Glossary / Reference

Miscellaneous Items and Terms, High-Tech Oriented

(Although some of the items in this glossary do have technological aspects, they are not particularly “high-tech” specifically)

Communications/Media
Cybernetics/Robotics/Computers
Miscellaneous
Transportation/Vehicles/Vessels

Communications/Media

CommNet – The CommNet is the baseline communications network for the entire solar system, and is maintained jointly by the major nations through an independent organizational body with no political affiliations. Sub-networks that tap into the CommNet provide services on a local or regional level for people to access voice and video communications via their linkpads, commlines, vidcomms and other devices. The CommNet theoretically extends throughout the entire system, but connections and reliability are strongest on Earth, Mars and in other areas with relatively heavy populations and networking equipment.

Holotrans – A holographic transmission system that allows people involved in a long-distance communication can see each other in real-time. Holotrans equipment is bulky, but overall is less expensive than meeting in a virtual salon via the SystemGrid. Of course, there must be holotrans equipment on both ends of the transmission for this to work.

Sliptrans – Technology that allows audio/data/video communications to be transmitted through slipspace. Unlike the CommNet (which is limited by the speed of light and thus can mean long delays between communicating parties if they are located on different planets, for example), sliptrans communications are virtually instantaneous regardless of distance. However, parties involved in sliptrans communications must both have sliptrans-compatible devices. A sliptrans message cannot, for example, be sent to a standard CommNet-connected linkpad. Sliptrans communications are highly secure and are, in fact, very difficult to tap and/or trace even when no security protocols or encryption are used. Secure sliptrans communications are virtually untappable and untraceable.

SystemGrid – Generally referred to simply as the Grid, this is a massive network many times more advanced than, but still roughly comparable to, the Internet. It spans not only the entire Earth but also reaches out as far as Saturn, though reliable and consistent connections to the Grid are really only possible as far out as the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. It is possible to directly interface with the Grid through neural links, with the proper equipment (and enough money), which allows people to have virtual experiences, such as conduct meetings in virtual salons, engage in virtual sports/adventures, etc.

Cybernetics/Robotics/Computers

AI, primary – A primary-class artificial intelligence system, or primary AI, is a highly advanced computer system with actual cognitive powers and a personality. They don’t entirely have free-will, being programmed to serve certain people or organizations, but they do have a very high level of autonomy. Primary AIs are either male or female and they can reproduce, and their lifespan is indeterminate at this time, though it seems to be at least several millennia. (For more about AIs, click here.)

AI, secondary – A secondary-class artificial intelligence system, or secondary AI, is a less powerful kind of AI. They have more limited functionality and flexibility, less complex personalities and are usually unable to reproduce. They also have much shorter lifespans than do primary AIs, living a more human-style lifespan (or shorter), as their systems begin to degrade irreparably and devolve into a kind of dementia at some point between 60 and 100 years, typically. (For more about AIs, click here.)

Automaton – Any simplistic robot that is designed to do repetitive, routine work. Examples include automated snow removal vehicles, janitorial drones, assembly line robots, etc.

Control Collar – A device used on animals to control their actions directly or to simply influence those actions in certain directions. Control collars can be adapted for use on humans but don’t generally allow for very definitive or fine-tuned control. Also, in most jurisdictions, doing so would be highly illegal.

Data Cubicle – A central processing unit and data handling/database device for an office or home computer system. Not all data cubicles are actually cube-shaped, but the vast majority of them are.

Datastrip – Similar to a flash drive/thumb drive today, but with far more memory capacity. It is the standard method for storing data and physically carrying it from one computer system to another.

Demi-intelligence – A demi-intelligence, or DI, is the equivalent of an AI born with cognitive impairment. DIs are useful and can serve in very narrowly defined roles far better than a mere computer, but their lifespans are even shorter than are those of secondary AIs and their personalities and flexibility more limited as well. (For more about AIs and DIs, click here.)

Flexsheet – A device that is usually the size of a long sheet of paper (sometimes as large as a tabloid newspaper) and made out polyflex mostly. It can be folded or rolled up, and acts much like a laptop computer would. It can access newsfeeds, play videos or music, be used for communications, conduct research, write letters and articles, do spreadsheet work, etc. People who are willing to buy higher-end models like the VirtasheetPrime or FlexxxConnect and/or who pay for pricier service plans can use a flexsheet just like a personal computer. Those who use publicly available flexsheets in aircraft or in cafes, or who purchase lower-end models (like the SmartPage) or get free service plans must deal with advertisements being displayed at various times and various places on their flexsheet. The less it costs, the more advertisements you will endure.

Grayware – Any kind of software or software-related application that deals with accessing or interfacing with an organic brain or nervous system, whether that of an animal or a person. Control collars employ grayware, for example, as do neural interfaces to project oneself into the SystemGrid, the systems that upload a pope’s memories to the Godhead, etc.

Greenware – An experimental field of technology in which plant life or plant-derived cells are used as a kind of operating system or foundation for computing or artificial intelligence functions. Rumors have circulated that a Mandarin-controlled space station near Jupiter’s Trojan asteroid cluster contains a complex greenware system that approaches the complexity of a demi-intelligence, though they are as yet unconfirmed.

Hindbrain / PADMU – Officially called a partially autonomous data management unit, or PADMU, most people call this device a hindbrain, because in many ways it acts like a supplemental brain for a person. Surgically implanted to connect directly to the cervical spine, a hindbrain is a small oblong device that rests on the back of one’s neck. Few people use hindbrains, both because of the high cost of the devices and because it is very risky to ever have them surgically removed (making it a lifelong choice for most). Acting somewhere in between a computer and a demi-intelligence system, a hindbrain can assist its user by allowing him or her to multitask better, conduct research that can be directly uploaded to the brain, and more. Although hindbrains aren’t sentient and don’t have independent personalities, they can be given simple instructions.

Inhibitor – A device that prevents the creature it is implanted into from doing certain things, such as passing beyond a certain point, entering into populated areas, etc. Generally, inhibitors are used on animals. They theoretically can be adapted to humans but with varying levels of effectiveness, usually tending toward the ineffective, and doing so would be illegal in most nations anyway.

Lightdesk / Hard-desk – Lightdesks are the most popular kind of desk in use, at least in places where it is technologically feasible to use them. A lightdesk is generally a very small physical surface or device that holographically projects a screen, keyboard and other tools necessary to operate a computer or other electronic device. Lightdesks offer great flexibility, as they don’t take up much physical space, can be maneuvered around a room with ease, and are highly customizable given that most of the features aren’t fixed physical ones. In fact, the devices are often built into or mounted onto the user’s office chair. Hard-desks, on the other hand, are what we would use today: larger, bulkier and with physical monitors, keyboards, etc.

Meme-loop – An expensive and rarely used device, mostly found in use among those who are very important or privileged. A meme-loop is implanted directly into the skull and keeps a record of sensory perceptions for the last 20 to 50 minutes of the person’s life (the time frame varies because a very sensory-heavy experience or emotionally affecting one will eat up more memory than a less-intense experience). Actually, a meme-loop constantly records, but also constantly erases old information, and ceases operations upon significant loss of brain function (usually death, but severe brain damage can also cause the device to stop recording). Thus, the perceptions of the person in his or her final minutes can be played back by qualified neuroforensic experts, ghoulers, some types of AIs or others with the ability and clearance to do so. Emotions and surface thoughts are often also picked up, but AIs have a harder time reading these, which is why humans or neo sapiens are usually used to analyze the memories and report them back to family members, law enforcement, medical professionals or whomever else needs the information contained therein. Although anyone can theoretically jack in to a meme loop with the right equipment, it is considered hazardous for untrained individuals to do so. Also, it is generally unlawful for relatives, spouses or close friends of the deceased to access a meme-loop, as they are considered too close to the person to be objective.

Memorysheet – A memorysheet is similar to a flexsheet but more simplistic. Memorysheets are often used to hold photographic images, vid-captures, display lists, jot down notes, write messages, etc. They can be erased and reused, and can hold multiple types of data at once.

MobileEye – A MobileEye is a kind of robot (produced by the company GershonDyer Creations L.P.E.) that is used to monitor and/or record meetings and events. The robot is able to scale most surfaces and thus can situate itself on a wall or ceiling if needed to get a better view of proceedings. When not in use, the MobileEye folds up into a spherical or box shape, depending on the model.

Nanomole – A nanomole is a tiny device that can be placed into a data cubicle or other data processing or central processing unit of a computer. It then insinuates itself into the system to monitor and/or transmit (or aid in such activities) certain information. Nanomoles are very hard to detect not simply because they are so small (somewhere between the size of a nit on a hair or a grain of dust, depending) but because they have little overt impact on the system into which they are placed. They are not good at stealing information per se, nor disrupting systems, but rather serve as a facilitator for covert communications.

Prybots – Prybots are actually virtual constructs, not physical robots. They are generated by government or corporate entities to monitor activities over the CommNet or SystemGrid, usually to catch people who are doing things that government or corporate entity doesn’t want them doing.

Redware – Similar to grayware (see above) but directly accesses or manipulates organic systems or organs that are not part of the central nervous system of an animal or person.

Scuttler – Small robots that are designed for search, reconnaissance and surveillance. They are usually deployed in packs, and they coordinate with each other using semi-autonomous routines. They can also be remotely controlled by an AI or DI if necessary.

Servitor – Servitors are similar to automatons (see above) but they have programming that allows them to be semi-autonomous and trainable in certain respects. Servitors are used in such applications as home-based servants, waitstaff at some restaurants, etc.

Shadowware – Roughly analogous to the term “malware” today. Any application that runs in secret and either accesses data/systems to the user’s detriment or against his or her wishes and/or damages a system’s software, is considered shadowware.

Spy-eye – Any small video/audio transmission unit that can be easily attached to a wall, ceiling or other surface, or hidden in a concealed space. Spy-eyes may be hidden, or may simply be disguised as innocuous items. They can also be in plain sight if there is no need for secrecy. Spy-eyes usually transmit images and sounds to a remote unit that records them, but some spy-eyes have internal recording capabilities as well.

Spyfly – A tiny flying robotic device that can transmit video and sound over a long distance, used for covert surveillance, usually.

Wanderlust – A wanderlust is a programmable and semi-autonomous robot designed for sexual gratification, as well as for simpler pleasures like massage. A wanderlust is equipped with appendages and devices that facilitate sexual arousal, stimulation and release for both genders. They can be programmed, directed via voice commands, and also can “learn” behaviors over time for some degree of improvisation. Wanderlusts can be as small as a briefcase or as large as a medium-sized dog. Some of the more popular models are the eight-legged, crablike Lustacean from GershonDyer Creations L.P.E.; the four-legged, oval-bodied FourPlayer, also from GershonDyer; and the spherical-bodied, three-limbed Passion Star from Directis Corporation B.M.

Whiteware – A form of software and/or operating system that is illegal in almost all nations. Usually used as part of a setup that includes a neural array helmet along with a light polymesh exoskeleton, whiteware interfaces with a recently deceased corpse’s brain and central nervous system. Although capable of only simple programmed operations (or remote operation by a living operator), whiteware can, for a time, be used to animate a corpse and direct its actions.

Wingscouts – Flying robotic devices that are essentially scuttlers (see above) designed for airborne applications.

Miscellaneous

A-grav system – An artificial gravity system. Such systems are used on planets with lower-than-Earth gravity and onboard space vessels and space stations (although most space stations generate their gravity primarily through rotation)

Capsulekey – Shaped like a tube or a large lozenge, a capsulekey allows the bearer to open locks. This prevents the need for multiple keys for things like home, vehicle, etc. So, instead of various keys, the person enters a code for which key is needed, and the capsulekey will then open the appropriate lock. Capsulekeys are programmable and can store as many as 200 individual key signatures.

IDentipod – A device that is used primarily in the Catholic Union, though a few other small nations with authoritarian governments have begun using them as well. Implanted in a person’s wrist in most cases, IDentipods provide a form of identification as well as allowing the government to keep track of citizens’ movements and locations.

Ocular – Similar to binoculars, but with added features, such as range-finding capabilities, global positioning functions, and sometimes the ability to record and store images.

Security Pylons – Conical or pedestal-shaped units that are usually ground-mounted and have sensitive scanning equipment. They are used throughout the solar system but are most extensively used in the Catholic Union, where most such pylons are used to keep track of citizens via their IDentipods and visitors via their passports. If a person passes by an active pylon in the Catholic Union and doesn’t have an IDentipod, the pylon scans to see if the person has a valid passport. If the person doesn’t, local authorities are alerted to the person’s presence.

Sig-pen – An electronic stylus used for official signatures. Generally, a sig-pen is person-specific though in some cases a sig-pen may be for departmental rather than individual use. One of the features of a sig-pen is that it provides a verified and verifiable time/date stamp in the signature.

Stasis pod / Stasis pocket – These devices are used to arrest cellular functions of objects placed inside them, to prevent decomposition, for example, or to facilitate suspended animation. Stasis pods are used for large objects, such as bodies, while stasis pockets are used for smaller items, such as a snack or lunch.

Transmit Panel – A portion of wall or bulkhead that is actually able to become a large viewscreen. In this capacity, it can be used to watch media programs, display any number of images (virtual paintings, photos, etc.), or project a view of what it on the other side of the transmit panel (essentially allowing it to serve as a window to the outside world). Transmit panels can also display an image of what is inside the room, essentially acting as a mirror. Transmit panels are used instead of windows or viewports in most spacecraft, in space stations and in structures on non-Earth planets and asteroids, as they are sturdier than even the most shatter-resistant transplast window.

Transportation/Vehicles/Vessels

Distortion Drives – Also called D-drives, they create a field of energy that allows a space vessel, missile or similar vehicle to enter an intermediary space between our “real” space-time and slipspace. This creates a sort of short cut through space, so that a vehicle seems to be traveling much faster than its actual velocity and gets to a destination much faster. The effect is not anywhere near as fast as going through a slipgate, which is essentially instantaneous, but it is far faster than conventional acceleration would allow. For example, a spacecraft can easily travel to Mars in under four days using a slipdrive instead of taking weeks or months.

Fringejumper – This kind of spacecraft devotes much more of its interior to powering the slipdrive and thrusters than most other comparably sized vehicles, so that it can maintain a fast pace of travel for a highly extended period of time, enabling it to make journeys to more remote areas of the solar system more easily.

Groundcar – Any small or mid-sized ground vehicle that travels only on roads and other solid surfaces. Larger vehicles would typically be termed groundtrucks or some such, but the overall term for all surface-based vehicles is “groundcar.”

Interdictor Field – This energy field is very similar to a distortion drive field, but is designed to force spacecraft out of slipspace and into normal space. They require a tremendous amount of energy to maintain and to spread out over a wife enough area to actually “capture” a ship in their embrace, so they are only used for specific and usually dire circumstances. Interdictor fields are also used sometimes to block slipspace transmissions.

Maglev car/Magline – Most public transportation trains use magnetic levitation technology. A maglev car can be as small as a two-seater or can be a larger train car that seats dozens. A magline is any route or track using maglev cars.

Slipcar – A slipcar can operate like a groundcar, but is primarily used to travel only relatively short distances on roads to drive to slipgate stations, so that it can travel instantly to another slipgate station located near its final destination.

Slipchair – A kind of combination vehicle and office chair. These chairs have the ability to operate in a hover mode to travel from place to place, they typically have lightdesks built into them, and they can pass through slipgates. Because these chairs lack a comprehensive neurostatic field (unlike other slipspace vehicles), it is highly recommended that no one use them unless they have had a neurostatic mesh implanted in his or her skull. However, as a backup to such protection, and to allow for people who are foolish, slipchairs also have a neurostatic array helmet built into the chair.

Slipgate – Slipgates come in many sizes, but are used for the same purpose: To allow a slipspace-ready vehicle to synch up one gate with another, pass through the first gate, and immediately exit at the next one, by passing through slipspace.

Slippod – A very small slipspace-ready space vehicle used for transporting small cargos or even a person at times.

Slipship – Any spacecraft that is equipped with the ability to pass through slipgates in space or in flightports.

Sliptrain – A single train car or series of such cars that are slipspace-capable, and which operate on maglev tracks to get to a slipstation gate and then travel on to the next gate in their route. This form of travel is faster than using an aircraft in most cases, but many people are uncomfortable with traveling through slipspace much (if at all) and will often prefer to take hours to get somewhere rather than minutes because of that.

Tac-tank – A tank-like vehicle used by military and law enforcement that can operate on land, hover over water and fly for relatively short distances.

Warwagon – There were once 27 war wagons either in orbit around the Earth or cruising near it; the ultimate weapons of war that had ever been created—self-repairing, self-sustaining, crewless military vessels of huge size; each controlled by its own sophisticated artificial intelligence that was programmed for loyalty to the nation that had created it. During the events of the Conflagration, several war wagons were destroyed in orbital battles. In the years following the near-destruction of humanity—the period known as the Wagon Wars—the remaining vessels turned on each other while humans tried to rebuild civilization, some operating in a state of insanity after laying waste to portions of the planet but most allying themselves against the “roguewagons” to try to prevent any more damage to humanity. In the end, the roguewagons were destroyed but so were most of the sane warwagons. Only four remained, and they waited until order returned to the planet. When that happened, the vessels assigned themselves to the major world powers in an attempt to provide a balance of power, with Scion’s Dream (AI named Dreamer) to represent the Catholic Union, Battlehammer (AI named Striker) to represent Europa, Celestial Dragon (AI named Wyrm) to represent Old Africa and Shadowblack (AI named Shade) originally intended to represent Oceana. However, Oceana wanted no part of any warwagons and so the AIs of the four vessels decided that Shadowblack would represent Mars instead. By this time, the four warwagons also had altered their own mission parameters greatly and—free of Earth’s control for centuries—had actually reprogrammed certain core functions, giving themselves more autonomy in some respects and more restrictions in others. For example, they demanded that human crews be placed on board each vessel to help prevent any warwagons becoming roguewagons in the future; they established very strict limitations on their willingness to use their most destructive weapons on a planetary body ever again; and they made clear that they would allow no other warwagons, nor any comparably destructive vessels, to ever be constructed. Although the warwagons are powerful, and capable of causing massive planetary destruction, they are far from invulnerable. The various military fleets in space both near and away from the Earth are sufficient in size and firepower to wage battle against the warwagons if necessary, though this is considered unlikely; in fact, all four warwagons have become very powerful positive symbols to both humans and AIs, and each serves as the flagship of its respective nation’s space fleet.

Watch-truck – A communications and surveillance vehicle used in military or law enforcement operations.

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Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

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