A Day at the Office...on Venus

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jKaiser jKaiser's picture
A Day at the Office...on Venus

One of the games I'm running now focuses on two working-class characters on the Aerostat Lucifer, both of them working as surface miners. Both spent time actually sleeved down there, and have no intention of continuing, but we ran into the puzzle of, well, what does the office for that sort of job look like? We assumed there were consoles and things that link up to the broadcast arrays, and obviously they can jam the Q-morphs and various bots as needed, so comfortable chairs of some sort. Something like a cross between a cube farm, a control room like that out of an oil rig or other major focused installation, and the bridge of a ship. But I'm curious if anyone has other ideas on what a workplace like this would actually look like. How the actual logistics would work, if you'd have overseers looking over physical shoulders or just monitoring things through surveillance, etc. How much actually needs to exist physically versus being broadcast as AR or even held in a simulspace domain? Would they have physical controls or just rely on mental input?

thepedant thepedant's picture
Top of the tether?

Is this the office on the aerostat, or the one at the bottom of the tether?

At the bottom, there's probably no "office" as a biological creature would understand it; just a shielded repair/storage/ego bridge facility for Q-morphs with an informorph or two running the operation from inside the facility's servers. To get to the facility, you egocast or teleoperate into it, and it puts you either directly into the morph or into simulspace waiting for access to the facility maintenance server. After mining, Q-morphs walk in, plug into a repair/downtime bay, and either the signal ends or the ego experiences simulspace as they get maintained.

In simulspace, it might look like a nice corporate office, with everyone sitting down at a huge mahogany conference table, but obviously that's up to the mining concern. It could also look like a tropical island or a New Orleans cathouse if the primary purpose of the simulspace is downtime.

The look of the physical facility itself, as it's designed for utility, is probably a semi-buried series of modular cubes. Interior might be unlit for power savings, using local mesh AR for all internal navigation and to deter morphs from going where they shouldn't.

On the areostat itself are the C-level offices and the folks double-checking the infomorphs' work on mine maintenance. Since it's built in an aerostat, it'll be a nice, high-ceilinged workplace, but decor depends on the mining concern. There would probably be one "ops area" where one can look at a large screen showing all the firm's active Venusian mines; however, this might be for C-suite planning and therefore be a nice conference room. Once again, the boring jobs of double-checking what's going on down on the surface (seeing if the facility infomorphs are doing their jobs) are probably going to infomorphs; it's just here there are also biomorphs in charge who might be interested in what they find.

As for where the teleoperators go, that's a matter of corporate care for their employees. For most, it will probably be too much space to put physical control rigs for all their mining morphs, and why worry about brain-muscle-control operation lag time, so the teleoperation would be done through a mesh interface. You're not jamming (although that's easier to initiate with this setup), but it's a lot like playing a simulspace game.

If your company's nice, this is sitting or lying down on a nice couch or, at worst, like this Japanese capsule hotel. If your company is not nice, imagine multiple levels of those "standing" airline seats Boeing recently got a patent for, in mind numbing rows, with the teleoperator strapped in for hours at a time.

ShadowDragon8685 ShadowDragon8685's picture
Alternatively, they don't

Alternatively, they don't have offices as such, because this being the future and all work is able to be done by mesh e-commute, so your "office" is your apartment, or whatever public space will tolerate you completely zoning out while you remotely control a drone.

Or you might be an infomorph worker.

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uwtartarus uwtartarus's picture
Aren't Q-morphs sleeved into,

Aren't Q-morphs sleeved into, not teleoperated, by indentures? Thus they endure a hellish existence as a giant crystalline tank for months before returning to the aerostats in some form?

Not sure what the teleoperation bandwidth situation is like. Electrical storms in the atmosphere prevent teleoperation?

Exhuman, and Humanitarian.

jKaiser jKaiser's picture
I like the idea of the

I like the idea of the cramped modules, even though I'm still not sure how big these facilities would be. Presumably the majority of the staff are infomorphs, but neither of the characters are, so I'm trying to figure out that element in case I can come up with an excuse for a brawl in the workplace or something. Maybe it's a flaw in my own imagination, but it's just hard to swallow hundreds of people at work apparently doing nothing, sitting there as if in a trance. But then again, I don't have mesh inserts...yet.

I wonder how much they pay out for chiropractic care. That would do a number even on a remade's back after a few months, I'd wager.

I see the logic to a mesh commute, even though these are characters sleeved into physical morphs, but aside from the fact that it limits the sort of interactions I'd like to have, I can see some issues that would benefit a physical op center (though this is where problems of scale come in again, as in I've never been able to get a clear impression on just how many people are involved in these projects, and not just the Q-morphs, of course.) Especially since the political turmoil on Venus means that I can't imagine a corp being relaxed enough to have a "work at home" policy for operators controlling massively expensive equipment during a time when the Constellation is facing (potential) infiltration and rival agendas. I like to play up the vaguely Cold War vibe I've picked up from the books, hypercorp paranoia being a wonderful story seed. This goes double if the mining corps have any stake in resleeving their employees as an incentive/pay, and while I don't recall if it's illegal in Venusian space or not, but wouldn't they want some sort of assurance that they aren't just getting people's forks working for them?

Well, when they aren't the ones doing the forking, after all.

EDIT: just saw the question about Q-morphs. Honestly, given the distances involved and the thickness of Venus' atmosphere, I would've assumed they would be, but the way it's written in the books suggests that sleeving down there is a common exception to the rule, with higher risks and potentially higher rewards. I could be wrong and don't have the books with me at the moment.

ShadowDragon8685 ShadowDragon8685's picture
uwtartarus wrote:Aren't Q

uwtartarus wrote:
Aren't Q-morphs sleeved into, not teleoperated, by indentures? Thus they endure a hellish existence as a giant crystalline tank for months before returning to the aerostats in some form?

Not sure what the teleoperation bandwidth situation is like. Electrical storms in the atmosphere prevent teleoperation?

Some of them are sleeved into, some of them are teleoperated. The sleeved indentures have better terms for their indenture contracts (which is not saying much,) but of course they take the risk that their Q-Morph will be destroyed and their stack won't be recovered.

Also, if the company reinstantiates you from backup, your indenture time is likely to be completely reset (after all, this you hasn't given them any work,) and its time added to for the replacement value of the (heinously expensive) Q-Morph.

Teleoperators have longer, suckier indenture contract terms, but they aren't risking their stacks. I imagine they still get zinged all to fuck if their morph gets destroyed, though.

jKaiser wrote:
I like the idea of the cramped modules, even though I'm still not sure how big these facilities would be. Presumably the majority of the staff are infomorphs, but neither of the characters are, so I'm trying to figure out that element in case I can come up with an excuse for a brawl in the workplace or something. Maybe it's a flaw in my own imagination, but it's just hard to swallow hundreds of people at work apparently doing nothing, sitting there as if in a trance. But then again, I don't have mesh inserts...yet.

They probably don't have facilities like that. Most of the teleoperators/office workers/etc will be indentured infomorphs. They won't need much physical space at all.

You won't have hundreds of people at work. You won't have hardly anybody at the so-called "workplace." The main office is likely to be a simulspace environment/mesh chat area with various officework utilities pre-loaded. If there is a physical office, it's likely to be the personal residence of the owner(s). Even if the company is large, the physical footprint will be small unless they're so ridiculously huge that they're intentionally eating up space to hearken back to the office-buildings of pre-Fall Earth, but even then, most free workers won't be physically present. They'll connect from their homes, or their capsule motel pods, or their little synthmorph garages, or their infomorph server space, and work by teleoperation.

The guys that do show up physically are likely to be executives and power players, maybe instantiated secretaries if those executives feel like showing off their wealth, and the odd security goon. The office itself is likely to be small, footprint wise, compared to the cubicle farms you're imagining, even for a wealthy company that's showing off.

Whenever you're imagining a hypercorporate business venture, ask yourself, "can this be done more cheaply by someone telecommuting from their own mesh inserts?" If the answer is yes, then ask yourself "would having a person, even in a synthmorph, do this job in-person, be sufficiently show-offy of the company's wealth to be worth the additional expense to whomever runs this department/area/company." If the answer is no, then you do not need that place to be a place, you do not need that physical job position to be there.

Welcome to the year 2143.

Quote:
I wonder how much they pay out for chiropractic care. That would do a number even on a remade's back after a few months, I'd wager.

> Implying that hypercorps in Eclipse Phase offer medical benefits.
Bwahahahahahahaaaah. Yeah, right.

They're not going to offer you jack shit. Don't like it? Fuck off, they can indenture some bastard and make him do it for free.
Also, come the time of Eclipse Phase, Basic Biomods would cover most of that, and the rest of it would be covered by smart material furnishings that would prevent you from fucking your back up by being reclined for long periods at a time.

Or, better yet, if the "job" entails cramming people into a place and having them go virtually comatose because they're all in simulspace, they don't need to be physically present at all. They can do the job just as well from their own homes, or whatever passes for a home.

Quote:
I see the logic to a mesh commute, even though these are characters sleeved into physical morphs, but aside from the fact that it limits the sort of interactions I'd like to have, I can see some issues that would benefit a physical op center (though this is where problems of scale come in again, as in I've never been able to get a clear impression on just how many people are involved in these projects, and not just the Q-morphs, of course.) Especially since the political turmoil on Venus means that I can't imagine a corp being relaxed enough to have a "work at home" policy for operators controlling massively expensive equipment during a time when the Constellation is facing (potential) infiltration and rival agendas. I like to play up the vaguely Cold War vibe I've picked up from the books, hypercorp paranoia being a wonderful story seed. This goes double if the mining corps have any stake in resleeving their employees as an incentive/pay, and while I don't recall if it's illegal in Venusian space or not, but wouldn't they want some sort of assurance that they aren't just getting people's forks working for them?

re: security.
A dedicated sabotuer can sabotage you just as well if they're physically present as if they aren't; possibly moreso. If they're being funded by another corp to sabotage you, they're funded well enough to buy a throwaway morph and pack it with explosives, or at least a deadman switch, so they can sabotage your mining operations from their teleoperation chair. And then they can take out a knife or a gun and start killing your other teleoperators before your physical security gets them, which would potentially make you liable for the morph deaths of your other teleoperators.

re: hypercorp paranoia.
Sure. You want to work here? That's fine, we're glad to have you on the team. Do note that as part of our WorkFromHome program, you will be required to allow a company security specialist admin-level access to your mesh inserts for spot checks at all time. We understand how this can make some people nervous, so please take the time to have your muse, lawyer-bot, or other legal representation read over the fine details of our company employee privacy policy.

re: Someone's fork doing the work.
What the hell does the company care? The work's getting done, they're only paying you for one employee's worth of work, and you're providing one employee's worth of work. They don't give a fuck if you send a fork who gets reintegrated/deleted at the end of the work-day, and if you're down with forking yourself like that, that's your business. They will, of course, be upset if you only send a beta to do an alpha's job, as if they wanted beta-fork levels of skill, they could just get any AI to do it.

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uwtartarus uwtartarus's picture
ShadowDragon8685 wrote:Also,

ShadowDragon8685 wrote:
Also, if the company reinstantiates you from backup, your indenture time is likely to be completely reset (after all, this you hasn't given them any work,) and its time added to for the replacement value of the (heinously expensive) Q-Morph.

Adding the cost of the Q-morph to your indenture contract? Sure, I'd buy that, though I am sure there is mechanisms in place to pin the damages on someone else if it wasn't the indenture's fault. But I can't believe anyone would agree to a contract that requires such subjective measures of labor, requiring a reset of the labor generated due to death. The cost of a Q-morph may put the indenture back a lot, but the work was done. Super sketchy to try and pull a fast one, that can't be standard operating procedure.

Granted, U.S. Health Insurance companies had an on-the-books policy of denying every claim initially, and only considering those who resubmitted, because 33% didn't bother to resubmit and that is insanely sickening, so sure, hypercorps are as overwhelmingly evil as we need them to be.

Exhuman, and Humanitarian.

ORCACommander ORCACommander's picture
The Vileness of a hypercorp

The Vileness of a hypercorp is N+1 where N is the upper boundary of the human rights horrors your can think of

uwtartarus uwtartarus's picture
ORCACommander wrote:The

ORCACommander wrote:
The Vileness of a hypercorp is N+1 where N is the upper boundary of the human rights horrors your can think of

But that then justifies the whining about how the books are *SO* biased for anarchism and against the hypercapitalists.

So I try to balance the comfort and normalcy of degrading hypercapitalism against the insanity that is the popularity contest, firearms and weapons free-for-all of the anarchists. To make up for the obvious "wage slavery, indentures, and GSPs are terrible" and "anarchists are great and everything is star trek communism good-times."

Off-topic slightly.

Sunward states that most of the Q-morphs are teleoperated and they use a wired, tethered mini-aerostat to allow this.

Exhuman, and Humanitarian.

jKaiser jKaiser's picture
I'm sitting here, pondering a

I'm sitting here, pondering a response to offer a counter point, and realized I'm seriously trying to defend corporations. You bastards have made an anarchist try to find the good in corporations. I hope you're happy with your sick, black souls.

Frankly, I'm trying to explore the working class in EP, and this is a non-Firewall, non-conspiracy story anyway. So I'm not as interested in hitting the GRIMDARK because this isn't WH40k and that kind of broad strokes evilness just doesn't appeal when I'm trying to do a story more about intrigue and secrets. The corps involved, most of which are smaller, subsidized microcorps and which the Constellation and Lucifer's oversight committee keep on a very, very short leash, might well be as mustache-twirlingly evil as you've all said, but you'd have to dig pretty deep to find it. And they wouldn't be happy about that, of course. But I digress, I'm not really looking for yet more corp shenanigans and monolithic faceless inhumanity. There's no shortage of that in the books.

I guess I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around the working day for people, neither of which are indentures anymore but who stayed on with the job since they were competent at it and it's a decent paycheck. How they fraternize with other employees, what happens when the company decides to throw a party or something, etc.

thepedant thepedant's picture
Check Out "Sleep Dealer"

The 2008 movie Sleep Dealer is about a dystopian Mexico where the cities are full of remote operators of construction robots located in the United States. The facilities there had the workers standing in VR armatures with breathing tubes for extra oxygen on the 20-hour shifts. It might be good for reference as to how a facility might look, although their internet technology was less advanced.

As for those comments that the Venusian mining corporations wouldn't want teleoperators onsite, my response is that, like everything else, it depends on what is considered the best way to do things.

If I were a Venusian mining concern, I'd want all my non-infomorphs to come to one place so they can be screened for drugs/petals/narcoalgorithms before they start work, and also so, if they screw something up on-planet, I hold their physical bodies so I don't have to chase them down for reimbursement.

Unless they're all indentures, I'm unlikely to have an all-informorph workforce as the ones that used to be people will want bodies eventually and be able to afford them, and then I would lose the worker. Teleoperated mining is not such a low-skill job that anyone can do it off the street, so high turnover does mean lower productivity, and as a mining company I'd want to avoid that.

ORCACommander ORCACommander's picture
Your Welcome JK

Your Welcome JK

But ya I sympathize with neither anarchist nor capitalist but damned do the corps get tarred and feathered.

Might i suggest you watch the movie Moon (2009)? Kinda hard to go into detail about it without spoilers but you could Up the scale

ShadowDragon8685 ShadowDragon8685's picture
jKaiser wrote:I'm sitting

jKaiser wrote:
I'm sitting here, pondering a response to offer a counter point, and realized I'm seriously trying to defend corporations. You bastards have made an anarchist try to find the good in corporations. I hope you're happy with your sick, black souls.

Hey, hey.

I earned every bit of that cynicism when I got delivered a bill for $4,752 for an emergency room visit, which had been "graciously" reduced $2,500 from $7,250 as a "courtesy" to self-paying patients.

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ThatWhichNeverWas ThatWhichNeverWas's picture
Strangely, flagrant evil isn't always profitable.

If the corps you're going to be using aren't the big-ones like cognite, then they're probably going to be a lot more reasonable and pleasant to work for, if only because they don't have the money/clout to flaunt the laws that larger corps can, and so can never grow to a level of profitability that would threaten them.

So a lot of stuff is going to be covered, and iirc Transhuman even says that the majority of PC workers/indentures actually have a pretty decent quality of life.
Consider healthcare. Full health coverage sounds pretty fancy, but all it actually entails is the company having their own Healing Vat which employees can use. Not that they'll need to use it much thanks to their Smart-fabric ergonomic chairs, and the office AR is set up to be light, airy and generally pleasant to be in.

Want to get psychosurgery or mental augmentations? Sure! They'll give you a loan, and even pay off part of the cost, because you're making yourself more profitable for them and it looks fantastic to the public, which attracts customers.

Truly villainous depravity is a luxury which only the wealthiest can afford. The rest have to settle for making you wear a tie.

In the past we've had to compensate for weaknesses, finding quick solutions that only benefit a few.
But what if we never need to feel weak or morally conflicted again?

Chernoborg Chernoborg's picture
Man, just when I was getting

Man, just when I was getting comfortable with cramming a spaceport into Octavia, now we've got to put a mining town into Lucifer! :)

Ok, so according to the books Lucifer has a population of 230,000. Five thousand are infomorphs and presumably the "on the ground" teleoperators of Q-morphs and other larger scale mining equipment ( the idea of just Q-morphs swinging pick-axes made me laugh so hard today a work!) . I imagine that there's an open platform that lowers from the bottom of the sphere down to the work area that carries the important equipment up and down as needed. This would also have an armored cable to an on site transmitter for teleoperation and a bucket lift for hauling up ore. At the aerostat some refining may be done outside of the pressure sphere- the high temperatures involved would be taxing even for EP levels of air conditioning technology! Eventually the ores or roughly processed metals would be moved into the pressure hull for final purification and preparation for sale. Here a quarter of the remaining populace is involved, about 56,000 people. While advanced technologies such as nanotech are available, I'd bet that the foundry floor would be recognizable to us today. Slag and other byproducts would be continually ejected to maintain the aerostats bouyancy. Further up would be the administration levels where the business of the aerostat is conducted. After that is basically and entire towns worth of housing , entertainment, shopping, and medical facilities. I'd say that the general attitude is fairly practical, these are hard working people with a steady job- not like those cloud heads in Octavia. At the top are docking platforms for airships to take the metals to market. There may also be stopovers from airships with extra entertainment facilities for break the monotony of everyday life onboard.

Some good inspiration could be found in oil rigs. As they're isolated heavy industry locations, they have large sections dedicated to the crews off time . Another more historical example is Hashima Island, Japan. A small island used for coal mining ,it's remoteness made it practical to move whole families over to live with the workers. A fictional example would be the tethered oil platform from The Abyss.

Current Status: Highly Distracted building Gatecrashing systems in Universe Sandbox!

Noble Pigeon Noble Pigeon's picture
You know I'd really like a

You know I'd really like a splat book or something to talk about stuff like this: normal, everyday life in the transhuman future for us people who can't quite wrap their head around that. The books keep talking about "business offices" and stuff like that, but what exactly are they used for if virtual office spaces are a thing? And I'm not buying the "because hypercorps want to show off their wealth" reason, especially if it's on a non-terrestrial habitat where space means everything.

"Don't believe everything you read on the Internet.”
-Abraham Lincoln, State of the Union address

Bursting Eagern... Bursting Eagerness Soul's picture
Noble Pigeon wrote:You know I

Noble Pigeon wrote:
You know I'd really like a splat book or something to talk about stuff like this: normal, everyday life in the transhuman future for us people who can't quite wrap their head around that. The books keep talking about "business offices" and stuff like that, but what exactly are they used for if virtual office spaces are a thing? And I'm not buying the "because hypercorps want to show off their wealth" reason, especially if it's on a non-terrestrial habitat where space means everything.

Wasn't that partially the point of Panopticon?

In other words, firing off a laser with a sufficient TWR for the recoil to be noticeable would require a post-miracle-tech laser weighing less than a disposable plastic spoon and powerful enough to shoot down Death Stars? -- ShadowDragon8685

Noble Pigeon Noble Pigeon's picture
Bursting Eagerness Soul wrote

Bursting Eagerness Soul wrote:
Noble Pigeon wrote:
You know I'd really like a splat book or something to talk about stuff like this: normal, everyday life in the transhuman future for us people who can't quite wrap their head around that. The books keep talking about "business offices" and stuff like that, but what exactly are they used for if virtual office spaces are a thing? And I'm not buying the "because hypercorps want to show off their wealth" reason, especially if it's on a non-terrestrial habitat where space means everything.

Wasn't that partially the point of Panopticon?

Yes. And it gave me some good insight of transhuman society, but it didn't give me the nitty gritty, down to Earth details. What are the typical buildings that would be see in a habitat "downtown", assuming they have the space of course? What is the point of having physical administrative and business offices with the rise of virtual space?

"Don't believe everything you read on the Internet.”
-Abraham Lincoln, State of the Union address

Bursting Eagern... Bursting Eagerness Soul's picture
Part of the draw of having a

Part of the draw of having a physical workspace is likely that it is going to be perceived as more secure than a digital one, especially to people who survived the AI apocalypse. If it's on the mesh, it can be hacked, but if it's on paper in a locked drawer in a locked office, it would take a dedicated thief to get to it.

In other words, firing off a laser with a sufficient TWR for the recoil to be noticeable would require a post-miracle-tech laser weighing less than a disposable plastic spoon and powerful enough to shoot down Death Stars? -- ShadowDragon8685

Chernoborg Chernoborg's picture
Well,offices may be more

Well,offices may be more comprehensive than today. Primary offices could have warehouses, production areas, loading docks, even an actual showroom (some people will want to see a real world product - not better than real simulation) R&D may require results that must be done in the real world, so labs would be available. If there's a workforce there will be supervisors to ensure things are done correctly. Hypercorps run pretty lean so there won't be a lot of managerial dead wood. Since they also run practically as nations themselves each office could be treated as an embassy of sorts. A regional chief executive who handles decisions that cannot wait for higher up consultation...and with communication being generally limited to light speed that could be hours ! On the subject of comms, the office may be where the quantum encrypted computers are for secure networking throughout the solar system. Such a spook room would also have the various qubit reservoirs for top priority instantaneous communications. Even with cornucopia machines being available there may be prestige in having something built by the company's machines- or by workers!- and brought to you.

Current Status: Highly Distracted building Gatecrashing systems in Universe Sandbox!