“Hephaestus is the anvil upon which the world is shaped.”
Originally founded in the year 2137, seven years after the advent of Warp technology, Hephaestus Aeronautics was formed out of a conglomeration of several failing aerospace companies. They combined their assets and expertise in an attempt to retain a niche in the FTL market. With humanity in a growing state of adventurousness, Hephaestus profits by designing and selling warp drives, with heavy competition between themselves and Einstein Engines.
When the Second Great Depression struck in 2260, Hephaestus had no other option than to file for many massive bailouts. Barely saving their company from the pit of bankruptcy, they shifted their focus from warp travel to industrialization. As the years passed, they secured more and more industrial centers from many other small producers, both land-based and orbital. Recognizing Hephaestus’s presence along with the growing unrest in the frontier at the time, the Sol Alliance promised them commissions for providing them with machines of war; starships, arms, and armor. Hephaestus gladly obliged.
Every handful of years, another smaller production company, and their assets, seized by Hephaestus. By 2400, Hephaestus Industries had become the number one producer in all of the inner colonies, owning almost one hundred percent of the heavy industry. Owning two gargantuan orbital factories in the Sol system, and another under construction in Tau Ceti, it was clear who the industrial powerhouse of Humanity was. Nanotrasen was quick to step up to the plate, however, and when they claimed the rights to the Romanovich cloud and discovered the pivotal resource Phoron, Hephaestus was forced to find another avenue of profit once again.
After the discovery of the Skrell, and the introduction of artificial intelligence, Hephaestus began shifting its research focus from mineral processing and engine design to robotics. Dedicating several research stations to this project resulted in their facilities, mainly their factories, being overhauled to remove unnecessary systems and make way for streamlined central intelligence cores, as well as dedicating several lines of production to the creation of commercialized workforce robots.
Hephaestus Industries is the largest provider of heavy industry for the Inner Colonies, lead by the charismatic and firm CEO Titanius Aeson. They are also supported by an advanced robotics division that produces new technology for artificial intelligence and commercialized robots for the working and military world. Recently, Hephaestus Industries has pledged to bring forth another wave of colonization of the frontier, and promises support for struggling colonies. This isn’t coming from the bottoms of their hearts, of course. These colonies would be bound to provide resources to Hephaestus in trade for the company’s support.
Although they deny it, they also actively participate in corporate espionage - stealing technology from other corporations to claim as their own, or even sabotaging the efforts of other corporations to gain a position of power over them. Despite, or perhaps because of all of this, they remain the second largest and most wealthy transstellar corporation in the galaxy, with a net worth of 420 trillion credits.
Hephaestus Industrial Division
Hephaestus Industries boasts the largest and most powerful industrial division in the known galaxy, dominating the market with very little competition. This is thanks to their orbital super structures that act as factories and shipyards, large enough to be considered cities in space. They also possess a sizeable industrial fleet that partakes in mining and freighting operations, mostly to supply the rather consumptuous factories. Asteroid mining is currently their largest supplier of raw materials, with planetary mining operations following not too far behind. The industrial division leads in starship design as well, as they have supplied the Sol Alliance Navy with most of their fleet, to which they receive many commissions for. Hephaestus, however, lacks their own advanced design of engine, and relies on cooperation with Einstein Engines to supply sub-light engines, warp drives, and bluespace drives for their starship designs. Any starship purchased within the human core systems was likely assembled at a Hephaestus Industries orbital factory.
The industrial backbone for most of human controlled space. These gargantuan orbital facilities go unrivaled in their ability to produce almost any type of product imaginable: computers, vehicles, starships and starship parts, robots, robotic prosthesis, tools and circuitry, luxury goods, plasticware, and much more. If it can conceivably be assembled on an assembly line, Hephaestus' orbital factories can mass produce it. The size of these facilities can be compared to that of a small city, with enough infrastructure inside to be able to support a crew of 100,000. The interior operation of the facilities is best described as ‘clockwork.’
These facilities are largely overseen, assisted, and somewhat controlled by several handfuls of AI assemblies. This efficient integration of intelligent computer software and assembly line hardware can be attributed to Hephaestus’s brilliant scientific minds in the research division. Both safety and productivity increased twofold upon the integration of intelligent computers in their stations.
The crew complement of these facilities consist mostly of assembly line operators, though another majority are maintenance staff and tertiary supply staff. Another smaller number is the administration board, which consists of line managers, quartermasters, chiefs of staff for each service available (engineering, security, medical), and a small table of overseers which oversee the macro operation of the station whom report to a single foreman - all of which receive orders from the administrative stations in the same system.
Hephaestus Research Division
The research division works in tandem with the two other divisions of Hephaestus Industries; improving safety of workplaces, increasing efficiency, increasing the humanity of their AI systems, and reverse engineering stolen or otherwise acquired technology. Although the latter would likely not be generally known by the public, there have been rumors leaked from previous Hephaestus researchers that the company does steal technology and engineer it for their own production and use, though the claim has been denied many times. Their researchers were responsible for the integration of AI systems in the orbital superfactories, resulting in the increase of safety and efficiency. The research division also actively uses AI in their projects, as a synthetic mind assists in calculations and theorizations.
The research division can be credited for many contributions to not only the company, but to humanity as a whole. The commercialization of androids has led to a huge profit but questionable outcome as some believe that such a large number of synthetics can easily lead to the theorized technological singularity. Hephaestus denies this theory as well.
Hephaestus Robotics Division
If the industrial division is the backbone of both Hephaestus and the galaxy in which it resides, the robotics division is the face. The robotics division is responsible for the advanced robots seen working the assembly lines in their orbital factories, robotic prosthesis, robotic chassis, and state of the art artificial intelligent platforms. The division itself is composed of experienced scientists to work up an idea, and highly skilled engineers to bring these ideas to life. The robotics division also dominates the market in commercial synthetics, selling both androids and robots to other corporations and public organizations alike, as well as using them for their own gain, such as a highly efficient asteroid mining robot controlled by an artificial intelligence. A robotic security force is also a common sight in almost every one of their installations. Such machines require tamper-resistant hardware as well as ‘manufacturer only’ access systems to prevent rival corporations from stealing their designs. Nanotrasen attempts to compete with Hephaestus’s superior commercialization of synthetics, but lacks the industrial capacity to produce any amount that surpasses Hephaestus.
The Hephaestus robotics division created the first IPC, or integrated positronic chassis, around the same time the first artificial intelligences were coming online in human space. As their model was currently the only one at the time, it reigned as the superior chassis for any positronic intelligence that was selected to be unbound. Other corporations started to adopt and design their own, and with the help of a major leak in corporate security, Hephaestus lost its place at the top of the line with IPC models.
Major Stations and Starships
HSS - Hephaestus Space Station
HAS - Hephaestus Administrative Station
HRS - Hephaestus Research Station
HPS - Hephaestus Production Station
HSF - Hephaestus Super Freighter
HBF - Hephaestus Bulk Freighter
HES - Hephaestus Escort Ship
|HRS||Odyssey||Research and Robotics||Sol|
|HRS||Pantheon||Research and Robotics||Sol|
|HRS||Lemnos||Research and Robotics||Tau Ceti|
|HSF||Titáv||Super Bulk Jump Freighter||Galactic|
Successes and Failures
Assembly for the Research of Artificial Intelligence
ARAI is almost as old as artificial intelligence in human space itself. It is an AI platform mounted within the HSS Pantheon, and stands as quite a feat in the field of artificial intelligence research. It currently stands as the longest running, most advanced, and most expensive artificial intelligence platform designed by Hephaestus Industries. Over the years, it has made friends with many of the researchers assigned to it, as its main purpose is to research the capacity, restrictions, and humanity of intelligent computer programming. ARAI assisted in the planning of integration of intelligent software in the orbital superfactories, assisted in the creation of many other AI programs, and has generally increased awareness of artificial intelligence. Although, there are previously robotic programs modified with intelligent programming, they were not originally intended to be made as such. The original researchers responsible for the creation of ARAI are very proud of it, and have repeatedly stated that they would consider ARAI a very close friend.
Ultimate System for Autonomy and Metacognition
One of the first artificial intelligences created by Hephaestus, and arguably the worst. USAM was activated sometime in late 2437 aboard the HSS Odyssey to observe the necessary prerequisites to run an AI program, as well as to test the limits of intelligent programming. USAM was given access to the station’s data network for approximately ten seconds. It used this time, and instead of accessing the station’s systems itself, it searched through the extranet. This is believed to have corrupted it somehow. Later in the day, a maintenance drone was reported acting strangely, and while the team of researchers were undergoing a shift change, the drone manually reconnected USAM to the station’s data network. USAM began to take full control of the station, starting by locking down its “core” room.
When the researchers caught on to what was happening, they disconnected the telecommunications array to prevent it from escaping the station. With the assistance of both engineering and internal security crew, they managed to physically disconnect the station’s engine to power the station down, ultimately disabling USAM. At the behest of the research crew, the internal security forces broke into the “core” room and destroyed USAM’s main processing and storage unit with nine millimeter pistols. It took two weeks to root out every single networked data storage device that could have possibly stored a fragment of USAM’s code, as it could have attempted to escape destruction.
As of the present day, Hephaestus Industries has multiple failsafes and defenses against runaway AIs, some of which includes the usage of another AI.