Wednesday, October 23, 2013

New Denver: Summary

New Denver is a near-future cyberpunk settings, another "paratopian" concept (i.e. speculative fiction that is neither utopian nor dystopian). Wrote this condensed summary up for /tg/, realized I have zero excuse not to post it here.

Yellowstone starts erupting in 2017, majority of 500k displaced survivors fleeing multi-state "Grey Zone" are housed outside Denver. Federal legislation approves massive subsidies and deregulation for region, spurring massive corporate investment. By 2025 "New Denver" has officially absorbed "Old Denver" and become a hub of everything high-tech, is the only place where human augmentations can be tested without FDA approval.

Meanwhile, Yellowstone continues to belch out toxic gases & clouds of ash, and federal government intends to maintain the controversially-large Grey Zone indefinitely. Thousands have refused to evacuate, including survivalist militias with serious military hardware. Region has also become hotbed for cartel operations. All of the above threatens to destabilize the city.

Notable tech advances:

-Commonplace adoption of wearable computing, with "optics" (spiritual successors to tech like google glass) as affordable and commonplace as smartphones circa 2010.
--Standard feature of latest generation of optics is"Projected" Augmented Reality capability, i.e. virtual objects that appear to exist within physical environment. Vast majority of models are only capable of rendering vector-based AR graphics.
-Civilian drones far outnumber government ones. New Denver has an "open matternet" with officially approved air traffic lanes and open-source software. Anyone can buy a multirotor with approved specs, install standardized firmware and then immediately register it to start taking delivery jobs.
-Exo-frames are seeing use by military as well as in construction & medical care.
-3D printing has become widespread, with "vending machines" becoming a competitive market.
-IAs a la "Siri" have become increasingly robust at understanding & implementing complex spoken or subvocalized instructions.
-RNI Labs, a private research institute, has been producing an increasingly complex series of androids with synthetic brains and nervous systems, which can learn and develop in a similar fashion to humans. The two most well known are Persica and Ari, who have respectively been leased to a marketing agency and the New Denver Police Department.
As for cybernetics:
-Advances in "neural bridge" tech mean that cyborg limbs can now be controlled with 1:1 accuracy. "Milspec" limbs that can perform at max human potential or beyond officially require special licenses not available to the general public.
-Artificial implants can replace impaired sight, hearing, smell and even taste.
-Emotional regulation implants have been developed to assist people suffering from PTSD and other mental disorders. The implants have also proven effective at mitigating the impact of subsequent traumatic events, leading to ongoing discussion on the possibility of their preemptive use by military personnel. Pop culture portrays the implants as allowing one to keep their cool within combat situations, and some PMCs explicitly advertise their augmented contractors as such.

Concerns have been developing over the potential for "neural bridge hijacks", a method of remotely manipulating someone's augmentations by spoofing (falsely impersonating) the signals being sent by the target's flesh-and-blood nervous system. The technique has been repeatedly demonstrated under lab conditions.

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