for the paranoid ones :D

Unless it is a 30 points or so disadvantage, I'd say a great no to this. Break the sleeving process, and you get people not using egocasting/forking, and body banks centering around synthmorphs only (I can't wipe clean a computer? You sure? Well, it takes less than 10 minutes to dissassemble the cyberbrain, and less than an hour to assemble a clean one). Making that a core for an adventure (thanks to a second, undetected, cortical stack or something similar) would be ok, I guess, but not making it something usual.
Having the disadvantage of paranoia (ghosts left behind) for the player's ego, however, would be different: he believes that happens, regardless of proof against that.

Anarhista Anarhista's picture
Re: Aren't biomorphs already alive?

Xagroth wrote:

(I can't wipe clean a computer? You sure? Well, it takes less than 10 minutes to dissassemble the cyberbrain, and less than an hour to assemble a clean one).

Since this thread is about biomorphs and I talk about original ego in the morph (born in to body) it is not about cyberbrain. I believe one round is enough for the transfer so wiping it clean isn't really hard. I guess you were speaking about something else.

The idea is not to eff the players but to make them think what are they doing every time without thinking. I wouldn't terrorize (all of) them with original ego ghosts but sometimes glitches appear to remind you, you are in someone else body... Not at all disturbing and morally questionable... :D

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish.

WooMod WooMod's picture
Re: Aren't biomorphs already alive?

Anarhista wrote:
What would I like to do is put a little bug in the system, so that fragments of EVERYONE FIRST ego in the morph always stays (let's say, full ego wiping is too expensive) so during the night when you are sleeping original personality emerges and do... stuff you later find out. Very good for the paranoid ones :D

That is so ridiculously outside the way a brain works it's not funny.
If you install a new ego that by definition fully wipes the old ego.



Decivre Decivre's picture
Re: Aren't biomorphs already alive?

Anarhista wrote:
Since this thread is about biomorphs and I talk about original ego in the morph (born in to body) it is not about cyberbrain. I believe one round is enough for the transfer so wiping it clean isn't really hard. I guess you were speaking about something else.

The idea is not to eff the players but to make them think what are they doing every time without thinking. I wouldn't terrorize (all of) them with original ego ghosts but sometimes glitches appear to remind you, you are in someone else body... Not at all disturbing and morally questionable... :D

Except wouldn't such an ego ghost be deleted as the new mind is written in? It seems like a perfect storm of bad events would have to occur for these ego ghosts to even haunt someone... an imperfect deletion of the original ego, followed by an imperfect writing of a new ego.

If either of these things go flawlessly, no ego ghost would exist.

Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age.

Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.

Xagroth Xagroth's picture
Re: Aren't biomorphs already alive?

Anarhista wrote:

Since this thread is about biomorphs and I talk about original ego in the morph (born in to body) it is not about cyberbrain. I believe one round is enough for the transfer so wiping it clean isn't really hard. I guess you were speaking about something else.

The idea is not to eff the players but to make them think what are they doing every time without thinking. I wouldn't terrorize (all of) them with original ego ghosts but sometimes glitches appear to remind you, you are in someone else body... Not at all disturbing and morally questionable... :D

Nothing occurs into a vacuum, and I was pointing that if biomorphs start to do that kind of stuff, Synthmorphs would become much more popular, which is really against the bioconservatists goals (not to mention it is much harder to control a synthmorph's implants, so biochauvunism can be a control mechanism too).

Now, the cleaning process of a biobrain is stated to involve a lot of nanomachines deleting all the connections between brain cells. As in physically removing them (then they write new ones to install the new ego). This leaves little room for a "ghost", making it more plausible, in fact, into synthmorphs (since they use a software deletion instead of a physical destruction).

Frankly, with the rules in my hand, the only way I can depict the kind of scenario you describe requires a hidden secondary cortical stack and a ghostrider module that second stack can access (and use it to hijack the body, at least temporarily). I'd use the mesh inserts, but the muse lives there, so its a little more risky.