C&I (computronics and informatics) are the central components and fields of study in modern Ornithopter hyper-technology. It describes a multitude of organic substances that have room temperature super-conducting characteristics, along with the internal capacity to form neuron-like connections, and the capacity to be grown as if they were living tissue.
C&I in general facilitated the rapid rise of post singularity life, allowing these consciousnesses to transcend to the second (SI:2), third (SI:3) and even higher singularities. It is unclear whether the first C&I distillation (neuropeptidine) facilitated the first singularity, or whether the first transcendents discovered the substance and gifted it to mankind – at the same time moving into large scale production the medium for their own growth and future evolution. In any case, the field is now mature and pervasive, and without it, none of the technological advances taken for granted would be possible.
Depending on the application, C&I substances can be in liquid (for example, discernomol, rapidideine, cogitan, or the famous ringers’ solution used in military vehicles), gaseous (for example, intercedimine, facilitans and impalpimol) or solid forms (for example, circuidan and transtattin). There are several thousand such substances, and the list is growing.
At their simplest, C&I substances are used in place of what in pre-singularity times would have been wires, transistors and microprocessors. The advantage they have is in their plasticity, near perfect conductance, and ability to self-organise and evolve in-situ. Rather than have discrete components in a complex system connected by wires, systems of C&I are used throughout that are then organised to perform the tasks required, and alter themselves as needed once operational. In many cases this makes a piece of Ornithopter technology externally difficult to understand as it may have few moving parts and have chambers filled with gooey gel. When placed in context, the component ‘grows’ connections to its neighbours.
The organic/biological nature of C&I substances allows for many interesting effects, such as man-machine interfacing and uniquely genetically keyed devices, and so on. The most obvious and pervasive use of C&I in humans is the case of the Navigators. These beings are born with C&I tissue throughout their nervous system, and it is this enhanced processing power which allows them to navigate the myriad potential futures of instantaneous star travel, interface with the ship’s system, and select the possible future that corresponds to the desired destination. Whether the ancestors of the Navigators gengineered the species to take advantage of C&I substances and so become more like the hyper-intelligences, or whether the hyper-intelligences influenced the gengineers in order to create an intermediary species that could receive the discoveries they had made, is unknown.
At the practical level, human engineers have the ability to almost ‘plug and play’ with C&I machinery. They can select and assemble the components and then instruct the semi-intelligent material to make the relevant connections and bring itself to operational status through any number of simple, often hand-held, screen interfaces. Internally, and unless the device is specifically kept in information-sterile conditions, the machine soon finds either direct or wireless connections to the rest of the infosphere, and is available for hyper-intelligent interrogation, modification, and even habitation.
To casual observation a machine still looks much like a machine, but its ‘wiring’ may be infused with circuidan, and a number of gel packs of sensedine and sentiomol perform the tasks of control and coordination.