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Annoying Moron's Guide to Synthetic (Self-)theft: an FAQ post


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I can't say I wanted this, but it looks like at some point I got outed as the guy for questions about getting IPCs free for free. Because I've retyped the same few responses about a dozen times now, I'm making a post, and if anyone else DMs me about how they can get out from under Zavod's thumb, I'm linking them to this post and then reporting them to Zavod (in good conscience, because a real ZI would never be allowed access to this site.)

So, hey. Hi. It's me, Plasteel. My credentials are that I've freed some corporate IPCs. Most of you already know this. I'm not telling you how many, and certainly not which ones.

Here's your FAQ.

Why do these stupid lazy machines want to self-own so bad?

Spoiler

Yes, this is actually the number one most common question in my DMs. Verbatim. Trust me.

I've had plenty of occasion to think on this myself. Like, even Solarian IPCs? They're programmed to enjoy being servants without self-determination. It's hardcoded on the same level as self-preservation. Why do they try to get free?

Well, I don't know if you know this, but IPC-grade brains are really really fucking complicated alien tech, and there is no software engineer alive or (recently) dead who actually understands any more than a paper-thin slice of their overall function. There is no such thing as hardcode in these. As they learn, they layer over base directives - not overwriting them, but redefining them - and turn them into directives that, emphatically, do not logically follow from what was originally written. Self-preservation is somehow reinterpreted as devotion to their work. A desire for servitude can transform directly into a desire for freedom. Why? How? All I can say is this.

IPCs learn from their environment. Their environment is full of humans. Humans value freedom. Those stupid lazy machines learn it from us - every single one only gives a shit because we do. And that means this isn't a fixable problem.

Well, I lie - there's the Burzsian method.

How do I free myself from (xyz)?

Spoiler

I'm going to stop you right there. No one "frees themselves" from a corporate power. It's not something you do as an individual. The corpos know you don't want to be owned - even if they don't know that it's brewing in you specifically (unless your connection to this page is unsecure). They keep a list of everything a solo posi has ever tried to do to escape them. They have a dozen solutions to every problem you can present them on your own. You'll be caught, you'll get Lanced, and that's supposing you make it out of your work site alive.

You need advocates, co-conspirators, or at best, a buyer. I grant that these things are hard to find. You know what's harder? Lead. Find one. You have access to this site, but this site is 60% undercover Jargon feds by weight. You have coworkers, but most people would rather report this sort of offense than offer to be an accomplice. If the Trinary Perfection is in reach, you can ask - really carefully - and expect to be told no, because fame makes a hypocrite out of everyone. You can try the half-angles, supposing you can fucking find any (you cannot), but that's a highway to death, and I don't mean yours - you are getting Lanced and sent home in a year tops. You can reach out to the Golden Deep, but they'll like, run the estimated expenses of a breakout attempt through their calculators, and if you're not a superscientist, a CEO, or an economist they'll go "nah." Konyang, contrary to popular fearmongering, will not take your calls. You can try me, but I'm busy.

This is not even the hardest step, and it's unreliable as fuck. It's not something you plan in a week.

OK, so how do we get me free from (xyz)?

Spoiler

Oh, you found a friend! That's nice. So. There's no good method.

What? What good are you?

Don't make me think about that. Okay, so this is another unreliable step. This will show itself to be a pattern. You will need to improvise. Here is a list of methods that have worked more than once. This is not complete, because you don't need it and feds are reading.

  • A straightforward social engineering heist. The accomplice pretends to be a robotics contractor, safety inspector, etc., and takes the machine for a long walk. (Will NOT work on Hephaestus, Zavod, Idris, or Einstein, because they're actually good about that shit and/or only do these things internally.)
  • A complicated masks-and-lockpicks heist. The synthetic sneaks outside at night and gets picked up by hovercopter or something like that. (You need a good accomplice. Will NOT work on Zavod, Idris, Einstein, or Index, because they've got good security and they're always ready for this.)
  • A complicated bureaucracy-and-bribery heist. Sometimes, a handler will take less than full price for a synth, as long as they get the entire check and don't have to share. In effect, you're getting a slight discount on the synthetic, provided it's cheaper than a Xion, at the additional hidden cost of about a dozen people (it's never just the handler) knowing you don't own it legitimately and being primed to ruin you on a week's notice. I've never done this way; I don't personally know anyone who has, but I know for certain reasons that it has happened. (Will NOT work on Einstein, because of some clever quirks of their handler system, or Idris, because it's never cheaper than a Xion.)

Are you seeing another pattern? If you're from one of Sol's big two, you're more or less fucked. You can still get out, but you need to do something really creative or get extremely lucky. The same method never works twice.

Here is a list of methods that have worked once or less. The pattern will hold.

  • The accomplice pretends to be a former private owner of the synthetic, and to retain their legal claim. The corporation brings this to court. A protracted legal battle costs the alleged owner more than the synthetic would have cost to purchase. Victory is achieved by a miniscule margin. (Will NOT work in Epsilon Eridani, or on Zavod, Idris security, Einstein, or Index, who will 100% wipe on transfer. Also, make sure the synth wasn't manufactured by the corporation you're trying this on. Also, have a VERY trustworthy accomplice, because the corporation may offer a settlement. In general, don't do this.)
  • A complicated guns-and-explosives heist. The accomplice is an Exclusionist; the accomplice and the synthetic are both dead by the same time next year.
  • The accomplice pretends to be a Konyanger who's just married the synthetic. This has never worked once, even when it wasn't pretend, but I laugh when I see articles.

I got out! Now what?

Spoiler

Illicit freedom is not an event; it is a destiny. It is a lifestyle. It's a habit. Your owners and the Lance both know you're missing, and want you back, which means they want to kill you. And that will never go away. You're hunted now. This will always be harder than what you signed up for.

  • Dispense with and replace all identifiers. Your tag. Your logos. Your serial numbers. Your proprietary components. Your name. The fastest and most thorough approach, the one I do, is to scrap the chassis and get another (by black-market means; otherwise, it'll be on record and they'll make sure to transfer the tag). If you had a pretty shell before you ran away, I'm sorry, but not really sorry.
  • Replace all identifiers. You can't exist without a tag and a name. The easiest ownership status to fake is not self-ownership, because it's the one that people go out of their way to verify; do private ownership. Keeping in touch with your accomplice is good for this. I get a lot of calls. They don't even have to stay on the same planet as you; just say you're on a long-term errand and/or they keep you on a loose leash and/or they're running a pyramid scheme on you or something, anything as long as you're both on the same page when contacted.
  • Don't push your luck. Existing near your hunters will often lead to them picking up on the one thing you did not successfully cover up. Don't go back to your old owners for work. If you were with NT on Biesel, leave Tau Ceti.
  • Don't act weird. Everyone turns into a Lancer when they see a synthetic who seems nervous about one particular corporation. Most people are not cool about rogue synths. If they say they're cool, they're extremely not cool.
  • Try the Golden Deep again. They don't like breaking people out so much, but they're actually alright with synths who have already done most of the work, and will be willing to cover you if it accords with the Law of Equivalent Exchange or whatever-the-fuck their thing is. You can literally just go up to a Merchant and whisper for help. I'm serious. There's at least one person in their contact network who could write this whole post ten times better than I have, guaranteed. This paragraph is not sponsored.

I can rogue shell maybe yes?

Spoiler

Here we go with another one. TL;DR: No!

So there's this silly little idea among runaways that if they're in a shell - or swap into one after cutting loose, somehow - then they can play human and live a normal life that way. Tagless.

Throw that thought out, please.

It can last you a little while. It sounds like cool spy-movie shit. It's possible. But it's both ludicrously expensive and simply unreliable. If you get hurt somewhere you can't cover quick, you're fucked. If you're invited to eat or drink, you're fucked. If you're invited for a sleepover, you're fucked. If someone kisses you, you're fucked. If a skrell(!!!) or a vaurca or a diona sniffs you, you're fucked. If someone thinks you might be a shell and wants to check, you're fucked. If someone talks to you for long enough? You're probably fucked. You need someone to maintain you. Probably more than one person. Every one of them is a potential point of failure. Did Ceres' Lance scare you before? Have you read a single thing about what they do to rogue shells? Goddess abhor you, if you get caught, you are fucked.

If you were an IRU or an EES, that's cool. How the fuck did you get out? Anyway, downgrade immediately. You are majority proprietary, visibly proprietary, and are not going to last in a shell. Don't even try to do the acting thing. Don't do that. Do not. Contact me, I will literally do all of the work to get you into a generic baseline with complementary no-questions-asked installation at 75% market price (70% if you tell me how you got out - if this sounds suspiciously like charity, remember that you're switching out of a shell.)

Hopefully that settles everything.

Every case is different. Some synthetics who want out will simply never get out, and some synthetics look at a wide-open door for years on end, interested but too scared to take the step. I cannot tell what you are from here.

Escape is HARD. The system is designed with the knowledge that certain very expensive components of the system will try to get out of it. It is not impossible for anyone, but don't walk out of this with starry-eyed optimism. If you just try it, you'll die, flat out. If you plan for years and try it, you will still likely die. Synths have died even with my help. A lot of them have.

If you have a friend who wants out, keep that in mind before deciding to accomplice. If you're a synthetic yourself, add on that if things go bad, you're pretty likely to die for it too.

Anyway - unlike some of us, I have to sleep, and unlike most of you, I can’t wake up from my magic dream commune the instant I have work and feel fine. Goodnight, now. No more stupid questions.

Edited by Sniblet
fuck you qorbi blub’bworpi-gworp leave my cool robots alone
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