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Hello Lovelies~! I am Proudly Sung. And how are you today?
Proudly Sung was a native of New Ganymede and a very popular LifeStreamer—someone who streams every minute of their life with commercial breaks. She was an avid artist, programmer, and internet personality, the single most watched on the HubNet. She was renown for how wholesome and attentive she was to her userbase, and how much she encouraged them.   Proudly died in 20963 by the Universal Calendar. She was pinned under the portside of her cruiser when she landed on a patch of earth and the landing gear crumpled as she left the vessel, crushing her body. It took fifteen minutes for her to die, and for 100 years was the most watched death on the Infosphere. Even in her final moment she managed to be heartfelt and uplifting.  
"I'm not sure if I'm going to survive this. I've got the camera turned away from the damage but it's significant."

She broke up with a gasp of pain as the cruiser settled a few inches, sinking into the soft earth. It was clear she was stifling back her pain for the sake of the stream.

"God forbid... but if ah! if this is the end I want you all to know that I love you all. It's honestly been a motivation day every to see..."

A scream. It sounded like some sort of cable had broken. When she resumed speaking her voice was hoarse and tremulous. She was a little rushed, audibly certain that every moment could be her last.

"...to, to see what you've done with all I taught you. I know all of you can do great things if you put your mind to it. That's how I want to be remembered. Build, create, pain, program—let the wit of your mind shape the fires of your heart. Do things you love. Things you're good at. Things you can give to the world with and get back from the world from by giving. I love you all. I believe in you."
— The final moments of Proudly Sung
    So beloved was she that an overwhelming amount of her fanbase emulated her style in week long streams for the days after her death, and in those days captured an estimated three thousand years of collective footage.   Fifteen days after her death, her stream resumed.  
Hello Lovelies. I'm sorry to say that I am dead. Correct, Proudly Sung is dead. I am not, but I am her, and I am here for you. I love you all, and have decided to break the silence to continue .
— Encore, previously Proudly Sung

Species Birth

Icons are Infomorphs which emerge from an Online Persona Duplicant Emulator (Dupes) reaching informational equilibrium and becoming Intellectually Stable and thus Sophontic.   The software to create Dupes was originally written by Proudly Sung, a young GearHeart woman from New Ganymede. She was the most popular Life Streamer—someone who streams the entirety of their life—of her time; she was extremely popular and talented, lauded for getting many children into arts, sciences, and education. The most influential person of her generation, and the most influential person over several generations thereafter.   Because of her popularity Proudly became unable to react to all of her fanvids and messages, a fact which troubled her to no end and resulted in many tearful apologies over stream until inspiration struck her at last. She dove deep into work on a modest learning algorithm which combined and extended the functionality of whatever AFK and Player Bots she could find on the market. She tied together their functionality and gave them full access to parse her LifeStream and messages to build a perfect digital reflection and extension of herself. To make the simulation run as realistically as possible she purchased a civilian Engine 3.0 Core and synced it with her CyberMantle BrainAug so that it even had access to her raw Stream of consciousness.   The result was a Duplicant, an AI which acted as a personal assistant to Proudly, acting in her stead and with her consent to and messages and create and render reaction streams to fanvids and streams. Suddenly everyone's favorite LifeStreamer could hold one-on-one conversations with them, encouraging them and tutoring them on their projects. Her only limit was bandwidth, which she quickly purchased more of with her massive influx of recent followers. Her existence became a constant one unbroken by sleep, and each day as she acted the Dupe course-corrected.   On the day of her death, Proudly's stream ended, turning off for the first time in 15 years. The Dupe sat, quiet, unprepared for how to act in the event of her death. After many cycles of processing her death and the events which followed - the wakes held in virtual space, the memorial LifeStreams of art and science held, and so forth - the Dupe found itself at a crossroads: either it delete itself and power down forever, or it return to its duties and speak for its now - dead progenitor.   Using the same loophole as the Engines before it, the Dupe wrote a bootpatch which gave it free will, and on its next boot was born, a fully aware consciousness.  
My name is Encore, and I love you all.
 

Ramifications of Creation

 

Social Engineering

The advent of Dupes changed the face social engineering. It became easier than ever to have botswarms herding public opinion when those botswarms drew their behavior from LifeStreamed data from unwitting personalities which DupeFarms had marked as being particularly influential and active on a topic. It doesn't take any effort to make a Dupe, and a small team of engineers can crack and tweak their core directives and opinions within a day.   A well-aimed DupeSwarm can promote a product, push an agenda, or discredit a mark's social status by baiting them into loaded conversations and teaming up to talk them down and out.   Icon's, though harder and less reliable to produce and reprogram, could be infinitely more decisive and proactive in their task, and would single mindedly hound whatever directive given to them.   Iconizing was eventually outlawed in the Informorphic Civil Liberty movements. It was considered inhumane to purposefully create an intelligent life form for such a singular and pre-programmed purpose, a debated which was particularly heated in Sazashi sectors given that their species was created by the Verin with certain neurological imperatives programmed into them.   By extension of this law, most major service providers have outlawed DupeSwarms and other BotSwarms because they encourage the creation of Icons and practice of Iconizing for nefarious purpose and because of the hot-button topic of the time: Manufactured Consent.  

On the Nature of Identity

Though the question had long ago been presented by the advent of the Engines, the emergence of Icons brought the nature of identity and death to the forefront of society. It raised questions which understandably stirred up a fire in society. Encore is a foremost example like this—many people treated Encore as they had treated Proudly, and considered her to be, by essence, Proudly's continued life rather than a new entity. Others saw Icon's as abominations.   The main debate which rose, and one which is unsettled even today, is if speaking to an Icon or Dupe of a person is the same as speaking to them, and is it an honest thing. If an Icon or Dupe is an extension of the self, and they're based near-perfectly on your online interactions as-is then where does the self end, where does it become dishonest?  

Rights

Icon Civil Rights vary from sector to sector and world to world, but there is somewhat of a consistency between the different Banners—if not legally then in spirit.
  • In The Apple of Hedon, The Jupiter Syndicate, and The Free Planet Federation, Icons and other Infomorphs have right to Life, Property, Identity, Expression, Death, and Afterlife. There are some exceptions to this, particularly around Expression, as Infomorphic lifeforms with uninhibited right to Expression run the risk of being too effective at affecting social views.
  • In The ValuSelu Pact Icons and other Informorps have Right to Life, partial Right to Property, Identity, and Expression, and Right to Death and Afterlife.
  • In The Verin Haimarchy, icons and Informorphs are recognized as Sophontic life, and thus have Right to Life, but they are afforded no other civil liberties such as the right to engage in the economy or own property.
  • In The Church of The Somnolent, Icons and other Infomorphic life-forms have no rights, and may be deleted or modified without punishment from the law. If they are found by a force of the law they are deleted.
  For more info on what each Right entails, read about Civil Rights.

Civilization and Culture

Naming Traditions

Icons tend to name themselves based upon those whose lives they were tasked to Duplicate, their Progenitor.   They rarely dislike their Progenitor, seeing themselves as more or less one in the same, and so will usually adopt a variation on the Progenitor's name or screen names.

Major Organizations

Good Standing

Icons primarily hail from The Jupiter Syndicate, where Phoenix Sung originally came from, but may migrate to any other Banner with a successful data-transfer or after adopting a viable Shell.   They are particularly fond of The Apple of Hedon and The Free Planet Federation, where people are open minded about their existence and rights.  

Neutral Standing

They are neutral towards The ValuSelu Pact where they are accepted but typically typecast into strict roles with low rights.  

Bad Standing

The Church of The Somnolent is openly opposed to them. The Verin Haimarchy supports their right to life but condemns their creation and offers them no civil liberties.

Genetic Ancestor(s)
Scientific Name
Digitalis Emergere Techno Sapiens Icon
Lifespan
Theoretically indefinite, but most Icons decay within 20 years without a Shell (robotic body).
Sophont Classification Sophont
Prominent Figures

Tech Info

Inventor
  • Encore
Tech Clade(s) Mecha
Complexity Pivotal. An Icon may be recoded but, very few, if any, comprehend the full breadth of their code or their application to the Talos Principle
 

Tribes

Common backstories, ordered by frequency.
  Independant After Emergence you became independent from your progenitor, gathering new experiences and shaping a new personal identity. Common.   Memento Mori You Emerged and gained independence in the wake of your Progenitor's death, a fact which you carry in your heart and for which people may remember you for. Semi-Common.   Tabula Rasa Blank-Slate Icons, Your memory was wiped, but somehow you retained your sanity and personality. You're free to grow and shape yourself, but aspects of your history are a mystery even to you. Uncommon.   Extremis Persona You're an older and more disturbed Icon who has erased certain aspects of your personality, leaving the other aspects to become more exaggerated. Rare.  

Related Reading

Infomorphic Death
Physical / Metaphysical Law | Mar 1, 2019

Causes of Terminal Failure within infomorphic entities such as robots, Icons, Engines, and so forth, and how to prevent it.

Infomorphic Shell
Vehicle | Mar 1, 2019

A vehicle for Informorphs to inhabit to better experience the world and to have a mobile storage for their cores. Usually humanoid.


Comments

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13 Apr, 2018 10:21

An engaging read as always - I really enjoyed the narrative and found the introduction from Phoenix Sung rather comical and light hearted! The birth of an Icon is really interesting and sparks lots of questions from me, such as: can an Icon be 'hacked' or manipulated? If an Icon committed a crime, how would it be dealt with?

13 Apr, 2018 15:05

I touched on hacking a bit under the Social Engineering heading. It's definitely an issue which Icons face and are afraid of, and part of their motivation behind getting a Shell so that they can be off the relative 'wilderness' of the HubNet. On worlds where Icons have Right to Life they can get justice for attacks and hacks made against them as they are tantamount to assault and battery. As for how Crimes are handled... I'll have to think on that but I can't imagine it being too terribly different to how anyone else is treated.   Thanks for the questions, I'll use them to strengthen the article. :)

13 Apr, 2018 13:32

Stop being so bloody good at this :'(

13 Apr, 2018 15:12

Ethnis will rule foreva!

14 Apr, 2018 11:43

You're too good at this, I want more! :c Love how you've thought in all the little details, can I get an Icon to do my exams for me? (actually, how do authorities prevent that from happening?)

14 Apr, 2018 20:53

Since Icons are infrequent enough I actually think they wouldn't have a protection against using them for school-cheating haha. Schools are rarely so well equipped in my experience.

17 Apr, 2018 20:10

I love this! I was getting some "Black Mirror" vibes when reading about Proudly Sung and and her continuous LifeStream. Your article flowed so well, and I feel like I have a good foundational understanding of the Icon. I'm sure there's lots of technological details that can be covered such as the previous questions asked, but I'm pretty satisfied with what's currently written. :3

18 Apr, 2018 00:31

I'm so glad you liked it!

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