What is an Infomorph?

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OneTrikPony OneTrikPony's picture
What is an Infomorph?

I think I've been taking infomorphs for granted. I've never run an infomorph before and now that I'm building my first they seem to be mechanically problematic.

If a digital ego, say; what's encoded in your cortical stack, is just a neural map of the axon's, dendrite's connections and the respective potential or 'weight' of each. Then how is that expressed as an informorph on the mesh. There would need to be some translation/emulation software because the data itself is not a mind without a brain in the way that an mp3 is not a song without a media player.

So, the ego needs additional software to run, probably at a minimum software that emulates every function of a cyber brain, meaning an infomorph is an actual morph.

And there must be a physical component as, software needs hardware to run. I like the idea of distributed processing on the mesh, everyone shares their unused clock cycles. But, I'm skeptical that this would be a good idea for running my ego. I'd want to own and control, or at least lease the processor and memory that allows me to exist. That seems to violate my preconceived notion of a consciousness flitting freely about the mesh, inhabiting public devices and accessing any public spime i want. There may be some range issues in that I can only access things that are within wyfi range of my hardware. There's also the issue of jumping from system to system. Every time I transfer myself to a different system I'm essentially creating an Alpha Fork. I know that can't be right but I don't see how else it would work.

so, the ego needs hardware, and it would be best to own that hardware but that limits mobility severely and transfering to different hardware is the same as forking.

Another problem that bugs me is the fact that an Infomorph or an ego running around the mesh is really vulnerable when compared to a cyberbrain or a real brain. It seems that you'd have no more protection to your personality files and memories than what might be offered by the firewall of the hardware you happen to inhabit. No -30 cyberbrain hacking modifier, no protection from viruses or malware than what you can provide with your own Infosec skill.

Finally, where do I keep my luggage? I'd like to have a muse, lifelog, utility programs, skillsofts, narcoalgorithms, ect. Guess I just upload them to the "cloud" with the rest of myself.

Thoughts?
How has this worked for you?

Mea Culpa: My mode of speech can make others feel uninvited to argue or participate. This is the EXACT opposite of what I intend when I post.

FNR FNR's picture
Infomorphs

I never had anyone playing an infomorph, so we more or less handwaved it and came up with this for npcs:

-An infomorph is a pice of software that emulates a cyberbrain
-Ships / stations that allow infomorphs to run in their systems usually have dedicated hardware to do so, infomorphs are not run on the general mesh
-every infomorph has memory / processing power allocated for running personal software. This is sometimes outsourced to the mesh.
-moving into another system means alphaforking yourself. Once it is confirmed that the transfere was successfull, the original is deleted. If the system is not built for running an infomorph you need infosec / interfacing tests to move
-the hardware for running the infomorphs is always protected by highend firewalls and the system is actively monitored for intruders. The cyberbrain hacking modifier applies

We never really playtested this, since noone ever played an infomorph and noone tried to attack an infomorph npc

Lorsa Lorsa's picture
Yes, the infomorph is an

Yes, the infomorph is an actual morph, it's a simulated ego run by software on some form of hardware. For all intents and purpose it works like a cyberbrain except for some reason better (as it comes with a +2 speed modifier that a cyberbrain appearantly lacks). Moving the physical location of the hardware that runs you is not the same as forking as you can simply move over the processes while your ego software is still running. You can, of course, quite easily fork yourself over to a system big enough to hold you. You could also easily spread yourself out, having small parts of you run on a multitude of different systems operating together. Not sure it's the best idea but you could. Since an ego is fairly large and your muse and programs quite small whatever hardware runs your mind-emulating software can easily hold your other programs as well. Most of the time the hardware running your ego will be at least as protected as a cyberbrain, probably even more unless you conciously moves yourself somewhere less protected or are desperate.

As far as interaction with the mesh goes, normally I assume you simply access the mesh like you could do from a normal morph, interact with whatever you want just that you are not distracted by things like bodily functions and emotions to worry about. While you COULD spread your ego out around multiple public devices I don't think you SHOULD. Unless you're a seed AI and can protect yourself...

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NewtonPulsifer NewtonPulsifer's picture
I'd treat a machine to

I'd treat a machine to machine hop the same as the gradual sleeving described using an ego bridge (simultaneously bringing portions of the ego online/offline) and not inflict the 2 stress damage for forking. It would be slower, though, and more sensitive to interruption (like flashing the BIOS on a laptop).

"I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve."- Isoroku Yamamoto

Lorsa Lorsa's picture
Why slower? Electronical

Why slower? Electronical stuff works much faster than nanomachines building new neural pathways in a biological brain.

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OneTrikPony OneTrikPony's picture
So, really, the way people

So, really, the way people play it, most infomorphs use the equivalent of a cyberbrain?

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CodeBreaker CodeBreaker's picture
OneTrikPony wrote:So, really,

OneTrikPony wrote:
So, really, the way people play it, most infomorphs use the equivalent of a cyberbrain?

That is in fact the exact way I play it. (In my game) Every infomorph is run on digital emulation software that perfectly emulates the function of cyberbrain. It induces all of the limits, however also provides all of the protections, a normal cyberbrain does. They aren't hosted 'in the cloud', but rather on specific hardware pieces ranging from personally owned ecto computers up to semi-large infomorph server farms. Moving from one host to another requires a re-sleeve or a fork. Keeps things nice and simple. They are just Synths without a physical body.

-

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
I agree with CodeBreaker,

I agree with CodeBreaker, more or less.

I like Greg Egan's term exoself. This is the virtual machine that runs the neural network of the ego, the virtual body that turns perceptions into nerve signals and motor neuron activity into actions, provides a basic virtual environment and runs support functions like utility software for self-checking, secure storage, backup handling and other things that are vital. For all practical purposes the virtual machine is a software cyberbrain, and cyberbrains are just computers dedicated to running one exoself.

Exoselves can be hosted "in the cloud", but since this can be messy (being bumped off nodes or suffering random communications lags due to shifting loads causes the computation to stutter or even have to re-do some neural operations) I suspect most infomorphs pay a small fee to be hosted on "hotel servers" with quality and security guarantees. You really want to be running on a trusted computing platform when you are an infomorph.

I also decided machine hopping does not cause re-sleeving stress, as long as it is smooth and works as it should.

My biggest complaint about the basic setting is the haphazard description of simspace acceleration. This is something that matters both game-wise and setting-wise, and is handwaved a bit too much for my taste. I would prefer to have clearer rules, perhaps with pricing for different speeds and limits depending on hardware (not to mention that biomorphs cannot be accelerated: those meat axons cannot fire much faster!)

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NewtonPulsifer NewtonPulsifer's picture
Lorsa wrote:Why slower?

Lorsa wrote:
Why slower? Electronical stuff works much faster than nanomachines building new neural pathways in a biological brain.

Good question :)

I was extrapolating from the Resleeving section:

"Evacuating a Cyberbrain

Characters inhabiting a synthmorph cyberbrain may voluntarily choose to evacuate by copying themselves as an infomorph onto another device. This takes 1 full Action Turn. See Infomorph Resleeving, below."

And then:

"Resleeving into the cyberbrain of a synthmorph is much easier and quicker, being a matter of copying the backup into the cyberbrain (an instantaneous affair) and then running the backup in its virtual brain state (1 Action Turn)."

Copying the file seems "instantaneous" but running it seems to be a 4 second thing.

So slower in the sense of taking 4 seconds, but on reflection the wrong choice of words.

So as a GM I'd allow a copy/delete to be just about instantaneous, but it would be 4 seconds to run the infomorph ego file.

I'm sure one could prep the infomorph software at the destination ahead of time for a quicker "hot load" evac, but I'd likely require an Interfacing test (with bad things on a crit failure).

"I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve."- Isoroku Yamamoto

OneTrikPony OneTrikPony's picture
The book p.261 wrote:

The book p.261 wrote:
"Cyberbrains are equipped with numerous hard-coded security features that make intrusion very difficult. Apply a -30 modifier to all attempts to hack into and subvert a cyber brain.

I'm thinking that giving the "cyber brain" protections to an infomorph sets a bad precedent. If I can give my infomorph server -30 hacking protections *for free* why can't I do that with all my other electronics?

When a superdupper +10 firewall is hard to come by, I'd need a strong rational with strong limitations to allow virtual cyber brain protection in my game because I don't want to deal with that escalation.

@ Codebreaker: When you say "it induces all of the limits..." do you mean that you nerf the SPD bonus for infomorphs?

@ Arenamontanus: What level of simspace acceleration, (if any), is realistic for a bio-brain?

Thanks for all the comments.

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Lorsa Lorsa's picture
NewtonPulsifer wrote:

NewtonPulsifer wrote:

So as a GM I'd allow a copy/delete to be just about instantaneous, but it would be 4 seconds to run the infomorph ego file.

I'm sure one could prep the infomorph software at the destination ahead of time for a quicker "hot load" evac, but I'd likely require an Interfacing test (with bad things on a crit failure).

And 4 seconds is a lot faster than 1 hour. So moving from system to system would take at most 4 seconds. Faster if you move the software ahead of time as you mentioned. :)

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towo towo's picture
This is also the direction

This is also the direction the rules take, BTW. (p. 265, Core) There's no cloud meshing, but the character 'program' has to reside on a single server. As a point in fact, I'd say the ability to expand into multiple systems at the same time would be something of a seed AI thing.

The only difference from the "synth without morph" concept would be that they can just move their program from place A to place B.

And the cyberbrain protection bonuses should still be considered, as you could say that a system defended by a conscious mind has better capabilities than a simple piece of metal.

OneTrikPony OneTrikPony's picture
towo wrote:And the cyberbrain

towo wrote:
And the cyberbrain protection bonuses should still be considered, as you could say that a system defended by a conscious mind has better capabilities than a simple piece of metal.

I... don't think I agree with that. We already have rules for a system defended by a conscious mind that don't cause a -30 hacking modifier to the intruder. The rules for cyber brain hacking can't include conscious defense because because that would assume every ego inhabiting a cyberbrain possesses the skill set that would allow conscious defense. Clearly, inhabiting a cyberbrain does not bestow an infosec skill.

I think I'll include two options. A; the infomorph character is exposed to hacking the same way all systems are exposed. B; The infomorph character can pay for a cyberbrain.

However; now I'm wondering what, exactly, a cyber brain is, and how it provides such excellent intrusion protection for only 5000c. Makes me want to host all my sensitive data on a cyber brain.

Mea Culpa: My mode of speech can make others feel uninvited to argue or participate. This is the EXACT opposite of what I intend when I post.

DivineWrath DivineWrath's picture
I tend to think that

I tend to think that infomorphs as everyone's bitch. They are software traveling through the net. They really don't have a whole lot of security guarantee when they travel to some unknown system. For all they know, the device is programed to automatically kill mesh connection and shut down the moment some random infomorph transfers to the system.

I do like the theme that infomorphs really should be careful traveling the net, so no emulated cyberbrains. You would do well to have a good hacker friend to update your firewall program. Actually, it was mentioned in the core book that you could spend time to update software programs to get a bonus to programs, so I think you could get some hacking defense from that. Still not as safe as an actual cyberbrain though.

Quincey Forder Quincey Forder's picture
what about simulmorphs?

I mean, the piece of software morph used by people to access simulspaces
Do they differ from infomorphs (better? less?) or are they the same piece of code with different use?
like, say, a PC and a Xbox.
Both are using a personnal architecture, with the same chips from the same manufacturer, and both run with the same OS -at least the 720/Durango will, with Windows 8- but one is limited for entertaintment.
Same could apply to simulmorphs and infomorphs. Simulmorphs being the digital pendant of the Xbox and the Informorph being the digital one of the PC

Funny you mention the ego farm, as I had something akin to that as the McGuffin for a story and an adventure.

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DivineWrath DivineWrath's picture
I believe that simulmorphs

I believe that simulmorphs are really programs controlled remotely. There are no actual egos attached to such programs (unless one goes out their way to do so).

Reading the rules starting on p.262, it says things like
-A character "physically" harmed in the simulspace will not actually be harmed, but could suffer mental stress because of it.
-Simulmorphs should be treated like infomorphs even when the ego is currently inhabiting another morph.
-When connected, the person's physical body goes inert (often left some place safe), and the person suffers a -60 penalty to all perception checks involving that body.
-A person may disconnect from simulspace at will, but it requires a complex action.
-A simulspace server may crash while people are on it. People find the experience very jaring and will suffer mental stress because of it.

I think that both Shell Jamming (p. 196) and XP Mode (p. 241) are quite similar to simulspace. You don't actually need to be there to experience stuff or do stuff.

DamionW DamionW's picture
Which hardware works for transport?

Hello. Reviving this thread to ask a question: besides the ghostrider module, can an infomorph be hosted on and travel via another characters mesh inserts? On page 247 it says mesh inserts are a personal computer and that personal computers can only run one AI or infomorph at a time, and the muse (an AI) runs on most mesh inserts. So does that preclude an infomorph traveling with characters unless they also have a ghostrider module? Could an ecto allow the emulated cyberbrain to be run while another physical morph transports it? I'm asking because I want to understand how a party that includes an infomorph could travel via shuttle from system to system or hab to hab. Thanks for any references or clarification

ShadowDragon8685 ShadowDragon8685's picture
Please do not revive four

Please do not revive four-year-old threads to ask a semi-pertinent question. If you have a question about topic X, please make a new thread asking about topic X.

Anyway, to answer your questions:

Quote:
Can an infomorph be hosted on and travel via another characters mesh inserts?

Yes, contingent on there not being another AI running on the same set of mesh inserts.

Quote:
So does that preclude an infomorph traveling with characters unless they also have a ghostrider module?

Yes, and no.
Yes, having a muse running on a set of mesh inserts precludes an infomorph person running on that set of mesh inserts.
However,
You can shut down the muse or the infomorph and the other will run just fine, while the shut down one is carried along in cold storage. So you can shut down your muse to boot up your infomorph buddy.

Even so, it is probably a better idea to get a Ghostrider Module if you're planning to have both a muse and an infomorph along for the ride.
Also, personally, I tend to say that a Ghostrider is actually two computers capable of running an AI, so the infomorph can have their own muse running.

Quote:
Could an ecto allow the emulated cyberbrain to be run while another physical morph transports it?

Absolutely. The last character I played had three muses; all of her armor suits had two built-in ectos, and her head had both a ghostrider and normal mesh inserts. So at full capacity, in one of her full armor suits, Anna could have five AI buddies along for the ride.

Quote:
I'm asking because I want to understand how a party that includes an infomorph could travel via shuttle from system to system or hab to hab.

A shuttle's computers definitely have enough horsepower for an infomorph - probably an arbitrary number of infomorphs - to run on them. And any form of data storage can store an arbitrary number of inactive infomorphs, so if they don't feel like being awake for the trip, they can just go into cold storage.

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R.O.S.S.-128 R.O.S.S.-128's picture
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Do keep in mind though, if you're riding in an ecto, mesh inserts, or any other device that gets lumped into the "personal computer" class (generally "more power than an appliance, but less than a server"), your attributes will be capped at 20. Depending on how you build your character this might not be a problem, but *most* infomorph builds are fairly specialized and have at least one stat that would get hit by that cap.

There is a way around it though: with two or more PC-class devices you can network them together to use distributed computing, which lifts the attribute cap to the game's global limit of 40. A fairly easy way to achieve this would be to duct-tape two ectos together and link them with a cable.

Alternatively, most drones' (here defined as "non-morph robot") brains are in the PC-class (an AI running on them has an attribute cap of 20), so if you hardwire an ecto into it you can theoretically run with no attribute cap on any drone by "distributing" between the ecto and the drone's processor.

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eaton eaton's picture
Quote:I'm asking because I

Quote:
I'm asking because I want to understand how a party that includes an infomorph could travel via shuttle from system to system or hab to hab.

The infomorph in my group's party bought a Smart Dog, hired someone to make a dog-backpack Ecto, and rides around on him. It's definitely led to some interesting situations.