On Pathogens and Plagues

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Axel the Chimeric Axel the Chimeric's picture
On Pathogens and Plagues

For some time now, I've been nursing a character concept. Avoiding going into heavy detail, the character is one of the Lost, and his unusual quirks have left him with an obsession with biological warfare. This means his particular schtick is devising new pathogens and nano-weapons.

My question is, how do you design new ones/upgrade old ones? If, for example, during down time, this particular character spent his time upgrading, say, the Disruption or Necrosis nanotoxins, how would this affect them? What about if they tinkered with the genes of the Degen strain?

It's mentioned that spending time upgrading regular gear (like hacking tools) provides a bonus to rolls involving their use, but what about someone whose weapons are largely autonomous?




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Peregrine Peregrine's picture
Re: On Pathogens and Plagues

Well, for nanotoxins, you could always take what you've got, and make it more potent. Instead of doing X damage for Y action phases with Necrosis, why not do X+Z damage, or X damage for Y+Z phases? Increase the penalty to the stats from Disruption. Degen you can add a penalty to the DUR*2 test to avoid infection. Or tinker with the attribute loss, or the incubation period, or any of a number of things.

Smokeskin Smokeskin's picture
Re: On Pathogens and Plagues

It could also be better at avoiding detection, bypassing defenses, or resisiting treatments.

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: On Pathogens and Plagues

Axel the Chimeric wrote:
My question is, how do you design new ones/upgrade old ones? If, for example, during down time, this particular character spent his time upgrading, say, the Disruption or Necrosis nanotoxins, how would this affect them? What about if they tinkered with the genes of the Degen strain?

It's mentioned that spending time upgrading regular gear (like hacking tools) provides a bonus to rolls involving their use, but what about someone whose weapons are largely autonomous?

I think one can get bonuses not just to how deadly they are, but also how hard they are to detect, recognize or cure. A lot of work is probably devoted to finding exploits against medichines.

Extropian

Jaberwo Jaberwo's picture
Re: On Pathogens and Plagues

How common are diseases anyway?

When someone starts coughing and has a fever, do people belive it's a terrorist attack or just assume it was bad luck and one of the few diseases left that can overcome basic biomods?

Peregrine Peregrine's picture
Re: On Pathogens and Plagues

Well, I don't think it's very common, but it takes more than basic biomods to be disease proof, that's what medichines are for. And they're common but not universal, and even then, they're not 100% reliable. So someone who gets the flu might just not have the right stuff to fight it. Especially if people can be carriers and wander through densely populated areas because so many people do have a resistance, it can make people sloppy about contamination.

If there's an epidemic that starts breaking out, then people might get concerned, or if it's a serious illness that would make even someone without medichines run to the healing vats to get them, but just someone running a fever with the sniffles, I'd say it's nothing to be worried about for society at large.

Axel the Chimeric Axel the Chimeric's picture
Re: On Pathogens and Plagues

All good suggestions here. I'm particularly interested in the idea of bypassing/exploiting medichines. They're pretty much the number one thing that makes pathogens less and less useful as a weapon. Similarly, nanophages for nanotoxins are a troublesome thing. Would be interesting to try and develop a way to disguise nanotoxins as medichines.




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Xagroth Xagroth's picture
Re: On Pathogens and Plagues

The possibilities are quite endless if you think about it:

- Disguise: the incubation period is extremely hard to detect, until the virus is ready to attack, at which moment the victim suffers the usual symptoms at a really accelerated rate.

- Stronger version: the virus deals more damage, is harder to resist, is harder to counter, etc... Choose one. Or several. Or all...

- Pandemic: the virus can infect new hosts with ease. Combine with Disguise for truly horrific terrorist attacks!

- Mutagenic: the virus changes, making the development of vaccines and/or counteragents much more difficult

- Tailor-made: The virus has been designed to infect only a certain sector. From "All organics" to "Mr Dietrich III in his Exalt morph", with all the middle steps, like "only splicers", or even "only uplifts". Or maybe it will only avoid to infect a certain type of morph.

- Vector change: Usually virus can be transmitted as inhaled (airborne), drank ("liquidborne"), eat, inside the bloodstream, certain body parts (mucoses, like genitalia, eyes, mouth...), touch (physical contact), etc...

- Speed: how quick the virus reaches the terminal phase... and how much time the virus spends in each phase.

- Effects of the terminal phase: quick death, painful agony lasting days, and everything inbetween. Modification of perception, induction of mental stuff (like paranoia, delusions, etc...) are other options.

- Infection stage: Is the virus able to infect other people at all times, or only in a certain phase?

- Dormant characteristics: how long can the virus survive without a host? Does it has a required frame of temperature/humidity? Can it survive vacuum?

- Simbiotic relationships: Does the virus require a "partner" to spread? Or it gets an easyer time with it? Or maybe it uses that partner as a camouflage...

- Stability: how prone is the virus to mutation? And to unpredictable mutation (since there was a previous option that encouraged the mutation as a defensive system for the virus)?

- Production/cultivation: Can you simply insert the virus into a CM and hit "produce", or you require some expensive/huge installation and a lengthly process?

- Recognisability: For example, using exotic bases for the virus, to deploy them in an Exoplanet in order to infect a group of Gatecrashers that will contaminate later other people after getting back...

An airborne virus that enters terminal phase very quickly (but remains days at that position!) designed to spread to all flats, and is really hard to detect, requiring three days to reach terminal stage and three weeks to kill the host with a gruesome series of internal hemorraghes , for example, would be an impressive threat to the Jovian Republic!

Consider the desired effects and assign a difficulty based on how eager you are to let things get out of hand (with viruses it tends to!), and use the same rules to produce blueprints for the designing of the virus, and consider that you will be able to build them from the atoms up if you want.

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: On Pathogens and Plagues

Axel the Chimeric wrote:
I'm particularly interested in the idea of bypassing/exploiting medichines. They're pretty much the number one thing that makes pathogens less and less useful as a weapon.

Medichines are truly useful, yet potentially dangerous. Consider that you have active nanomachines with fairly complex programs freely moving in your body, allowed to modify it at will. A little backdoor, and they could turn you into *anything*...

Extropian

Decimator Decimator's picture
Re: On Pathogens and Plagues

Arenamontanus wrote:
Medichines are truly useful, yet potentially dangerous. Consider that you have active nanomachines with fairly complex programs freely moving in your body, allowed to modify it at will. A little backdoor, and they could turn you into *anything*...

How would you go about subverting medichines once they're already installed? The big E virus could do it, but could anyone else?

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: On Pathogens and Plagues

Think about how any computer or device security is subverted. Medichines will be running an operating system, and it is going to be fairly complex in order to do what it needs to do. Any exploitable error can be used, ranging from simple denial of service (a single function stops - or the medichines stop altogether) over various minor exploits (get them to produce drugs or mistake healthy tissue for damaged) to full root access. The attack can be in the form of information, but also chemical signals.

Incidentally, this just appeared on Slashdot: the first wifi hack against an insulin pump
http://science.slashdot.org/story/12/04/10/2139226/mcafee-claims-successful-insulin-pump-attack

Making a secure technology is hard, and often it is not updated as quickly as it should
http://arstechnica.com/business/news/2012/04/rise-of-ics-forever-day-vulnerabiliities-threaten-critical-infrastructure.ars?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=rss

Extropian

King Shere King Shere's picture
Re: On Pathogens and Plagues

-missinformation
the pathogen "disguises" itself or other "inhabitants" to look be misinterpreted as something else to cause maltreatment. (perhaps a maltreatment that assists the pathogen instead)



"To find fault is easy; to do better may be difficult."
Plutarch

Decimator Decimator's picture
Re: On Pathogens and Plagues

Arenamontanus wrote:
Think about how any computer or device security is subverted. Medichines will be running an operating system, and it is going to be fairly complex in order to do what it needs to do. Any exploitable error can be used, ranging from simple denial of service (a single function stops - or the medichines stop altogether) over various minor exploits (get them to produce drugs or mistake healthy tissue for damaged) to full root access. The attack can be in the form of information, but also chemical signals.

Well, the question was more the attack vector. I hadn't considered confusing it with certain chemicals. But how does a character actually control their own cyberware and nanoware? Are they linked to the mesh inserts? Connected to the nervous system? Controlled indirectly with chemical signaling?

Xagroth Xagroth's picture
Re: On Pathogens and Plagues

Shere, that would be under the "harder to detect" part of the "recipe", but yeah, options are enormously wide ^^

Decimator wrote:

Well, the question was more the attack vector. I hadn't considered confusing it with certain chemicals. But how does a character actually control their own cyberware and nanoware? Are they linked to the mesh inserts? Connected to the nervous system? Controlled indirectly with chemical signaling?

Its is mentioned in the core book that all implants are controlled by the inner mesh where the Muse lives, so I'd say they have their automated programs but changes are possible using an interface, a tutorial, or the Muse. In game terms, however, that is irrelevant because there are no rules for overclocking/underclocking stuff. Also, since all that is concentrated in a single point, it means that you need to hack the morph to do anything, unlike the old Cyberpunk 2020 nanohacking introduced on Rache Bartmoss' guide to the 'Net. Which I approve, because I prefer to have one single set of rules than lots of subsections! And you can still do the things from Ghost in the Shell, without spending the whole afternoon XD.

Decimator Decimator's picture
Re: On Pathogens and Plagues

Xagroth wrote:
Its is mentioned in the core book that all implants are controlled by the inner mesh where the Muse lives...

What page? I wasn't able to find it.

Xagroth Xagroth's picture
Re: On Pathogens and Plagues

Mmmm On pg 237 "Meshing technologies" there is some data regarding external stuff (like weapons, armor, etc...) wireless linked to the ectos and the mesh implants. Pg 264 for the Mesh Implants description, the Personal Area Network in page 241 and finally the Peripherals of page 247, where the implants are listed as preipherals working in an online network (I infer it's the PAN from 241). PG 253' Passkey entry points to that too.

Sorry I didn't find a clear answer, but all those points here and there make me think the implants are controlled from the mesh inserts (or a central place that serves a similar function if the morph has no mesh implants), that is a central point, meaning you cannot hack only the adrenal gland's control system of a morph, but all the morph, which is better for the flow of the game (since once the morph is yours, you can do whatever you want, without complications).

Decimator Decimator's picture
Re: On Pathogens and Plagues

That is...frightening. What this essentially means is that the medichines could indeed be hacked to kill somebody. Or, perhaps, to trigger medical stasis without any injuries sustained.

nerdnumber1 nerdnumber1's picture
Re: On Pathogens and Plagues

Arenamontanus wrote:
Think about how any computer or device security is subverted. Medichines will be running an operating system, and it is going to be fairly complex in order to do what it needs to do. Any exploitable error can be used, ranging from simple denial of service (a single function stops - or the medichines stop altogether) over various minor exploits (get them to produce drugs or mistake healthy tissue for damaged) to full root access. The attack can be in the form of information, but also chemical signals.

Incidentally, this just appeared on Slashdot: the first wifi hack against an insulin pump
http://science.slashdot.org/story/12/04/10/2139226/mcafee-claims-successful-insulin-pump-attack

Making a secure technology is hard, and often it is not updated as quickly as it should
http://arstechnica.com/business/news/2012/04/rise-of-ics-forever-day-vulnerabiliities-threaten-critical-infrastructure.ars?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=rss

Most nano-machines would have to have their code basically inherent in their hardware so hacking is hard (plus there would probably be little wireless access for hacking the nano-hive). There could be many types of medichines that the medichine nano-hive produces (possibly changing the ratios and volume of production based on input from sensor-medichines, or even changing structure to fit a particular pathogen). Regardless, I think that the capacity for standard medichines to cause gross physical changes is limited both for reasons of safty and practicality. It might be able to kill foreign cells (and maybe even cancerous cells) and speed up and streamline, natural regeneration, but that is a far from being able to turn someone into "anything." I could see making the medichines think that healthy cells are cancerous or foreign and start acting like a super auto-immune disease (though it is likely fairly easy for a doctor to turn off your medichines in a hospital environment), but gross physical changes need either a healing vat equivilent or TITAN nano-tech, not just a quick reprogram of medichines.

The most difficult thing would probably to simply get electronic access to medichines. I would think that the best way to set up medichines would have them only able to output a medical diagnostic without physical access. This way, no one could get a connection to hack your medichines unless they made a small incision (requiring you to be either willing or at the physician's mercy anyway) and plug in a computer.

Decimator Decimator's picture
Re: On Pathogens and Plagues

Thing is, medichines are explicitly connected to the outside world. They can be disabled to allow intoxication, and they can scream for help on the mesh when their user is critically injured. They probably can't do gross physical changes, or they wouldn't need to put their user into medical stasis when they've received 5 wounds. This doesn't mean they can't kill a person though. A hole in the aorta will kill somebody quite quickly.

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: On Pathogens and Plagues

nerdnumber1 wrote:

Most nano-machines would have to have their code basically inherent in their hardware so hacking is hard (plus there would probably be little wireless access for hacking the nano-hive). There could be many types of medichines that the medichine nano-hive produces (possibly changing the ratios and volume of production based on input from sensor-medichines, or even changing structure to fit a particular pathogen). Regardless, I think that the capacity for standard medichines to cause gross physical changes is limited both for reasons of safty and practicality. It might be able to kill foreign cells (and maybe even cancerous cells) and speed up and streamline, natural regeneration, but that is a far from being able to turn someone into "anything." I could see making the medichines think that healthy cells are cancerous or foreign and start acting like a super auto-immune disease (though it is likely fairly easy for a doctor to turn off your medichines in a hospital environment), but gross physical changes need either a healing vat equivilent or TITAN nano-tech, not just a quick reprogram of medichines.

Well, they are likely bad at doing wholesale physical change (you would want to have a semirigid framework there rather than everything moving around). But even small changes can be fun and devastating.

Dissolve myelin and you give the person instant multiple sclerosis. Declare collagen damaged in the right pattern and appearance will be altered. Make collagenase and dissolve tissue into goo. Or why not make extra bone morphogenetic protein 4, producing the same effect as fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva - the soft tissues begin to turn to bone. Break down the tight junctions in the blood brain barrier and poison the locus ceruleus, inducing coma. Or add an epileptic locus to the lateral hypothalamus for inexplicable episodes of rage and hunger. The possibilities even with simple tricks are endless.

Quote:

The most difficult thing would probably to simply get electronic access to medichines. I would think that the best way to set up medichines would have them only able to output a medical diagnostic without physical access. This way, no one could get a connection to hack your medichines unless they made a small incision (requiring you to be either willing or at the physician's mercy anyway) and plug in a computer.

If medichines are autonomous, then they are hard to stop when they do something wrong (break the bones of your prisoner, knot the limb and watch them knit together inside - fun! For you, at least). If they are accessible, then they are hackable. I think the likely solution is to have fairly autonomous medichines that have limited programs, produced by a hive somewhere. They signal to each other and the hive via chemical signals and ultrasound, likely with a PKI infrastructure. Hacking the medichines is done by hacking the hive; messing up a few nanomachines is not going to matter much compared to being able to make too many/too few/differently programmed machines. And of course, this is a hive for making fairly sophisticated nanomachines - it might be hard to prevent devious nanohackers from making "medichines" that have other functions.

Ob reference, http://nanomedicine.com/
http://www.foresight.org/Nanomedicine/Gallery/Species/Microbivores.html
http://www.foresight.org/Nanomedicine/Gallery/Species/Clottocytes.html
http://www.nanomedicine.com/Papers/JNNPharm06.pdf
http://jetpress.org/v16/freitas.pdf
http://www.nanogirl.com/museumfuture/dermaldisplay.htm
(basically, medichines are what Freitas is working on)

BTW, he has a really wild enhancement that might be of interest to some high performance morphs:
http://www.jetpress.org/volume11/vasculoid.html

Extropian

Xagroth Xagroth's picture
Re: On Pathogens and Plagues

Remember that there are two ways to make a program: software... and hardware. So I bet the medichines are tailor-made for that specific morph, and their program is hardcoded (so there is no way to change their programming). Of course, the hardcoded data would include the "this is the body, do not modify, only restore, this stuff", which would also mean that, if you change the morph somehow (genderswap, implant addition, etc...) you need to, essentially, replace the entire hive. The databases about the best ways to counter different stuff would be software, though, but of a lower priority than the "this is the base", so you cannot, for example, give them an update that says that to counter that nasty agent they need to destroy the heart! XD

The Doctor The Doctor's picture
Re: On Pathogens and Plagues

Arenamontanus wrote:
Medichines are truly useful, yet potentially dangerous. Consider that you have active nanomachines with fairly complex programs freely moving in your body, allowed to modify it at will. A little backdoor, and they could turn you into *anything*...

Like a chlorophyll-based lifeform. Meaning that the character has well and truly been rooted.



The Doctor The Doctor's picture
Re: On Pathogens and Plagues

Decimator wrote:
How would you go about subverting medichines once they're already installed? The big E virus could do it, but could anyone else?

Mesh inserts have built into them biostatus monitors, which would logically include (I think) telemetry from one's network of implants and nanoware. Mesh inserts are also, by definition, listening on the local wireless mesh, meaning that they could be compromised under certain circumstances. Then, the C&C mechanisms for the morph's implant networks could potentially be retasked by the cracker.



The Doctor The Doctor's picture
Re: On Pathogens and Plagues

Arenamontanus wrote:
Dissolve myelin and you give the person instant multiple sclerosis. Declare collagen damaged in the right pattern and appearance will be altered. Make collagenase and dissolve tissue into goo. Or why not make extra bone morphogenetic protein 4, producing the same effect as fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva - the soft tissues begin to turn to bone. Break down the tight junctions in the blood brain barrier and poison the locus ceruleus, inducing coma. Or add an epileptic locus to the lateral hypothalamus for inexplicable episodes of rage and hunger. The possibilities even with simple tricks are endless.

Or you could be really sadistic, and program medichines to settle in the peripheral nervous system just outside of the spinal cord and periodically discharge their power cells into the nerves. Or cross-wire the sensory cortex to the autonomic nervous system (resulting in someone hearing a B-flat in the fifth octave every time they breathe; or, even better, see random patterns of pixels every time the bariceptors in the carotid arteries pick up a pressure flux every time the heart beats). Turn the corneas into keratin. Cause the lining of the digestive tract to slough off en masse while not turning down the production of digestive enzymes.



Decivre Decivre's picture
Re: On Pathogens and Plagues

The Doctor wrote:
Arenamontanus wrote:
Dissolve myelin and you give the person instant multiple sclerosis. Declare collagen damaged in the right pattern and appearance will be altered. Make collagenase and dissolve tissue into goo. Or why not make extra bone morphogenetic protein 4, producing the same effect as fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva - the soft tissues begin to turn to bone. Break down the tight junctions in the blood brain barrier and poison the locus ceruleus, inducing coma. Or add an epileptic locus to the lateral hypothalamus for inexplicable episodes of rage and hunger. The possibilities even with simple tricks are endless.

Or you could be really sadistic, and program medichines to settle in the peripheral nervous system just outside of the spinal cord and periodically discharge their power cells into the nerves. Or cross-wire the sensory cortex to the autonomic nervous system (resulting in someone hearing a B-flat in the fifth octave every time they breathe; or, even better, see random patterns of pixels every time the bariceptors in the carotid arteries pick up a pressure flux every time the heart beats). Turn the corneas into keratin. Cause the lining of the digestive tract to slough off en masse while not turning down the production of digestive enzymes.

You guys are thinking too small. A set of hacked medichines could be programmed to quietly wipe out the synapses and neurons of the brain like a subtle formatting tool, wipping it clean so you have somethin new to sleeve into. Congratulations, you just made the biological equivalent of an offensive Boot and Nuke program.

Or hey, force them to chemically unbalance the brain. A set of medichines may very well be able to cause a multitude of mental illnesses and stresses. Who would suspect their medichines of causing shizophrenia or obsessive compulsive disorder? And hell, if medichines are hackable, hackers are now officially the best assassins in the system. Nothing can kill someone faster than giving them rapid-advancing artificial depression.

Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age.

Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.

Xagroth Xagroth's picture
Re: On Pathogens and Plagues

Again, I bet the medichines have a lot of hardwired programming to avoid being hacked (at least with a software hack!), or nobody would install them after a few horrific killings. There is a reason it is avaible in the core book, after all!

Axel the Chimeric Axel the Chimeric's picture
Re: On Pathogens and Plagues

I'd imagine medichines have enough in the way of security protocols as to make sure that hacking them is virtually impossible. It'd have to be or, as has been noted, they'd never be used. I imagine the possibility of a part of a person's cranial computer being entirely dedicated to medichines. It feeds data to the mesh inserts but it's a purely one-way street. The only thing feeding data to the specialized medichine CC is going to be the person's brain.

It's secure, it's simple, and it ensures that the interface is still rather simple and clear for the user.




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Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: On Pathogens and Plagues

Axel the Chimeric wrote:
It's secure, it's simple, and it ensures that the interface is still rather simple and clear for the user.

And this is why Apple products never have viruses, trojans and botnets. :-)

Medichines are likely *hard* to hack. But thinking they are unhackable is naive, and likely contributes to the security problems of them. Think of the horrors of industrial SCADA systems, or indeed the obvious in retrospect flaws in implant security today. Medichines are likely hard to get at using external software hacking, but it is less clear that they are safe from physical interfacing using chemistry or nanotechnology.

Medichines are *useful*. So useful that people might use them while aware they have some risks. They just trust the makers to be on top of things. Like most people do with their cars, computers and radiation treatments.

Assassins might be willing to spend the effort to make a really subtle attack - driving a CEO mad on the job might be far more useful than killing him - and then going via the medichines is a possible option. Somebody just attacking him might not want to bother with the hard approach when a simple poison or bullet might do it.

Extropian

Decivre Decivre's picture
Re: On Pathogens and Plagues

Axel the Chimeric wrote:
I'd imagine medichines have enough in the way of security protocols as to make sure that hacking them is virtually impossible. It'd have to be or, as has been noted, they'd never be used. I imagine the possibility of a part of a person's cranial computer being entirely dedicated to medichines. It feeds data to the mesh inserts but it's a purely one-way street. The only thing feeding data to the specialized medichine CC is going to be the person's brain.

It's secure, it's simple, and it ensures that the interface is still rather simple and clear for the user.

As a friend once said, "The greatest hack ever done was to convince the world that something could be 'unhackable'." Even if medichines have no wireless interface, their hive is a closed system, and these things never needed software updates (yeah, right), all it may take to hack one is to inject a saboteur nanobots to reprogram them in your bloodstream. So long as they have some software within them (and they have to), and these saboteurs can fool them (and it's a possibility), your medichines can be fooled, altered, and reprogrammed to destroy you from within. The only way this would be infeasible would be if medichines were biological in nature, and essentially just very advanced free-floating cells of some sort.

But even if they were biological in nature, they would still be affectable, if not "hackable" in the sense of computers. A tailored retrovirus designed specifically to attack medichines could reprogram them on the genetic level, repurposing or even destroying them. About the only thing that can be said about medichines is that they can be "one of the safest parts of your body". Because in 10 AF, pretty much every part of your body (including those parts that are natively human, and unmodified) is able to be "hacked" by someone or something.

Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age.

Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.

Xagroth Xagroth's picture
Re: On Pathogens and Plagues

Maybe we are looking at this the wrong way. Let's rephrase: Medichines can be hacked, the same way a quantum code can be broken: eventually and with a huge investment on resources. Not to mention that people who switch morphs a lot can get out of this problem with ease (for example, Firewall operatives that have nearly no vacations).

So what does this mean? First, that hacking the medichines of an enemy morph in the middle of a firefight is simply not going to happen. Personally, I think the best middle ground here is placing the hacking of medichines in the drawer where we store "plot devices". So, can players hack the medichines of somebody? Absolutely... if they invest huge amounts of time and effort, not to mention expensive hardware. The simplest approach is to assume that each medichine system as a quantum-coded access synchronized with the ego of the morph it is installed in, so you need to break the code to hack the medichines. A CEO who changes his passcode once every five days (thanks to having his own, NOT connected to the mesh, quantum computer) is then mostly safe (I'd dare to say nearly absolutely safe from direct computer hacking. Social engineering and out-of-the-box thinking is still the greatest tool!). Of course, the people who tends to use medichines the most are professional soldiers out in the field, so I bet they have quite a bunch of pre-generated keys before going out.

Of course, using the medichines to subvert a morph also takes time. You might have hacked the medichines... but not the morph's natural inmunne system, and while a truly dedicated hacker might even hack the health monitor of the target morph, fever, doozyness and other symptoms might show up, blowing the whistle.

As for the brain, considering that not even bloodcells are allowed inside, I doubt the medichines are allowed to, specially since a lot of nanotech is already there recording everything for the cortical stack! I'd say the "not inside the brain" is a hardwired feature of the medichines.

Decivre Decivre's picture
Re: On Pathogens and Plagues

Xagroth wrote:
Maybe we are looking at this the wrong way. Let's rephrase: Medichines can be hacked, the same way a quantum code can be broken: eventually and with a huge investment on resources. Not to mention that people who switch morphs a lot can get out of this problem with ease (for example, Firewall operatives that have nearly no vacations).

So what does this mean? First, that hacking the medichines of an enemy morph in the middle of a firefight is simply not going to happen. Personally, I think the best middle ground here is placing the hacking of medichines in the drawer where we store "plot devices". So, can players hack the medichines of somebody? Absolutely... if they invest huge amounts of time and effort, not to mention expensive hardware. The simplest approach is to assume that each medichine system as a quantum-coded access synchronized with the ego of the morph it is installed in, so you need to break the code to hack the medichines. A CEO who changes his passcode once every five days (thanks to having his own, NOT connected to the mesh, quantum computer) is then mostly safe (I'd dare to say nearly absolutely safe from direct computer hacking. Social engineering and out-of-the-box thinking is still the greatest tool!). Of course, the people who tends to use medichines the most are professional soldiers out in the field, so I bet they have quite a bunch of pre-generated keys before going out.

I think it should be noted that hacking does not simply include the decryption of data and altering of code. Virtually all forms of electronic subversion and sabotage fall under the header "hacking". When one approach doesn't work... like brute-forcing a system, a good hacker tries another approach... like asking an employee for his password.

In that same vein, "hacking medichines" does not inherently mean reprogram them. There are plenty of potential ways to screw with them that wouldn't necessarily require the alteration of code. Nanobots designed to alter cells have great potential to screw with medichines... perhaps I alter some of your skin cells to appear to your medichines as stomach lining. Suddenly, your medichines are "rebuilding" your digestive tract outside your body. If you want to affect the medichines directly, it may be as simple as producing nanomachines that can simply tear apart and rebuild medichines into something that is hostile to you... after all, that which cannot be hacked can be recycled.

Reprogramming of the body happens all the time in our current world, thanks to completely mundane viruses that evolved naturally. Many viruses can utilize the body to store themselves safely and indefinitely, while others alter our cells enough to even potentially cause them to go cancerous. If this can happen to parts of our body that are in no way computerized, why should we assume that any implants would somehow be magically immune to newer designer tech created for the purpose of biological sabotage?

Xagroth wrote:
Of course, using the medichines to subvert a morph also takes time. You might have hacked the medichines... but not the morph's natural inmunne system, and while a truly dedicated hacker might even hack the health monitor of the target morph, fever, doozyness and other symptoms might show up, blowing the whistle.

Actually, medichines may very well subvert the natural immune system of a person. If not, then the natural immune system must have somehow been altered so as to not fight with the medichines (which opens up two new exploits for "hacking the body"; altering the immune system to attack them, or sending malicious nanobots that pose as your own medichines).

Plus, remember that symptoms do not show up until after your body recognizes that it is in trouble. You don't get a fever until your body recognizes an infection and decides to kick up the temperature. You don't get a cough until your body realizes there is something that needs to be ejected from the lungs. By the time you have symptoms, it may already be too late to save you.

Xagroth wrote:
As for the brain, considering that not even bloodcells are allowed inside, I doubt the medichines are allowed to, specially since a lot of nanotech is already there recording everything for the cortical stack! I'd say the "not inside the brain" is a hardwired feature of the medichines.

Perhaps, but altered medichines might very well be able to enter and alter the brain. Of course, one would ask if medichines are incapable of repairing cerebral injuries such as concussions. If they can, then the need to access the brain.

Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age.

Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.

Smokeskin Smokeskin's picture
Re: On Pathogens and Plagues

Xagroth wrote:
Maybe we are looking at this the wrong way. Let's rephrase: Medichines can be hacked, the same way a quantum code can be broken: eventually and with a huge investment on resources. [...]
The simplest approach is to assume that each medichine system as a quantum-coded access synchronized with the ego of the morph it is installed in, so you need to break the code to hack the medichines.

Please not the quantum codes again, we did that already: http://www.eclipsephase.com/question-about-encryption#comment-22646 . There are no quantum codes, and quantum encryption can't be broken.

Just roll with some of the excellent ideas in this thread. I like the "no radio link" best - to interface with the medichines, you need to get nanobots in the morph's bloodstream.

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: On Pathogens and Plagues

Besides, quantum encrypted communication requires a decent line of sight for the entangled photons: this is hard to do inside a body. *Maybe* near infra-red (where we are surprisingly transparent) might work, but the signal attenuation would be horrible.

Extropian

Xagroth Xagroth's picture
Re: On Pathogens and Plagues

Smokeskin wrote:
Xagroth wrote:
Maybe we are looking at this the wrong way. Let's rephrase: Medichines can be hacked, the same way a quantum code can be broken: eventually and with a huge investment on resources. [...]
The simplest approach is to assume that each medichine system as a quantum-coded access synchronized with the ego of the morph it is installed in, so you need to break the code to hack the medichines.

Please not the quantum codes again, we did that already: http://www.eclipsephase.com/question-about-encryption#comment-22646 . There are no quantum codes, and quantum encryption can't be broken.

Just roll with some of the excellent ideas in this thread. I like the "no radio link" best - to interface with the medichines, you need to get nanobots in the morph's bloodstream.

My bad, I was thinking about "communication codes generated by a quantum computer, so hard you need another quantum computer working for at least a week to break them by brute force".

You don't need to get inside the brain to heal anything, the blood is around the brain (and its parts). By "inside the brain" I ws talking about "between the neurones", which I bet the medichines are hardcoded not to get in there, since it could mess the work of the nanomachine net that makes the backups to the cortical stack.
Also, you don't need to access every individual medichine: like all nanoswarms, they require a hive, which might be installed inside the body, and controls the medichines. However, the hive is hardwired to require a physical I/O with specialized hardware (a lengthly process of about 10-15 minutes) to be reprogrammed more than the few selections indicated.

Anyway, I'd rule that while you can subvert the medichines like any other implant, you can't use it against the morph they are installed in casually. Again, it would be possible to do it as a plot device, with the closer analogy being the movie Inception.

Smokeskin Smokeskin's picture
Re: On Pathogens and Plagues

Xagroth wrote:
Smokeskin wrote:
Xagroth wrote:
Maybe we are looking at this the wrong way. Let's rephrase: Medichines can be hacked, the same way a quantum code can be broken: eventually and with a huge investment on resources. [...]
The simplest approach is to assume that each medichine system as a quantum-coded access synchronized with the ego of the morph it is installed in, so you need to break the code to hack the medichines.

Please not the quantum codes again, we did that already: http://www.eclipsephase.com/question-about-encryption#comment-22646 . There are no quantum codes, and quantum encryption can't be broken.

My bad, I was thinking about "communication codes generated by a quantum computer, so hard you need another quantum computer working for at least a week to break them by brute force".

Seriously, we did it already in the linked thread. There is no such thing. Quantum computers can't generate these magically "hard communication codes" you refer to.

The Doctor The Doctor's picture
Re: On Pathogens and Plagues

Arenamontanus wrote:

And this is why Apple products never have viruses, trojans and botnets. :-)

And why 0-days for MacOSX and iOS go for thousands of dollars on the grey market.

Arenamontanus wrote:
Medichines are likely *hard* to hack. But thinking they are unhackable is naive, and likely contributes to the security problems of them. Think of the horrors of industrial SCADA systems, or indeed the obvious in retrospect flaws in implant security today. Medichines are likely hard to get at using external software hacking, but it is less clear that they are safe from physical interfacing using chemistry or nanotechnology.

The first few generations of medichines were probably lots of fun at DefCon 2.3e6 in Neo-Vegas before the Fall. :)

Arenamontanus wrote:
They just trust the makers to be on top of things. Like most people do with their cars, computers and radiation treatments.

Some of which are themselves hackable over the BlueTooth interface built into the audio system. Whoever thought it was a good idea to interface a car's internal diagnostic system to the Bluetooth module was just not thinking...

Arenamontanus wrote:
Assassins might be willing to spend the effort to make a really subtle attack - driving a CEO mad on the job might be far more useful than killing him - and then going via the medichines is a possible option. Somebody just attacking him might not want to bother with the hard approach when a simple poison or bullet might do it.

To drive stock prices down by destroying shareholder faith in the CEO, just in time for a white night save-turned-pump-and-dump scam? Absolutely.