Being a Navigator is a natural human ability, linked to the latent psionic power of the 'sixth-sense'. This is important to the Machines' Empire plans, as they lack this ability. While a machine can drop a ship into the 'Warp' and move around in the Warp, they cannot see the Warp. The Machines are utterly blind warp-side. This is where humans come into the equation;
- A regular human is given a mind-link jack to become a Navigator.
- The Navigator is hooked into the machine sensorium network (which hard links to the human mind, not the Warp) to become the ship's Navigator.
- The Machine fires up the warp-drive and drops the ship into the Warp.
- The Navigator then visualises where they want to go.
- The Machines immediately takes the ship out of the Warp.
- The ship has travelled to the visualised destination.
We humans cannot see the Warp either! (don't tell the Machines 😉 ) Nevertheless, our ability to visualise, to recognise and conceptualise, alters the field of the warp-drive. We can look at the stars and jump thousands of light-years in an instant, then have another look around, and jump again. They can keep doing this until they are billions of light-years away in a matter of minutes. All the places we visit, and remember, we can jump to directly. So on the first run, it could make a 1,000 jumps to get to our destination and end up at a colony site. Once we are familiar with the site, we can jump straight back to Earth in one jump, and then jump back to the colony site in one go.
Not all humans are good at this. Some have better sixth-sense abilities than others. The trait seems to be genetic, but it also seems to be affected by the environment, and different genetics yield the same trait in different environments. This is why the machines build so many different worlds for humans to habitate. [that is not a word! Yet] The machines are trying to find a perfect blend of genetics and environment to yield consistent Navigators — quality control.
Edit: The Machines cannot influence the field of the warp-drive because their minds are made with bio-photonics. They crystalline structures, the part that actually does the thinking, is 'dead'. Therefore the conceptualisation is made with a 'dead' mind, a mind without life has no psionics. The bio-wrapper that builds the crystal structures has no sentient mind, and does not do the thinking of the Artilects.
Edit: An Artliects mind cannot influence the field of the warp-drive because their minds are made with bio-photonics. The crystalline structures, the part that actually does the thinking, is 'dead'. Therefore the conceptualisation is made with a 'dead' mind; a mind without life has no psionics. It's the psionic part of the conceptualisation that makes it work. The bio-wrapper that builds the crystal structures has no conscious mind and plays no part in the thinking of the Artilects. While the bio-warpper has a psionic imprint, it is 'mindless' and full of hunger and rage. As a result, the Machines cannot be Navigators.
On a broader meta sense, the consciousness of an Artilect may have a limited psionic imprint, drowned out by the bio-wrapper. The issue for the Artilects when designing ships and working out efficiency, is that Artilects are the size of worlds while humans are tiny in comparison. Humans are a much better fit to navigate ships.
Hearing feedback is very important to me in developing my ideas. Much of my designs are inspired, and crafted, by chatting to fans on forums before snowballing into a full concept you'll find here. I would like to thank all those who have contributed critiques and participated in discussions over the years, and I would especially like to thank all those who commented on this specific topic. If you would like join in, you are most welcome!
To support my work: Connect