Black Peregrine, an open-source Santa Claus Machine

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Jay Dugger Jay Dugger's picture
Black Peregrine, an open-source Santa Claus Machine

Martian Autumn, the campaign I GM, has an unrestricted and open-source cornucopia machine of Extropian make as its main MacGuffin.

This desktop cornucopia machine, Black Peregrine, by design:

- can self-replicate from raw materials,
- has a built-in AI named Samuel for design and operation,
- an extremely wide selection of blueprints,
- the ability to keep or forget use logs, and compatibility with most DRM standards.

(Yes, the names refer to an American mystery writer and his most famous novel.)

I imagine B.P. as the sort of thing very useful in colony construction. It certainly includes blueprints enough to bootstrap into a fairly modern industrial base, build healing vats, terraforming equipment, new morphs, ego bridges, vehicles, spacecraft, and weapons from knives to pure fusion explosives.

(This wide range matters for later plot developments.)

B.P. purposely exists as a very dangerous MacGuffin. Players in Martian Autumn immediately started counting how many other characters might know of it once they heard of it, and one of them started
planning how many deaths it would take to keep her possession of it secret. Another player expects many copies to start flooding Mars. No one yet worries about the overall effect on the unstable Martian power structure.

(No, none of the players have read Damon Knight's "A for Anything.")

The device hasn't yet shown up in play. It lies in the ruins of Waddell, near Meltwater, and no one has yet left Elysium City. Once it does, I plan to use the relative disadvantage of general-purpose construction versus special-purpose assembly fabrication to rein in the players. Once the players get used to that, I plan to play up the cultural differences between Mars and Extropia as stage business for the in-game restraint.

(Agoric computing? What do you mean I should have bought futures for the production queue? Do what I tell you, machine!)

Here are a few questions to spark discussion.

- What sort of user access control would exist for a D.C.M. right "out of the box?" Does Samuel, the design AI, imprint on the first transhuman it sees?

- How fast can an effectively unrestricted desktop cornucopia machine self-replicate?

- What limits would such a thing realistically have?

- How would you fingerprint a C.M.? Isotopic ratios or quirks of construction patterns come to mind. What else? (By intentional default, B.P. doesn't use watermarked designs or keep logs.)

- What uncommon or rare raw materials would B.P. need to self-replicate?

- How many other unrestricted cornucopia machines would reasonably exist on Mars and in near-Mars space?

- What would or what have characters from your games done with such machines?

- What else should I have asked?

Sometimes the delete key serves best.

The Demon Code The Demon Code's picture
Re: Black Peregrine, an open-source Santa Claus Machine

Jay Dugger wrote:

- What else should I have asked?

The problem with general purpose desktop cornucopia machines is that their manufacturing volume to DCM volume ratio tends to be very poor (this is even in the core rules). So objects with large continuous parts, like say healing vats, are either beyond the machines ability to replicate or must be replicated in small parts and then assembled (perhaps through the use of robotic arms attached to the machine, or even transhuman labor). The assembling of smaller than required parts will also likely produce inferior products to those built on factory lines (and likely give clues to the method of the objects manufacture). So some key questions ask are: how big is this machine, how big an object can this machine make, and how well can it assemble pieces to make a bigger object?

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Black Peregrine, an open-source Santa Claus Machine

Jay Dugger wrote:

- How fast can an effectively unrestricted desktop cornucopia machine self-replicate?

Assuming it is desk-sized, I would assume a few hours to a day. It might make a few separate parts that need to be put together, or it extrudes the other CM along its long axis enveloped in a protective bag.

Quote:

- What limits would such a thing realistically have?

Energy is a big thing. Putting together an object requires making and breaking chemical bonds roughly equivalent to its entalphy. For a 1 kg diamond object that is about 33 MJ, or 9 kiloWatt-hours. It will also need cooling during processing, since a lot of this becomes heat.

Quote:

- How would you fingerprint a C.M.? Isotopic ratios or quirks of construction patterns come to mind. What else? (By intentional default, B.P. doesn't use watermarked designs or keep logs.)

Isotopes are great. Small flaws in the construction might produce persistent dislocation or glitch patterns that can be compared and traced.

Quote:

- What uncommon or rare raw materials would B.P. need to self-replicate?

It could be anything. A real diamond nanoassembler proposal just uses hydrogen, carbon and germanium, but a general system likely needs a bunch more. In fact, if it is to be as general as possible it likely needs a sizeable fraction of the periodic table (in order to handle most of the periodic table), but only in tiny amounts. My guess is that rarest element used will be rhenium since it is rare in the solar system and on planetary surfaces and has many useful oxidation states (other good candidates: tantalum, rutenium, tellurium and thulium).

The big thing is how much is needed for most manufacturing. My take would be that 99% of anything can be done using a feedstock with carbon, silicon, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, iron and a few more. Stuff with nuclear batteries require a lot of fissionable ore that has to be separated. Stuff with nanomachine components, metamaterials and other exotic materials might need noticeable amounts of random elements like rare earths.

Maybe you should just roll randomly on the periodic table for the most obscure requirement and then check if they have enough of it? "Out of thulium error" is so annoying... :-)

Quote:

- What else should I have asked?

How good are the firewalls on the machine? If it gets hacked, then it can be very dangerous.

Extropian

CodeBreaker CodeBreaker's picture
Re: Black Peregrine, an open-source Santa Claus Machine

Jay Dugger wrote:

- What else should I have asked?

One other thing to ask is how hard will Overwatch come down on any reports of such a C.M. The PC relies on such devices not existing, it is the basis of their entire economy and thus their power. If Overwatch hear that someone has gotten their hands on one, or that one got down the well, you can expect an entire division of auditors on your ass, hunting you down.

Also something to remember is that Mars is still virally active, and not just the Exsurgent. If such a virus gets its mits on an unrestricted C.M filled with tasty blueprints, bad things are bound to happen.

-

MirrorField MirrorField's picture
Re: Black Peregrine, an open-source Santa Claus Machine

Quote:

- What sort of user access control would exist for a D.C.M. right "out of the box?" Does Samuel, the design AI, imprint on the first transhuman it sees?

Probably programmable user identification and access control which is not enabled "out of the box". "Please change the root password immediately" should be included in Samuel's introductory exposition.

Quote:

- What limits would such a thing realistically have?

Production rate, available blueprints, energy consumption, available raw materials.

Possibly the size of item being produced, but an advanced version might be able to extrude a protective bag in which the item is actually assembled.

Quote:

- How would you fingerprint a C.M.? Isotopic ratios or quirks of construction patterns come to mind. What else? (By intentional default, B.P. doesn't use watermarked designs or keep logs.)

Embedded nanotags in structure. Isotopes are also great, as Arentanomus said.

Quote:

- How many other unrestricted cornucopia machines would reasonably exist on Mars and in near-Mars space?

Depends on GM vision. However, one should note that Planetary Consortium and others can manage to squelch these things at least to a degree, or they would already have collapsed. Martian Movement and all sorts of factions are constantly trying to smuggle these kinds of units in and inevitably some have succeeded long time ago.

Quote:

- What else should I have asked?

What are the default blueprints the system comes with? Probably a small collection of blueprints chosen specifically to demonstrate system's good sides to the customer (probably along advertisement exposition), given that this is a commercial Extropian unit.

Is the compatibility with DRM standards real or "pretend"? (ie. does it obey those restrictions or is it more like a no-region DVD player)

ObNote: IMHO isotope enrichment is pretty easy to do if you have nanofab capability. Filtering eg. that sweet U235 from U238 or separating deuterium from water should be a snap. I also think that isotope differences probably do have effects on nanoscale that have to be taken into account when designing and building any nanoware.

Jay Dugger Jay Dugger's picture
Re: Black Peregrine, an open-source Santa Claus Machine

Here follow the notes on Black Peregrine (B.P.) based on everyone's input to-date. I omit references to the game mechanics of engineering trade-offs, which need more work.

- fabrication volume & inputs
- B.P. has a standard fabrication volume of 40 L[1]. It can make larger items in the following ways.
1) subassemblies
MAKE a product in pieces for later assembly.
2) extrusion on the long axis
MAKE a product by pushing it out of the envelope while building
3) enlarged fabrication envelope
MAKE a bigger fabrication envelope
4) unfolding its extant fabrication envelope
EXPAND the fabrication envelope by clever mechanical "unfolding"

- B.P. requires
1) CHON and germanium
2) occasionally every other element, depending on the design. ROLL randomly on the periodic table
- on failed Nanofabrication programming rolls
- on +input trade-offs
- "Out of thulium error"
- self-replication speed
Under optimal conditions, B.P. can self-replicate in 12 standard
hours from the initial command to the daughter D.C.M. fully
ready-to-use.
- self-replication requirements
1) no unusual environmental conditions: radiation, vibration, EM, etc.
2) assumes the use of an Expanded Envelope
3) depletes on-board energy and matter reservoirs: further
production of Moderate or Expensive items impossible
- self-replication variations
1) fabrication volume methods possible
2) Fabrication Trade-Offs
Building at a slower speed reduces the waste power[2]
By careful construction, specialized inputs, and/or restricted
designs, a build can change (reduce or forge) the C.M.'s overall
fingerprint for a product.
- B.P. Mesh Security
- has
- "standard security-grade" firewalls.[3]
- no public accounts, only user, security and admin accounts.[4]
- its own mesh ID.[5]
- defaults
- to ego scan authentication.[6]
- to no mesh access (normally used for downloading blueprints and updates)
- HOUSE RULE: You're Not Like Us.
Extropia counts as a different cultural region[7] from Mars. Slight
differences in standards, assumptions, and conventions can apply a
-10 penalty each time the GM thinks the PCs do too well, provided the GM can uniquely
rationalize it in-game. Spending one Rez Point will permanently
overcome the penalty. The penalty doesn't apply to Extropian Faction[8] members.
- The B.P. will slave to a master device.[9]
- Overwatch response
In Martian Autumn, Overwatch lets out much of its work to
security services and military contractors such as Direct Action and
Stellar Intelligence. Overwatch already "knows" about this
MacGuffin. Unfortunately, the contractee, Commander Travis Greif, of
Direct Action, has long since grown cynical, bitter and corrupt. He
wants the C.M. for himself, and he has already broken P.C. law in
its pursuit.
- Martian viral environment
- Irrelevant to Martian Autumn
- trumped by story arc
- Good point
- B.P. default blueprints
- The players need enough rope with which to hang themselves.
- very extensive (aka "Civilization Starter Kit")
- mostly open-source versions of everything in the Gear
chapter[10]
- plenty of high-power items, e.g.,
1) spacecraft
2) power plants
3) terraforming gear
4) most common morphs
5) healing vats
6) super weapons (harbor makers, say) such as [pure fusion weapons],
and [third-generation nuclear weapons]. It can't make hot dust
without an antimatter supply and a blueprint.
7) [aerovores] (for atmosphere control)
8) [swarm satellites] (which Conduit will really like to have)
9) a warchive
- B.P. can comply with DRM, but
- registration with the P.C. is effectively irrevocable
- Samuel will suggest alternative blueprints, in order
1) DRM-free
2) open-source
3) free software
- defaults to no DRM

[1] Various Authors. [Eclipse Phase Core Rules]. Page 327.

[2] I think I have the wrong term. Builds release a fixed amount of
waste heat regardless of the speed at which you build. The slower a
build the less waste heat gets released per unit time. Right?

[3] Various Authors. [Eclipse Phase Core Rules]. Page 247.

[4] Various Authors. [Eclipse Phase Core Rules]. Pages 246.

[5] Various Authors. [Eclipse Phase Core Rules]. Pages 246.

[6] Various Authors. [Eclipse Phase Core Rules]. Pages 279-280.

[7] Various Authors. [Eclipse Phase Core Rules]. Page 44.

[8] Various Authors. [Eclipse Phase Core Rules]. Page 133.

[9] Various Authors. [Eclipse Phase Core Rules]. Page 248.

[10] Various Authors. [Eclipse Phase Core Rules]. Pages 294-349.

[pure fusion weapons]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pure_fusion_weapon
[third-generation nuclear weapons]: http://www.ultimatesurvivalskills.com/nuclear-survival/third-generation-...
[aerovores]: http://lifeboat.com/ex/global.ecophagy
[swarm satellites]: http://server-sky.com/
[Eclipse Phase Core Rules]: http://eclipsephaserules.wikia.com/wiki/Core_Rules

Sometimes the delete key serves best.