One would have thought a cataclysmic event such as the Fall would bring the surviving elements of transhumanity closer together, jointly dedicating themselves to the repopulation of the solar system and continued prosperity. Instead, the remoteness and physical isolation of transhuman colonies and habitats stretched across the solar system, as well as the effects emerging technologies have had on transhuman economies and social lives, have promoted the evolution of a wide spectrum of philosophies, agendas, and political models.
To some economists, the Fall and the numerous crises that predated it on Earth can be viewed as an extinction event, the end of the line for the massive transnational megacorp dinosaurs, financial giants that supported their monolithic frameworks on outdated economic models and industrial technologies. The hypercorps are their evolutionary descendants: slimmer, faster, meaner, and more flexible, eagerly embracing the possibilities of new technologies and never afraid to toss the old aside to take advantage of the new. It was the hypercorps that drove humanity’s expansion into space and who continue to push the technological envelope, guiding transhumanity towards new horizons—always with profit as their driving goal.
Most hypercorps are decentralized, non-asset-based legal entities. Complete automation, advanced robotics, morph technology, and cornucopia machines allow the hypercorps to abstain from mass employment for labor or production services. The need for physical labor has mostly been reduced to tasks associated with habitat construction or deep space mining. Infomorphs and AIs are heavily employed (or more accurately, owned) as drone operators or virtual workers, and many administrative tasks are performed online via augmented reality, virtual private networks, and simulspace nodes. Some hypercorps are in fact entirely “virtual,” with no physical assets and each employee acting as a mobile office. A few major hypercorps literally consist of only a dozen transhuman personnel. Though some hypercorps are massive and diversified, most specialize in particular fields or services. This results in both an intricate system of partnerships to develop, produce, and market products and services and a large-scale tendency to internally contract special services from other hypercorps. Many hypercorps also pool their resources and talent into cooperative research initiatives, project centers, or shared habitats.
Most hypercorps are traditional capitalist in outlook, though many have adopted alternative business philosophies and management models. This might include basing decisions on internal forecast market trends, groupthink consensus models, or ditching management entirely in favor of staff polling/voting initiatives that statistically fare better. A few are anarcho-capitalist companies originating from Extropian enclaves, though these often suffer from a bias when making deals with inner system powers.
The solar system boasts thousands of hypercorps; a few of the more prominent and interesting are noted below.
- Comet Express
- Direct Action
- Fa Jing
- Gatekeeper Corporation
- Go-Nin Group
- Gorgon Defense Systems
- Prosperity Group
- Stellar Intelligence
- Zbrny Group
- New Day
- Darwin's Children, Incorporated
- Feral Robot
Sidebar: Minor Hypercorps
Some of the many minor hypercorps include: Pecos Security, Medusan Shield, Pai Gow, Herzog Security, Red Zone Security, Red Northern, Elysium & Tharsis Railways, Rail Eos, Great Southern Rail Line, Olympus Infrastructure Authority, Althauser Rocketry, Jaehon Offworld, Galaxy Entertainment Group, Traumwerken, Red Five, Savage Media, The Boba Experience, Arnault-Kieselhurst-Patrick, RiseRobots, Tetsuo Robotics, O'Connor Mechanics, Eng/Dilworth, MMX-Espaço, Hyundai Transport, Galliato Fashion House, Brokenridge Terraforming, Leong Admintech.
Hypercorp Quick Reference Page
Transhumanity's social, cultural, and ideological diversity, combined with its scattered and isolated presence in habitat clusters throughout the solar system, gives rise to a wide range of political memes and factions advocating equally diverse organizational models. Many of these have banded together into larger political entities to further mutual goals and act in cooperative self-interest.
- Jovian Republic
- Lunar-Lagrange Alliance
- Morningstar Constellation
- Planetary Consortium
- Tharsis League
Sidebar: Inner System Politics
[Incoming Message. Source: Anonymous]
[Public Key Decryption Complete]
It’s easy for Firewall agents to get caught between the agendas and maneuvers of rival factions. The Lunar-Lagrange Alliance resembles the power of old, a shadow of transhumanity's former glory. On and above Mars—transhumanity's new home world—the Planetary Consortium is the dominant usurper, the hypercorps ruling from behind the curtain while portraying themselves as the only bulwark between transhumanity and the dark between the stars. The Morningstar Constellation has the potential to become the new and future power bloc, but only if they get their act together before the Planetary Consortium starts sending Stellar Intelligence agents to destabilize them.
The outer system presented an opportunity for people who wanted to set up a way of doing things that was drastically different from the authoritarian politics and sham democracies of Earth and the inner system. Far from the reach of governments and hypercorps, this frontier was populated by political radicals, social dropouts, and people who just wanted to experiment or do their own thing. These initial habitats drew the interests of insurgents from Earth, scientists and technicians who didn't appreciate being on a corporate leash, indentured vacworkers who sought to escape their oppressive terms of service, and even criminals fleeing hypercorp justice or forcibly expelled from inner system habitats. Their ranks swelled with every act of inner system injustice, though life on the fringe was often harsh and deadly. Despite occasional hostilities with nation-state military units or hypercorp security, the expense of reining in these radicals and expats was too high. To some degree, their presence was useful to the powers-that-be.
Breakthroughs with nanofabrication brought these libertines and fringers the edge they needed to keep their autonomy over the long-term. Once cornucopia machines were widely available, anyone had the means to support and defend themselves without relying on outside or higher authorities. Already an outpost for open source and free culture activists who fought restrictions on ideas, media, and digital content, the outer system became a haven for sharing nanofab designs and circumventing the controls the hypercorps attempted to place on their software and other digital goods.
During the Fall, many outer system habitats opened their doors to refugees from Earth. Distance and the high cost of egocasting curtailed these efforts, however, as did inner system reluctance to send potential recruits to their ideological opponents. Simple overcrowding and lack of resources drove them to push many refugees to the outer system, however, though the hypercorps weeded through their virtual infugee mobs and sent those with the highest risk of criminal tendencies or discontent with inner system life.
Though the outer system habitats run the gamut of the socio-political spectrum, four primary tendencies have emerged. The stations and swarms adhering to these ideas have bonded together under a loose autonomist alliance, a mutual aid pact to help each other in times of crisis and present a united front against the inner system powers and Jovian Junta. There is little formal structure to this alliance as an entity unto itself; it primarily exists as an assortment of joint resolutions agreed to by its various member habitats and a few ad hoc task forces dedicated to addressing a particular problem or issue and then dissolving. Delegated ambassadors act as negotiators with outside powers, but these have limited authority and are held strictly accountable.
Sidebar: Call for Solidarity
To: Malatesta Prime
Check this out. Residents of the autonomist Red Jupiter habitat just put out a call for support and solidarity from @-listers in the regional neighborhood. Apparently the station’s citizen councils granted asylum to a group of AGIs seeking refuge from Jovian Republic counter-AI ops. The Junta has labeled the AGIs as dangerous criminals researching upgrades that would propel them to seed AI status, contrary to system-wide resolutions. The AGIs are claiming that they escaped from a secret Jovian research project. They say they pursued self-programming research to bypass Jovian-inﬂicted restrictions that violated their rights as autonomous and sentient entities and that they are facing persecution due to anti-AI biases. This could be a chance for us to kick some Jovian ass and look into non-standard AGI programming at the same time. You in?
Solarchive Search: Carnival of the Goat
Aside from the stationary scum station, Fresh Kills, near Earth's L5 Lagrange Point, the most notorious scum barge may well be the Carnival of the Goat, a combination artist colony and den of unfathomable hedonism, dedicated to exploring chaos, creativity, self-discovery, and coupling in every conceivable iteration. Residents are known for their consistent and rapid morphological changes, including regular resleeving.
The biosculptors on the Carnival are said to be some of the best in the system. According to rumors, residents sometimes experiment with multiple simultaneous sleeving, persona-mingling, and other mentally dangerous activities. Led by a rotating residents’ council, the Carnival prides itself on being a bleeding-edge social experiment, and maintains top-of-the-line facilities for morph customization, resleeving, and psychosurgery.
Aside from sectarian political factions, a number of socio-political movements are widespread throughout the solar system.
Despite having survived the Fall, the concepts of religion and religious belief underwent changes as fundamental as transhumanity itself. While Earth’s old religions were already in decline in the face of technological immortality, religious traditions ingrained after millennia of worship were incorporated to varying degrees in the solar system’s myriad political, social, and cultural models.
The rigid structures and dogmas enveloping Christianity and Judaism prohibited these religions from adapting to the cultural, philosophical, and especially scientific/technological changes transhumanity underwent. Today, they are mere shadows of their former glory, with many practitioners seen as pitiful individuals unable to let go of their earthbound delusions. Islam, while still holding some most controversial views and values, managed to adapt by accepting a more liberal and even secular view. Hinduism also prevailed to a limited extent, considering resleeving technology an element of reincarnation and rebirth and integrating the various types of morphs available into the religion’s caste system (with synthmorphs becoming the “untouchables”). Overall, followers of the pre-Fall religions mostly populate small habitats isolated from transhumanity through both physical and philosophical distance.
The Fall sparked the birth of new beliefs, essentially embracing both transhumanity's technological achievements as well as the devastating cataclysm of the Fall as evidence for the existence of a greater cosmic power.
Neo-Buddhism is the only pre-Fall religious philosophy that enjoys a steady popularity. Neo-buddhists assert that transhumanist technologies are decreasing suffering and increasing happiness, and that they will also allow the continual progression of transhumanity's understanding of the universe through successive lives.
Techno-Creationists believe that the destruction of Earth was a sign from God, showing transhumanity the error of its ways. They believe that through technological advancement and social engineering, transhumanity will achieve co-existence with its diverse self as well as with extra terrestrial intelligences, thereby finding new purpose and eventually, enlightenment. Attracted by the similarities to the Brahman of Hinduism, the highest cosmic spiritual being, Techno-Creationists enjoy a steady influx of converted Hindus.
Xenodeism is another new—though relatively minor—ideology that begins to show religious attributes. Xenodeists worship the Factors and Iktomi as emissaries or prophets of a great godlike race that laid the seeds of creation throughout the universe millions of years ago and therefore are the ultimate creators of transhumanity.
Technological progress and social and behavioral experimentation did not root out crime or criminal tendencies among transhumanity. As long as there are inequalities and restrictions, criminal syndicates are likely to flourish and even adapt new technologies to expand their operations throughout the solar system. Though small criminal outfits of every flavor exist from habitat to habitat, a few larger organizations with influence across the solar system deserve mention.
Firewall has been on the forefront of the secret fight to save transhumanity since the Fall. Firewall is an independent network of cells and individuals recruited from all sorts of factions, cultures, backgrounds, and habitats. Potential new recruits are approached in secret and told they possess skills or knowledge of use to a clandestine network seeking to secure transhumanity's continued survival. Firewall’s agenda is simple: to protect transhumanity from threats of existential scope, regardless of whether such risks emerge from within transhumanity or are of external, alien origin.
Firewall operatives—known as sentinels—are encouraged to act independently and utilize their own resources. Sentinels are connected by a social network known as the Eye, which they can use to acquire help and additional needed skills or resources. A sentinel’s i-rep on this network indicates how much they are trusted and will be a factor in determining what aid they can call in. Firewall also takes care of large expenses and logistics when necessary, such as ego-casting and resleeving needs. Sentinels are guaranteed resurrection, either via cortical stack or by backup, if they lose their lives on a Firewall op.
Sentinels are generally expected to be on-call—when something comes up in their vicinity or that their particular specialty might call for, they’ll be brought in on a job. Sentinels are usually grouped into ad hoc special ops teams appropriate to each mission. Though many sentinels pursue their own agendas after completing a mission for Firewall, it is not uncommon for sentinel teams to remain in contact, share information or continue to work together on Firewall-related assignments over a longer period of time.
Firewall operations are usually organized and managed by proxies, agents who maintain Firewall’s decentralized infrastructure. Proxies typically possess more information than individual sentinels and will dispense such information as they deem necessary to the mission, according to each sentinel’s i-rep and need to know. Each proxy’s means of contact, mission briefing, and overall methodologies differ greatly.
A prominent topic among conspiracy theorists is the existence of a group of seed AIs calling themselves Prometheans. Rumors of these entities predated the Fall and occasionally are up as some new evidence comes to light, though such evidence is almost always discredited soon after. According to some theories, the Prometheans predated the TITANs and may even have been responsible for bringing the TITANs into existence. Others postulate that the Prometheans were a TITAN splinter faction who broke off and attempted to counteract the TITANs activities during the Fall. Still others whisper that the Prometheans are not of transhuman origin at all, and are actually a digital alien mindform that found Earth and now actively interferes with transhuman affairs. Whether the Prometheans are hostile, friendly, or indifferent remains a matter of much conjecture and contention. Prominent organizations like the Planetary Consortium discount such rumors or otherwise remain silent.
Humans tend to think of uplifts as a single monolithic group, but nothing could be further from the truth. In addition to the tremendous variety that suffuses every corner of transhuman civilization and the obvious differences between species, uplift culture is governed by a wide variety of philosophical and ethical viewpoints. Despite the fears of the xenophobes, there is no single “uplift agenda,” and no matter how the hypercorp media spins it, not all uplifts are mercurials.
According to the human who raised me, there’s a bad apple in every bunch. Among the uplifts, the rotten core would be a charming set of meatheads known as the Ex-Hominids. According to these lunatics’ stated goals, they seek nothing less than the extermination of humanity—all to clear the way for a new era of hominid hyper-evolution. I guess the rest of us non-hominid uplifts aren't invited to the party. While small, their impact has already been felt in several bombings and assaults against several inner system targets.