Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Plantation (The Good Masters)

"The greatest task before civilization at present is to make machines what they ought to be, the slaves, instead of the masters of men." - Havelock Ellis (1948)

"Machines exist to serve man, not to rule over him" - Motto of The Good Masters

PLANTATION (1036 Ganymed)
Station Type: Cole Bubble (S-Type Amor Asteroid)
Allegiance: Independant (The Good Masters)
Primary Language: English, French, German
1036 Ganymed was one of the largest known near Earth objects, a Mars-crossing Amor asteroid of considerable size, and roughly rounded shape. It's name comes from the German spelling of "Ganymede". The habitat is has become, Plantation, is an interesting strain on bioconservatism. It was founded by several conservative business tycoons who escaped the Fall with resources intact, and for various reasons did not care for the direction the Planetary Consortium was going - nor necessarily the overbearing militarism and Catholic influence of the budding Jovian Republic. So, they funded the creation of their own habitat to breed their own ideal - Plantation - and became known as "The Good Masters".
Fundamentally, the Good Masters are founded on one simple strain of thought. All machines are devised to be tools of man - thus man should control machines and machines never control man. They see the TITANs and the growth of other infolife, the exploding use of synthmorphs and cyberbrains, forking, advanced nanofabrication and exotic biomorphs to be both a survival risk and a moral affront. Technology serves man's purposes and does not serve its own, so the machine should never be higher placed than a human Ego. This does not mean that Plantation does not utilize some technologies, but they do so in very specifically proscribed ways.
For Transhumans, this means a very simple living. Biomorphs more advanced than an Exalt are not available on Plantation. Many residents to not have or do not utilize basic mesh inserts, instead preferring to keep their digital access to external devices like an Ecto. Cyberbrains also cannot be acquired on Plantation, and those with them are often treated like second class citizens or barred from entry on account of being "security" risks. The station has minimal infomorph servers which are clearly designed to be transitional space, one should not live as data permanently. A citizen may not sleeve into a Pod or Synthmorph - and those inside these morphs will be asked to vacate them for the duration of their stay - though Brain Box units are allowed. This, however, is a good way to be treated as a literal object. Cyberware is minimized for immediate medical or work-related uses only, though basic, non-visible bioware and even nanoware is approved. Cortical stacks, backups and resleeving are allowed, but practiced rarely as a precautionary measure, and all resleeving facilities are held by the governing body of Plantation - the Ganymed Council. Much like in the Jovian Republic, advanced nanotech like Healing Vats, Ego Bridges, Hives and fabrication of all kinds is not privately owned, but held in carefully regulated facilities and generally not accessible to the public. Alpha forking is illegal, with Beta forking highly regulated, though the use of forking and merging for having children is allowed - as are exowombs. For authenticity, "surrogate" Pods are often used to hold growing children. Skillsofts also form an unusual contraband on Plantation - it is thought utilizing the expertise of another and being dependant on technology for skills is a deep affront to the original Ego and allows technology to "rule" you. The only other major restriction of note, besides the basic laws one might assume in modern, organized habs, is that Indenture is categorically illegal on Plantation. A human cannot be construed to "own" another human, which puts their society at odds with Morningstar, the Consortium and Extropians, but means that Indentures are occasionally smuggled to Plantation by friendly Scum Swarms or certain Barsoomians.
Because, while citizens (I/E Transhuman Egos) and visitors may not acquire or utilize some of this technology, that is not to say it does not exist. Plantation is rife with Pods and Synths, however they are all stacked with ALI or teleoperated by humans (these morphs are clearly marked in both AR and realspace as being used by a human). Plantation does not fear mass AI subversion like many societies, as they use curbed or limited AI in small independant networks to handle certain advanced tasks using physical instances, and heavily limit the hardware capabilities of non-instanced AIs, as well as have littered the hab with numerous air gaps our countermeasures to prevent some kind of AI subversion outbreak (such as wide-spectrum wireless jamming being available in the entire hab in a state of emergency). These AIs or jammed drones handle most routine tasks - they manage farms which are Plantation's namesake, they are used in off-site asteroid mining projects, they replace "all-in-one" nanofabrication with literal assembly lines of AI Synths and handle most low-level service industry jobs. Every "unit" of AIs must have a transhuman handler or manager in some respect - the titular "Good Master". Large tasks often mimic middle management structures of old-fashioned corporations with multiple levels of transhuman management over AI "cube workers".
AI work is the backbone of Plantation's healthy economy. They man the plantations the hab is named after, which grow several otherwise rare strains of plants both for internal consumption and export. Most of the work at the Ganymed Brewing Company is done by AIs, as are local manufacture of consumer goods (at least those not small enough that they be produced simply in fabricators or classic 3D printers). As noted, AI labor supplements mining efforts which return raw materials to Plantation, and they make up the bulk of the service industry, which allows for greater profit margins while retaining competitive pricing. Basic hab maintenance is handled by AI drones overseen by humans, much like many Autonomist habs - which gives people free time on artistic or other creative pursuits. Most citizens are employed as "management", or in technical work to repair and update machines and AIs, as machines cannot build or repair machines. Plantation has a sizable educational system, due to it's ability to generate profit in excess of its smaller population - with encouragement of sophisticated or technical skills; though for every doctor, lawyer or computer engineer Plantation produces they produce at least twice as many business or polisci majors.
Government of Plantation is a semi representative democracy. Habitat-wide decisions are voted on by the entire populace, using a physical token voting which is tallied by a mix of hand and computers. But most day to day operations are handled by the Plantation Council. The council has 8 normal seats and one executive seats. Four of the seats are permanently held by founding members of Plantation, or their chosen proxy, the other four are elected by the populace every two standard years. The final slot, the Executive seat, acts as a tiebreaker vote only and has limited executive powers, and is selected every four years by nomination of the Council, and then ratified by a popular vote requiring simple majority. The council oversees habitat infrastructure and finance - taking a very reasonable flat taxation to pay for upkeep costs and to employ "Management" on public AIs. They also fund the Militia, a technically volunteer organization which takes compensation to work - as Plantation employs minimal drone security - almost entirely for external defenses or states of emergency. Punishments on Plantation are usually fiduciary - including seizure of some property (which would include AIs), short periods of confinement, probation and house arrest, and most frequently mandatory work assignments - where serious convicts have their original morphs impounded or confined and they are forced to do so many hours of "community service" work in teleoperated morphs or bots to repay their debt. Loss of citizenship and exile are only common for the most serious or repeated crimes - as Plantation does not believe in mandatory psychosurgery, cold storage or execution. Everything else is handled by corporations or other businesses which are compensated by the government - with obvious favor to corporations who "give back" to Plantation or otherwise are profitable for the Council.
Citizenship on Plantation is fairly simple. To become enfranchised, one must count Plantation as their primary residence (reside their a majority of the year), have paid taxes at least once on Plantation, and either own their own biomorph or possess enough funds to purchase one from the government (this can be all at once or leased) which must be arranged immediately upon granting of citizenship. Citizens are entitled to vote, serve in the Militia and have stronger legal protections, as well as be subject to benefitting from more government services. Due to minimal computer tracking and automation, most citizens have Nanotat IDs or some other form of physical ID token on them for official purposes. Due to their ideology, work visas are very common to Plantation as a step to citizenship, and freely given to those with demonstrable skills - so long as they are not in possession of restricted technology or would surrender it upon entry to the hab. Workers may even utilize restricted morphs if they cannot afford their own biomorph, and there is little concern of "job loss" as AIs take care of most manual labor jobs. Tourist visas are a little more strongly restricted. Those not coming to work are allowed, but they must either not be in possession of illegal technology or be willing to surrender it - and those in restricted morphs must rent a biomorph for a temporary stay. While on a tourist visa one may not "work" on Plantation. Of course, there are additional complexities. AGI who enter Plantation are highly restricted - they cannot be unaccompanied, and must either sleeve into a biomorph or be subject to curbed hardware, and will have their mesh and technology access restricted and monitored. AGI cannot become citizens unless they sleeve into biomorphs and live at least several years under a probationary period and pass a battery of "humanization" tests. Uplifts represent an ideological conflict for the Good Masters. Some parties assert that as Uplifts are transhuman creations, they are tools as well and thus should be confined to second-class citizenship - above AIs but akin to AGI, while others assert since they are sapient and can live as humans do, they are as eligible for citizenship as anyone else. For the time being, until legislation can become more clear, Uplift morphs of most types are allowed on Plantation for visitors, and Uplift citizens are approved on a "case-by-case" basis.
It is not all sunshine and rainbows on Plantation. Many people feel that their lifestyle is archaic, and overly simple. They do not reap the full benefits of technological advancement, and live artificially constructed lives to uphold their "values". Politically, their opposition to Indenture puts them on the wrong side of the Planetary Consortium (and to a lesser extent, Venus and Luna). Their extensive use of AI, no matter how restricted, often means they are thought of as a walking security risk by "true" precautionist or bioconservative societies such as the Jovian Republic. Their attitudes on morphological freedom, advanced nanotech and AGI means they are of dubious quality to most Autonomist groups. This means their strongest allies are in mobile Scum swarms who are of non-committal natures about people living as they please, and some sects of Barsoomians on Mars - who engage in anti-Indenture tactics, Martian reclamation and nationalism. Several Sapient politicians and activists are pushing for reforms for pro-integration Uplifts and AGIs, but Mercurials are deeply distrustful or hateful of their style of governance and several terrorist attacks have occurred - which have been tied to infolife Mercurial organizations. The Consortium is waging ongoing economic and memetic warfare with Plantation - which is so far able to stay afloat due to relative self-service and the fact that some of their exports (in the form of grown plants or byproducts) are relatively valuable to others in the Solar System. X-Risk groups like Firewall are concerned a digital outbreak of the Exsurgent Virus or TITAN agents could also compromise the habitat and it's not insignificant population, and utilize it as a jumping off point for other operations.
Construction-wise, Plantation is a bit of a patchwork. The two "poles" house spaceports and inner city analogs, tightly packed quarters for persons who organize shipping/receiving, vac and zero-g industry and certain infrastructural functions. Along the "equator" of the bubble is primary residence, where cheap block housing is held, along with governmental buildings, most government services are based out of here, as is the service and tourism industry - featuring several resorts, pod brothels, restaurants. The Ganymed Brewing Company and several other local corporations have offices here. This is also where their limited Egocasting facilities and official resleeving facilities are. The remaining interior surface is a blend of secured industrial facilities and large fields with attached plantation houses which give the habitat it's name. Small teams of synths or pods often roam fields or streets, accompanied by a manager or two. Architecture blends stark, industrial look in factory settings with almost wistful historic colonial or plantation-style construction, with hints of southeast asian or pacific island styles. While not primary languages, the background of several founding investors means that Plantation is a bastion of linguistics and cultures from Southeast Asia and Oceania which would otherwise be lost. Most people in Plantation are fairly well off, though of course they are limited in what they can do with this wealth. This makes entertainment a fairly decent industry there, and classic non-interactive media being the most prolific. People who fall on hard times are caught by government safety nets to prevent them being "lower than a machine", though people on welfare are widely disrespected. People think of their lives as peaceful and tend not to go armed, but "managers" are almost always equipped with a heavy sidearm (such as a seeker pistol) or a weapon loaded with jammer rounds to deal with wayward AIs. AI-driven units are easily identified - all Synthmorphs and many pod morphs run by AIs are "naked", with their ownership clearly marked on their bodies - though pods working certain industries meet dress codes. People operating pods or synths remotely, via brainbox or on temporary stay visas until they can afford a biomorph will dress and act as normal people, and include AR markers to let others know a person is there. Crime is minimal on Plantation, limited to typical crimes of passion or economic crimes - with the Militia keeping an even hand to break things up, though generally people are in agreement. However, there are two common crime issues on Plantation - vandalism or property damage, which is how the government categorizes damage or abuse of AIs and their platforms, and smuggling. Black Market operators backed by the Triads, Night Cartel or Scum offer illicit implants, technology and softwares to people living on Plantation who are willing to break the rules to get ahead. Skillsofts, cyberware (and implant masking) and nanotech are the most commonly smuggled goods.

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