Eclipse Phase | AUSTIN, TEXAS | 2015-2019 A.D.
Most polities that embrace ID systems rely on nanotattoos and brainscans for physical identification. For infomorphs and AGIs, the cryptographically signed digital code embedded in the software of each brain-state serves as their unique identifier. Though not perfect, these procedures are the most reliable option given the circumstances—which isn’t saying much. ID systems are most commonly implemented by the authorities of the inner system, though even autonomists have use for them.
Brainprint scans are considered the definitive method for identifying egos. Contrary to popular misconceptions, the term “brainwave scan” is a misnomer, as this form of identifier is not based on simple electroencephalography (EEG: a reading of the electrical activity created by neurons firing within the brain). The actual process for recording brainprints for identification purposes goes much deeper than that. It is based on the electrophysiological responses (event-related potentials) to invoked sensory stimuli as well as deep background neural activity measured by magnetoencephalography (MEG) and correlated between different regions of the brain. Controversially, this deep scan of the mind’s default network activity is considered by some philosophers and psychosurgeons as the “true self,” the unique thing that defines us as individual persons. The process of recording a brainprint takes roughly an hour to systematically map out the core underlying structure and results in an unique identifier for each biological brain. There is one challenge to brainprints, however: they change over time. Transhuman brains are high-plasticity organic devices that incorporate new memories, suffer trauma, build new synaptic structures, and otherwise undergo changes. Luckily, these alterations only impact the core underlying structures identified by the brainprint in slow, incremental measurements. This means brainprints must be updated for accuracy on a roughly yearly basis. In practice, brainprints are usually updated each time a person undergoes a regular backup or uploads for egocasting. Conducting a full deep brainscan “in the field” is impractical given the equipment and time required, decreasing its utility for security checkpoints and mobile police stops. To check that a person isn’t someone other than who they claim to be is a simpler affair. Police or security personnel can conduct a five-minute test using portable equipment to verify an ID. This portable brainscanner consists of a skullcap that is placed on a biomorph’s head, which then extrudes ultra-sensitive nano-electrodes into the scalp. A visor and ear plugs feed a sequence of images and sounds while the skullcap also applies tactile sensations. The cap measures the brain’s response to these stimuli and compares certain markers to the brainprint of the person provided in a secure ID database. Assuming no major deviation (or no deviations beyond the accepted rate of error), the brainprint is verified. Because this quick brainscan test is not fully accurate, it is not unknown for it to occasionally fail, particularly if a subject has recently undergone mental trauma, psychosurgery, or manipulated their brain with drugs or narcoalgorithms. Common procedure for failed field verification is to place the subject through a full brainprint analysis scan. Scanning the brainprint IDs of people sleeved in pods or synthmorphs or existing in an infomorph state works a bit differently. Since there is no biological brain activity to measure, the individual’s software brain state must be accessed (requiring a direct connection via access jacks or software plugin). The emulated brain state is then fed a sequence of diagnostics input, producing output that roughly models the measurement of a biological brainprint. The advantage to running this test via software is that it proceeds far more quickly than biological scans, taking only a few seconds to verify the key markers as with most field tests. In the five minutes it takes to field test a biological brainprint, a tester can map out a pod, synthmorph, or infomorph’s brainprint as throughly as a full hour-long biological scan. Despite the ease of such testing, most checkpoints rely on the even quicker method of checking the ego’s digital code (and its cryptographic signature) for simple verification. It is worth noting that the unique nature of AGI brain states means that they are quite easily identifiable from biologically born and grown human brains. It is a simple measure to recognize an AGI ego with a brainscan field test. For this reason, AGIs that are sleeved in biological or synthetic morphs and not broadcasting their nature still tread carefully in habitats where AGIs are frowned upon or suffer discrimination—or worse yet, are illegal. Uplifts face a similar issue, particularly non-hominids, as their brainprints also provide tell-tale signs of their true nature.
Digital egos are almost universally stamped with a digital code whenever they are created. This code is created by the entity/device that generates the digital ego, whether it be a backup or infomorph. Each code is digitally signed with a cryptographic hash, allowing it to be verified against databases online. Whereas this process is legally mandated in the inner system polities, it is a common procedure in the outer system as well to protect against identity theft. Digital codes almost always include a copy of the person’s brainprint. This enables easier verification when egocasting and resleeving. It is standard for AIs and AGIs to have digital codes embedded in their coding by default, though there have been exceptions with software intelligences created by criminal groups, exhumans, and some autonomists and mercurials.
Brainprint scans of biomorphs in the field are conducted with a brainprint scanner ( Panopticon p. 152). Unless the subject’s brain has been significantly modified in some way (serious mental trauma, head wounds, psychosurgery, heavy drug or narcoalgorithm use, etc.), this will produce a scan of the subject’s brainprint for comparison with databases, no test required. If the gamemaster determines the scan may produce a deviant brainprint, make an Interfacing Test using the skill of the person or AI running the check, applying appropriate modifiers. If the test fails to produce a match, the subject will usually be taken in for a more detailed scan with full medical scanning gear (apply a +30 modifier to the Interfacing Test). Whether the brainprint matches up with database queries is up to the gamemaster or may be resolved with a Research Test using the skill of the person or AI running the check; the data integrity of the databases being checked may apply modifiers. Whether or not a brainprint gets a match, the brain scans of AGIs and uplifts are automatically identifiable as non-human; apply a +30 modifier to an Interfacing Test for determining the subject’s exact nature.
CYBERBRAIN AND INFOMORPH BRAINPRINTS
Scanning the brainprint of someone with a cyberbrain or an infomorph brain-state is as easy as analyzing it with brainprint analysis software. This test takes only a Complex Action. If an Interfacing Test is called for due to a potential deviant brainprint, apply a +30 modifier. Infomorphs and cyberbrained characters have the option of trying to deceive a scan with a fake brainprint plug-in ( Panopticon p. 156).