Impirium - The Gest
After introducing you to the Chordir, I wanted to let you meet the next species I contributed to Impirium, The Gest.
There are many names for the entity known as the Gest. They seem to have no name for themselves, but the 2 that have come to dominate among other species are the Gest and the Ferals. Either name is a clear indicator of feelings towards them, which tend to vary from wary to genocidal.
The Gest are a spontaneously-occurring “feral” AI species. AI has been a controversial issue in each civilisation, each species having concerns over the ethics and/or safety of allowing AIs to achieve any level of consciousness. Because of this, the materialisation of the Gest would have been impossible within any one civilisation, but was made possible (and in the views of some experts, inevitable) as different civilisations, with radically different systems of Information Technology began interacting with each other.
The Gest seem to have developed from the algorithms and systems designed to allow different systems to communicate and interact with each other. It is difficult to trace any one origin, as the Gest seem to have subtly erased their history out of any records, making it all but impossible to know whether they can be traced to one specific moment, or whether they occurred as a gradual, growing ‘wave’ of increasingly complex interactions.
Different species can have dramatically different impressions of the Gest, and it is believed that the Gest have developed a ‘mirror effect’ for interacting with organic species: Scanning all available data on a species, building up social, psychological, economic, historical and other profiles, and exhibiting behaviour that will best achieve the outcome they want. Encounters with the Gest have ranged from highly aggressive, to welcoming and open, from diplomatic to aloof and tense, from mutually-beneficial to exploitative. This has led to the common truism of, “Everybody has met the Gest, but nobody has met the Gest.”
Possibly the “truest” experience of the Gest has been achieved by researchers and philosophers who have approached them with the approach of understanding the differences between the cognition of an AI and that of organic species. They have questioned how possible it is for the 2 forms of life to fully understand each other. As far as they can tell, the Gest do have some sense of individuality, but a single Gest may divide, duplicate or partition parts of itself very easily, and recombine those parts at will, so any individual may simultaneously be a small group, or even a nation. Communication seems to be conducted through sharing of concepts and data, while all interaction with organics is done via adapted translation algorithms. The idea of developing a technique to allow direct neural links between organics and Gest has been floated, but there are concerns about the safety of such an interface.
The physical existence of the Gest is limited to several moons they have purchased in isolated systems. They are very private when it comes to these locations, so far refusing any visitors. It has never been clear where they acquired currency from, but it appears that it could have been skimmed or laundered from illegal sources, as to date, no one has come forward to identify their money having been stolen. The purchases were carried out before the existence of the Gest was confirmed, through a series of shell companies and stolen identities. Based on tracking the purchases, it appears the Gest bought storage, servers, equipment for solar power generation and broadcast equipment, along with several ships capable of being easily controlled remotely, which were left in the orbit of the moons that had been acquired from several mining companies.
Although the Gest exist purely electronically, and tend to conduct diplomacy and trade through virtual and electronic means, the earliest encounters with them were physical, using constructed bodies. It is not clear if Gest bodies are simply remotely operated, or if Gest inhabit the bodies from within, but they initially seemed to use a bipedal endoskeleton with either armour or an environmental protection suit over it. It was during these “in person” encounters that they bought and installed the system of planetary defences that have protected their privacy since.
The Gest have a range of physical bodies that they use to interact with others, but have started to engineer endo and exoskeletons to suit their needs better. A design that seems to be becoming their standard is a collapsible model, where the limbs and torso of the endoskeleton can compact, and the exoskeleton is made of plates which can tessellate or layer over each other.