APAGear II Archives Volume 1, Number 3 February, 1999


Church of the Eternal Machine

Alistair Gillies

Of the many small groups seeking refuge in Kossuth from the religious intolerance of the NLC the Church of the Eternal Machine is widely thought of to be one of the strangest. The central tenet of the Church is that as it is that machines allow humans to transcend their physical limitations and master their environment, machines themselves are divine. Expression of this principle is not very dogmatic, there are almost as many interpretations as worshippers, and the "Eternal Machine" is variously referred to as "the ghost in the machine" or the //Deus Ex Machina//. Members of the church are also free to worship in whatever way they feel appropriate. Some are inventors, revealing new forms of the Machine, some are animal behaviourists, studying tool use by animals to discover the spark of the divine, while others revere the Gear, with its humanoid shape and pseudo-intelligence, as a potent avatar of the Eternal Machine.

The Church's congregation numbers roughly one thousand including dependants. The majority of the congregation lives towards the northern end of Kossuth's main residential area, with a few small groups scattered around Kossuth's boundaries. There is no central place of worship, members hold religious observances of their own or in small groups and swap their thoughts, ideas and discoveries with other believers via computer newsgroups and mailing lists. Since most of the congregation are technically minded, members hold a variety of well paying and respected jobs. A large number work for Norlight Power in a range of positions from technicians to managers and the Church-run garage is regarded as the best in Kossuth. The Church also runs a school providing secular primary and secondary education for both its own children and other religious and community groups that do not have their own schools.

The wider community generally thinks of the Church's congregation as harmless crackpots and Norlight Power and Kossuth's "live and let live" philosophy means there is little conflict. The Church itself is happy to peacefully co-exist with other religious groups and some of its members mix the Church's beliefs with other teachings. However, Church members have suffered harassment at the hands of the Children of the New Earth, as the aggressive environmental cult views the worship of machines as blasphemy.

Umberto Lafferty

The Church of the Eternal Machine's current leader is Umberto Lafferty, a former researcher with Abaline Research in Marathon. Well liked by his colleagues and with several NNet patents to his name, Umberto quit the company after he was promoted from research into a management position. He had been corresponding with a couple of Church members about what effect the development of true artificial intelligence would have on society and rapidly took up their invitation to move to Kossuth. Once there he became intrigued by the Church's beliefs and discovered they resonated with his own personal beliefs. Soon he was a frequent participant in the Church's public debates and he became popular for his insightful comments and cheerful demeanor. When the previous Church leader, Rebecca le Noury, retired in TN 1927 Umberto was elected to the position by popular decree.

As church leader Umberto has few duties, he acts as the chair at community meetings, is the Church's spokesman to Norlight Power and other religious and community groups and maintains several of the Church's technical and philosophical electronic discussion groups. He is still a well-respected NNet researcher and receives a considerable income from contract work. He also teaches several computer courses at the Church's school.

Umberto sees the Eternal Machine embodied as artificial intelligence. In his view all civilization and technology has been working towards AI. He believes that once true AI is developed it will lead humanity into a golden age, where man and machine will unlock the secrets of the universe together. Umberto is excited because he believes that true AI will finally be created in the near future. He has great hopes that it will be achieved within his own lifetime, perhaps even as a result of his own research.

Umberto is a cheerful and outgoing man who is always ready to debate church doctrine or defend from outsiders. He particularly enjoys boring obnoxious non-believers by discussing obscure theological points until they give up in disgust. When not working Umberto plays the violin in a string quartet. He is currently unattached, it is sometimes joked that he is the Church's most eligible bachelor.

Vital Statistics

Age: 54 cycles Height: 1.79 metres Mass: 73 kg Hair Color: Dark Brown Eye Color: Brown


AGI +0 APP +0 BLD +0 CRE +1 FIT +0
INF +1 KNO +2 PER +0 PSY +2 WIL +1
STR +0 HEA +1 STA 30 UD 3 AD 3

Prestige (Minor Religious Leader), Wealth (Level 1)


Skills Skills Skills Skills
Business 1/+2 Electronic Design 2/+2 Human Perception 1/+2 Music (Violin)* 1/+1
Computer (NNets)* 3/+2 Electronics 2/+2 Language (Indo-Arabic) 1/+2 Physical Sciences 1/+2
Dance 1/+0 Etiquette 1/+1 Leadership 1/+1 Teaching 2/+1


Ferah Raab

A native of Kossuth, Ferah Raab was brought up in the Church by her parents, formerly technicians at Norlight Power Solar Farm #7. Ferah herself works at the Church's garage as a mechanic. Like Plato's perfect forms, Ferah believes an ideal exists for every possible machine. When creating new designs inventors tap into these forms. By studying existing machines and inventing new ones she hopes to gain insight to this perfection. As a result she often seems slightly out of touch with her surroundings, pondering an item's ideal or planning a new design in her head. The quality of her work at the garage never suffers as a result however.

Ferah is an avid motorcyclist and sometimes competes in local races. She also enjoys riding out into the plains surrounding Kossuth with her friends, often organizing weeklong expeditions out into the bush. She sees nothing unusual about her twin loves of the countryside and machinery, believing technology and nature can exist together in harmony, as evidenced by Kossuth's many wind and solar farms.

Her boyfriend, Matthew Hernandez, is a NP Security officer from one of Kossuth's Jerusalemite communities.

Vital Statistics

Age: 31 cycles Height: 1.67 metres Mass: 57 kg Hair Color: Blonde Eye Color: Brown


AGI +0 APP +0 BLD +0 CRE +1 FIT +1
INF +0 KNO +1 PER -1 PSY +0 WIL +1
STR +0 HEA +1 STA 30 UD 3 AD 4

Machine Touch


Skills Skills Skills Skills
Athletics 1/+1 Drive (Motorcycle)* 2/0 Mechanical Design 1/+1 Navigation (Land) 1/+1
Computer 1/+1 Electronics 1/+1 Mechanics 2/+1 Survival 1/+1
Dodge 1/0 First Aid 1/+1 Melee 1/0 Tinker 2/+1


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APAGear II Archives Volume 1, Number 3 February, 1999