While the scientists of Human Unity have pushed the frontiers of science and innovation further than any of their ancestors, there are some areas which they have not dwelled heavily upon.
About seventy years ago when the Experts were becoming relatively commonplace, there were two projects which, though opposite in their aim, were entirely complementary. Neither were considered an unqualified success though the research process did unveil several other emergent technologies to be exploited.
The first was the attempt to digitise the human mind – in effect to replicate a human brain in silicon and superconductor and attempt to ‘upload’ a single human consciousness into a memory bank. This did not succeed for a number of reasons:
While it was possible to copy a human consciousness into digital form, this merely made a copy and the structure of Human Unity’s laws on life and murder prevented the experiment from progressing significantly. As soon as the uploaded consciousness could be seen to be sentient, it enjoyed the same protections as natural humans, Experts and animals. The experiment was refined and attempted three more times, each with significantly better results. The overall observation, however, was unsatisfactory.
All of the attempts were, as mentioned above, a copy which meant the original human mind remained in a flesh body and the euthanasia of a healthy body was seen as anathema. In addition, the first two attempts created unbalanced partial psyches which bore little resemblance to their ‘parent’. This was blamed on a lack of understanding of exactly how a human mind would ‘fit’ into a computerised system. Later attempts created a relatively faithful representation of the parent psyche though they were plagued with psychological issues not least depression, delusions and not surprisingly, phantom limbs.
The issue being – humans are more than just memory banks and processors. The first ‘uploads’ were akin to lobotomy, sensory deprivation and whole body amputation ans this experience left a very bitter taste in the mouth of Human Unity research (Perhaps even moreso because of the successes in the Conquest era uploading animal minds to silicon). Again, Human Unity distaste for euthanasia made their position very difficult.
For the most part, the research was scrapped though wishes to be uploaded to a digital brain are not uncommon in the Intent records at the event of a death of a natural human as an alternative to ‘re-sleeving’ (a difficult procedure where a human brain is transferred from a dying body to a freshly grown ‘clone’ requiring several months of physical therapy).
Similarly, the initial ‘uploads’ from Expert to an organic body were unsuccessful. There was simply no context for the Expert in terms of the control of soft flesh and impulses. It resulted in comatose subjects (which were really vat-grown spare bodies used for organ replacement and in some cases, full body transplants). The Expert, communicating externally, indicated it was getting little or no sensory input and what it did receive was interspersed with noise to the point that data was useless. In time, Experts would learn to use their flesh bodies just as newborn babies learn to control their limbs and digits.
Flesh-bound Experts are incredibly uncommon and often have to be mechanically assisted while they learn how to use their bodies. There is, currently, no way for an Expert to transfer out of a body short of brain death (which puts them in the same situation as natural humans). The process involves an upload to a freshly grown body, usually an androgynous humanoid, resembling a young teen. Fresh uploads will always be severely physically limited for the first few months and will commonly have an Expert companion (often the ‘parent’ Expert) which serves as assistant and bodyguard and directs the mentoring process by introducing more and more human therapy to their lifestyle. The body is undifferentiated sexually though this can be remedied with hormone treatment. It will take two years at a minimum before the embodied Expert can be considered to have outgrown the need for the companion.