New Equipment for Transhuman Reproduction

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rhat rhat's picture
New Equipment for Transhuman Reproduction
A proposal for Transhuman Reproduction in EP: (feedback welcome) By default any two morphs of the same type with the right genders can reproduce just as a normal human does now, their offspring gain the gene tweaks as normal inheritance should dictate, but they do not gain any modifications made to their biology that are did not also alter their gametes, nor do they inherit nanotechnology, robotic, or other non-genetic traits. Thus, two Splicers would be able to reproduce normally to create a new Splicer, but their Mesh Inserts would not be propagated to their offspring. Pods, Synthetics, and Infomorphs are incapable of normal reproduction.
  • Exowomb: This piece of medical equipment is the standard way to ensure the best possible chance of an offspring coming to term, and it is similar to a Healing Vat (in fact, some double as Healing Vats too), but the do nothing aside from provide an external womb environment. The relevant tissue samples are extracted from the mother and/or father, and the machine goes on to run through the gestation process. Some models, like those used for Futura production, offer accelerated gestation times, in-utero psychosurgery during development, cloning support, and all of the implant installation capabilities of a Healing Vat. Cost: Expensive, often leased for the time required for gestation [Low/month]
  • Random-Lamarck Permutation Algorithm: This technique is the most popular method of reproduction for non-biologicals. This Algorithm can be used to create a derivative offspring of an Ego (the information that makes up a person), regardless of the presence of a body of any sort. There are a number of control parameters which determine what degree the offspring resembles its parent (or parents), which can be set individually by a competent cognitive scientist, AI specialist, or other programmer---though the default settings results in an unguided sexual recombination similar to normal reproduction. The Algorithm may use any number of parents greater than none (by default two), and the contribution from each parent may be weighted by control parameters to make the offspring more or less similar to particular individuals with regards to specific personality traits. The offspring from this process are not fully formed, and require all the same training as any other Ego in order to master its skills. [Would not suggest any mechanics for this process, save that it creates an offspring; causing the weighting process to actually change the stats of the offspring may be appropriate, in some cases] This is an application of normal computing resources, and has no cost. The offspring will require someplace to host them during their training.
--- A Survivalist Brinker Scientist, Doctor Prajit "They-Called-Me-Crazy" Smithfield invented the following technologies shortly after the fall, after massive radiation rendered himself and his wife sterile. An interviewer once asked why he made them: "If transhumanity is to survive after this generation, we must be able to make more of ourselves. I should think this obvious! Too many people I see today do not look towards the future, and are content with simply perpetuating themselves, rather than repopulating."
  • Generic Reproduction Organ Sack (GROS): The basis of Dr. Smithfield's reproductive technologies, the GROS is an unusual modification of the commercially available "fabber" technologies, which is implanted in a morph's body (typically in the abdomen). Given a set of one or more Pseudogametes (see below), the GROS can be instructed to begin the bootstrap of a new organism, complete with robotics, nanotech, and other implants and modifications which are not normally propagated genetically. This process is controlled by a mesh interface with the owners inserts, so it cannot be used without at least some kind of controlling computer (even an ecto). The process takes time and resources dependent upon the Pseudogametes used, but normally the process takes longer than the normal 9 months, due to the requirements for having to fab and bootstrap so many small parts without killing the host organism. The materials required for the GROS to function must be consumed somehow by the host morph, but need not be metabolized (since some exotic materials are deadly toxic, but required to fab the required computer parts). Additionally, the morph must either consume three times more than normal, or have an external power source for the duration of the gestation time, or else the gestation halts (though it is resumable within a year). Offspring from the GROS are only mostly formed, like babies, and require training and additional nutrition/resources to continue growth. Versions of this are available for biological implantation in Biologicals and Pods [Expensive], or with added life support for installation on Synths [Very Expensive]. (a morph which reproduces via a GROS passes that implant along with their Psuedogametes to their offspring, by default)
  • Smithfield Pseudogamete: The only original research ever done by Dr. Smithfield, a Pseudogamete is a nanotech reproductive organ. It is a mini-database containing information about its hosts implants, mods, and genetics/design-specs. The designs carried on-board are the same a Blueprints for the same, but the Psuedogamete is designed to permit their incorporation into Asexual (cloning) or Sexual Reproduction via a GROS. When a Pseudogamete is used for reproduction, the user has the option of choosing to bootstrap various parts of the Psuedogamete, effectively deciding which of their implants they want to have their offspring develop in the GROS, choosing if they want to run a Random-Lamarck Permutation Algorithm, and choosing which of the parent's morphs will be dominant. The resulting offspring will have one parent "active", and be of that type of morph, but will inherit all of the implants "enabled" by the parents which are suitable for their morph type (so no robotic armor on a biological, and no organs in a synth). If a PC would like to host themselves in such a body, treat it as normal resleaving into a custom morph (either paying with CP or credits). Regardless of the type created, the offspring will carry with them a database of the Pseudogametes of its parents, even if they were not "enabled" during growth. When they reproduce, include these archived Pseudogametes in the options available for "enabling" and resulting morph type selection. This nanotech organ is controlled via mesh implants or some other computer system. [Expensive] Note: you actually need Blueprints for each part of your morph that you want to include in your Pseudogamete, it won't figure them out for you. So, those of you with a copyright sticker on your reproductive organs are SOL unless you can steal the blueprints from someone.
  • Maturation Sheath: A technology from before the Fall, it has seen application in industrial cheese processing, but was re-purposed by Dr. Smithfield to act as a growth facilitating organ for biologicals, pods, and synths which did not have the facilities just to upgrade to a fresh body. A Maturation Sheath is a nanotech organ which serves to allow its user to slowly grow as resources become available (typically over the course of years). Some energy and material input is required, either from fuel stored in the organ itself, or from an external input, but the Sheath will slowly accrete additional "nutrients" to key places on its morph, permitting slow growth over time. For example, a Reaper formed with a GROS would be only a number of inches across, but the Sheath would allow it to grow to full size over time. [Expensive]
Axel the Chimeric Axel the Chimeric's picture
Re: New Equipment for Transhuman Reproduction
Much of the Smithfield stuff seems... Unnecessary. If you have the materials to nano-fab a Reaper morph available, why not do so wholesale in a generic nano-fabber instead of deciding to give a woman the delightful experience of feeling a war machine crawling through her reproductive organs? As for biomorphs, you could always just take a genetic sample from other cells and use them as your tissues for generating a child (a technology we've pretty much got already), and then implant it in a viable womb (be it the infertile mother, a surrogate, or an exowomb). Having a nano-fabber womb seems pointless. It's a neat sort of idea but, aside from artistic or shock value (or perhaps just exhumans who enjoy robotic morphs but don't quite want to give up the memory of organic birthing), there's nothing really useful about it. That said, artificially generated Egos are something I figure a lot of AGIs would be interested in. I'd imagine it'd also be possible to take a pair of parent morphs, sample their DNA, and develop a mind template by running a time-accelerated simulation of what kind of brain development would be likely to emerge (nothing is certain, given environmental influences) as a result of their parentage.
rhat rhat's picture
Re: New Equipment for Transhuman Reproduction
I'm glad you like the AGI reproductive system, it's one of those things that'll come up eventually. As for the "Smithfield" stuff, the easy answer is: it was developed by an eccentric sterile survivalist Brinker. He thought it was a great idea, but your average transhuman has little need for it (given all the support structure civilization brings). This stuff is less of a "we need this in the game" than a way to answer the question of reproduction in the most general way possible. Though it could be fun flavoring for the next time you run into Brinkers colonizing a space-rock.
nezumi.hebereke nezumi.hebereke's picture
Re: New Equipment for Transhuman Reproduction
I like the bit about mixing egos as well. There does need to be some solution, and yours is the most convincing so far. I disagree about biological reproduction. Creating functional reproductive organs is expensive and time-consuming, and making products that reproduce themselves for free is terrible for business. You should find heirloom biomorphs like you find heirloom seeds - rare, expensive, and never genetically modified. Anything more complex than a splicer should not be able to reproduce biologically without significant bio-industrial processes. These morphs aren't bodies grown in tummies, they're machines, designed through a complex bio-chemical and mechanical process, most of which is not even encoded in its genome.
Draconis Draconis's picture
Re: New Equipment for Transhuman Reproduction
Some of us would prefer to create new species rather than new products. Rare? Probably, few have the interest or skill to do it. But they'd be out there, I'd think especially among brinkers who have no desire to interface with transhumanity as a whole to reproduce their next generation. For instance my dracomorphs are self perpetuating. Of course that particular morph is extremely rare which tends to limit the breeding pool in general. But localization of particular morphs occasionally occur which would make it a more viable option. Hey look at that. We're essentially back to the sex thread I first saw when I originally joined up here. "plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose", right?

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nezumi.hebereke nezumi.hebereke's picture
Re: New Equipment for Transhuman Reproduction
Draconis wrote:
Some of us would prefer to create new species rather than new products.
Which is fine, but it has to be built into the morph - and that adds cost and complexity. At best, your morph genotype comes with a set of instructions for the exowomb that releases specific hormones, chemicals and adjusts environmental factors like temperature at specific stages. At worst - you're reverse engineering (or more likely, stealing) that data from the original designers. Imagine this like a cookie. The list of ingredients comes on the back of the package. That's your genome. But the precise proportions, time and temperature for baking are a second set of instructions that's kept at the factory. If you try to make a cookie without knowing how many eggs or how long to bake it, well, the results are usually pretty shoddy.
Draconis Draconis's picture
Re: New Equipment for Transhuman Reproduction
nezumi.hebereke wrote:
Draconis wrote:
Some of us would prefer to create new species rather than new products.
Which is fine, but it has to be built into the morph - and that adds cost and complexity. At best, your morph genotype comes with a set of instructions for the exowomb that releases specific hormones, chemicals and adjusts environmental factors like temperature at specific stages. At worst - you're reverse engineering (or more likely, stealing) that data from the original designers. Imagine this like a cookie. The list of ingredients comes on the back of the package. That's your genome. But the precise proportions, time and temperature for baking are a second set of instructions that's kept at the factory. If you try to make a cookie without knowing how many eggs or how long to bake it, well, the results are usually pretty shoddy.
Mmm cookies. I completely agree. But given the societal (i.e. brinkers) or economic impetus (knockoffs) those hurdles would be overcome. If I give that cookie package to a dessert chef (a friend of mine actually) do you think that he could approximate a cookie, or even come up with something better using those ingredients then use the approximation as open source? Ergo self perpetuating, essentially the "copy" protection has been removed. Biologically speaking of course. You're right, reverse engineering for the most part. Ah reverse engineering. Now I can't get Paycheck out of my head. }: ) But to use your analogy and make me really hungry what if chocolate chips are secret or not available? I've got these M&Ms here, just as good right? Interesting, I think we're essentially talking about the biological equivalent of jailbreaking or SIMunlocking your morph. Or I'm probably mixing metaphors. Anyway I doubt if some hypercorp cares much that bouncer v2.3 is running around self perpetuating when they're polishing the v8.2 model for release soon. Eclipse Phase pretty much says that it's not if your IP/blueprints/process can be compromised, it's when that matters.

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root root's picture
Re: New Equipment for Transhuman Reproduction
root@New Equipment for Transhuman Reproduction [hr]
rhat wrote:
  • Smithfield Pseudogamete: The only original research ever done by Dr. Smithfield, a Pseudogamete is a nanotech reproductive organ.
  • Oh gods, I love this. As for why this is the coolest thing I've seen introduced on this topic? The clanking masses can now reproduce. AGI can be born in bodies, and this brings an answer to something the Jovians have been flinging in the face of AGI claiming to be human: knowledge of the difficulties of development and growth. What does robot puberty look like? rhat r-rep++; x-rep++
    [ @-rep +1 | c-rep +1 | g-rep +1 | r-rep +1 ]
    Draconis Draconis's picture
    Re: New Equipment for Transhuman Reproduction
    Hmm I find the idea of synths knocking up biologicals amusing, so I approve as well. Oh ya, that's been done before. Dean R. Koontz's Demon Seed, book and uh interesting movie. }; )

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    Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
    Re: New Equipment for Transhuman Reproduction
    One interesting tech that might have been in use for reproduction before the Fall but has probably declined since: Genetic recompilation: A zygote is created and fully sequenced (or the genome generated artificially through some method). The genome is "cleaned" of unsuitable alleles (automatically making it at least a splicer), retroviruses, functional transposomes and other self-replicating genetic elements, but most importantly, converted into a different genetic code. This new genome is synthesized and inserted into a manufactured cell with compatible translation machinery: all genes produce the same products, but the code is entirely incompatible with the rest of the biosphere. This way the body will be 100% immune to biological viruses since their genetic code does not produce any viable proteins (Unfortunately, this recompilation doesn't protect against bacteria and other parasites, or nanobioviruses that do not make use of the cells replication machinery). The recompiled are also unable to reproduce with standard transhumans (or differently recompiled people) unless done through recompilation. Recompiled morphs are probably not that uncommon: it is a simple way to make them immune to standard viruses and genetic attack vectors, as well as clearly indicate their origin. The sterility is likely viewed as incidental - who in their right mind makes a kid these days by mixing genes anyway? Backwards compatibility with flats is *so* pre-Fall! Some companies also add extras to their genetic code for special amino acids or postranscriptional treatments (hibernoids come to mind, where you might want to have "hooks" for easy reversible cross-linking during cryosuspension and hibernation), or modify it to be extra radiation tolerant. (the idea can be found in Greg Egan's short story "The Moat" and in "Distress", although I know it has been around before)
    Extropian
    nezumi.hebereke nezumi.hebereke's picture
    Re: New Equipment for Transhuman Reproduction
    Draconis wrote:
    I completely agree. But given the societal (i.e. brinkers) or economic impetus (knockoffs) those hurdles would be overcome. If I give that cookie package to a dessert chef (a friend of mine actually) do you think that he could approximate a cookie, or even come up with something better using those ingredients then use the approximation as open source? Ergo self perpetuating, essentially the "copy" protection has been removed. Biologically speaking of course. You're right, reverse engineering for the most part.
    The difference between a morph and a cookie is, given the huge complexity of a morph, if you mess it up just a tiny bit, especially at the wrong point, your end result ranges somewhere between 'goo' and 'requiring intensive medical correction' (the latter I guess being an acceptable state, given the available medical facilities). Given the number of morph-designers in the outer system, I'm sure you can find blueprints to 'cook your own'. You could also design endo-exowombs, and then code them into the blueprint for your morph. In which case, pregnancy would include the following steps: 1) Implant endo-exowomb 2) Create genetic sample, by collection, or plan alteration 3) Obtain other manufacturing instructions, either by collection (from the original morph's source), or design 4) Create zygote with genetic sample 5) Program endo-exowomb with manufacturing instructions and feed appropriate stock I do have some concerns with this. Certain specialty morphs may require chemicals and environments that require large, specialized equipment to maintain - too large to carry safely in a standard morph, making endo-exowombs dangerous. Secondly, I assume most morphs are not designed to be fully functional by the time they reach 10lbs, so they may have to be decanted from the endo-exowomb and put into a full healing vat or exowomb for the remainder of their development, until they are stable (mentons would be a great example of this - the expanded cranial capacity means they grow too large to safely carry in an endo-exowomb, and if decanted too early, their bodies are not strong enough to hold the head and so run a serious risk of fatal injury). 4)
    Axel the Chimeric Axel the Chimeric's picture
    Re: New Equipment for Transhuman Reproduction
    This thread has left me with the mental image of enormous, almost ship-sized exhumans slithering through the Kuiper belt. Long, robotic, and serpentine, the dim lights along their flanks and near their eyes are the only real illumination, as they feed on the volatiles in the area to power their internal reactors. Occasionally, just occasionally, these creatures meet. They couple briefly, and one carries within it the growing form of a new entity, which is birthed and then left to fend for itself, already fully intelligent (having been communicated with by its mother while in the "womb"). It slithers off into the stygian blackness, there to devour rocky bodies until its internal factories allow it to grow to equal its parents.
    nezumi.hebereke nezumi.hebereke's picture
    Re: New Equipment for Transhuman Reproduction
    Have you considered writing up a mission or character around that? It would be... awesome :)
    Axel the Chimeric Axel the Chimeric's picture
    Re: New Equipment for Transhuman Reproduction
    I could always do both. I imagine it'd be a very unique culture, living in the spacial equivalent of the Abyssal plane.
    Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
    Re: New Equipment for Transhuman Reproduction
    A very cool idea! I have been having ideas for a TITAN battleship that consists mostly of an enormous mesh of very thin strands, essentially like a deep space jellyfish that can rearrange itself in a multitude of ways. Might be the natural predator on the abyssals.
    Extropian
    Axel the Chimeric Axel the Chimeric's picture
    Re: New Equipment for Transhuman Reproduction
    Do you mind if I use that, actually? I had ideas for predators, out there in the blackness, and was having trouble thinking of ways to include a jellyfish or lanternfish style predator; something to add a bit of conflict. A lingering monster of unknown origin, composed of these reshaping filaments, drifting amongst the debris of the system's formation and snagging any unwary abyssals.
    Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
    Re: New Equipment for Transhuman Reproduction
    Feel free to use it, that is why I posed. Besides, having a dark "ecosystem" (exosystem?) out there is so cool! "We are approaching the Kuiper belt object for refuelling... wait... that is no moon! "
    Extropian