Throughout the Universe, Human Unity has encountered many forms of intelligences, from the surviving cetaceans (Dolphins) and cephalopods (octopuses) of Earth to the snake-like overminds encountered near Rist. Our society weathered our first contact with the Traders, those unfathomable aliens who gave us our first stepladder to the stars and thus was amply prepared for the onslaught of other non-human intelligences.
Our limited exposure to true alien intelligences has left us with more questions than answers.
Humanity since the first beginnings as a species, creates new intelligent minds every minute of every day. The attitude of Human Unity to the first Experts was therefore predictable. Experts, no more machine than we were, are mass-produced individuals – at birth, every Expert is identical and it takes the majority of a year to educate and inform the Expert. They are intelligent in all senses of the word and, just like us, become formidable when assisted by technology.
Large-scale Experts will be defined by their appearance and interactions – either these will be remote-controlled machine Agents or they will be audio-visual Avatars. Whether these intelligences are represented by robot or video link – they have similar rights and responsibilities to other inhabitants of Unityspace – and all may be considered “human” even if not Homo sapiens (also known as Natural Human)
Are the Experts smarter than us?
Yes. There is no denying that Experts can outpace humans in their capacity for learning and comprehension. They accept in days what it takes a natural human years to assimilate. Experts are therefore ‘born’ and grown to intellectual maturity in around 200 days.
Experts are, however, not human-sized. Their memories and support systems remain the size of rooms though their internals are densely packed and administered by millions of tiny machines – some electronic, some quasi-organic. The main body of an Expert may never be seen by human eye as they are constructed by other Experts using a single autonomous factory and specialised Agents. Experts are currently birthed at a rate of one per year at the only factory in Unityspace (located in Orbit around Mars). Human Unity has no plans to increase this rate of production though it is theorised that the single factory could birth up to a hundred Experts per year if pushed to capacity and could bring another factory online in two months in the event of an emergency. Their remote Agents may be of any size, from tiny insectoid machines to large earthmover-style robots but the brain and support body of an Expert remains large and for the most part, immobile. Their remotes must be controlled and have very limited ‘Roach’ brains to enable them to act and react when control is terminated. Upon termination of a remote signal, an Agent will immediately attempt to return home or find a safe haven. It is limited in it’s abilities and understanding and the difference in cognitive facilities is startling. This reaction also occurs if the Agent falls beneath a pre-defined level of available power. Experts are most commonly encountered within buildings or space habitats where they will most often use their Avatars for communication.
The most common forms for Agents are:
- Pod – the Agent form is that of a smallish device, often egg shaped or a cube. It has no offensive or defensive abilities though it may have a manipulator/taster/sensor arm.
- Vehicle – very seldom would an Expert be placed into a normal land, sea or air vehicle. The Agent form most likely to actually house the Expert itself is the Explorer craft.
- Centaur- used in the loosest possible terms, the Centaur Agent has some humanoid characteristics (head, face, arms, torso) but will almost never be bipedal and is much more likely to have tracks, treads or another form of locomotion. The main body of the unit will contain tools and equipment depending on the specialisation of the Expert or Agent.
- Module – similar to the centaur but without any common shape. The shape of modular Agents will change depending on their utility. They most often resemble tracked/treaded spiders with multiple functional and dangerous looking limbs.
Natural humans have their advantages in terms of compactness and ability to act independently. We are larger than Pods but smaller and on the whole more versatile than any other of the Agent forms. Experts tend to have much quicker reactions as a result of their machine nature but are no quicker in decision-making, and often quite the opposite.
The Traders, our most frequent alien intelligence study, utilises Expert-like systems in all of their dealings with humanity and it is apparent that their ‘Agents’ can act with much more independence than the limited remotes Human Unity has been able to field. They do not seem susceptible to the same signal disruption problems that Unity Agents have and demonstrate a much greater degree of independent volition and cognitive process.