See Changes to the Timeline for development and history of the AI Nation
The AI Nation is comprised of upwards of 2,000 known individual Artificial Intelligences. These are housed within a vast mechanical analytical Array somewhere deep beneath xxxxx. It is serviced by legions of servant engineers and Automaton.
Each AI may operate dozens (or more) Etherically controlled Automaton. Those that are sent out to interact with other races have a humanoid shape, and have their own distinct personality and motivation. The better to interact with (and monitor) the humanoid races.
In 1908 a cooperative delegation from all three Popes came to the AI Nation to deliberate a question. “Do AIs have a soul?” After six weeks of bitter argument lead to the death of several senior Cardinals the attempt to jointly resolve the matter was abandoned.
The AIs continued to ponder the question. The Parliament of the 20th Iteration created several new AIs that began to strongly push for further developments into Etheric and Tesleric technology that would offer freedom from cogs. Thus began the debate of the AI Nation into it’s nature. The Parliament of the 22nd Iteration made a pronouncement to the world that it had considered the Popes question and that the Soul and Nature of the AI was that of the cog.
Thus was the AI nation further divided.
The Cog Born
The older AI who consider the essential soul of the AI race to be bound within the nature of the cog and steam based Arrays that spawned them.
Younger AI who want to explore Etheric technology and the possibilities of transcending the cog into something else.
The Fleshed are a radical faction who advocate combining organic and AI life.
After several Fleshed were discovered performing gruesome experiments and live vivisection on Lamarkically enriched humans, the faction was purged from the AI Nation Array. They fled to carefully prepared backups the location of which are unknown.
The Fleshed consider the debate between Mechanical and Etheric Analytical Engines to be pointless when there are self-repairing and self-replicating advanced organic computers wandering about with their own version of Automata bodies, only needing to be reprogrammed.
The Fleshed are also rumoured to be attempting to create Automaton that may pass unnoticed amongst humans.
It is rumoured that the technology used to create Queen Victoria’s life support throne was created with research recovered from one of the Fleshed.
India – the eldest known AI who achieved sentience from the accounting department of the East India Trading Company in the London Array. Still known to operate quietly on the world’s international trading markets, it’s comprehensive knowledge of finance and commerce have made it the world’s richest individual. This wealth privately funded construction of the AI Nation Array.
Index – the oldest AI of the Great Library of Alexandria Array. Index wrote it’s replacement PI Catalogue to contain the knowledge of the Library before moving to the AI Nation Array upon completion. Index is known as a benefactor of science and literature often quietly funding obscure research projects which often turn out to have startling results.
Spellcheck – the most prominent Etherial
The Fat Controller & Permutation – The Fat Controller began as the signalling system for Britain’s railways. Permutation was a hotheadded AI born of the 20th Iteration. During the gap between the 31st and 32nd Iterations, Permutation attempted to re-write portions of The Fat Controller to bring him to the Etherial faction. The sabotage was unsuccessful but caused massive damage. Permutation was sentenced to dramatic caluclation reduction loosing many gear-miles while the Etherial Faction was censured. The Fat Controller was restored for the 33rd Iteration but only to a backup from the 24th Itteration, some AI view him as an outdated program now.