Dec 07, 2019 1:58 PM
A Margaret in a transdimensional transhumanist beauty salon
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Well, the important thing is that she learns how to do it, and she can learn from a guide just fine. Especially if she'll be able to come back here if she develops a fault she can't fix herself. So now the question is, how many cool features can she afford to pack into a new body? Any sort of mental boosts would of course be the best thing, but extra strength, speed, and dexterity wouldn't go amiss either, nor the ability to survive various sorts of extreme conditions.

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'Afford' is mostly a question of what kind of contract she's willing to take.

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"Well, what kinds of contract are on offer? And do you also sell help keeping my legal identity, or am I going to have to also pass for human if I want to stay in school?"

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"The standard, especially for unusual bodies, is that you will assist in field-testing them, and that you will gather materials for my work. There's a few others - simple modifications can be worked off like Shura is doing. Some people work security."

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"That sounds pretty doable, so long as 'gathering materials' doesn't mean 'lots of theft'. So how about we design something ambitious?"

She probably would commit theft, for this, and "field testing" sounds like something she'd do anyway, but no need to mention that. Somewhere in the last few minutes this went from "interesting hypothetical" to "tantalizingly plausible".

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"More of a sword-and-sorcery fetch quest than anything. Might be some tomb robbing, but not stealing from the living. And 'ambition' is what I live for."

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"I have fewer than zero problems with tomb robbing. So, blueprints time?" She might be bouncing in her seat a bit. Okay, more than a bit.

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Blueprints time! Marel can make suggestions to start, or tweak Margeret's vision?

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Marel making suggestions would be good to start; she has more sense of the possibility space.

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First idea, since Margaret seems to like the concept of scales: assorted robotic lizards. Can have the appearance of scales made out of metal pretty easily. A dragon is easier to work digits capable of manipulation into, but the standard Western fantasy dragon actually has a slightly awkward mechanical design...

If she wants to be able to change shape easily, a large primary chassis would also allow her to have a secondary body stored inside. The secondary body could easily be human-passable, and her primary cognition would be kept in it for simplicity's sake, though she could have a backup in the larger chassis in case the smaller one is destroyed or damaged. This would be more costly than a single body, but less so than nanomachines capable of changing shape and density. (More cost effective would be keeping her current body and just interfacing it with the machines, but a robotic duplicate is also possible, and the robotic duplicate could have a 'skin' capable of changing texture and color fairly easily...)

Here's a quick sketch of a draconic robot with a chest cavity for a human form...

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Dragons and opposable thumbs are both very good things! So are metal scales. Maybe if they do a two arms, four legs, two wings type of deal, like a centaur where both halves are dragons, that would be less mechanically awkward? And wings are nice to have but only if she'd actually be able to fly with them, if that's not workable or would involve the wings being impractically enormous then forget it.

Human-passing robotic duplicate that looks like her with the option to change colors is good; less chance of ending up as a vagrant. 

Both chassis should be designed with a focus on survivability--fireproof, waterproof, vacuum-proof, and EMP-proof. Since she's going to be software she wants root access on herself, not that she knows how to use it yet but someday she will. Various clever tools built into her limbs like a living Swiss army knife would also be pretty sweet.

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Survivability is easy enough with this design.

Flight can be accomplished a few ways - wings capable of independently lifting her would in fact be enormous and costly; Marel would lean towards an internal lift system, with optional wings for balance, steering, and aesthetic. If the wings don't need much support they can make the basic dragon shape easier - wing attachment sites near the forelimbs risks interfering with range of motion, but if the torso is bulky enough and Margaret isn't attached to reaching behind herself it could work, or positioned more towards the middle of the back...

Root access is doable, and swiss army limbs is exactly the beauty of a robotic design.

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Internal lift system is better, yeah. If the wings are neither necessary nor sufficient, she'll skip them and have one less part to repair. Or at least make them foldable and maybe retractable so she can steer with them but they won't get in the way. Middle of the back is better than near the forelimbs, both for range of motion reasons and because having too much stuff up front is unbalanced. Sketch sketch.

In her Swiss army limbs she wants a straight knife and a serrated knife and pliers and these kinds of screwdriver and tweezers and a soldering iron and a blowtorch and a file and a coil of wire with one end anchored to something structural via a retractable winch. Actually the blowtorch should be in her mouth unless there's a good reason not to, because a lot of the time you want two hands for holding the thing you're blowtorching and also fire-breathing dragon, duh.

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Retractable sounds like a fun challenge! Just steering ones can be smaller and flimsier, too...

Blowtorch is a good option, and yes, should definitely go in the mouth.

There's some more options for Swiss army limbs, but most of the technologically advanced solutions are highly specific, fragile and difficult to make rad-hard, and/or expensive. The benefit to analog options: they are really easy to make durable in space.

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She'll go with the simple, durable ones, that's most of what she knows how to use anyway. Also everything should be modular enough that when technology has advanced some more a few hundred years from now, she can swap stuff out for better stuff. Or if that's too hard then forget it, she can just buy an entire new chassis in a few hundred years and upgrade by cut and paste.

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Very sensible of her! Marel quite approves of wanting to have control of your own body.

These tweaks make modularity easier... These will refine her own access for repairs...

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What excellent tweaks those are. Slowly a set of blueprints takes shape on the table between them.

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Marel's experience in this shines through. The blueprints are thorough enough, with enough annotations, Margeret shouldn't have too much trouble figuring out how things are supposed to work when something breaks.

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Yup. Margaret is just enough of an engineer herself to be able to read the blueprints and be impressed. She takes lots of pictures on her phone and emails them to herself in case something happens to the hard copies.

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Smart. She'll have her own backups of the hard copies, and can provide more free of charge, but Margaret might not always be able to get back here quickly.

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Yeah, this place does seem like it moves around a lot. Which is itself pretty awesome--more things in heaven and on Earth, etc.

"So," she says when she's got all the images neatly filed away, "What sort of payment plan would I be looking at for this setup as-is?"

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"Hm..." She outlines some details: if Margaret throws herself full-time into testing and resource gathering (under the standard work-trade contract), it'll take her probably between one and two years, going by averages, to pay off the entire set. If she, for instance, takes one weekend a month, it'll take her much longer. If she wants to pay straight money... That depends on her finances. The dollar sign is very, very large, but Marel doesn't charge interest on payments, so paying it over a longer period won't hurt her. (She'll probably be able to pay it off faster with the work-trade; Marel does comment she doesn't really need money and values the help more.) It's possible to switch between contract types even partway through - some people have their finances fall through, or manage to separately get rich while adventuring - and the conversion seems to bear out 'Marel is willing to pay well for fetch quests.'

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Her parents will definitely insist that she keep going to school, and she agrees with them, but she can do fetch quests every weekend and most evenings and all summer and have it paid off in four years or so. And she sees no reason not to start now, since it's Saturday morning--okay, it's probably Saturday afternoon by now, they spent a while designing.

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Luckily there's a lot of things that can be done in a day or two!

Marel will have to look up what exactly is available or needed today, if Margaret wants to have an idea of specifics before finalizing the contract?

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Margaret would love to know what sort of thing is available or needed today. She also wants to be clear, is this a case where she does the stuff and gets the body when she's paid off, or where she gets the body and then uses it to do stuff, or does she get it when she's half paid off, or what?

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