The People: Most people born in the core – educated by rational expert systems which have seen everything that more than a hundred billion kids have ever come up with, medically cared for, with any necessary biochemical or neurological corrections made in infancy, and surrounded by computer systems that protect them from harm and rationally explain almost anything they want to know – are depressingly healthy, sane, and reasonable. Those who appear to be behaving unreasonably are quietly counseled by the expert systems all around them.
Aging begins to slow around age 8, by which point children have normally become more or less fully coordinated, and relatively reasonable – and can have things explained without a concrete example to focus on. At this point they are expected to handle basic decisions with minor consequences, but anything major is subject to extensive adult supervision and computer counseling.
By Age 12 – roughly physically equivalent to a classical human of 10 – core children begin developing “formal” thinking skills, including abstract logic, a generalized system of ethical principles, the testing of hypotheses, and organized experimentation. They are presumed capable of handling a wide variety of minor decisions, to make basic decisions about career interests, and are normally consulted on parental decisions that affect them. They aren’t held responsible for much, especially if they consulted the counseling systems before making a decision – and aren’t held responsible for anything if they consulted the expert systems and followed their advice.
By age 15 they’re roughly physically equivalent to a classical human of 11, and will have an education at least equivalent to that of a 21’st century high school graduate from a very good school. Their raw mental and physical abilities will be roughly equivalent to those of a typical classical human adult (Default attributes of 10).
By age 18, roughly physically equivalent to a classical human of 12, most children will have developed interests in, and acquired training in, various fields, will be entering puberty (most will fool around with each other, if one approaches an adult, the adult is expected to be kind and gentle about it, whether they accept or reject such an advance), and may make major decisions – although extensive consultation with the expert systems is still the rule. They still enjoy a variety of legal protections if some plan of theirs goes seriously wrong.
By age 26, roughly physically equivalent to a classical human of 14, a child will have attained his or her basic potentials (average attributes for a core human are 13.5), and will usually be roughly halfway to level one (12 CP past L0).
At age 36, roughly physically equivalent to a classical human of 16, a child is now considered an adult, and is usually level one. Sadly, many humans never get much past level one. Aging will continue at about 1/6’th the classical rate until the equivalent of 18-20 is reached, at about age 60. It will not become apparent again for roughly 200-300 years, depending on genetic heritage (those with animal genegrafts may age faster) and medical care, but it will then pick up again as the bodies repair mechanisms break down. Death by old age may be expected to occur around age 450-500, but that is a purely theoretical prediction at this point: the treatments were only perfected in 2240, so the oldest recipients are 332 – and are only now beginning to approach the end of their projected “youthful” lifespans.
The Economy: Centuries of expert-system asssistance, the complete development of underground robotic fusion-driven industry, food-production, and recycling, and the methodical development of the resources of the solar system have mostly taken humans out of the basic industries. In fact, its taken humans out of almost anything “basic”.
Basic Foodstuffs – tasty, filling, and designed for optimal nourishment rather than putting up with the natural toxins, allergens, unhealthy proportions of fats, carbohydrates, minerals, and amino acids, and other problems inherent in natural – and poorly-balanced – foods, are free.
Basic Health Care – including necessary genetic corrections, mental health care, regrowth treatments, basic longevity treatments, life support (while vital organs are regrowing after injuries), automatic contraceptive implants for both sexes (these may be easily turned off after adulthood, but do mean that both prospective parents must make an advance decision to do so), and any treatment necessary for the health of a child (anyone under 30) is free.
Basic Information Technology – telecommunications, network access, virtual-reality games, public domain entertainment, language translation services, and any amount of expert-system education (as a rule, any child can be expected to have what a 21’st century individual would regard as a college degree by age 16 or so: the expert systems are very very good at both teaching and encouraging learning), are free.
Basic Housing – “mobile homes” which are essentially specialized heavy-duty Flits, capable of changing their layout, supplying force-field based furnishings, of hooking into the local utility grid, and of doing the cooking and other housework – are free.
Basic Transport – access to light flits/taxis and other parts of the public transport network – is also free.
Basic Personal Goods – civilian smartclothes, personal kits, minor ornaments, light duty effector modules, basic sensor modules, and a personal familiar, are also free.
Weapons used to be a rarity. Now, with periodic intrusions from the Manifold to deal with, they’re back in style. Still, requests for anything past the lighter personal weapons are generally cause for a consultation with the expert systems – and possibly some therapy, and they aren’t generally free.
Luxury Credits – basically money – are primarily electronic phantoms, but everyone, including children (who get a smaller one) gets a modest “allowance” – enough to cover regular minor purchases or the occasional larger one. For the economically-minded, the basis of the “currency” is essentially access to public resources: If an individual or group wants the private use of a convention center, a bunch of special supplies or equipment, or to park their house in an area of exceptional “natural” beauty for awhile, they’ll have to pay for it. Public-service jobs, including a wide variety of maintenance, technical support, and administrative tasks, as well as such highly-skilled occupations as gardening, special tutoring in highly-advanced topics (including psionics, magic, and similar abilities), scientific research, and being a social operative, are paid similarly.
Of course, people being people, floating atop this computerized benevolence, there’s a thriving freemarket capitalist economy. Artists and craftsmen sell unique works and admission – whether physical or virtual – to private performances. Businessmen broker deals and trade with the colony worlds. Athletes compete and attract fans. Expert physicians can rebuild their customers and install advanced cyberware. There are, however, several competing systems of “payment”. Everyone uses Credits to some extent, but quite a lot of people place equal, or even greater, value on things like Favors, Reputation (A.K.A. Respect and Fame), and special Privileges. Player characters can either buy these, get them as part of a package deal, or acquire them in play.