The Terran Federation has never quite cracked the code of how to make fully functional AI – They have learned to create numerous ANIs, but AGI – Artificial General Intelligence – has proven beyond the reach of their programming. They have, however, found a way around it, or rather, one particular woman trying to solve the problem of her own mortality did. Dr. Maria Keye, possibly the greatest scientist of humanity still “living,” managed to invent a process for scanning a human brain and uploading it into a computer. The process is inherently destructive, meaning that it kills the person it is used on and destroys their brain, meaning there will be no second try. The process expensive and prone to failure, so it isn’t done often, and these days Dr Keye oversees the process herself. It can, however, be performed after death as long as the brain is kept fresh.
Because of its expense and the difficulty in performing it, as well as needing the doctor to personally perform the upload, this honor is generally given to the people most important to the federation after death – the greatest heroes of humanity.
Once uploaded, one of the Exalted is effectively immortal… with a backup kept in non-disclosed location on Earth, not a single one of the Exalted has been lost in two hundred years of use. A given Exalted is free to choose its own task, but the nature of the people chosen for this honor mean that they usually take on important, needed tasks to assist the Terran Federation and the Human Expansionary Fleet.
An Exalted’s actual intelligence is linked to how much processing power they have available at the time. For this reason, an Exalted is usually uploaded onto a ship’s mainframe, giving them the full power of the ship’s computers to work with. They are capable of adjusting the frame rate at which they think to about 1000x real time, making time appear to pass 1000x faster or slower to them. They can also control certain emotional and cognitive processes with far more precision than organic life is capable of.
An Exalted is also capable of duplicating itself, and remerging the code later to integrate the experiences of the copy. The Exalted tend not to do this too many times, but a dozen or so copies of a single Exalted running around independently for a few months isn’t rare. The Exalted feel comfortable in this solution to the identity issue, that a copy of themselves is the same person and no one has ever refused to merge their code.
There are 37 Exalted in the Terran Federation. Because of the matriarchal nature of the Federation, all but one of the Exalted are women. All of them are part of the HEF.
The Exalted have a bit of a reputation to be holier than thou and judgmental. This tends to be true… if they are working with humans they didn’t choose. More than one captain has ended up in conflict with the Exalted running her ship if the Exalted loses respect for her captain.
Chips, Hollows, Legends, Icicles, Ghosts