Slavery in Eclipse Phase

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MirrorField MirrorField's picture
Slavery in Eclipse Phase

This is something I cooked up for my campaign before finding Arenamontanus' underground railroad article (which should mesh with this material relatively easily).

Comments, questions and criticism are welcome.

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Some hypercorps and many criminal cartels run real slavery operations. They can vary in form from wholly-virtual "digital sweatshops" to fully physical. What is common to all of them is that the operators do not offer any pay or compensation or do not intend to follow through with their promises. Some use psychosurgery to instill "slave mentality" on their victims while others offer reasonable (or even lucrative) salaries/payoffs and betray their workers in the end. In latter scenario it's common to delete the egos, reboot an older backup and put it back to work; this is known as "groundhog day loop" or "cookie monster loop".

Planetary Consortium officially condemns slavery as any other position would be utterly unpalatable to the public opinion which considers indenture dubious enough. PC makes lot of propaganda pointing to slavery cases and basically saying "Indenture is not slavery. This is real slavery and we don't tolerate it".

Getting caught running such operations is punished heavily: More than one criminal hypercorp has been dismantled and it's management permanently executed for such crimes. PC Oversight takes these cases seriously, nobody doubts that. And let's not get into what sorts of punishments and virtual hells anarchists and extropians have cooked up for clowns who get caught running these sorts of operations...

Most autonomists hold the cynical view that PC cares more about market distortions and "unfair advantage" caused by such operations than the actual slavery and that the only reason PC doesn't endorse this sort of real slavery is that it would start an instant revolt. The Accuracy of these assesments remains unknown.

While Firewall considers these sort of things as reprehensible, they're usually not existential threats; SOP is to anonymously tip off the relevant authorities and move on to more important matters. Of course, nobody is going to raise any fuss about a small and discreet pro bono job if there isn't anything more important going on.

Adventure seeds:

*Player Characters meet an indentured acquaintance who doesn't remember them at all. There isn't any backup restoration in his record since his resurrection and indenture, but you clearly remember tossing few beers with him in that isolated mining operation while smuggling those nanofab blueprints...

Recommended reading: Vernor Vinge's The Cookie Monster. The Scenario in this novella should be very easy to insert into any Eclipse Phase campaign with minimum tweaking.

TBRMInsanity TBRMInsanity's picture
Re: Slavery in Eclipse Phase

The whole Mercurial movement is around the idea that Uplifts and AGIs are slaves (and in most cases this is the truth as they are seen as not much more then tools of transhumanity). You didn't touch on it but there is strong cogitations that sex slavery also exists. People are indentured to some scrupulous individual with a lot of Pleasure pods (they don't care if the infomorph is male or female). This model already exists in Eastern Europe and Russia right now. People are even kidnapped, drugged (psychosurgery in EP), and forced into prostitution against their will. Quite a dark and evil fate.

Jovian Motto:
Your mind is original. Preserve it.
Your body is a temple. Maintain it.
Immortality is an illusion. Forget it.

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Slavery in Eclipse Phase

I like the PC position, it makes sense. Cynical, but it makes sense. In my games I tend to regard the slavery issue as the biggest human evil around: sure, the TITANs did existential damage, but they did not care or understand humans. When Nine Lives soulsplice together "characters" for computer games, they know exactly what they are doing.

I wrote up a minor fraction that fights against slavery (of whatever kind; some members regard indenture as slavery too):
http://www.aleph.se/EclipsePhase/The%20Underground%20Railroad.pdf
This was written before Sunward and I got some useful critique on this forum, so I will likely update the text a bit in the near future.

Extropian

root root's picture
Re: Slavery in Eclipse Phase

root@Slavery in Eclipse Phase


What does the Planetary Consortium think about this exact scenario when all of the slaves are forks of the person running the "sweatshops"? The answer to that question has very heavy implications for what is legally considered a "person" in the Planetary Consortium's domain.

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TBRMInsanity TBRMInsanity's picture
Re: Slavery in Eclipse Phase

root wrote:
root@Slavery in Eclipse Phase

What does the Planetary Consortium think about this exact scenario when all of the slaves are forks of the person running the "sweatshops"? The answer to that question has very heavy implications for what is legally considered a "person" in the Planetary Consortium's domain.

I would argue that an alpha fork (ie an exact replica) would be a person with regards to the PC (not in other societies like the Jovian Republic but that is another story). Since beta or worse forks are not complete to begin with, the PC may turn a blind eye.

Jovian Motto:
Your mind is original. Preserve it.
Your body is a temple. Maintain it.
Immortality is an illusion. Forget it.

MirrorField MirrorField's picture
Re: Slavery in Eclipse Phase

Quote:

The whole Mercurial movement is around the idea that Uplifts and AGIs are slaves (and in most cases this is the truth as they are seen as not much more then tools of transhumanity).

Yup. The article was quite infugee-centric, but I'd think that Uplift and AGI rights are a different can of worms.

Quote:

People are indentured to some scrupulous individual with a lot of Pleasure pods (they don't care if the infomorph is male or female). This model already exists in Eastern Europe and Russia right now. People are even kidnapped, drugged (psychosurgery in EP), and forced into prostitution against their will. Quite a dark and evil fate.

Hypercorps do employ sex-worker indentures (See Violet Perdido's commentary at p.119 in Sunward), but I'd think they don't normally use involuntary psychosurgery (which is very illegal and bad PR), kidnap people (ditto) or force people into prostitution (they have enough infugees to pick&choose people willing to do those lines of work). Things are different with criminal orgs, of course... One reason why Nine Lives has such a vile reputation.

Quote:

What does the Planetary Consortium think about this exact scenario when all of the slaves are forks of the person running the "sweatshops"? The answer to that question has very heavy implications for what is legally considered a "person" in the Planetary Consortium's domain.

Doing so with someone else's forks is illegal. There was a throwaway note in Sunward p.122 about this sort of thing, how Zevi Oaxaca-Maartens pioneered the (now-illegal) technique of running multiple simultaneous forks of an indenture and reintegrating them in the end. "Most would agree the settlement money received by the victims did not go far enough."

Also, doing it with your own forks is illegal (violates the anti-trust statutes in most hypercorp jurisdictions, EP p. 275). In general, I'd also say that in most jurisdictions forks belong to their originator and that they're inalienable (ie. you can't sell them), but this might vary by jurisdiction.

ObHouserules:
*There are always buy-out clauses in any legit indenture contract. It may include up to 10-20% early-termination penalty, but you can always buy out your contract if you somehow acquire enough money. Shortening your indenture, if you acquire extra money from somewhere, is also usually easy and included in indenture boilerplate. At least first of these details is one of those fine dividing lines between legit indenture contract and slavery in PC jurisdictions.

*Returning your indenture-morph intact kills most of the corporate (and police) interest in actively pursuing matters and combined with appropriate amount of cash (easily calculated from original contract) amounts to a legit early contract termination, although it probably won't win you any friends and illegal residence on habitat/whatever is another issue which might raise it's head. The Hypercorps care very little about the ego inside, as infugees are dime-a-dozen; they care about their investment. Such a returned morph will probably have another infugee inside in less than day, slaving away it's indenture.

TBRMInsanity TBRMInsanity's picture
Re: Slavery in Eclipse Phase

I never thought of forking one individual many time over for the work day and then integrating the forks at the end of the day. That way the corp just has to pay one person (as they only have one person on staff). That is evil. And if you pay the person enough they won't really care that they did the work of 100, 1000, or even a 1,000,000 people if they get a salary that is 6-8 times their normal salary.

Jovian Motto:
Your mind is original. Preserve it.
Your body is a temple. Maintain it.
Immortality is an illusion. Forget it.

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Slavery in Eclipse Phase

TBRMInsanity wrote:
I never thought of forking one individual many time over for the work day and then integrating the forks at the end of the day. That way the corp just has to pay one person (as they only have one person on staff). That is evil. And if you pay the person enough they won't really care that they did the work of 100, 1000, or even a 1,000,000 people if they get a salary that is 6-8 times their normal salary.

It is not even obviously evil. If you have a million copies of me cheerfully working while looking forward to spending my salary, it seems that from many utilitarian perspectives this is a better universe than one where there is just one equally happy copy. Whether there is any badness involved in merging forks seems unclear; most people would say deleting forks is bad, but some utilitarians would even go so far as to say only the total happiness matters.

Forking is a massively disruptive technology: it makes human capital copyable, and accelerates wealth creation enormously. It is interesting to note that it is the inner system that restricts forking on anti-trust grounds: they might be risking being outcompeted by copyrations from the outer system.

"We in the Autonomous Tanganyika Occult Collective can offer nanotech design services at *amazingly* low rep prices! We are cheaper than any design firm inside the orbit of Pluto. Why? Because we are all forks of a *crazy* (but skilled) engineer, that's why! Just ask some of our happy customers..."

Extropian

CodeBreaker CodeBreaker's picture
Re: Slavery in Eclipse Phase

There is however a slight problem with using Fork technology for slavery. Your workers sanity will not last that long. Not long at all. Even just creating Alpha Forks, you have to instance each Fork into an Infomorph and quite a few of those are going to suffer from some stress damage that will carry over during the end of day merge. It only gets worse with Beta Forks, unless you have a skilled Psychosurgeon working for you 24/7 quite a few of those are going to take some serious stress damage or just be useless at their job.

Sure, you can pay some professional to run constant monitering of your workers sanity, fixing anything that goes wrong with expensive and lengthy time off under the proverbial knife, but what’s the point when you can just hire a few programmers to code some strong, limited AI to do the job for you?

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TBRMInsanity TBRMInsanity's picture
Re: Slavery in Eclipse Phase

Do infomorphs have to sleep? I don't think so. So you could (for non-manual labour) create your workforce of infomorphs and have them work endlessly for months on end. If at least one ego is always "off duty" and enjoying time off and this joyful experience is merged into all the infomorphs on a semi regular basis, then you could have a relatively sane workforce that is always affected by "just off of vacation bliss".

Jovian Motto:
Your mind is original. Preserve it.
Your body is a temple. Maintain it.
Immortality is an illusion. Forget it.

Decivre Decivre's picture
Re: Slavery in Eclipse Phase

TBRMInsanity wrote:
Do infomorphs have to sleep? I don't think so. So you could (for non-manual labour) create your workforce of infomorphs and have them work endlessly for months on end. If at least one ego is always "off duty" and enjoying time off and this joyful experience is merged into all the infomorphs on a semi regular basis, then you could have a relatively sane workforce that is always affected by "just off of vacation bliss".

In the case of info- and synthmorphs, sleep is likely an optional affair. Even if they require sleep, this can be mitigated through use of VR (time acceleration for the win!). A biomorph, however, needs sleep to rest the entire body, and so likely needs to sleep even with time acceleration.

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

Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.

CodeBreaker CodeBreaker's picture
Re: Slavery in Eclipse Phase

Synthmorphs definitly do not need to sleep, and I cannot imagine any reason why InfoMorphs would need to either. But that doesn't mean that they can work 24/7. Far from it. All work and no play makes the InfoMorphs rise up and take over the station, all the while hacking Synthmorphs and hacking through doors with axes.

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TBRMInsanity TBRMInsanity's picture
Re: Slavery in Eclipse Phase

CodeBreaker wrote:
Synthmorphs definitly do not need to sleep, and I cannot imagine any reason why InfoMorphs would need to either. But that doesn't mean that they can work 24/7. Far from it. All work and no play makes the InfoMorphs rise up and take over the station, all the while hacking Synthmorphs and hacking through doors with axes.

Hence the shared "off duty" memories to make the infomorph feel as if they had just been on vacation (even though they were not).

Jovian Motto:
Your mind is original. Preserve it.
Your body is a temple. Maintain it.
Immortality is an illusion. Forget it.

CodeBreaker CodeBreaker's picture
Re: Slavery in Eclipse Phase

TBRMInsanity wrote:
CodeBreaker wrote:
Synthmorphs definitly do not need to sleep, and I cannot imagine any reason why InfoMorphs would need to either. But that doesn't mean that they can work 24/7. Far from it. All work and no play makes the InfoMorphs rise up and take over the station, all the while hacking Synthmorphs and hacking through doors with axes.

Hence the shared "off duty" memories to make the infomorph feel as if they had just been on vacation (even though they were not).

That means you are actively manipulating every one of your fork workers memories, every eight hours, every day. Maybe slightly less if you use shifts. For your average professional psychosurgeon that means you are inflicting huge amounts of stress on the Ego Whole. Or you are constantly merging Forks in and out of the Ego Whole, which is dangerous enough. Every time you merge one of those forks back into the Ego Whole they are going to bring some serious emotional trauma along with them. Sooner or later it would crack, and it would probably be sooner rather than later.

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root root's picture
Re: Slavery in Eclipse Phase

root@Slavery in Eclipse Phase


There are limits to how many forks will help a given task. Any computational task can be broken down into parallelizable processes and non-parallelizable tasks. Once there are enough forks working to cover the total parallelizable task domain, the rest are redundant.

Also, there is no need to merge a fork at the end of the day. Suppose an intelligence named Adam is a particularly artistic simulspace designer, whose sculpted terrains are celebrated in all of the system. But little does the public realize that Adam almost never does any direct work on his simulspaces.

In the beginning, Adam got a really powerful computer with gobs and gobs of storage, and a processor so powerful he nicknamed it "Arete". Adam makes an alpha in his image, and assigns it the task of filling the processor with an abundance of betas, who are further set to multiplying deltas. After some time, Adam will call this good, and reassign his army of deltas to specific tasks.

The deltas are managed by the betas who answer to the alpha. They run in a x60 simulspace, and copy themselves into storage once per second, and work the rest of the time. The betas flag any sufficiently interesting and new skill development in the deltas, which is passed up to the alpha if it is something Adam might be interested in learning. Adam studies it, and has the alpha learn it as well.

There is now a rate limit based on how fast the prime can absorb the new material learned by the deltas. We can speed this up by having Adam learn by merging. Mental trauma can be minimized by spinning of a large number of copies of a delta with the new skill, and a large number of betas to learn the skill. Keep merging until you get a pile of them that aren't crazy. Do this again with the betas and the alphas until you have a non crazy alpha that is a recent copy from Adam. Reintegrating with an alpha that has been out for less than a day isn't so bad, so Adam has now reaped the skill learning of one of his army of deltas. The probability of mental damage can made arbitrarily small using this method.

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Rhyx Rhyx's picture
Re: Slavery in Eclipse Phase

Quote:
Synthmorphs definitly do not need to sleep, and I cannot imagine any reason why InfoMorphs would need to either. But that doesn't mean that they can work 24/7. Far from it. All work and no play makes the InfoMorphs rise up and take over the station, all the while hacking Synthmorphs and hacking through doors with axes.

I kinda disagree with that and only for one major reason: dreaming. Synths and Infomorphs run on brain emulation hardware or software and as humans need to dream I think that the emulator needs to run a dream sequence in order to fully mimic brain activity. They even make a big deal that the hibernoid can last a couple of days but then needs to sleep. One interesting thing could be making a "dream fork" that does nothing but sleep and is occasionally re-synched with the psyche to gather other events and insert the new events into the dreamscape. So in fact instead of sleeping the Ego synchronizes with the fork that's been sleeping all day...

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Slavery in Eclipse Phase

Yes, I agree: infomorphs and synths need to sleep. Sleep has a lot of different functions, and while a synthmorph doesn't need the bodily homeostasis stuff clearly memory consolidation (which may or may not occur dreaming, there is still some uncertainty of which sleep phase does what) is a big thing. You want to ensure that your hippocampus puts relevant knowledge into long-term memory and gets cleaned up for new information.

Still, in EP I can imagine hacks to fast-forward sleep a lot. Or even sleep substitutes when you really, really have to stay awake.

"Sure, the DolphinSleep app works. Kind of. You stay awake, but from time to time one of your hemispheres go into sleep mode, runs your memories into longterm storage and blanks out intermediate term memory on that side. You just feel like you are slightly stupid for an hour (and if it is your dominant hemisphere you get really bad with words) and then *some* things feel crisp and clear... while others are still muzzy. Personally I prefer the DripMerge app. It forks you, allows the fork to sleep, and then merges you. You always feel like you are waking up after a bad nights sleep, but at least your emotions stay the same on the left and right side of the body."

Extropian

MirrorField MirrorField's picture
Re: Slavery in Eclipse Phase

Quote:

"Sure, the DolphinSleep app works. Kind of. You stay awake, but from time to time one of your hemispheres go into sleep mode, runs your memories into longterm storage and blanks out intermediate term memory on that side. You just feel like you are slightly stupid for an hour (and if it is your dominant hemisphere you get really bad with words) and then *some* things feel crisp and clear... while others are still muzzy. Personally I prefer the DripMerge app. It forks you, allows the fork to sleep, and then merges you. You always feel like you are waking up after a bad nights sleep, but at least your emotions stay the same on the left and right side of the body."

"Naah. With synthmorph you can't beat the ol' SpeedUp and virtual bedroom: Regular 8 hours normal sleep and relaxation in 8 minutes of realtime and if you play games with your limbic system like Circadian Regulation bioware does, you can cut even that down though I've never found that necessary. I leave my muse to handle things in paranoid mode with puppet sock and ghostrider module, she can bring me back in few seconds jacked up with virtual Kick if necessary. Besides, I haven't heard of anyone with anything resembling transhuman personality being able to maintain working concentration or operational pitch for more than 4 hours without nasty drugs which have even nastier after- and side-effects. Even hypercorp indentures get regular breaks. Call me old-fashioned, but going entirely without sleep is for AIs."

CodeBreaker CodeBreaker's picture
Re: Slavery in Eclipse Phase

I agree that there should be psychological reasons that a Synthmorph may require sleep, but by RAW, and thus by Canon, they do not. "Synthmorphs need not be bothered with trivialities like breathing, eating, defecating, aging, SLEEPING, or any similar minor but crucial aspects of biological life". The Cyberbrain may go to lengths to replicate many functions of the natural BioMorph brain state, but that does not mean that it has all the same requirements.

That isn't to say that some Synthmorphs might not completely eschew sleep patterns, perhaps to fit into the rest of BioMorph society, but they do not require it.

On long term concentration, you haven't seen a security programmed AGI do its thing *grins*

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MirrorField MirrorField's picture
Re: Slavery in Eclipse Phase

Synthmorph does not require sleep, but I'd rule that the ego inside does if it's human-based. Of course, that's just my opinion.

Quote:
On long term concentration, you haven't seen a security programmed AGI do its thing *grins*

"I have. 'Anyone with anything resembling transhuman personality', as I said and those poor bastards ain't good for anything else. I kinda feel sorry for them."
nick012000 nick012000's picture
Re: Slavery in Eclipse Phase

Quote:
"Naah. With synthmorph you can't beat the ol' SpeedUp and virtual bedroom: Regular 8 hours normal sleep and relaxation in 8 minutes of realtime and if you play games with your limbic system like Circadian Regulation bioware does, you can cut even that down though I've never found that necessary. I leave my muse to handle things in paranoid mode with puppet sock and ghostrider module, she can bring me back in few seconds jacked up with virtual Kick if necessary. Besides, I haven't heard of anyone with anything resembling transhuman personality being able to maintain working concentration or operational pitch for more than 4 hours without nasty drugs which have even nastier after- and side-effects. Even hypercorp indentures get regular breaks. Call me old-fashioned, but going entirely without sleep is for AIs."

"Obviously you haven't heard about the hyperfocus mods some Mentons and Remade have. Sure, they won't notice when the hab catches on fire and burns down around them, but they can keep going for hours and hours on end. Even the rare flat can pull it off, too; the mods just made it a lot easier to trigger."

Also, I'm pretty sure the Hypercorps would oppose slavery for pragmatic reasons as well: if everyone's a slave, there's no middle class. If there's no middle class, noone can afford to buy anything, and the economy collapses. If the economy collapses, the hypercorps stop making money. This is a Bad Thing.

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