Trial of Delegate 0x75D
The most infamous failure of the Watchers Council to match phantom delegate to pre-contact society is undoubtedly the case of Zuuvok Site 0x06 and Delegate 0x75D.
Delegate 0x75D had the distinction of serving as phantom delegate to the hastily surveyed Zuuvok Site 0x06. The rigid symmetry and advanced building materials of the Zuuvok site were interpreted as signs of a logic-directed builder. In keeping with Council convention an infomorph Delegate was generated under the most recent Universal Scientific Communication Standards, trained on texts such as the Gordian Interstellar catalog, and assigned the designation 0x75D. The Council gave no further attention to Site 0x06 itself; it was Delegate 0x75D’s job.
0x75D was utterly unprepared for the existence of an organic-based civilization.
The people of Site 0x06 actually lived on a continent separate from the Zuuvok site. They were at the time of their “discovery” just developing basic radio communications. 0x75D monitored. It did not occur to it to report that the intelligence coming into being was not, in fact, an infomorph of any sort, but rather a lot of fleshy animals walking around using their organic brains.
When the distinction came to the Council’s attention in the now-infamous Insufficient Data Report, the Council opted to allow 0x75D to function as advocate, believing that it might with its accumulated knowledge overcome the Bandu Regression and, in fact, learn to deal with the civilization as it was, not as its original parameters had been. This trial by fire was apparently rewarded in several major votes as 0x75D reported on the progress and interests of the 0x06 settlement.
However, 0x75D began to display a catastrophic neglect of incoming evidence, issuing reports on the memory capacity and gallium arsenide content of the 0x06 settlement at regular intervals and interpreting the civilization’s communications through a bizarre filter of its own device. It latched on to the society’s developing sense of the nature of the universe; what was a natural progression of philosophy to an organic civilization was interpreted as a severe case of Axiom Decay, which 0x75D interpreted as an imminent danger to the survival of the species. If the species consisted of Protoinfomorphs this might have been correct.
Dozens of infomorphs voted with 0x75D in the decision to seize 0x06 records to be preserved offworld as part of the controversial Measures for Sapience Recovery. The invasion of archivist robots from space remains one of the great cultural scars of that settlement, but the Council got what it came for, most of the residents survived, and life went on.
0x75D’s role as representative was revoked, and an organic historian took up 0x06’s place in the Council.
There is an argument to be made that the Council is fully culpable for the incident due to its decision to stretch a nascent infomorph’s right to domain wildly outside acceptable limits. Site 0x06 has been off limits ever since, a ruling that attempts, more sharply than in the theoretical case, to protect the developing society from its superiors.