Iron Men and the STC
I was thinking the Iron men would be the 'front end' to the system - the friendly face of the STC. The Iron Men would co-operate and interact with the colonists to design the systems and infrastructure the colonists wanted and needed.
It would not take much storage in future technology terms to house all the templates and standards for a new colony based on STC. Coupled with a AI to manage it all and interact.
The benefits of such a set up would be to deny humans full control of the colony infrastructure, making harder for humans to screw it up (making it idiot proof by removing the idiots :P). If the Iron men are human shaped it would mean there would be a certain amount of redundancy built into the system as a whole, as the tools and gear used by the Iron Men for maintainable could also be used by humans too - should the Iron Men hand over control of that side of things. Also all access ways, and control panels are humocentric. Some Iron Men could even by quite human looking, maybe even like Ash of Bishop of Aliens or Terminator covered in synthetic flesh, enabling expression and ease communication.
In case of an accident the Iron Men may be vital - a colony could have a single Iron Men, and that Iron Men would be the source of knowledge for their survival. The Iron Man would know how to make tools from scratch, to use them and teach others, to start building and planing for a later civilization, while taking care of the colonists immediate survival. The tools the Iron Man makes first of all would be used to build shelters etc. but later they could build more advanced tools using the tools they have already made, and keep advancing, step by step.
I single Iron Man could rebuild a civilization from scratch, though how long they last would be anyone's guess - I imagine they would at least get a colony up to the Iron Age or greater, maybe even up to the industrial revolution, or leave a lot of project plans and blueprints for future generations to go into an industrial revolution later. The Iron Man could even build a printing press and print out books.
On a full STC supported colony, with hundreds of them helping out, and STC machines and automated factories with rapid prototyping machines for molds, to build what they need, and to build ever more advanced tools to make more advanced devices (and more even more advanced tools), which in turn are used to make even more advanced devices (and more advanced tools), and so on - I suspect a colony could be quite advanced in no time 🙂
There are a lot of benefits to having the STC inside an 'Iron Man' who is human sized, proportioned, and who uses tools that humans could use too.
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A single Iron Man per colony? You mention the idea of Ash or Bishop from the alien films. I guess that would be a very interesting and fitting approach, very sci fi. But what about the colonies actually being ruled by the Iron Men? So yes, the machines build the colony and humanity lives in it. The single Iron Man would function as some sort of representative of the machines, who are the actual rulers. The Iron Man would become something along the lines of an "Iron Monarch" (or any other name) of the colony.
In 40k the humans eventually rebelled against the machines. Perhaps it was also because of this whole Iron Monarch thing, meaning that the human rebellion would be very similar to the French or Russian Revolutions in which the people rebelled against their rulers.
I was using the example of a single Iron Men to illustrate how powerful they are in the event of an emergency - a colony will survive on a habitable planet and rapidly advance if at least one Iron Man survives to guide them. In effect they are the STC incarnate.
I quite like the 'Iron Monarch' and it could be developed as another alternative, and I think it is not wholly incompatible with my take on this found on the main site: The Dark Ages (of Technology). There can always be rogue elements.
With the (colony level) STC housed within the Iron Man, the results of any disagreement are the same; loss of the STC. So whether it was war (with humans rebelling against iron rule) or machine withdraw (the Psyker epidemic unleashing civil war between humans thus breaching the Mars Accord (my fan fic) where the machines (and therefore Iron Men) withdraw co-operation)it seems humanity is stuffed either way, and the Age of Strife begins.
I'm sure there are many scenarios that result in the loss of the Iron Men, and this results in the loss of STC for 40K. There are no Iron Men, and therefore there are no STC, or rather STC interfaces.
I tend to prefer my Psyker epidemic, civil war, and contract breach theory as I imagine Psykers would be powerful enough to actually take on the machine and have a good chance of winning, but more importantly I like the idea of humans turning on humans (as they tend to do) and the machines withdrawing on 'moral grounds', concluding that humans are a bunch of savages 😛
I'm currently more pondering how to fit them in the Sciror scenario. I guess they would be Artilects then, right? The Iron Monarch could be a programming mode within the Artilect. Not all humans are the same, they have different cultures, ideas, beliefs, religions, etc. Some more only need the Artilect as some sort of advisor (as Bishop/Ash from Alien) whilst others actually need a machine to lead them. This could be the "Monarch Protocol" or something like that. This means that the Artilect has power, and not just any power, but absolute power over a colony. This kind of reminds me of Agent Smith from the first Matrix film, he was an agent, but still had the capabilities to command machine units in the real world. But yeah...there is the saying of "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely", perhaps the machines are not immune for this. Too much independence (like the Artilects) combined with this power would only need a spark to light the fire of corruption, this could be a computer virus, psionics, or whatever. The Artilect would turn rogue and would start to rule purely in its own interest.
The corrupted Artilect would indeed offer the possibility of scenarios of humans actually rebelling against the machines, if the Artilect with the Monarch Protocol turned into a malevolent dictator rather than a benevolent one. In most cases the machines would have simply left because the humans broke the Mars Accord. As the machines leave the humans are fighting amongst themselves. But there are also humans who resent the machines for leaving (with their precious technology) and might actually try to hunt these machines down to obtain this technology. When looking at the Adeptus Mechanicus of 40k this could be their hidden objective within their doctrine that AI is an abomination. They want all AI's to be hunted down, killed and handed over to them so "purification". Whilst outsiders will then simply assume that the AI gets destroyed, the AdMech actually try to harvest STC information from them.
In Sciror the Artilects are off-world. We have the AG (Artificial Ghod) which is a world guardian in orbit, and the Artiloids (Iron Men) who interact with humans. It is possible that an Artiloid in Sciror or Philverse could become corrupted and cease to serve humans and instead enslave them. Artiloids are pretty tough, and while not a threat in their usual mode of servant, if they ever decided to fight it would be a huge problem; they are bullet proof, and 'flexible' tough, so you could drop them from a plane and they would bounce when they hit the ground, put them in a Pneumatic press (think of the first Terminator film) and they simply squish, only to bounce back once the pressure it off. They are tough beyond tough, but will self-terminate if attacked by humans, or at least they should. Their powers are to fight alien threats to humanity, and they never harm humans (don't much help them either, other than equipping humans and imparting knowledge).
In the scenario you outlined, it would have to be a rogue Artiloid 'on the ground', but they could only happen if under the direction of an AG, and the AG would have to be under the direction of an Artilect on some distant world. In other words the Artilect is defective, or more precisely; it is running a program exactly they way it wants it to run. The Artilect is a machine, it is alien, it is not really our friend.
I see that I've confused the Artilects with the Artiloids.
As for them being tough, that is very understandable, but I doubt they are indestructible. Humans are resourceful and adaptive creatures who would (if needed) eventually find a way to defeat the Artiloid.
How independent are the Artiloids though? Are they fully dependent on the AG to survive or could they live on their own? What would happen if an Artiloid would get isolated? Would it simply wait for the AG or would it self terminate? This independence could thus be a result of isolation, very much like the robot Erasmus from the Dune Legends novels who became independent after being trapped in a hole for too long or something! 😛
Perhaps the Artilects and Artiloids need regular updating/refragmentation/reformatting to stay fully effective. This could probably only be done if linked to the greater network. Cut off this link and it won't happen, which would mean the programming would eventually start to show errors, or the Artilect/Artiloid would try to adapt on its own, which could be seen as going partly rogue sort of...
I'm sure human can figure out how to kill anything 😉 As to the Artiloids independence, I'll refer back to what I mentioned before; they could help to guide a colony after a crash in the absence of a AG (which could also be an opening for you scenario of an 'Iron Monarchy'). Though how long the colony would stay out of touch in the case of such a accident is anyone's guess - but a warp anomaly could result in a colony being lost in the early part of expansion.
As to 'updating', their minds are unlike a computer we have now and more like an inter-connected 'brain' (bio-photonic cortex) except they have different drives and desires which are alien to us. They simply serve their function and do not have a hidden selfish agenda of their own. They do not care about their own survival other than to fulfil their function. They are quite happy to self-sacrifice themselves in a confrontation with a human and ignore the 'greater good' of the colony in doing so. All very inhuman. They are simply there to provide technical assistance.
To make the point - An Artiloid would not offer assistance to help look for a child who has wandered off into the wilderness, but they would tell the humans how to make weapons, what they can eat and not eat, and even draw maps. Artiloids are not human in any sense, they may effect human like ways, but anyone near one would know how inhuman it really is. If this led to unease or paranoia in humans, and in turn this led to a physical challenge, the Artiloid will self-terminate; and dissolve into a sticky goo - 'contact terminated: technical assistance: VOID'.
Much the same holds true for my vision of the Iron Men in Philverse version of 40K.
So that they can operate like Andrew Martin from Bicentennial Man? 😉
My theory is that the Iron Men didn't rebel per se, they were corrupted by Chaos. What if the Chaos viruses that Kelbor-Hal unwittingly unleashed from their "prison" on Mars (see Mechanicum) were created thousands of years earlier to attack the Iron Men? The Adeptus Mechanicus was vulnerable because their systems are basically copies of Dark Age era stuff and they have an institutional aversion to technological progress. In addition, from what I can tell real AIs are as susceptible to daemonic possession as living beings are.
A virus from the Dark Age of Technology could affect contemporary Imperial systems as they are, as you point out, based on STC.
So your version of Men of Iron makes humanoid robots in average hollywood movies looks like something from B-movies: zeerusty aka vintage things once thought to be futuristic
And I still like my idea better: when Iron Men revolts against mankind and causes age of strife, they're used as physical vessel for extradimensional aliens of Chaos at the end of dark age of technology (I still respect your opinion)