Technology of the Firmament
The technology of the Firmament is advanced by 21st century standards, but still has a lot of limitations. It’s also very limited outside of the core Foundation worlds. Some examples of the kind of technology available include:
- Large fusion generators; the size of a small building, or miniaturised versions small enough to fit into a starship. They are powered by Helium-3, which is most commonly harvested from gas giants.
- Costly but feasible creation of starships that can reach significant percentages of the speed of light.
- Costly metadimensional technology, including the spike drive and stealth system. Not cheap enough to enable interstellar trade of anything but exotic goods. Bottlenecked by rare elements.
- Antigravity technology, most commonly found as a bulky module in starships and space stations. Also used to make vehicles hover, but can only make very light things fly.
- Robots and complex machinery, including heavily automated processing plants and factories.
- Advanced computing technology, including expert and autonomous systems - but not true AI. The datapad in your pocket is as powerful as a cutting-edge 21st century computer. The terminal on your desk is a supercomputer.
- Clunky and obvious cybernetic prosthetics, like limbs or eyes. A wide variety of cyberware and bioware, though the brain is still largely off-limits.
- Brain-computer interfaces, usually using electrodes. Sensory recordings and full immersion into VR environments is feasible, but “skill chips” and technology to modify or copy the human brain is not.
- Hypersleep technology, requiring costly gases but making it possible to enter suspended animation for centuries.
- Limited organ, limb and tissue cloning. Also, limited genetic manipulation of human and alien life - though usually with difficult-to-predict side effects.
- Longevity treatments exist, but dementia is inevitable. Few people remain mentally healthy for more than 200 years, and most die before 300 even with the treatments.
- Force field technology, which is very expensive and almost as power-hungry as a starship. Requires bulky projectors the size of a small building.
- Laser weaponry, which is expensive but feasible as a high-end alternative to kinetic weapons.
- Limited terraforming, mostly using fusion-powered machines to slowly alter a planet’s atmosphere over the course of several decades.