The Birds and the Bees and the Biomodified...

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GregH GregH's picture
The Birds and the Bees and the Biomodified...

Just an odd side thought...

Sex isn't going to go away, but what about reproduction overall? Reproduction is essential for a species to survive as individual death is inevitable and as individuals themselves age younger individuals are needed to do the physical work and produce more young...

...thing is though, H+ really doesn't seem into the whole "death" or "ageing" thing. Add in the fact that many people probably look at the bodies they were born with the same way they looked at their first car, and "forking", and we're a looonnngg way from the ol' maintaing the bloodline thing here. Sure you got your "flats" with their bioconservatism, and there is probably an emphasis on families for extrasolar colonies, but what about the solar system in general? Is the human population stable? In decline? Or perhaps growing?

I'm sorta having a mental image of advanced Western nations with lower birthrates... but take away the whole issue of the aging population. Not so much a doomsday scenario of plummiting population crash so much as the notion that procreation is something some people still get into but the mainstream is doing a whole other thing. The VHS tape of species continuation if you will. Just another background thought/idea, but curious if I'm pretty much spot-on or not.

RobBoyle RobBoyle's picture
Well, the first thing to keep

Well, the first thing to keep in mind is that the Fall reduced the transhuman population by about 90%. Even with this reduction, there wasn't enough space for everyone on all of the habitats and off-Earth colonies. Many people were trapped as "infugees" (infomorph refugees). In the ten years since the Fall, there's been a strong emphasis on building new habitats as well as establishing colonies beyond the Pandora Gates. So the population is on the increase once again, both from infugees resleeving and people procreating once again. And, yes, while effective immortality and a good standard of living have led to low birth rates, people still like to get it on and have offspring, and there's a sense that humanity needs to build up its numbers once again.

Rob Boyle :: Posthuman Studios

GregH GregH's picture
Nice to see some things

Nice to see some things remain the same:) Just got through reading Harry Bate's "Alas All Thinking" where radical modification in biology and leading "the mental life" leads to mankind dropping to 36 people total and quite pleased with having achieved "quality over quantity", chilling...

HardSix HardSix's picture
Griping about old people... going to be a full time job for the "youngsters," especially if the seniors just won't die. It's hard enough advancing in a career in RL when so many old people just won't retire gracefully. The hypercorps and other orgs are going to get top heavy with oldsters who won't shove off; the companies will get increasingly more conservative & less innovative, and youngsters will have to fight intense competition to get the increasingly fewer job openings.

I can imagine more than one disgruntled young Ego that becomes a serial killer of senior Egos (including all forks/backups). And when a youngster can't get a job, can't pay their bills, and has little hope of rising above their lower class station... well, with all that free time and nothing to lose, they are going to be very tempted to resort to violence.

Admini Admini's picture
Maybe he programs a computer

Maybe he programs a computer virus that eats egos of a certain complexity or size (whatever would equate with age).

puke puke's picture
i dont think theres any kind

i dont think theres any kind of immortality being offered by EP technology. sure you can jump to a new body, but essentially that involves nanites rebuilding the brain in the new body to exactly match all the various neruron interconnections in your old body.

memories and skills are not being copied over as individual blocks of data. its all being rewritten at the wetware level, and the exact workings of it are only partly understood (see the psychosurgery sections for exactly WHAT is understood).

so any mental trauma is caried over to your new body. any neurological damage will follow you. work in an industrial area, and fry some braincells huffing the fumes? when you transfer to a new morph that same brain damage will be coppied over.

im imagining old people being increasingly degenerate mental invilids. they wont die physically, but they'll linger on in a wretched state that is only a shadow of their former self. kinda like watching grandpa go, all those years ago.

sure lifespans should be longer, and mental health should be prolonged far past what is possible today. But i wouldnt expect any methuselahs to be wandering around the setting. at least not until psychosurgery gets better and the general tech level increases.

but whats job competition, anyway? what are jobs in the post-scarecity economies? there are as many jobs as people can think to create on their own. everything out on the rim is all e-hippy OSS anarchic paradise, so if someone wants to build rep they just find a project to contribute constructively to, or start a new one. its something i have a hard time reconciling, but that doesnt mean it isnt a hypothetical possibility.

Admini Admini's picture
But grandpa, if he feels

But grandpa, if he feels like his mind is going, might very well activate an older back-up, starting the whole process over.

Draconis Draconis's picture
Actually some species now do fine without sexual reproduction

Once you have advanced reproductive tech you could eliminate sex completely. Sex is just the random reshuffling of genetic data. The only thing sexual reproduction does well is the creation of genetic variation.

If you have a good sequence database, a good computer that can run cross simulations, a protein synthesizer and exowomb you're good to go. You could go nuts, set the dial to randomize and crank out kids every nine months or less along the lines of "the Matrix".

Transhuman Space actually explored this idea with female or male only habitats. They neither wanted nor needed the opposite sex anymore.

I think that given the technology of the setting such reproductive tech would actually be essential not optional. Given enough time humanity will have diverged from baseline so much that you need tech tweaks to even generate offspring. "You have 23 (haploid)chromosomes while your wife has 32...let's see what we can do..."


"Do not ask who I am and do not ask me to remain the same" - Michel Foucault

Draconis Draconis's picture
I know what you're getting

I know what you're getting at. It's the "Vampire/Immortal" dilemma. But why would you bother with violence when moving and starting a new life/job is far easier than going postal? I think you'd see something akin to the 1800's where instead of going "west" to make your fortune you'd just go to a new colony in or out system.


"Do not ask who I am and do not ask me to remain the same" - Michel Foucault

obsidian razor obsidian razor's picture
I've got a question related

doble post

obsidian razor obsidian razor's picture
I've got a question related

I've got a question related to this.

On habitats that have only infomorphs as population, how reproduction is handled?

I'm thinking of habitats that work more as a hypercomputer/backup center with the population working 24/7 on full VR, using mechanical morphs to maintain the habitat.

Would people like this have some sort of reproductive facilities?, kinda like a real baby factory/nursery, that would upload the infant to the habitats mesh as soon as it's mature enough...

Tearlach Tearlach's picture
I'd assume that they would

I'd assume that they would create an AGI, and then socialize it as per normal. Another option would be an exowomb, but then they'd have to have life-support for organics etc. so that would probably not be done.

valen valen's picture
Re: The Birds and the Bees and the Biomodified...

I would imagine that all of these possibilities are being considered. The previous answer to the question of "How to get more people?" was "Import them from Earth." Since that isn't an option any more and the with the failure of "The Lost" your going to see lots of habitats experimenting with methods of raising more people.

puke puke's picture
Re: The Birds and the Bees and the Biomodified...

I honestly think that the questions of reproduction are the most fascinating thing in EP. I almost dread some canonical answer being unveiled by the publishers, as the discussions and musings about it are so fascinating and stimulating. everyone has such great ideas.

setting wise, infomorph habs should be able to just decant more infomorphs out of storage. there are supposed to be tons of them from earth that are sitting offline waiting for people to get around to booting them up and re-integrating them into society. probably this involves some sort of screening and testing to make sure its a real transhuman and not some sort of TITAN / Exurgant agent or databomb.

technology wise, infomorph reproduction isnt going to be like AGI reproduction. transhuman infomorphs basically run on "brain-emulators" which mimic the function of wetware. children basically start with single neurons that multiple and adapt to their growing sensory organs. brains are blank slates which dynamically adapt to their inputs, so the entire embrionic growth phase of the organism would have to be emulated at a celular level in the software.

this isnt impossible, but adult brain emulation probably is more about emulating neural pathway interconnections and not individual cellular data. attempts to do it with children at accelerated VR times resulted in the "Lost" generation. its reasonable to assume that other attempts are being made -- at least in simulation -- but that there are similar inscrutable roadblocks.

its also safe to assume that, since the Lost exhibit psy powers, that the experiments were corrupted by the exurgent virus and if a similar experiment was run on "clean" systems, there wouldnt be any problems.

This begs the question of wither or not there are any truely clean systems in the solar system, or if infomorph refugees from earth have spread contamination through all of transhuman civilization.

Rasumichin Rasumichin's picture
Re: The Birds and the Bees and the Biomodified...

Another possibility for infomorph reproduction would be forking, of course.
EP mentions habitats where the entire population consists of forks of the same ego, in some cases sleeved into identical clones of that person.

Exowombs seem to be quite common for providing a supply of force-grown morphs.
In some cases, they may also be used for reproductive purposes, wether by single persons, family units or large institutions who raise children based off tailor-made cell lines.

Then, there's still natural means of reproduction, which would most likely be available for all biomorphs.
EP only mentions that pods lack means of reproduction, i don't see why splicers, exalts and so on shouldn't be able to procreate normally.
Some of their genetic enhancements may be hereditary (in SR, this is a major sales pitch for geneware), whereas in other cases, corporations may restrict or alltogether block a morph's reproductive capabilities for copyright purposes.

What is the case for a specific morph would be dependant on who engineered it and wether some genehacker later tampered with the design.

Basically, i think that anything goes, all imaginable forms of reproduction, family setup or social norms on both are imaginable somewhere in the solar system.
Jovians may still cling to the nuclear family concept and criticize H+ for undermining family values, whereas some brinker community may experiment with entirely new forms of setting up families and societies.

The only thing that i absolutely don't expect is a be-all, end-all answer to these questions that's valid throughout the system.

obsidian razor obsidian razor's picture
Re: The Birds and the Bees and the Biomodified...

What about a weird version of forking and merging?

Let me explain...

Let's imagine a colony of infomorphs, where a couple (or maybe even more!) infos want to have "a baby". Let's say they both create very slim vapor forks with no skills and only very basic aptitudes, maybe picking their best aptitudes and also some emotional impulses and such. After creatings this very very slimmed down forks, they merge them to form a human consciousness different from both parents but also having some characteristics from both. It will also be a very "young" mind as it would be pretty much a black slate knowledge wise, as a child is.

Does this make sense?, would it be possible?

Rasumichin Rasumichin's picture
Fork Synthesis

Sounds like an interesting experiment in psychosurgery.

Now, given the difficulties that arise in merging even when one tries to reintegrate a fork of -oneselve- that's older than one week, i predict disastrous results if one tries to synthesize a new ego from two forks from different persons.

Not that this would stop some whacky experimental brinker psychosurgeon from trying.
I'm certain this has been attempted in some remote Moureau habitat in the outer system, and probably in one or the other hypercorp lab as well.
It's too obvious not to try it, i've actually had the same idea and don't see why someone ingame shouldn't also have had it.
Most likely starting with the merging of custom-made delta forks of matured forks of the same person, then going onward from this point.

I expect a lot of vapor casualties along the way, cold storage space full of virtually dissected egos mangled beyond repair by the merging.
A simulspace surveilance habitat full of infomorph madmen with multiple personality disorder, schizophrenia, deep-seated identity crisis and other mental ailments, a place where the more succesful merges are studied to further refine the pruning techniques.
And probably some (almost) perfect merges, who -at least on the surface level- only suffer from sporadic memory loss, managable symptoms of alienation or the rare halucinatory episode.
Until, of course, something goes horribly wrong.
Or goes horribly right, with the succesful experiments taking over the habitat.
Or if that sounds too overused, there could be some subjects around who actually make it through the merging process as intact, new egos and then discover the dozens or hundreds of insane siblings that predated their birth.

Yep, tons of adventure seeds there.