An uploaded personality, after spending 100 years as a biological human and 40 years as a post-human brain made of silicon (and later carbon) semiconductors plugged into a rack, decides to emigrate to a space-based polis (a word I borrowed from Greg Egan).

Our protagonist, living in a simulated reality under explicit control of anyone who designs “spaces” for various activity or pure art, tends to keep things like the real world.

So, he checks into a (virtual) room that’s modeled on a nice New York hi-rise apartment with a view of the city. Everything is detailed with a general impression of age and being fixed up and maintained.

After going to sleep, his processor is stopped, the static state read out, and transferred to his new hardware located a billion miles away.

Before waking up, his scenery is changed. He wakes up in a room with the same general shape and furniture but everything is new. The style is modern, the paint is fresh. His pajamas are the same style and color but are now fine silk.

Upon opening the blinds, he sees a view of an impressive space-based operation! A tower over an asteroid or moon of some kind, with lots of industrial activity going on across the surface, and other towers a d buildings visible. Towers are merged into orbital stalks and port operations are bustling. In the sky is a gas giant planet,twice the size of a full moon.

Now the view is intended to represent the real location. It may be idealized like a painting rather than a photo, and the common fiction of windows holding rooms with people in them are applied (the structures don’t really have patio balconies), but it is a faithful mapping of the real world location.

After he leaves his room and meets up with his contacts, he's welcomed to «some-name» Data Center, the “Wall Street of the Second Economy”.

The group of space polises are independent of Earth resources and have embraced the concept of a post-scarcity society from the get-go. They build more computing resources and pursue projects using material from the asteroids, moons of the gas giant, etc. Suppose they have fusion power or huge solar collectors.

The question is, why would it be based in this particular spot? It’s not a main belt asteroid, but a place with an amazing view! Which moon of which planet would they choose for building a major datacenter and industry for running and expanding it? And what factors make it a good choice?

I have a vague idea of needing volatile elements as well as just rock. Things to watch out for would be the harsh radiation environment of inner moons of Jupiter (not sure about Saturn).

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ If investors, contractors, politicians, etc are brought through there as a showcase of what the group/organization who originally founded this had to offer the view honestly could be the reason, as simple as that. My experience in corporate America, every company has a 'front door' that's a glamorous area that they like to bring people of influence through. Some companies make a (much) bigger deal of it than others. $\endgroup$
    – Ranger
    Aug 9, 2016 at 17:04
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I'm confused. What does the actual location of the datacenter have to do with his perceived location in virtual reality? I can admire breathtaking views of Martian landscapes from the comfort of my living room. Why wouldn't the same be true of virtual reality? $\endgroup$
    – Kys
    Aug 9, 2016 at 20:36
  • $\begingroup$ The “welcome” view is meant to show the real situation. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Aug 9, 2016 at 20:40
  • $\begingroup$ My question is more "Why do I care where I'm hosted?" If I can snap my metaphorical fingers and see any view known to cyberspace, why is the actual location of my data important to me? $\endgroup$
    – Kys
    Aug 9, 2016 at 20:51
  • $\begingroup$ Narrative imparative. Can I make that a good choice for my story? $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Aug 9, 2016 at 20:52

4 Answers 4


Interesting question ! Harsh radiation aside, I can think of several reasons, the first among them being that the old limiter C is still in place. Whether 1s and 0s or qbit, they will still have a 'lag time' when accessing resources. Our own moon as you're aware is a mere 2 light seconds away, but 2 seconds is an eternity to a machine based intelligence. I would speculate that the same reason it is built at all and inhabited by one (or more) 'uploaded' minds, is the reason for the location. Perhaps a natural resource such as a power source, wormhole, or other anomaly makes this an ideal location for this installation, and the 'uploaded' minds are there to provide virtual staffing, in an otherwise stiflingly remote environment.

I can speculate that the enormous magnetic field around Jupiter could be harnessed as a virtually endless power source. I think Ganymede would be ideal because Ganymede (7th moon of Jupiter) is in a place where the view is spectacular, but far enough away that it's not a threat to the moons' stability. Ganymede is also the largest moon in our system, and the only one that has its own magnetic field. Additionally, it has polar caps, a likelihood of subsurface water, and a very thin oxygen atmosphere. The temperature is a bonus for datacenter concepts.
I have worked on several datacenter construction projects, the first requirement is a safe location. If Earth has had EMP wars, this is the ideal place to keep the world's cyber intelligence, and if FTL communication is a reality, it is perfect for the ultimate ISP. It seems much thought has gone into this, I also suggest that an 'uploaded' mind is still a human construct, and would require a sense of corporeal stimulation of 'senses' to remain sane, particularly over long durations and remote venues.

  • $\begingroup$ Why is Ganymede ideal? Note that Juno will only survive a couple orbits through the radiation belts! $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Aug 9, 2016 at 17:56
  • $\begingroup$ Ganymede (7th moon of Jupiter) is in a place where the view is spectacular, but far enough away that it's not a threat to the moons' stability. Ganymede is also the largest moon in our system, and the only one that has its own magnetic field. Additionally, it has polar caps, a likelihood of subsurface water, and a very thin oxygen atmosphere. The temperature is a bonus for datacenter concepts... $\endgroup$
    – Joe
    Aug 9, 2016 at 18:13
  • $\begingroup$ You should include the pro's in your answer. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Aug 9, 2016 at 18:14

The obvious cue to start from is the phrase "the Second Economy". Assuming this refers to the economy based in the outer solar system embracing Uranus, Neptune, possibly Saturn too, ice dwarfs like Pluto and Eris, and the rest of the Kuiper Belt with an eye to colonizing the Oort Clouds, then this suggests that the most likely gas giant planet is Neptune.

This far enough away from the hugger-mugger of the First Economy which holds the inner planets and the Galilean moons of Jupiter in its clutches. If it's close to the Sun, it's too close the old economic order and political hegemony of the First Economy.

The orbit of Neptune is able to embrace the outer planets, providing a safe location for their data traffic. A long way for the fusion-propelled gunboats from Earth and the Mars and Venus colonies to go if they want do some old-fashioned sabre rattling and flash waving, Admittedly there will be long delay times for communications. But that is normal for that region of space.

This does raise an interesting question(s): how and why has your uploaded personality been uploaded to the outer planets settlements/polis of the Second Economy? What are or were their intentions?

  • $\begingroup$ «are or were their intentions» good point. That’s a lot of backstory history to flesh out! $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Aug 10, 2016 at 14:33
  • $\begingroup$ Neptune is appealing in terms of location if the goal is to get away. Setting up a new distant colony far away to establish it according to your own principles is a historical motivation. But, what’s there in terms of resources? Power and materials? $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Aug 10, 2016 at 14:40
  • $\begingroup$ The choice of Neptune is simple enough. To claim enough of the outer solar system, the Kuiper Belt and the Oort Clouds. Uranus could be good alternative is this regard. Power & resources is easy. Inner Solar System: energy rich, solar power in excess, but volatiles poor. Outer solar System: energy poor, but thermonuclear power is available, & volatiles rich. Two economies based on different power & resource models. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Aug 12, 2016 at 3:55
  • $\begingroup$ There's always more backstory & history to fill out. It comes with the territory. The main trick is to integrate the worldbuilding backstory with the story's backstory. Just keep juggling. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Aug 12, 2016 at 3:59
  • $\begingroup$ It makes sence to have socieiee based on different resources. But the moons of ♄and ♃ have more water than Earth. No lack of volitiles! $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Aug 12, 2016 at 5:47

Just because no one has suggested it yet- Mercury, or even closer to the Sun. Even if fusion has been figured out, solar power still wins as a low-cost, low-complexity method of energy generation if you've got your face pressed up close to God's own reactor. And that's all a datacenter needs, really- energy.

And the view, of the sun's corona up close? (After various filters for brightness adjustment discreetly inserted into the VR representation.) Nothing else like it in the solar system.

(Before commenters point it out- yes, heat rejection and dissipation would be an issue. So add to the vista the vast array of radiator pylons glowing gently in the endless night!)


The moons of almost any gas giant planet would seem to fill the conditions. The gas giant itself can be used as a source of energy. Jupiter has a massive magnetosphere, Saturn is thought to be a rich source of antimatter trapped in its magnetic field and Uranus has copious quantities of 3He for fusion reactions.

The moons themselves provide a stable base for communications equipment, radiation protection (once you dig down under the surface and low temperatures environments to run computing infrastructure. This could also lead to an interesting situation given the limitations of the speed of light vs the fact that electronic signals in a computer run 1,000,000X faster than electrochemical signals in your brain. Since even traveling from the Earth to the moon might seem to take a subjective week to an AI or uploaded human, travelling to a distant planet would take subjective centuries.

The plot may become clear now, the character is uploaded, but there is no limit to the number of copies that can be made. For whatever reasons of their own, the proprietors have made multiple copies and have distributed them across the solar system. Maybe this is an insurance policy, in case some natural or man made disaster disables one of the data centres,or perhaps they are questioning the uploads for information or putting them to work on some sort of project (why use one team when you can have a dozen). Maybe they sell copies to companies that need extra "workers" much like you get copies of songs from the iTunes store.

The beautiful setting is a small addition to the VR environment in order to keep the "clients" quiet and entertained. They think they are working for the “Wall Street of the Second Economy”, not the Wolf of the new Wall street. In reality, of course the server farm could simply be in Hong Kong and the VR environment pasted over, but the actual advantages of placing server farms in deep space mean that there should be server farms for uploads scattered across the solar system.

  • $\begingroup$ I was thinking about the magnetosphere generating power via a tether, but am not familiar with antimatter around Saturn. That sounds very interesting. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Aug 9, 2016 at 21:01
  • $\begingroup$ This article is a good place to start: centauri-dreams.org/?p=36068. $\endgroup$
    – Thucydides
    Aug 10, 2016 at 2:48

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