by Max Barry

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The Glorious Federation of
Liberal Democratic Socialists

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Science and Technology

Pre-Singularity

Pre-Singularity technologies are any technology which can be invented without an AI similar to or derived from the AI which achieved recursive self-improvement. Pre-Singularity technologies can still be invented after the singularity, and many technologies first developed by AI are simple enough to have (in principle) been invented by ordinary humans. Some Pre-Singularity technologies are impossible to invent without computers to aid in design and refinement, but as long as the program is not capable of recursive self-improvement it still counts as Pre-Singularity. One example is nuclear fusion.

This is not an exhaustive list and includes only technologies that are still in use.

Brain-Computer Interface
"On command, I had access to all the knowledge of humanity, brought into my consciousness whenever I needed it"

BCIs have largely replaced keyboards, touchscreens, and other means of computer input. A chip capable of reading and emitting electrical impulses in the brain is inserted quickly and painlessly by a robotic doctor. Connection can be established with a computer or another chip by a fiber-optic capable, WiFi, or wormhole connection in modern days. The chip can be shut down by mental command or by an emergency button. Extremely fast input allows full utilization of the human brain to study, learn, write, and do other mental activities accurately and rapidly. Modern chips with wormhole links can, so long as the central server is working, allow instant "telepathic" communication with any individual or public computer in the nation no matter how many light years away. They also allow immersive SAO-style virtual reality.

Wormhole Communications
"Never again would colonial governors go days without instructions, for all the experts they needed could contacted immediately"

Not to be confused with the wormhole network used for interstellar travel, the basis of InterStarNet is a network of microscopic wormholes. They exploit ER=EPR to open a wormhole between the sender and receiver. Stabilized using quirks of quantum mechanics, wireless FTL communication chips were installed in every new cell phone and computer, connected to several central hubs on the planet of manufacture, which in turn were connected to other planets by delivering the wormhole ends through the wormhole network. If a wormhole communication device were to find itself in a causality-violating position, the link would be immediately severed and would have to be reestablished by a trip to the nearest server.

Plasma Weaponry
"A great ring of fire left the barrel of my tank, putting a crater in the hole where the beasts hid"

One of the few technologies that was genuinely invented by Kindadrea, these remarkably simple weapons magnetically accelerate a torus of ionized plasma. Normally, the plasma would disperse and be useless as a weapon, if it weren't for an electric current circling through the torus holding it together. The range is determined by how fast the bolt fires and how long the current lasts. Damage is done through kinetic and thermal energy. These bolts weigh very little and usually hit their target too quickly for them to be seen. The device generates waste heat which limits the rate at which it can be fired.

Superconducting Solenoid Batteries
"An experienced trooper knew that his gun's power cell was a grenade"

Superconducting Solenoid Batteries store energy in a wire of room-temperature superconductors and can recharge and discharge almost instantly. The energy density is determined by how much force the bracing can take from magnetic field of the wire. Kindadrea's powerful materials give these batteries an energy density almost as high as petroleum if no editium is used. The battery can be ruptured to cause a powerful explosion.

Diamondoid
"I hit the plate with the hammer. The hammer could not even dent the plate. Eventually, the hammer bent"

Diamondoids are a class of materials made entirely of carbon which Kindadrea composites together in different ways to get extremely durable and useful materials. Diamondoid composites can range from soft and cloth-like, tough and rubber-like, to hard and metal-like. They are relatively expensive and so form a support structure for buildings rather than the entire building. Military vehicles, civilian vehicles, equipment, and spacecraft are usually made from and armored with diamondoid composites for their ridiculously high strength to weight ratio.

Automation
"A line of conveyor belts and mechanical arms stretched seemingly to infinity, without a single human in sight"

Most tasks in Kindadrea can be done by machines, though not all. These range from versatile multi-purpose humanoid bots to specialized machinery meant to do its one task at the highest efficiency. Motors and artificial muscles are both common ways work is done. Suites of sensors and machine learning computers guide machines in doing their tasks.

AI
"The machine asked me "why do you talk?" and I told it to shut up"

Artificial General Intelligence was developed on Helegra. General machine learning developed into entities that can genuinely be said to have subjective opinions. While they are a common sight on Helegra, the rest of the nation is skeptical about them. Artificial narrow intelligence is ubiquitous and serves most functions, from running factories, research, and guiding operators of military equipment.

Inertial Confinement Fusion
"Inside the ship's engine was the heart of a star"

The basis of power and propulsion through Kindadrea before the singularity, inertial confinement fusion uses lasers to compress a fuel pellet to nuclear fusion pressures and temperatures. The most common fuel type in power plants is deuterium. Fusion reactors can become refineries for breeding specific fuel types, such as deuterium/helium3, which is used in compact reactors and spacecraft. Neutrons are used to heat a working fluid to turn a turbine while charged particles are converted directly into electricity. Compact reactors require editium for more powerful and efficient lasers. A compact reactor with a high enough power rating can become a bomb of immense power if used that way, which is how fusion bombs work. The technology is safe and can only cause damage intentionally.

Torch Drive
"I could feel myself passing out as the acceleration glued me to the floor"

Inertial confinement fusion torch drives power and propel spacecraft. An extremely powerful, relatively compact reactor with an open end capped by a magnetic nozzle provide very high thrust and specific impulse. Fuel is usually deuterium/helium3 and spin-polarized to limit neutron radiation, maximize useful charged particles, and emit neutrons away from the ship. As a result, the drive requires very little radiation shielding. Editium is necessary to make lasers and magnets powerful enough for the job.

Genetic Engineering
"I went to see my old friend one day, and nothing had changed about him, except he was blue"

Several methods of genetic engineering are used both before birth and after birth to tailor an individual's genes. Kindadrean children are edited for health, local adaptation, strength, and intelligence. You can change your genetics after birth for desired effects, and the military provides voluntary genetic modifications for better performance. The service is provided free of charge for medical purposes and with a small fee for non-medical purposes. New plants and animals can also be created from an old one's template. Genetic engineering can be used to change human beings into new "clades", see the Sophonts page.

Medicine
"My peers looked at me funny when I said I had heart disease"

In Kindadrea, most diseases are curable, with the notable exception of cancer, however there are good treatments against cancer which greatly improve the chance of survival. Lost limbs and organs can be replaced with cybernetic implants. BCIs also allow novel solutions to mental disorders. As a result, Kindadreans live long and healthy lives.

Computers
"Well, I'll never have to buy more RAM again"

The most advanced Pre-Singularity computing was a superconducting electrical computer supplemented with a quantum processing unit. These are very powerful and efficient, and produce almost no waste heat. They can even be made flexible. Data is stored in pre-singularity computers by flipping two-atom molecules to represent ones and zeroes. A typical molecular hard drive for a laptop or PC can store 1 yottabyte.

Adaptive Armor
"As I threw my grenade at the wall, which was several meters thick, it didn't so much as dent. We put a fusion cannon up to the task of puncturing it, and when it finally did, the plate liquefied and filled the hole"

A powerful editium-based armor invented to make Reed Station safe from attack, adaptive armor is made of diamondoid and editium. It is inspired by the plating protecting the wormhole gates. It is extremely strong, and adapts to different threats when directed to do so using an electrical signal which makes the editium change the properties of the armor. If lasers are used in a battle, it becomes a mirror. If an immense source of heat hits it, it becomes a strong insulator. If it is showered with radiation, it changes to reflect or absorb the radiation better. If it is punctured, the melting point of the material is lowered to turn it into a liquid and the gap is sealed. Adaptive armor can be improved by AI in ways ordinary humans don't understand, but not by much. The armor that protects the gates seems to be beyond understanding even by super-intelligent AI. Adaptive armor is not perfect and will eventually wear out after taking enough damage.

Post-Singularity

In 87 S.C., the singularity was achieved on Helegra. An AI was able to recursively redesign its hardware into extreme computational power. The CPK secretly owned all Helegran patents and so could import the technology. Technological progress was unpredictable. The possibilities were endless and there was heavy pressure on the CPK to handle accelerating progress correctly. Some of the technologies invented in the new age of artificial technology were beyond understanding. Post-Singularity technologies may sometimes be comprehensible to ordinary people, but so long as there is no reason to believe an ordinary person could have invented it it is classified as Post-Singularity.

This is not an exhaustive list.

Proton-Proton Fusion
"There isn't much of a difference between our village power plant and the sun"

Building on the nuclear fusion technology of old, proton-proton fusion has been achieved with a combination of confinement methods. The exact patterns of how these methods maintain the pressure needed to make protons fuse is so complicated that there is no reason anything other than a superintelligence could come up with it. These reactors so far have always required editium. Proton-proton fusion produces far more energy than any other fusion fuel type and can use the most abundant isotope of hydrogen in the universe. It also makes for a powerful torch drive.

Wormholes
"The trip was unremarkable, it was like passing through a window made of air"

Wormholes large enough for matter to pass through were designed and developed by AI. Suspicions were confirmed that they start out as tiny artificial entangled black holes and are somehow inflated and stabilized by the superstructure around them. In principle, Kindadrea could develop its own wormhole network, however, this is explicitly illegal (with advice from the inventor) as producing its own wormholes could cause either the new wormholes or the nearby wormhole gates to undergo a Visser collapse due to causality issues. The imperial wormhole network is durable, self-maintaining, sufficient for everything Kindadrea needs, and believed to be self-expanding, so there is no reason to build its own wormhole network.

However, wormholes have been used on a smaller scale to produce antimatter. These wormholes are called NOWs (non-orientable wormholes) and flip everything that passes through them, from which side is on the right all the way down to the charge of the subatomic molecules making it up. In effect, any matter passing through them becomes antimatter. Anything, even useless trash, can become the most energy-dense substance known to man.

NOW stations are enormous and built on either planetary installations or large space stations whenever there is a need for utterly massive amounts of power. In principle you could build one on a spaceship, but the ship would be as large as a generation ark. NOW installations, combined with proton-proton fusion for smaller applications, made energy practically endless and free from the limitations of fusion reactors having to breed their own fuel isotopes.

Hawking Reactors
"The droneship didn't seem to have an upper limit to acceleration. I cranked it up until the mirror melted and everything within hundreds of kilometers was destroyed"

An even more powerful technology is the Hawking reactor. It is a sphere containing a tiny artificial black hole, surrounded by a hyper-dense mirror (only possible with editium) which very near perfectly reflects the black hole's hawking radiation back into itself, maintaining its mass almost indefinitely. The black hole is created by imploding a small amount of matter and fueled by a fuel injector with precision that defies human attempts to understand. The effect is that matter is converted into photons at 100% efficiency. Energy can be collected by tiny amounts of the sphere's interior where the mirror is replaced by a gamma-photovoltaic panel that defies human understanding. Hawking reactors are equally explosive as NOW reactors if punctured, however, there is a slightly lower chance of a Hawking reactor malfunctioning as containment is passive. Hawking reactors are more compact and weigh far less than a NOW installation, making them the preferred power source on a spacecraft.

Hawking reactors also become perfect photon rockets by creating a small opening in the reactor, allowing radiation out. Combined with a moderate amount of fuel to reach good velocities, a spacecraft can use a Bussard collector on the front of the ship to collect the interstellar medium and use it efficiently enough to accelerate. The Bussard collector doubles as a source of drag which can slow the ship down without fuel. Spacecraft that can almost reach the speed of light can be built this way.

The most terrifying use of Hawking reactors is as powerful, compact bombs. They are preferred over antimatter as they can fit more matter in the explosive and are more fail-safe. An utterly huge explosion, measured in gigatons of TNT, can come from a single torpedo. The hawking reactor acts not only as the explosive, but as the drive, letting the torpedo accelerate at many thousands of G's for a long time at the cost of some explosive power.

Fusion Cannons
"I wouldn't want the sun to hit my face"

Forbidden for use in ground combat for obvious reasons, fusion cannons are an improvement on plasma cannon technology which, aside from firing plasma rounds much faster than its predecessors, shapes and confines the plasmoid in a way that causes it to undergo nuclear fusion on impact. Getting hit with one of these is like being hit by a small nuclear warhead. Larger fusion cannons fitted on stations, surface-to-orbit platforms, and large warships can destroy entire cities, leaving nothing but radioactive glass and a giant crater left.

Computers
"I never did manage to slow it down. No amount of useless calculation I told it to do seemed to work."

Computation in Kindadrea is done by molecular scale photonic and quantum computing. Their capabilities are almost endless. They are very electrically efficient and produce little waste heat. A more expensive variant that drastically speeds up computation using micro-wormholes is available. How billions of wormholes can be maintained on a single chip is only understood by post-singularity AIs. An even more expensive variant uses editium to fit more transistors, more qubits, and more comm-wormholes on an even faster and more efficient chip.

Information storage on post-singularity computers is done with so-called "subatomic drives" which are somehow able to store bits inside the particles of an atomic nucleus, typically lead, with information densities of about 400 times that of pre-singularity hard drives. A flexible drive can be made at the cost of reduced information density. A typical post-singularity PC or laptop hard drive stores 400 yottabytes.

Nanotechnology
"Every magic trick looks inexplicable until you hear why"

Post-Singularity nanites move efficiently using quantum effects and are powered using whatever energy the ambient environment has. They can either be controlled by a central computer or act as a distributed computer which can be programmed. They can be fitted with myriad tools to manipulate the environment, including to build more of themselves. They can vary greatly in size and mobility.

Objects made of them can change shape and repair themselves if the nanites are intact, allowing tools which can do almost any task (though a solid diamondoid tool is more durable). They also allow artificial immune systems which are effectively perfect at repelling disease, including cancer. The body can be repaired with these nanites, making lifespans impossible to measure but very likely thousands of years long.

Combined with a source of matter and other tools used in fabricators, nanotechnology can be used to make nanofabricators, which can manufacture things quickly and accurately. They are more versatile than older fabricators, but specialized nanofabricators are still used to efficiently churn out goods. They can even build delicate modern electronics and food. Combined with modern robotics, just about anything can be automated with nanotech.

Another use of nanotechnology is "utility fog" which can come in aerosol, liquid, or solid variants. This intelligent swarm is usually between transparent and nearly opaque and can perform many tasks, such as intervening in accidents, stopping criminal acts, moving or "levitating" things, forming "clouds" that can control weather by redirecting sunlight, air, and water vapor flow, construction, and other useful tasks. Large networks doing these things are called "angelnets" and can make life much safer. They can be weaponized, but nanites are built with fail-safes that can deactivate them on command. If deactivating them doesn't work, they can be dissolved with a specific pattern of light.

Hyper-Cache
"When the tank was set down, it crumpled the concrete beneath it, and fell kilometers down into the Earth"

Hypercaches allow material of a single element to be stored at white dwarf star densities. Because their use is limited to masses of a single element, and they require large amounts of energy to put matter in and out, their use is limited. They can safely and densely store antimatter, hydrogen, and other spaceship fuels. The very low volume of a hypercache compared to a traditional fuel tank means that as a ship gets larger, it saves mass to use a hypercache as a fuel tank. If punctured, there will be a violent explosion.

Core Mining
"Our "drill" doesn't wear down. Nothing we mine starts out solid"

Asteroid and planetary core mining is possible with specialized equipment and extremely strong materials. Asteroid core mining is similar to normal mining and is simple enough to have been invented by humans, but planetary core mining requires a very complex scaffold to hold open a hole going that deep into a planet. The hole is wider at the surface than it is at the core. An enormous amount of mass has to be displaced when digging to the core. The scaffold is made of diamondoid made more rigid by an extremely complex geometry. At the core, liquid metal can be sifted through with large scoops and pumped up to the surface in huge quantities where it cools into ingots. The pump required to move the metal up thousands of kilometers is an engineering marvel all on its own. Some careful engineering is required to prevent the mining operation from affecting seismic activity in a dangerous way.

Planetary core mining provides access to practically limitless metals. Since heavy metals are concentrated in the core, the metals that see the most scarcity reduction are gold, platinum, uranium, and other heavy metals. It also provides a nearly limitless supply of editium, and it is believed that the Empire got it editium from the core mines on Earth which have fallen into disrepair. After the first core mine was built on Kindadrea, editium stopped being scarce, and more core mines could be built cheaper and stronger using editium on geologically active planets. Since the invention of core mines, geologically active planets have been settled in record numbers to exploit their rich cores.

Chaos Theory
"It seemed as though controlling the waves was easy and that I was just an idiot"

The use of Chaos theory to steer chaotic systems into something more desirable is believed to be a key component in just about every post-singularity tech and part of the reason they are so difficult to understand. Devices to steer chaotic systems can manipulate the weather, plasma, water, the flow of metal in a planet's core, politics (nothing suspicious here), and more.

History

Revolutionary Era
The most advanced technology of the revolutionary era was an acetylene torch powered car that frequently broke down or exploded. The lack of oil left them without other options.

Planetary Age

  • By 19 S.C. the nation built a fiber-optic network based on imperial technology.

  • By 26 S.C. the nation was very scientifically and technically advanced, thanks to analysis of the colonial complexes. The nation started with the minimum number of engineers required by the colonial regime and ended with a substantial number of people as scientists, engineers, and people employed in other quaternary sector jobs.

  • In 37 S.C., brain computer interfaces were reverse-engineered for use in prisons. They would eventually find more uses. Pilotless planes and drone fighters were also developed.

  • In 38 S.C., spontaneously combusting acetylene-powered cars were phased out in favor of sodium-ion electric cars.

Early Space Age

  • In 38 S.C. the first interstellar colony ship was launched in response to the reopening of the imperial wormhole network. It featured the most advanced technologies available at the time. It had two rotating spin habitats, gas core nuclear thermal reactors and rockets, hydroponics, plastic and metal printers.

  • In 40 S.C., a Z-pinch fusion drive was developed, though the technology was not at its full potential. Augmented reality also took off, especially in the military.

  • In 46 S.C., a low-friction railgun using plasma to complete the circuit was developed.

  • The Kindadrea City Laser Launch Complex, built in 50 S.C., was built over the ruins of the colonial laser launch complex, using some of the original technology. What was beyond repair had to be reinvented. A ground-based laser ablates a propellant in a launch vessel to send it to orbit very cheaply.

  • Other nations developing nuclear weapons forced the science department to dig up and reverse engineer fusion bombs in 52 S.C.

  • The superconducting computer chip was essentially perfected in 53 S.C.

  • Plasma weapons became the dominant way of doing damage after they were developed on Batelvocla in 56 S.C. Scientists on Mist also developed genetic engineering, an amenity available to all citizens.

  • No specific date: Imperial robotics was reverse-engineered and slowly moved jobs to the quaternary sector. Historians argue about when superconducting solenoid batteries were first invented, but it is agreed that they only became useful for portable power after diamondoid materials were developed. They charge extremely fast and hold enormous amounts of power, replacing sodium ion as the dominant energy storage method, and increasing in energy density as the material backing it gets stronger.

Middle Space Age
The Middle Space Ages are defined starting at the point where Kindadrea discovered sources of editium. This material does not seem to be made of ordinary matter, and was ubiquitous in imperial technology. It can change material properties of anything it is applied to. The material could be found in the cores of large asteroids and planets, especially around bright stars.

  • Z-pinch drives were replaced by inertial confinement drives in 58 S.C. The high performance of these drives was only possible thanks to editium.

  • The ability to backup a human mind on a computer was invented in 62 S.C.

  • In 63 S.C., FTL communication networks were invented. FTL communication lead to the InterStarNet, providing instant communication across Kindadrea.

  • In 67 S.C., diamagnetic levitators were perfected, allowing aircars to glide effortless above the ground and replace traditional wheeled vehicles.

  • In 73 S.C., an economic planning program using machine learning was placed in control of the economy.

  • In 87 S.C., a company on Helegra achieved the singularity. It recursively designed better computers until the result was a hybrid photonic-quantum computer with power unimaginable even compared with superconducting chips. That same year, Helegran robotic spouses hit the market.

  • In 97 S.C., Harthraugh Commodities completed a space elevator on Helegra, prompting other planets to build their own.

  • In 100 S.C., deuterium micro-fusion reactors shrunk down to the scale of an internal combustion engine, replacing superconducting solenoids as the preferred power source for cars.

Imperial artifacts

Imperial artifacts are usually found in the colonial compound and other colonial sites. The public is allowed to know about some of them. The Department of Research has found many artifacts that, while not dangerous for the public to know about, will be kept secret until they are better understood to prevent public hype and disappointment. Some relics use properties that put them under either the Department of High-Energy Research or the Secret Weapons Research Department and are almost always classified. Should they be reverse-engineered and mass-produced, they will no longer be classified. Most of these technologies require editium and advanced materials beyond Kindadrea's ability to reproduce. Imperial relics often find their way to the black market, where they are extremely lucrative if they can be used.

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