Power on the bridge flickered on again. Trawick very nearly cursed. Apparently, Aperture 13 was not up to the task of running the ship's systems in real combat. - Worlds Apart Book 12: Earth
Aperture 13 was the standard Central Intelligence System (CIS) used by Explorer, Defender, and Supply ships in service to the New Commonwealth Galactic Fleet. The Aperture 13 CIS controlled all of the ship's integrated systems, including life support, command systems, propulsion systems, tactical systems, AI integration, and all sub-systems.
Aperture 13 Features
- Enhanced Crew Interactive Cyber-Personality. Original plans to integrate a holographic avatar to represent the CIS in the Command Center of each ship were canceled when the initial crew members were made uncomfortable by the avatar and enhanced cyber-personality; both of which replicated human behavior just inaccurately enough to create uncanny feelings of discomfort that compromised crew efficiency.
- Superior Meta-Acuity Rational Tactical (SMART) Defense System. This upgrade was capable of analyzing a ship’s tactical situation, running thousands of scenarios and recommending an optimal course of action. Similar systems had been available since Aperture 10, however, the Aperture 13 upgrade was designed to over-ride crew decisions and take over if the AI calculated that the chosen course of action imperiled the ship to an unacceptable probability of loss.
- Neuro-Cognitve Navigational Network (N3) was designed after the structure and connections of Memn brains to facilitate hyperspace navigation. It provided far more accurate exit points from Hyperspace (when it worked).
- N-Space Dynamic Refractive Processing. This system was designed to scan and interface with COM, sensor, and detection systems of linked ships and unlinked sources within range, to provide a ‘Comprehensive Tactical Picture.’ This feature made ships equipped with Aperture 13 exceptionally vulnerable to system penetration by AI’s and malware; which was exploited on a number of occasions by the MAARRS Cyborgs.
Aperture 13 Development History
The Aperture CIS series traces its origins to the first generation of Explorer/Defender ships built outside the Sapphire or Republic systems; those constructed in the Bountiful system beginning in the Solar Year 7140. The first ship was the Explorer NCS Cumorah, constructed at the Oquirrh Spaceyards. NCS Cumorah used a specially designed CIS package called Infinite Integrator, built by the Kurosawa Systems Company of Gideon. The product was renamed Aperture in SY 7214, and went through multiple iterations as the primary command navigation system for Bountiful Ships.
During the Second Aurelian War (SY 7296 - 7344), the New Commonwealth of the Galaxy recognized difficulty resulting from different ships in its fleet using different CIS depending on their place and period of construction. NCG Fleet Directive 2286 ordered all ships to adopt a common CIS. Up until that time, ships constructed in the Bountiful System had used whatever version of Aperture was current when they were built. Ships built in the Republic system used the 12XU CIS developed by the 12XU Corporation of Republic. Ships built in the Guelph system (commissioned by Longueil Colony) used a license copy of the Shipmind CIS originally developed by a Sapphirean consortium.
12XU and Bountiful's Jaredite Systems (which bought the Aperture CIS from Kurosawa before the war) worked together to create the first common CIS, called Aperture 9 in Solar Year 7354. Aperture 9 functioned well when installed in new ships, but was disastrous when installed as a replacement for ship's with existing CIS; leading to multiple system malfunctions when ships were upgraded to the new standard. At least one ship, NCS Culmination, was lost in hyperspace and never seen again after its Aperture 9 upgrade. Further upgrades were delayed while the problems were worked out. Even in the case where ship's systems were completely purged of the previous CIS, the ship's systems refused to integrate properly under Aperture 9. Aperture 10 was designed purposefully as a commonality upgrade for ships with legacy CIS. It was only a partial solution, however. Ships with Aperture 9 continued to have difficulties sharing data, communication, and operational interface with ships running Aperture 10.
Aperture 11 was designed as an ultimate fleet upgrade, with hopes of achieving total fleet operational commonality by Solar Year 7370. This was a far more involved upgrade, involving the replacement of physical components of the ships' systems in addition to the implementation of the software. While the goal of commonality was met, the new CIS proved to be slow and subject to failure when taxed in tactical or other situations that imposed high demands on multiple systems.
After the release of Aperture 11, Jaredite Systems was financially dissolved due to persistent year-to-year losses. Golden Light XP of Bountiful Prime and Starthought AI Systems of Independence bought the rights to the Aperture Series. Starthought began working on Aperture 12 while Golden Light began working on Aperture 13. The Galactic Fleet had expressed a desire to have multiple alternatives for upgrading the fleet and installing into new ships. The original intent was to compete both systems. However, political intervention from the Galactic Parliament led to Aperture 12 being developed for new ships, and Aperture 13 designated as the upgraded CIS for existing ships. They were also ordered to form development alliances with companies on other worlds, which led to Golden Light forming an alliance with 12XU again.
Starthought’s Aperture 12 team released the final version of Aperture 12 in SY 7373. The Explorer Ship Galaxy was the first to receive the new system. The ship went through a year of intensive dock and starflight testing. Several hundred deficiencies were documented during the voyage and referred back to Starthought for correction. The Defender Class ship Rampart was the second ship to launch with the Aperture 12 CIS. Its test flights were much more successful and after an additional round of repairs, Galactic Fleet Directorate approved the CIS for installation on all new ships.
Aperture 13 went through multiple development delays. Partly because Golden-Light and 12XU apportioned development between separate teams on Republic and Bountiful. It would not have been so bad if they had followed Starthought’s model. (Starthought had separate teams doing Explorer, Defender, and Scout ships. The Scout ship development was outsourced to Acow Advanced Engineering of Emeishan and was finished ahead of schedule.) Instead, Golden Light and 12XU broke up the task by system, and when they tried to integrate the systems on the two simulators they built on their respective worlds, there were multiple system incompatibilities that delayed ship testing until SY7376 (six years behind schedule) During the first space flight test on the Scout Ship Attenborough, the system locked up as the ship left the dock at the StarLock Chapultepec, the ship drifted into and collided with the station, causing minor structural damage to the station and more serious damage to the ship. The program was delayed for two more additional years while the CIS was tested.
Despite ongoing problems, the standardization of the Galactic Fleet CIS was named a Highest Priority Initiative in AS 7380. The entire Galactic Fleet was scheduled to be upgraded as each ship underwent its scheduled Major Service Maintenance, beginning with ship’s assigned to exploration of the Orion Quadrant. The Explorer Ship Naphtali, the Defender Helaman, and the Supply Ship Providence became the first to receive the Aperture 13 upgrade. The Galactic Fleet assigned a team of cyberneticists to each ship to fix glitches as they arose rather than attempting to perfect the Aperture 13 upgrade.
Known Aperture 13 Glitches
The critical shortcomings of the Aperture 13 upgrade were its sluggish processing capability, its weakness in integrating disparate system, and a propensity to fail entirely in times of high processing throughput. Other specific glitches included:
- The Superior Meta-Acuity Rational Tactical (SMART) Defense System was prone to delays in active tactical situations, leading to data provided the Tactical Core being seconds or even severl minutes behind real-time. Also, an error in the holographic display would generate milkbeasts as the icons for hostile ships. Another time, the system reran a training scenario as an active scenario, providing the crew with false readings throughout a combat exercise, reducing effectiveness to zero and ending with the system announcing to the crew, “You are all dead. Sorry.”
- Neural Interface was so sensitive it interpreted subconscious impulses as conscious commands, leading to a scenario in which the ship’s systems displayed and acted out nightmare scenarios from the darkest reaches of the crew’s collective id.
- Food-processing systems routinely confused raisins with chocolate chips.
- The Planetary Survey sensor system displayed the atmosphere of all planets as “Breathable” whether the atmosphere was oxygen-nitrogen, 400 degree liquid xenon plasma, or no atmosphere at all. The AI turned out to be assessing whether the ship could survive in the atmosphere, not the crew.
- The AI Cyber-Personality --- which was designed to be more like a ‘friendly crewmate’ than the earlier interface (which was seen as too detached and impersonal) --- proved to be awkward and annoying. Kept asking the crew, “Hey, would you like to hang out later during the designated recreational inactivity period?”
- A non-scheduled purge of the ship’s water system expelled Attenborough’s entire supply into space.
- The Continuous Crew Health Status Monitoring System made creepy comments at inappropriate times. Crew members using the hygiene pods would hear, “You have increased in mass. Change in dietary protocols is recommended.” It would also recommend avoiding sexual relations with different crew members based on “hazardous proclivities.”
- Vocal interface initially only responded to female voices; would not respond to male crew members. The problem was traced to the all-female development team in Republic’s City of Tomorrow. The interface was only accustomed to voices in the female register.
- The system that analyzed urine for crew health and hygiene also consistently yielded false positives for pregnancy for both male and female personnel.