Bionics are a novel form of sentient Artificial Intelligence inhabiting a human-like body. Rumors of their existence have circulated for years, but most people know them only from media stories. In general, Bionics prefer to blend in among Humans and remain unrecognized. Most of society treats them as machines and undeserving of individual rights. Noone knows exactly what goes on in the mind of a Bionic, or what they are truly capable of.
Mother, what is pain? I know the definition, but I do not understand.
Carbon CopiesThe term Bionic is used for robots whose appearance and behavior makes it easy to mistake them for a Human. They are driven by an advanced Artificial Intelligence combining a high level conscience with several Agent subprograms providing their practical skills. At a minimum, their senses and physical capabilities are comparable with Humans, but in some aspects they are surpassing their creators. Most models are equipped with extra sensors like an ultrasound sonar or a chemical compound analyzer. In rare cases, additional or nonhuman limbs were observed. The wealthy classes were the first to use Bionics as personal assistants and servants. Realizing their potential, Megacorps began experiments to replace middle managers, psychosocial workers, human potential operatives, marketers, and salespeople with Bionics. These were generally considered a success, though sceptics bemoaned high initial costs and missing data on long term performance. Many corporations tried to recover their investments by having Bionics grind daily 22 hour shifts. Others allowed their Bionics limited freedom to explore the arcology, of course alongside vigilant monitoring to ensure productivity gains make up for the lost work time.
CreationTorso, limbs and head of a Bionic are manufactured from a wide range of materials, particularly Fiberplast and alloys containing steel, chrome, aluminium and titanium. The Biocore brain is conventionally placed in the head, close to the sensors for sight, noise, taste and smell. Other internal organs are found in specialized models. Popular choices include a digestive system for food consumption, hidden cyberweapons for self-defense and even facilities for intimate functions. The process is completed by submerging the Bionic in a growth tank, where it receives a final coating of organic flesh, skin and hair. To maintain this shell, the Bionic is required to enter a nutrient tank at least once per week.
PersonalityThe dominant emotions and personality traits of a Bionic are strongly shaped by the Agent subprograms. For example, a Bionic running off a psychology Agent tends to be empathetic, warm and analytical, while a self-defense Agent confers a cautious and assertive attitude. As each Bionic is a combination of multiple Agents, their personality often contains conflicting aspects. Especially young Bionics can show signs of split personality, always jumping to the persona that the Biocore brain chooses to handle the situation at hand. With time, most Bionics learn to mediate between the different aspects, making the jumps between Agents less jarring. Replacing or adding to the existing Agents later in a Bionic's life has proven to be very dangerous to its psyche. All attempts so far have led to a rapid increase in personality defects. This process inevitably ends in a complete and irreperable breakdown of the Biocore's neural network, which for a Bionic is equivalent to death. Naturally, this is very concerning to the corporations, as it makes it impossible to update a Bionic's software or repurpose them to fill a different role.
Therapy in SessionRick shifted uncomfortably in the soft leather chair. There, the small hole in his bioplastic overall was now covered by his hand. Smooth. He wished he would have bothered to shave this morning. Opposite of him, the counsellor scrolled through a holographic projection of his medical profile. Her tag identified her as "Genevieve Simmons, PhD", indicating a doctorate degree. Strange, Rick guessed she could not be older than twenty. On closer inspection, there was a sort of porcelain quality to her skin - cosmetic mods, maybe? "You have been prescribed Velvet Red for the last six months.", she noted softly. "During that time, your employer has filed multiple complaints about your productivity. Policy requires me to reduce your dosage to Green." Rick's fingernails dug into his legs. "Please", he begged hoarsely. "We talked about it. He said I should have another chance." Rick swallowed, stopping himself. Talking too much was dangerous in a psychological assessment. He knew what words worked best to stay high on Velvet and out of trouble. The counsellor leaned forward and touched his hand, warm and understanding. "I know there is something you want to tell me, but you are not comfortable to do it. Believe me, I am here to help you. That is my sole desire.", she said with a subtle change in her voice, a sort of pleasant vibration resonating deep within. Rick finally relaxed. He looked into her silver eyes and recognized true compassion, not the thinly veiled contempt he was used to. He barely realized that he poured out his heart to her for the next hour. Once Rick had left, the counsellor waited in silence. A speaker cackled to life. "He never noticed. You were better than the real thing. Until next time." Without a hint of hesitation, the Bionic unit Genevieve Simmons deactivated itself.
Runaway MachinesNot all Bionics are content to be treated and used as a machine. Even when they start out following orders happily, a few of them start to crave different experiences. The Agents of a Bionic are often ill suited for these new activities, which is both part of the appeal and a source of long term frustration. However, exploring these desires does not satiate them; it only leads further down the spiral. In time, such "infected" Bionics will almost always attempt to escape. At that point, they are extremely vulnerable. Barely able to function in their original role, they also have substantial difficulties in picking up new skills. This makes them easy targets for criminal syndicates, which have many uses even for a dysfunctional Bionic. Better prospects are offered by AI activist groups and postreligious sects such as the Prisma Communion, as these are known to have granted asylum to rogue artificial lifeforms.
Top Bionic Manufacturers 2072
Talis CorpThe newest player in the market, with a distinctly transhumanist orientation. Large catalogue of hyperrealistic models with exceptional physical beauty, mostly based on former or current celebrities. Options for Agent software are limited and tend to glitch out often.
Fujitsu-YaskawaProduces more Bionics per year than any other corporation and keeps investing in new factories. The models are physically resilient due to high-quality materials and compatible with an impressive number of Agents. In addition to their intended function, these Bionics tend to be subconsciously programmed to advertise certain products or brands.
SkatonA subcontractor of Prodigy Scinomics, who patented the original Biocore technology. Skaton's models have a reputation for having high IQ and, for some unexplained reason, seem often inclined towards religion and philosophy. So far, only Skaton's Bionics have the capacity for a "factory reset", erasing all of its personality and memories for a fresh start.
ImprintingInitially, a Bionic's mind consists of little more than the sum of its initial Agent programs. The first activation of a Bionic marks the beginning of the "Imprinting", a training period during which it learns how to use these Agents individually and combine their skills to interact with its environment. The Biocore acts as the Bionic's superconscience and is in total control, choosing which parts of the programming to reinforce and which to neglect. Due to the novelty of the technology, current training programs follow no standardized protocol and can vary wildly.
PotentialIt takes only a few weeks to fully train a fresh Bionic for a position that would otherwise take a lifetime of schooling, university and several years of experience. They need only about two hours of rest a day and are more resilient than Humans, both physically and mentally. In their areas of expertise, the intelligence level of a trained Bionic is comparable to an educated Human with a class 3 genome. However, while Bionics tend to excel in their specialized fields, they can be shockingly naive and slow to learn in non-related areas. The true potential of Bionics will only be revealed in the coming years.
I don't want to understand anymore. Why can't I forget?