The Ether

Imagine a near-future, post-singularity world where it is possible to download consciousness into new organic forms–either 3D-printed bodies from organic materials or traditionally born bodies with empty consciousnesses. Perhaps it is even possible to download one’s consciousness into inorganic forms. In such a world, what happens to identity categories, specifically the categories of race, gender, sexuality, disability, and class? Does everyone conform to a single identity or is there still diversity and variation? If there is diversity, what does it look like?

In our envisioned future world, nearly every aspect of technology has developed far beyond the capacities of today’s society. While these new technologies have greatly affected sectors such as transportation and weaponry, the greatest changes come in fields directly related to the mind and body. In this new age, scientists are able to distill the abstraction of consciousness into digital form, to be stored and transferred into new forms of embodiments at will. Human augmentation through implants and prosthetics has reached a new height with not just new limbs and organs, but entire bodies being fabricated with heightened strength, agility and resilience; retinal implants deliver crucial information straight to a user’s optic nerve while implanted analytical engines grant superhuman reflexes and information processing capabilities. The inhabitants of this world are no longer bound by the physical constraints that we consider natural and inevitable, free to inhabit and switch between virtually any physical form.

Our World

The Gregorian date is unknown. Dates are relative to the Singularity, Year 0. There are three main classes of society. Each class has its own unique lifestyle and situations.

The lower-class (Organics) are natural-born individuals who cannot afford to download their consciousness into new, augmented bodies. Their bodies are often stolen or even farmed for the use of illegal Tangibles who can’t afford a 3D printed body.

The middle-class (Tangibles) can afford to create custom 3D printed bodies that they can “flash” into after their current biological body dies. This process is relatively expensive, and most Tangibles only flash when their current biological body reaches the end of its lifespan. Some of the Tangibles cannot afford 3D bodies and resort to the black market to steal Organic bodies.

The upper-class (Ethereals) represent the very upper echelons of society. These individuals are distinguished by the fact that they have chosen to completely forgo their physical bodies to exist as entities of pure data, able to flash their consciousnesses into any organic or mechanical form. Contrary to the beliefs of the Organics and Tangibles, the Ethereals have still preserved their original, organic bodies which are kept safe in an enormous spacecraft in orbit above the earth.

We have presented a selection of short stories and a lexicon that outline various aspects of life in this new world.

Our Lexicon

 

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