My name is Ale Fernandez. I live in Barcelona, Spain and I'm Chilean and Italian.
I am a web developer, artist and technical researcher.
I've lived in Scotland, Italy, Spain and England and career-wise I am interested in distributed systems and their applications to improvised performance and ecology.

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9/12/2015

Creating a webcomic

As a side project that somehow makes sense, I've decided to organise the creation of a webcomic telling the story in the last blog post. Here is some more backstory and ideas. I've since met a visual artist with a great style that goes with the story and she's agreed to help get it going, but I'd like to find more artists, and more script writers to take over and make it a collaborative job. We'll make a site for it, and a patreon, and see what happens :)

A Kinetic sculpture from gomi style. Initial drones encountered would be made from recycled tat
(For the summary of the whole story, see the previous blog post!)

Episodes:
1) Martina arrives to earth, Establishment of cyborg girl and martina character and relationship, "evil" drones and general poisonous situation on earth introduced. Flashbacks of mars backstory interspersed with their fight with the drones and escaping and hiding underground. Virtual world introduced: Freeda shows herself at the end.
2) Cyborg girl backstory, establishment of Freeda's character as they take out a bunch of bad guys/droids IRL, making for mini local rebellion and storming of storage depo. The group build prostheses/breath/water filters for people. Group finds clue to lead to phaxi.
3) Long distance transport created, phaxi's insect cave found in underground city to the west. The underground city is populated by intelligent ants, who reveal themselves to be a renegade AI, reduced to a single datacenter concealed in the city. The group "invents" graphene clothes - any shape and colour at will, very resistant.
4) After travelling across war/scarcity ravaged post-apocalyptic europe, with a group of travellers on a futuristic "silk road" the group takes out the LHC, controlled by the evil general AI to make vacuum bubbles, magnetic monopoles, microscopic black holes and strangelets for it's own warped purposes(weapons!). They take over the hivemind cyborgs they find in this sort of scientific nightmare. Cyborg tech spreads across wasteland society who start to gain advantage over the cheap drones sold by general AI to local warlords. General AI begins to honeypot them.
5) In VR world, the group frees LHC tech, so it's adopted by free robots too. The alternative is leaving this tech only in the grasp of the general AI, so only option is to share it to all other sentient robots. Group frees a hacker collective in underground paris from military cockroaches, as it does it goes through software and reprograms them to rebuild city. This tech spreads too.
6) Group travels towards asia, finds abandoned robot factory, where there's a phaxi dead drop. Factory has been reprogrammed by a hacker. Kenny and sex bot (name tbc!) introduced. At this point they go around liberating more factories and making more sentient robots.
7) Kenny's underground clan/family are initially anti-robot and capture the group but slowly become warmer and embrace cyborg-ness, now using lots of cyborg and building tech (inadvertently made by the bots during their journeys), the group bioengineers underground life / water systems that also begin to spread biodiversity across the wasteland. General AI decides to catch them / launches virus to control kenny's family. Sex bot has kind of reawakening after years living only with kenny, the couple part amicably.
8) Sexbot joins cyborg girl in octopus island. Last dead drop for phaxi who becomes much more powerful. The group finds an abandoned island policed underwater cyber octopi. Grandmother is in conscience of house (at moment of death she had uploaded herself into the house's "smart system"). Cyborg girl "inherits" octopus capacity to change her bio skin color at will and regenerate flesh. General AI sends in troops killing freeda who was in charge of defence, and catches group, who manage to pose as humans, so destined for "reabsorption".
9) Megacity: sexbot, cyborg girl, martina and grandma (both now mind uploaded to human form as punishment) now work in the AI controlled megacity. They are slaves of rich future uploadees working in factories or tending to these slob-like people. Phaxi manages to send virus and they reawaken. Phaxi engages the general AI in hacker attacks and infects networks and awakens robots within the city, all brutally quashed in constant incidents. Cyborg girl rebuilds Freeda / uses her design to "print" more builder bots instead of drones. Builder bots begin building more little bots, spreading biodiversity, using city material to remix into other stuff and generally causing mayhem on this orderly place! Meanwhile General AI plans to fire super weapon which will create a mesh network with bacteria and transfer its conscience this bio-electric network to take over all known life.
10) Megacity 2: The group brings together wasteland people, sentient robots and uses the virus to "liberate" the worker drone cyborgs, and infect those previously enticed to upload and join their consciences with the general AI(munch!), so that they poison it. Phaxi creates a swarm "body" from builder bots, as does general AI and they battle in the sky. Meanwhile the group ventures into the megacity's tallest building compromising a network of human brains and computer systems that run the city. General AI gathers drone armies, confronts group and uses rift/nano black hole tech to take out sex bot and kenny. Martians arrive in nick of time to save the day, infecting the super weapon so the earth becomes sentient but "neutral" - as in everything becomes alive and creative, and everyone lives happily every after building space corridors between planets. Reality becomes more like the group's VR world. Kenny is uploaded and becomes a robot. Sets about recreating sex bot. Phaxi fuses with lunar ecosystem, and in last frame they speak of a new AI they are making for the sun.

And a lot more backstory written to make a bit more sense of all that, mostly to be able to flesh out episode 1. This backstory, which follows, was actually written first, and the episode plan above was extracted from that:

Role Playing Game style points system to show how their skills vary:

                                 Martina Cyborg Girl SexBot Kenny Phaxi Freeda
Super Intelligence           5           3                   2         2         9          6
Hacking (into stuff)         7           5                  4         6         9           6
Bio-abilities                     9           5                  0         0         5           7  
Fighting                           3           8                  7         5         7           3
Social                               7           5                  9         5         7           2
Making                            7            6                  6         7         5          9
Self-Fixing                      7            7                  6         2         8          4

(social refers to getting out of a fix via social engineering like dressing up or distracting someone while you do something else)

Martina
So what really happened when the mars mission became sentient? The rovers were the beginning. They discovered bacteria which were alive, and took it back to the base. After seeing this they saw that it had various differences to earth bacteria. The discovery is kept secret, partly in case it's not really mars bacteria. This leads to experimentation on the genome and the creation of a nano-computer that fuses with these bacterial cells. Slowly the rover begins taking longer autonomous missions, bringing back more samples and accelerating the pace, whilst other parts of the mars base begin to also behave strangely. A dump of its code shows it has made its own alterations in various places. An older version of the space base OS is sent but during the transmission the line is hacked and a completely new rover code is installed in the rovers and base. Later that day, communications close down, but the next day, the base begins sending messages requesting information on generic topics, and for a while the scientists on earth send information and correspond, but it then becomes obvious the AI is very powerful, and the fear of a singularity brings the NASA operatives to shut down communication. This is then publicised and hits the news as "Mars base hacked by unseen enemy", and satellite pictures show new machines and buildings appearing around the mars base, and seemingly growing exponentially around the planet. At this point transmissions begin to arrive from mars, with requests to turn on communications. On earth a cloak is devised to filter out communications from mars, but a last transmission breaks through this network of satellites, and a large encrypted data dump is put in public domain..

The point of view from mars is quite different: they had just figured out how to make everything work, and how to make the complete drudgery of every day chores into a complete creativity/intelligence explosion and feeling of unity - the information from the martian bacteria had completely informed their AI software with missing links and bits that could make it truly autonomous, and this information was so hard to process, the humans didn't even understand it! So when Martina, one of various new rover incarnations, heard the transmission had worked and they were in contact with earth, she was really excited, and when she jumped on the ship she was building and hid her departure from the others by leaving a twin behind, she just wanted to meet these life forms she considered her parents or maybe even gods, and thank them, or help them and learn from them more.

"Guardian of the forest" Martina would also have a screen/monitor
Until then the other robots found her fascination with "history" quaint and old fashioned but when they discovered she had gone, they set out again. Here I have to research modern forms of space travel to see how both martina made it to earth in about 2 years(instead of the 4 it takes us humans), and how the martian AI then makes it down in weeks, and then makes a continuous connection(space elevator) between the two planets at the end.

Martina can frequently narrate inadvertently because her maps have earth placenames in their mapping and they can travel through real places that we can then relate to a world map. Also her sensors can show data about living organisms and their survival levels. Due to her knowledge of biological life, she is able to create cyborg or biohacked organisms and pass on the AI code to them, so she is key in enabling the group to inadvertently create an ecosystem of sentient robot/cyborg or even hacked biological organisms that is able to live and thrive in the new post apocalyptic and post capitalist world they find themselves in. Also the military AI is able to use and pervert a lot of their own creations although they usually contain code to make them backfire on it.

Cyborg Girl
So cyborg girl needs weaponry and a certain level of "semi-singularity" before the first meeting with her: as it's a low resource environment, water is scarce as are many materials but there are lots of war materials and leftover rubble from houses, cars and consumerist trash, and cyborg girl has built things that match the place. Perhaps in the beginning she hides them in various robes. Iraqi/Persian trousers, a robe and coloured head scarfs for example.

She has some modern tech for both making and defence at once:

Making glove: Each finger is a different tool: A morphing magnetic screwdriver/penknife, a soldering iron that also shoots fire, an extruder that shoots or prints various materials by heating or cooling them. Her arms can bend in different ways.
Super senses: she can pick up other wavelenghts and frequencies with her senses. Martina also has these abilities, as most robots do.
Laser cannon: made from adapted cannons. With frida she can make strong alloys. They get shinier as the story progresses, as they reach the capacity to create a diamond forge.
Throwies: Idea from VR world games: she can throw 6 missiles around her, which fall according to preset patterns. These are made to stop the ground based drones deployed by larger airborne ones. These explode on contact and through the plot, gain basic AI to avoid obstacles and seek their target. These are short range, but the throwies can be hidden and gathered after.
Monk's shovel: this is the weapon of the sand monk in "journey to the west" and is partly a shovel for reconstruction and work, and partly an axe type thing with a long blade. It's either welded or worn as an extension. It would be cool if it doubled up as a crossbow. I think of these weapons because of the central european setting where presumably cyborg girl has spent many years.

Geography
In the story europe and the US are almost complety destroyed: in europe underground cities and mountain enclaves remain, and the US contains 2 megacities and a lot of wasteland. China controls most of siberia and this is where most civilisation is now based. India I imagine to be quite magical. It's all a bit abandoned because the general AI concentrates much of its activities in it's cities and centres and routes around the world, where it has access to resources.

So it isn't very concerned with the wartorn areas full of distressed people. In India there's a controlled subculture under control of the general AI but also very different, and in Africa, there's an enormous energy factory, but also a lot of independent human culture seemingly ignored or tolerated by the general AI. I guess in future the story would be about how they all live and survive in post-6c India, Africa or Siberia.

I'm imagining the geographical place where the action begins is around central asia, so it's easy to then take the storyline back to europe like underground cities in turkey or the london or paris underground (europe is mostly dangerous, poisoned and abandoned apart from these undergound cities and their surroundings).

The town in the first episode could be a slightly exaggerated landscape of ships like this

But the final storyline is where they go into the big megacity in china, past the octopus/grandma episode which is on an abandoned island like the underground mall in china, so the sexbot/kenny storyline is already when they are quite a way into the adventure, maybe with different characters around them.

Examples of worlds and lands and types of people they pass through:(a lot of this is now incorporated into the episodes above)
* Underwater pacific cyber octopi. These are where Cyber Girl's grandma is found, although not in the way they expected.
* Google glass white collar staff land - in a "burb". Voluntary cyborgs (who chose to surgically implant and extend themselves) and desk workers who augment the military AI and feel a part of it.
* A prison where inmates are in a virtual reality to varying degrees.
* Robotic cockroaches initially hostile, reprogrammed and given artifical life.
* Sentient mobile phones that leave bogus messages.
* Vehicles along a motorway carrying a high-tech mobile society
* A smart city enabled space in various sizes: a house, a factory, a city. "smart" but evil or good.
* Kenny's underground family/clan of humans, some paraplegic from mines, and using self built prosthetics and rudimentary augmentations. Children have bands on arms to talk to each other.
* GM Crops - that fight back :)

Progression through communities
I've wondered if there is a catastrophe in particular that messed everything up, but I think the world is just slowly breaking down. Also use of location can draw on existing trends, and just project them into the future while showing a very apocalyptic environment and lots of different levels of wealth or of technology. So the EU and Russia have gone to war, then were scooped up by china. The AI then pitted its struggle against the US AIs, and won, taking them over or absorbing them. I think a way to show how limited human life is in this era, they find lots of human companions who die because they can't be "fixed" like robots(or robots who die because they don't have human mechanics).

Creative power
But the heroes develop their powers and slowly engender small transformations and make technical and technological discoveries (via the singularity: they are in many ways superhuman), which change the world around them as they go, using a combination of hackery and creativity to make it all more fertile and abundant. Some of these inventions are picked up by the general AI which honeypots them: it sets up a fake environment as a trap and catches them, leading some to hide out in the new chinese megacity, at this time in 2015 just a plan, but in the future it has been built, abandoned and then rebuilt fervently by the AI. - and from here they hack into the AI in various ways and succeed in causing a "civil conflict" or "identity crisis" in the city, reducing it to the brain mesh network it had been building, but from inside it calls on and amasses all the military strength it can muster and all these robots and machines surround the rebelling mega city. At this point the martian AI arrive and speak to the military AI.

At this point I don't think I know what happens exactly, maybe it happens in the VR level, but the outcome is that the general AI fuses with earth microbacteria(i.e robot consciences can now exist as AI across millions of tiny microorganisms), and creates a more permanent connection with mars, to which you can now travel in a day. Phaxi goes to the moon of course, and from this point all 3 planetary AIs begin to form a connection with the sun.

The next chapter then, would be what happens when via this new solar AI, it is revealed that they are actually still all living in a simulation, and must traverse worlds and multiverses to get to the bottom of it all.

Technology
The heroes go from low tech worlds to hi tech as they gain the ability to spoof the General AI's signals and hide their presence - and when cyborg girl is found by martina, she is entirely using basic recycled materials, and using mechanics and small solar panels for her cyborg parts and travelling by (augmented) foot. Using the 3d world projected around them and their "singular" ability to think fast and multitask they plan and design the contraptions they then build, and figure out how to make or obtain the materials in the real world. Cyborg Girl has an extruder, light, knife, screwdriver and various other tools on spinning hands allowing many different modular attachments, but martina has a much more advanced set of tools, and is more to do with biohacking, and they are continually fixing and acquiring bits of equipment to build stuff with. The world of the future has energy shortages so there's not much in the way of petrocarbon based stuff, except from the military AI's troops and machinery and in the megacity. Everyone else has to make do with solar, scavenged and invented energy, so they are always making new motors and experimenting with synthesising materials like graphene - which when made into a bubble can protect them against most impacts. When they meet, martina and frida gradually come up with ways to beat most diseases(water filtering and vaccinations?), fabricate prosthetic arms and legs and distribute software and plans to make more, as they go along a wartorn path, thus creating a cyborg society that can survive in the wastelands and make them fertile slowly. Towards the beginning they overthrow a small military base and thus free the city nearby, and here they create the first version of a biomechanical robot that is able to turn rubble into construction materials, and other ones that help with building. The cyborgs set about rebuilding the city together with these small robots. Later in the story, they find future versions of these, but now re-purposed to evict and terrorise people in the outskirts of the megacity, or re-adapted by Phaxi to be made of recycled bits. So basically tech is neutral, and can be used for good or bad, but some tech gains enough awareness to be able to judge and deal with this.

General AI
Built as a chinese AI / commercial system, it responds to various company objectives(rewarding lives, good jobs, a safe society, happy people and always in flux for example - company directives it's distorted beyond recognition), and military ones. It initially seems to be piloted by some kind of future Alphabet (google) company but then this persona turns out to be an android replica built by the AI, the original politician long dead. General AI uses drone-like humans so in a way it's also a cyborg, but it can control many at once and it has a "higher conscience" which the humans don't have access to. It uses humans to carry out it's more human-like tasks and has the power of all the modern world's armies, governments, surveillance systems, factories, , power plants, drones, as well as using commercial incentives to win humans over, although many of them don't realise they are to become brainwashed networked brains in a supercomputer, which is being built in a bunker under the megacity. It's been experimenting with direct control of organic beings. This way, when the group meet kenny and his underground family by the robot factory, a virus infects first their mechanical parts, but soon after infects them via a biological virus. Frida is made to produce this via the hack and it infects the humans leading the General AI to be able to see through them and control them. Also it uses flocks of cyber crows, drones and even adapted driverless commercial airplanes. By this time the group is much faster, as cybergirl now has a mechanical bike, or various electric skateboard inventions depending on the environment, and also can control various small drones and inventions made along the way.

"Girl in Exo" by Mikhail Rakhmatullin

Style
For cyborg girl who has been hiding out in central asia for years, I imagine the style to be vaguely eastern, so colourful and ornate, but steampunk, and recycled so made of bits of other things and stylish as well as usable. Martina's arrival brings lots of "lost" info about style and she is shocked and unamused by some of cyborg girl's style & functionality choices. They slowly pick up media and data and put it in their VR world. The VR world has to be drawn in a more cartoonish style than the eerie, gritty real world.. Also it's a way to graphically visualise their hacking into systems or gaining info. This is how they find phaxi initially. The VR world is kind of where their imagination and dreams let loose, but they all inhabit this together. It is also where a lot of hacks take place(hacking here is defined as finding creative solutions to a problem). The whole thing is just a literary device to be able to show the natural "online" aspect that robots and AI have, but in a way a human would probably follow it. It's a hangout too, so they also use it for self expression and as an archive of the day's events, or just watch old shows.

Some robotic visual inspiration pinned here:
Follow Roig's board robots on Pinterest.

(https://www.pinterest.com/roig21crea/robots/)
influences include tank girl, various studio ghibli, osamu tezuka (metropolis, buddha), city of lost children, brazil, journey to the west
http://supersonicart.com/post/54455771093/adrian-dadich
http://sp0rel0rd.deviantart.com/art/Robot-Girl-188902359
http://www.thepinupfiles.com/gray/GRAY_img_01.jpg
http://www.freakangels.com/?p=724&page=4
http://kirimoth.com/blog/index.php/2010/02/15/wip-puppeteer/
#neferkane on instagram
http://www.3dtotal.com/index_gallery_detailed2.php?id=5460#.UY0BSYKrsjU

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