My Psi-Tech Universe has implant-enhanced humans who have telepathy to a greater or lesser extent, combined with other psi talents. My main characters, Cara and Ben are psi-techs. Cara is a top class telepath with a side order of empathy, and Ben is a weak telepath but a talented navigator able to connect with ship’s systems and fly through the Folds of space. (More about the Folds next time.)
In the latter half of the twenty-first century researchers in China worked with individuals whose talent for telepathy could be enhanced to give them instant communication between ship and home. They learned how to nurture a talent for navigation bordering on the extraordinary, developing psi-Navigators with the ability to fly the Folds safely. An unexpected by-product of the programme delivered Empaths, Healers, Finders, Psi-mechanics who can interface and control bots, and exozoologists, known in the trade as Dee’Ells (for Dolittles) who can influence and understand non-human creatures.
Developing psi implants became a research priority. The corporations sank an enormous amount of resources into R&D. Rowan-Markesa’s scientists led the field. During an attempted hostile takeover by Arquavisa the entire R&D department of Rowan-Markesa resigned and published their findings, making the technology available to all. This prevented any one company getting a complete stranglehold. The Monitors (law enforcers), planetary governments and the Five Power Alliance in Earth also implant and employ psi-techs.
Even those with no psi aptitude can have an implant fitted, but it’s expensive and allows only a basic facility to receive telepathic messages, not to instigate them without the mediation of a Telepath. It’s possible for someone with a receiving implant to wear a damper to retain privacy, but because of the possibility of intellectual and industrial theft via an implant, the top executives tend not to have them and rely on personal telepaths to be at their beck and call for urgent communications.
The Cost Factor
It’s expensive to find, implant, and train a psi-tech so their employers tie them into long term, contracts. They are well paid and well looked after, but always in hock to their megacorp. Any psi-tech who steps out of line is likely to be scheduled for Neural Readjustment. If that doesn’t work, their implant can be removed or they can be scheduled for neural reconditioning, but with predictably messy results. So the psi-techs are bound to the megacorps if they want to retain their sanity. Psi-techs can change companies as long as their new company buys out their contract. They can also buy out their own contracts, but this is so expensive that it’s hardly ever achieved in practice as there’s a cumulative amount for ongoing maintenance of the implant – insurance of sorts that if anything goes wrong the company will look after it (and them). When they retire (they can always be recalled to active duty if the need arises) the company provides a modest pension, somewhere to live and continuing implant maintenance.
Psi-techs who reebel against their megacorps are dealt with severely, but there are rumours of a place called Sanctuary where runaway psi-techs are helped onwards to new and independent lives. Does it exist? The megacorporations would like to think it doesn’t. In fact, they’ve gone to considerable lengths to make sure it doesn’t, but you can’t keep a good idea down…
Next time… Space exploration in the Psi-Tech Universe.