THE UNMUTUAL PRISONER ARTICLE ARCHIVE
"ROVER EXPOSED ", By Steve Dix
THE ROVER INSTRUCTION MANUAL
Roving Protoplasmic Guardian Unit represents the ultimate in terms of Synthetic
Protoplasmoid cybernetics. It is composed of a polymer based protoplasm designed
to act in a similar way to a single-celled organism. This protoplasmic base
is held together by electro-chemical bonds maintained by an internal power supply.
Exact details are prime classified.
The "Rover" is controlled by the thoughts of its operator via sensors, worn over the skull, that can read the basic motor functions of the brain and translate them, via computer, into a sequence of protoplasmoid movement commands. The proto-plasmoid is also able to communicate back various perceptions which are translated into terms understandable to the human operator.
The basic Protoplasmoid is controlled by interface to the operator's brain via a computer. The operator interface is as follows:
Cortical Sensor Networks: There are two Cortical Sensor Networks which are worn upon the temples, directly above the motor control areas of the brain. These networks have to be precisely fitted for each individual operator to ensure maximum sensor accuracy. The sensors are attuned to the subsection of the brain's motor area that deals with locomotion.
Visual Feedback Network: This larger and more complex network of stimulators is designed to sit directly on the back of the skull above the part of the brain used in retinal pattern recognition. It stimulates individual neurons to produce white dots in the operator's mental picture of the world.
Sensory Deprivation Equipment: Due to the immense mental strain put on the operator of a Protoplasmoid, it is imperative that he be isolated from all exterior distractions, however small. This means that the operator has to wear a thick waterproof suit, a blindfold and earplugs whilst floating in a body-temperature saline solution in a darkened isolation tank. During this the operator's only contact with the exterior world is an earphone through which he may be given commands.
PROTOPLASMOID OPERATION AND FEEDBACK
Once the operator is controlling the Protoplasmoid, any thoughts involving locomotion in a specific direction are translated into movement commands for the Protoplasmoid. However, the Protoplasmoid has some limited decision capability and can be relied on in simple circumstances to act Autonomously. These decisions are ade upon two criteria: 1) Hunger satisfaction. 2) Self-preservation. Hunger satisfaction is defined as the engulfing of a biological entity for a period long enough to render the entity unconscious, whilst Self-preservation can refer to several things - damage sustained, or withdrawal from situations where damage is imminent. Operators are warned not to exceed time limitations upon Protoplasmoid Operation, as exhaustion and emotional stress can trigger the Protoplasmoid's basic instincts, as can be seen in the file "Individual Six: Schizoid".
Feedback is based upon the protoplasmic shell's reactions to a wide range of the electro-magnetic spectrum.
As has been stated earlier, this feedback is translated into dots on the operator's "mental picture". The computer processing the feedback from the Protoplasmoid represents different frequencies via concentrations of dots. The image processing uses "Mexican Hat" transformations to isolate and track moving objects. Village landmarks are also recognized and placed in the picture. The Protoplasmoid distinguishes inanimate objects and biological entities by reception of body heat and brain waves. A recent problem has occurred with the proliferation of "felis felis" within the village as Protoplasmoids cannot tell the difference between humans and animals. Since Autonomous Protoplasmoids are set to detect the brainwaves of approaching villagers, they homed in on the brainwaves generated by the cats whilst stalking. Consequentially, the majority were spending their time chasing cats. It is hoped that minor adjustments will soon have this problem under control.
MORPHOLOGICAL CONTROL OF THE PROTOPLASMOID
As well as being able to control the Protoplasmoid motion, the Operator can control the size of the protoplasmic Sphere. This is done by increasing or decreasing the electrochemical force holding the Protoplasmoid together. The Operator controls the size by the section of the brain that controls the hands. This is the largest control section of the brain, so the operator is allowed considerable subtlety in size control. One interesting development is the vibration of the Protoplasmoid to produce a disturbing roar, which has an unnerving effect upon anyone pursued by it. This effect is produced by the operator drumming the fingers of both hands.
Size control allows the Protoplasmoid to go anywhere that is desired. The file "Individual Six Arrival Conditioning" shows a theatrical use of size by producing a Protoplasmoid from a fountain.
SETTING A PROTOPLASMOID TO PATROL AUTONOMOUSLY
Due to the tremendous stresses and strains upon the human operators of Protoplasmoids, some tasks are carried out autonomously by a computer, which controls up to five Protoplasmoids. If the Protoplasmoid detects any Biological entities it will be allowed limited reign of its instincts, so that it merely herds the wayward villager, rather than engulfing them.
As with all Village defences, No.1 has absolute authority to override orders being sent to a Protoplasmoid. This only occurs in an emergency, as No.1 usually issues countermands via No.2.
PROTOPLASMOID RECOGNITION ELECTROPASSES
In the past, problems have arisen due to the unsubtlety of the Protoplasmoid's senses. Therefore it is important that staff have some way of indicating their status to the Protoplasmoid. This is provided by an Electropass - a miniature beacon that sends a digital signal on a constantly changing wavelength that the Protoplasmoid is programmed to recognise.
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