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Key Information

In this universe biomechanical augmentation (similar to Deus Ex 1) has become singular. While they still have a ceiling in terms of upgradability, manufacturing grade (civilian, military, etc.), and legality between planets and empires, 100% mechanical or biological augmentation is a thing of the past and now obsolete.

With self-replicating nanomachines that infect entire organ groups, hosts are provided with powerful changes depending on their choice of augmentation (there is no way to ‘stack’ augs that require the same organ group without removing the original aug, attempting it can lead to death) through the production of delicately engineered RNA and DNA independent of the host cells as plasmids.

These augs are activated at the user’s convenience, but their length of usage is dependent on aug type, grade, aug upgrades, access to aug-compatible energy sources, and whether or not they have power recyclers. The host energy pool is always shared and must be managed carefully (especially in military models/types); this is impossible to change.

It is ill-advised to rely completely on these augs, however, in combat situations. Aug-enhanced skin capable of shrugging off rifle rounds and protecting against most physical trauma is great; thinking you’re invincible or now capable of surviving a round from a gunship’s chaingun is suicide.

Assumptions:

  1. EMP is decently effective, but the restrictions to delivery systems (only in grenades or warheads of missiles) can make its usage troublesome.
  2. Overt violence that doesn’t target the augmentations themselves or the host through said augs is too general to answer the question. It may be true, but it’s hardly “future” if you get my meaning?
  3. Their purpose is imposing and very speculative, but keep in mind that (for technical answers) they are still machines at the end of the day. Assume they have few, if any, protections due to their size and out of necessity for their function/acceptance by the body.

So, core question:

In what ways can these augs be countered on a technical or biological level?

sponsored by Senator Armstrong

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    $\begingroup$ Fire. And lots of it. $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Mar 2 '20 at 4:50
  • $\begingroup$ Excellent, nanoscale fire $\endgroup$
    – Millennium
    Mar 2 '20 at 4:51
  • $\begingroup$ What’s Deus Ex 1? $\endgroup$
    – EDL
    Mar 2 '20 at 5:25
  • $\begingroup$ @EDL The original Deus Ex game in the series, very influential and great game. Recommend you play it modded tho, if you want it to look prettier $\endgroup$
    – Millennium
    Mar 2 '20 at 5:30
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    $\begingroup$ I'm Raiden, and I disapprove of this message. $\endgroup$ Mar 2 '20 at 9:00
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If you apply a science based approach, any damage a nano bot receives has to be mitigated properly or it risks destroying it completely. In combination with this, the nanobots need to receive some type of resource in order to be able to recreate destroyed nanobots and restore its functionality.

So in a realistic scenario, if you were to take constant bullet fire from a rifle, your nano bots would need to constantly pull and transport a huge amount of material to be able to successfully negate the damage, repair any damage and then replicate and destroyed nano bots. A movie adaptation where the nano bots are simply scattered and can gather back together is simply not realistic. It would be close to the Iron man vs Thanos scene where his Nano bot armor is slowly depleted as the nano bots are scattered/destroyed. Eventually under heavy sustained fire, the nano bots will be unable to replenish in time and you will suffer real injuries (its a good game mechanic).

However if the above realism isn't suitable, there are still a variety of solutions

  1. Fire. Igniting rounds, flame throwers and anything with extreme heat will quickly destroy any number of nano bots. Heat propagates through materials very easily so your nanobots don't have an effective defense mechanism against a stream of oil or molten liquid other than creating a physical barrier and sacrificing themselves.

  2. Electricity. Nano bots are often powered by electricity of a magical nature and usually there is some thing on the body which relies on metal or electricity. Electrically charged rounds or tasers could be used to disable the nano machines or cause them to operate weirdly. Electricity already causes muscle impulses and clenching so this combined with a body made of 90% water would quickly allow electrical attacks to propagate through the entire body and fry it.

  3. Magnets. Magnets are always fun. They can mess up anything with magnetic materials or powered with electricity. With a powerful enough magnet, you get an EMP which will fry any electrical components (especially smaller ones). This doesn't even need to be a full EMP style weapon. Just carry some neodymium magnets and throw them. That stuff is insanely strong and should cause enough nano bot malfunctions to kill the target before they can recover

  4. Viruses. If these nanobots are small enough, it should be simple enough to either introduce a particle, virus, nano particle that causes the bodies own immune system to attack it. The human immune system is extremely powerful and should attack foreign bodies inside it. This includes the nano bots (so your augs should be taking some serum to counteract this), so some chemical attack of a generic sci-fi description should be enough for you to handle this.

  5. Hacking. Lots of people build nano bots and want some way to control them. This allows them to control the host which the nano bots reside in and reminds me of an upcoming Vin Diesel movie. Simply hack the control channel and you can disable the nano bots or even the person themselves.

  6. Acceleration. Good old acceleration. Move something quick enough and it will just die. This happens at high G's and you can often experience the early stages as Black outs or Red outs. If you move someone quick enough that the blood flows out, you can lower the number of effective nano bots in that area which may make it vulnerable to damage/attack. This essentially means you need to chain attacks together which cause the opponent to be flung around very quickly and then hit them while they are vulnerable and still in motion.

  7. Acid/Poison/Basic solutions. These chemicals will react with anything they get into contact with including the nanobots. It will chew through the body, cause chemical changes and in general be extremely painful. While it might be cool to think that a nanobot can grab the acid molecule and throw it out, the reality is the nanobot will merge with the acid molecule and be destroyed. This isn't limited to just a liquid form. Poisonous gases are a highly effective and dangerous weapon after all and with the proper technology, it can be controlled at a very fine level.

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  • $\begingroup$ Excellent post! Very insightful, thank you. On the reality of nanite-based regeneration it does work like that in some sense. But, since the machines simply produce the genetic material required for superhuman actions, the DNA and RNA a regen aug would produce would direct structural repair to organs and the like. This is an over time process, obviously, but the nanites themselves don’t act like Iron Man’s armor $\endgroup$
    – Millennium
    Mar 2 '20 at 5:51
  • $\begingroup$ And as for viruses, the nanomachines themselves act like plasmids in regular biology. They progressively infect and take over the cells of organs themselves for A) Replication and B) Independent DNA/RNA production. Since they are in effect already like viruses, I’d assume they’d use virus-like delivery systems and plasmid-like survival systems $\endgroup$
    – Millennium
    Mar 2 '20 at 6:09
  • $\begingroup$ And yeah, even far into the future I can’t see sub-dermal armor getting far enough to block bullets at all. Perhaps tiny structures that can at most reinforce the skin and lessen the damage received and allow you to keep moving, but definitely not invulnerable. No reason to use nanomachines for that when regular armor would be just fine tho, lol $\endgroup$
    – Millennium
    Mar 2 '20 at 6:23
  • $\begingroup$ And researching the magnet thing, them destroying any electronic component is, even if they’re very powerful, untrue. What they do damage is magnetic storage (hard drives, credit card strips, anything with a magnetic ferrite coating with patterns for data). To disrupt energy storage electronics, it would have to be a really big magnet. At most it would maybe cause weird behavior due to voltage interference and moved around enough in proximity. In short, it would only damage things that require unperturbed mag fields. EMP is far different. $\endgroup$
    – Millennium
    Mar 2 '20 at 6:55
  • $\begingroup$ For electricity, it’s certainly something to consider countermeasures for. I would assume that biodegradable/biocompatible, heat and electricity absorbent polymer capacitors (likely something like polyanilene) would be a potential below-skin aug-produced shield that can reduce (not eliminate) damage from electricity and even fire. But, with regeneration also requiring the skin, it would have to be one or the other. However, high voltages would matter fairly little on nanoscale. Since they would inhabit cells, an robust insulator already considering how people can survive lightning strikes 1/2 $\endgroup$
    – Millennium
    Mar 2 '20 at 7:40
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They use nanomachines and specialy modified RNA/DNA.

You're talking about technology way beyond what we have, so the answer is, largely, it's up to you. We don't have any way of dealing with that with modern or even really speculative technology, since what you're dealing with is pretty close to the far end of what we consider speculative.

On the other hand, said nanomachines and modified RNA/DNA logically can be used as a type of engineered plague. Give it the DNA of the singular host you want to affect and it should only affect that person. But that's largely up to how you use such technologies in your world, so it's really hard to nail that one down.

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  • $\begingroup$ I figured that the technical details I provided would be narrowing enough to still be thought of speculatively, regardless of the function of said machines given how “simple” it is relative to their restrictions $\endgroup$
    – Millennium
    Mar 2 '20 at 4:33
  • $\begingroup$ If it helps at all on the technical side, they’re only electromechanical machines working in tandem at the end of the day. Their purpose may be imposing, but their nature is not (in my opinion) $\endgroup$
    – Millennium
    Mar 2 '20 at 4:42
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If EMP is allowed, then it's easy. Couple an explosively pumped flux compression generator with a vircator and you decouple the explosion from the EMP generation.

Might be still unpleasant at the energy levels implied, though, but pulses in excess of 900Tesla (PDF warning) can be obtained in lab conditions.

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  • $\begingroup$ I’d only be concerned about the range on such devices and how large the generated beam is on the vircator. Assuming miniaturization still happens, I can only see them being used in tandem with automated security systems like turrets or bots armed with conventional weapons. And like stated, EMP works but is only “decently effective” at most (drains energy pool and likely some machines (but survivors can still manufacture themselves) which reduces time of everything unless restored). Still, very interesting! $\endgroup$
    – Millennium
    Mar 2 '20 at 5:29
  • $\begingroup$ I’d say that the key usage of EMP would lie in disrupting stored power and disruption of activated augs, which can be far worse in the long run than trying to fry the tiny machines throughout the cells of the body $\endgroup$
    – Millennium
    Mar 2 '20 at 5:42
  • $\begingroup$ @Millennium The vircator is only used to generate the high power EMP pulse, usually in the microwave frequencies - you'll need an antenna to form your beam. horn antennas - directional and with little losses. Combination of horn antennas (more precisely feed horns ) and a parabolic one aren't uncommon $\endgroup$ Mar 2 '20 at 5:52
  • $\begingroup$ Ah I see, my bad. Still, range is a concern unless they have far great range than I’m assuming they do when miniaturized $\endgroup$
    – Millennium
    Mar 2 '20 at 5:54

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