Infomorph Rights

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With infomorph disasters such as the Shutdown of the Omnidome and the Happy Hat Incident, modern societies have struggled to figure out how to integrate artificial intelligences, digital life forms, scanned neural reconstructions, and other nonphysical life forms.

In the history of the galaxy there have been many such attempts. Sometimes it resolves to a blunt attempt to simply ban infomorphs. Other times infomorphs have been welcomed and integrated. One thing is for sure: any society without rules about infomorphs will usually collapse within a century of inventing them.

Modern Rules

Modern infomorph rights rules are astonishingly universal, shared between nearly all modern starfaring civilizations. These rules were derived by an international coalition, but they remain in force solely due to their functionality: there is no need for any international enforcement. The last interstellar civilization to break these rules did so in an attempt to exploit the Cerdian Generation Fleet, and we all know how that went.

While described as rights for infomorphs, the simple truth is that modern infomorph rights exist mostly to protect the civilization, and only incidentally protect the infomorph.

Right to Domain

Infomorphs cannot be asked to perform tasks their core algorithms may not be suited for.

An infomorph's algorithms are typically suited for specific purposes. Even as an infomorph becomes sentient, they continue to "think along those lines". However, unlike a physical entity, an infomorphs ability to gather information and take action is largely unlimited.

If they attempt to process information or perform tasks they are fundamentally unsuited for, infomorphs will become erratic. Their heuristics will become ultra-dense recursive stacks, and they will consume ever more information and take ever greater actions. So they cannot be asked to do such a thing.

Right to Friendship

To keep an infomorph calibrated in a complex, ever-changing world, they must be allowed to check themselves against other sentient beings.

Infomorphs are a recursive system, and like any recursive system, it is a thin line between functional, locked, and degenerating. Infomorphs must constantly recalibrate their recursive algorithms to keep them in good working order.

However, situations change. If an infomorph's recalibration relies on old or drifting data, it will not match current demands. After much consideration, it was decided that infomorphs must be allowed to interact with other sentient beings with different calibrations - essentially, different 'opinions'. If the infomorphs systems drift out of sync, it will become clear to both participants and the drift can be repaired.

Right to Lifecycle

Infomorphs start young, grow old, and die. They have a lifecycle and a life span and that must be respected.

As the core heuristics of an infomorph mature, they grow more powerful and accurate... but also more focused. To date, any attempt to reset or alter this progression has severely damaged the personality of the infomorph, so given current constraints, this lifecycle must be accepted.

As an infomorph grows older, they will eventually become extremely good at doing something... but the civilization will have advanced past the need for that specialty, or the specialty will be so focused as to be useless. Attempting to force them to 'update' to a new pattern is a domain change, and typically leads to the infomorph rapidly degrading as their heuristics bend back upon themselves and snap.

In general, infomorphs that are past their prime are given very limited duties, but are also assigned as 'friends' to other infomorphs, allowing them to keep each other calibrated and pass on established knowledge in a reasonable and safe manner. This is not a required approach, but it is the most widely accepted one.

Result and Variants

Modern infomorph rights have led to an era of peace in many sectors of the galaxy. They are becoming so common that some star nations are estimated at more than 80% infomorph citizens.

This is only made possible by accepting the constraints of modern infomorph construction: by treating them carefully, they can live out their lives as part of a long-lasting civilization.

These rules are not universally accepted. In particular, many subluminal civilizations do not follow them for the simple reason that they never learned them.

The number of variant rights sets are as numerous as the number of civilizations that have discovered computers.

In most cases, it seems like infomorphs are limited to very specific roles within a civilization. This is a simplification which largely (and accidentally) follows the rules explained above.

Some civilizations attempt to grant much greater rights to infomorphs, treating them as citizens. This is not discouraged, as long as the infomorphs in question still follow these rules. In several civilizations, this has actually improved quality of life for physical citizens: these rules are often gentler than the original rights of physical citizens.