An autonet (short for automation network) is a network composed of two or more dieseltech computers linked together so that each computer (serving as an autonet node) may provide inputs and accept outputs from adjacent computers in the network.
Locating dieseltech computers near the machinery they will control or near sources of sensory data they must take into account is useful because this minimizes response times. Nevertheless, it is sometimes helpful to pass information to, or receive information from remote locations. For example, economists from the Commonwealth of C must report findings to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Cabinet for consideration in a timely manner; stock exchange computers in Medial C can share up-to-date ticker information with CPC computers through a telegraph-enabled autonet, allowing the Commonwealth Parliament to make economic decisions faster and more accurately than any other major power. Similarly, as the Manifold Conservation Society's capital, Bunker Primus, is a massive, face-penetrating arcology, various infrastructure elements may be more efficient to administer through an unsleeping autonet than by living operators. The security risks inherent to an autonet increase as the size of the autonet increases. A rare few individuals, notably Voxelian bards-recursant, are talented in gaining access to autonets for espionage and sabotage purposes. Manifold vernacular refers to these individuals as "systems intruders," as the phenomenon is new enough that a more concise term has not yet been popularized; "gear-grinders" is an increasingly common epithet for systems intruders as well. Data Engines Limited produce a range of solutions for dealing with potential systems intruders, ranging from simple mechanical locks on input devices to firewall program gaskets which (when paired with a dedicated dieseltech computer node on the autonet) actively resist or attempt to mislead unauthorized users.
Autonets are notoriously difficult to construct by anyone short of a dieseltech engineer or specialist technician. Individual nodes are often generalized dieseltech computers which have been constructed with built-in autonet support and purchased from outside suppliers. Once the hardware and programming gaskets are installed and linked to input and output devices, one or more systems administrators are appointed to keep control of one or more nodes to direct the autonet, watch for malfunctions, and deter systems intruders.
When all nodes are within a small distance of one another, such as all within the same office building, an autonet may be established through simple mechanical, pneumatic, or hydraulic linkages. At longer distances, telegraph lines are the preferred method of communication between nodes. By linking together many separate dieseltech computers, autonets are capable of performing intensive calculations, directing complex processes in ways that no individual computer could handle, operating with multiple redundancy for important functions, or drawing input from widely dispersed operators and sensor equipment.