The first of an occasional series of pieces, detailing the technology of Machine God
An expensive, horribly invasive and risky implant that finally puts the ancient dream of immortality within grasp.
Implanted near the top of the spinal column, just beneath the skull, the spike deploys an advanced swarm of nanobots around an individuals brain to snapshot the mind's neural state many thousands of times a day, and record the data as a backup in the spike.
The primary use of this data is to ensure the individuals entire personality, memories and skills can be retrieved in the event of their death; in which case they can be resleeved (a term borrowed from an obscure, pre-EFE novel) in a new body, or for the very rich, an exact clone of their old one.
The spike itself amounts to a couple of cubic centimetres of diamondoid storage and is extremely difficult (but not impossible) to destroy, so is usually retrievable even if the body is badly mangled. The retrieval process is best done under surgical conditions, but can be done in the field, and involves making an incision in the back of the neck, to dig the spike out - a grisly process that will kill or at the very least paralyse a living subject.
The spike contains only the most recent backup of a persons neural state, but for the paranoid and those involved in the sort of work where retrieving the spike would be dangerous or impossible, Veritas offers the mind bank; a secure backup and storage facility, from which earlier versions of an individual can be restored in the event of the destruction of their spike - just as long as you have the right insurance package, of course.
Rumours of cheaper, alternative mind banks persist, run by various various shady open source factions, but the popular perception is that you'd have to be desperate not to trust Veritas.
With the advent of modern processors, digitally stored consciousnesses can be emulated and run, both in virtual and on robotic hardware; although in the case of a robotic body for many, this can be a traumatic experience as they struggle to acclimatise to a vastly different physical experience. That said, for some, this freedom from the human condition is enthusiastically embraced, but these individuals are generally shunned and viewed as outcasts by the rest of society.
Given that a consciousness can be stored, it follows that it can also be copied and transmitted; indeed, given the extreme distances involved, quantum entangled transmission, or farcasting as it's known, is the preferred method of travel to the furthest reaches of the solar system; where a consciousness is transmitted to a remote location to be resleeved or run in virtual on arrival.
The megacorps maintain tight control over this technology and for the most part, travel is safe and secure, although ego-napping by rogue receivers remains a popular trope in certain genres of stims.
While Veritas maintain a version tree of backups in their mind bank, the copying and forking of consciousnesses is generally frowned on, given the thorny legal, moral and psychological issues it raises.
Due to heavy memetic engineering, many find the idea of a copy of the same individual into two or more bodies morally repugnant, given the problems humanity currently faces with overpopulation and the inevitable strain this practice puts on the system.
Legally, the existence of multiple copies of the same entity is a minefield that lawyers are still trying to unpick - which just one of the many reasons why the practice is almost universally banned.