Project Torchwood started as an emergency fighter pilot program, designed to take over the control of a fighter craft should the pilot become disabled for any reason. Headed by Rear Admiral Corey Waterhouse, Captain Diziara, and Lieutenant Commander Quentin Calhoun, it soon developed into a more comprehensive program to create fully functional holographic members of the crew, intended to integrate into fighter squadrons and share piloting duties with flesh and blood crew.
As a part of this project, a new class of fighter craft has been developed with holographic pilots needs considered from the start of the design, and older fighter craft have been retrofitted to accept these new pilots. Careful measures have been taken to secure the programs of the pilots, giving them near complete control of access to their programming with only limited ability to override this control for emergency purposes.
Each pilot features an AI at its core, and when generated their personality traits are initially selected using a complex random variable generator engine, creating a unique individual each time. In addition to the needed piloting skills, they’re provided with a mix of pre-programmed knowledge and hands on training courses to ensure they are capable of their intended duties.
The name Torchwood was taken from the title of an old Earth TV show. The show was a spin off from Doctor Who, and the title is an anagram of its parent show. The reason Corey and Diziara selected to use this title for the project is that the Adam and Eve holograms were given the physical appearance of two of the characters from Torchwood and Doctor Who: John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness was the project's Adam hologram - call sign K-9, and Billie Piper as Rose Tyler is the project's Eve - call sign Bad Wolf.
- 2412 - Project originated as Emergency Pilot Hologram, building off the EMH programs and research originated by Dr. Zimmerman and expanded as a result of the extended run time of the EMH mark I during Voyager's unexpected journey through the Delta Quadrant.
- March 2412 - First two holograms are generated, officially named Adam and Eve upon creation, but both prefer to answer to their call signs: K-9 and Bad Wolf.
- 2414 - As a result of the success with individual personality creation, the team advocates for the expansion of the program to extend beyond just emergency deployment. Initial petition is denied.
- 2415 - Expansion of the program to research potential for active duty crew assignment.
- May 2415-2416 - First Torchwood hologram is deployed in the field: K-9 is assigned to USS Enterprise. One year long tour as helms person is successfully completed before return to the project's home base for evaluation.
- July 2416 - Additional holograms deployed in the field, including first hologram without primary speciality in flight: Drayok Fenlux. All holograms newly deployed are given the rank of Ensign. Length of assignments are not pre-determined, and will depend upon performance of each individual in their assignment.
As summarized above, the holograms are designed to be fully autonomous once initiated. Their personality matrix is generated using complex random variable generator engine, yielding a unique personality for each that is then driven by an AI. Each is initially programmed with a unique humanoid bipedal appearance, ranging the various species within the Federation. Pre-programmed skills and knowledges are combined with a condensed series of classroom based courses to flesh out their ability to function and learn within greater society and verify they can perform the functions they were created for.
Their programs are fully encrypted to prevent tampering, and only they, the Project Torchwood team leads, and the CO of the ship/base they're assigned to have the authority to grant access to their programs to change them. Any access not directly authorized by the hologram themself is logged. They have been given a set of tools to allow them to load physical changes from nearly any source after they've been run through a code hygiene verification progress, as well as compose their own physical appearance patterns. Though most elect to maintain a humanoid appearance on duty and often keep the initial appearance they are given upon generation, during recreation many have been spotted making any number of cosmetic changes to their appearance as well as changing their appearance in ways that might be seen as very unusual for beings not used to that level of control. Ranging from octopuses to targ to mermaids and unicorns, as well as experimenting with traits from any number of species. One photon was even known to spend many of his off duty hours as a gelatinous cube because he found it soothing.
Though most take to the piloting profession that they've been designed for, some show interest in other areas of study, and the development team has been careful to guide them into these other areas instead of allowing them to be branded a failure. Some outside the project see this as a flaw of the unique personalities generated for each, and this perspective is partially rooted in believing that the photons are a tool, not an autonomous being. Even with holograms like The Doctor and Vic Fontaine having established a precedence that AI driven holograms can be sentient beings, photon rights are still being fought for. The efforts are being modeled after the precedence set with Data as to android's sentience.
All Torchwood photons are given access to a backup process which allows them to be reactivated from an archived copy in the event of their program being damaged, deleted, or otherwise lost. It is an optional process, but as long as the photon chooses to make use of it, the backup process occurs at regular intervals, and in certain predesignated conditions. If a photon chooses to not participate in the backup process, the being is effectively as mortal as an organic being is, and if they opt out after having made archives, all existing archives will be deleted.
The process runs regularly on the photon's choice of interval: daily, weekly, or monthly (according to earth time units), with a choice between one to three copies of the archive maintained. The optional predesignated triggers include: beaming down to a planet, being in the ship systems when a red alert is triggered, transferring to a fighter for training or active combat. The archive contains the photon's memories, as well as a list of currently loaded modules (language, skill packages, etc), so that the memories and the modules can be loaded into the Torchwood holomatrix framework, effectively resetting the photonic being to their state at the time of the most recent backup.
During the testing process of creating the archive function, it was shown that a photonic being could be effectively forked into two by use of the archive process. While brass doesn't officially object to this—in fact they see it as potentially useful for being able to create more of the personality types they like—the stance of most of the Torchwood team is that this sort of creation of new photons is not good. There is one pair of twins running around with andorian default appearances that were the result of the testing process — Shillizith "Luna" zh’Ziathel, and her forked sister Zithshilli "Celestia" zh’Ziathel. Both prefer to answer to their call signs, but will also answer to Shilli and Zith respectively.
Language Localization Packages
All photons are loaded with a universal translator subroutine, allowing them to understand and speak in a large number of languages, but this translation comes across as stiff at times, and tends to reflect more formalized language. In order to allow the photons to better blend in with their organic counter parts, they can also load a number of language localization packages to allow them to better reflect more informal language styles and a number of regional dialects and accents. Each photon is initially loaded with one or more localization packs that match their generated appearance. As they are easy to load and unload, most photons will change their localization packs around until they settle on the ones they like, and a small handful of photons choose not to have any installed at all.
All the localization packs are created for Project Torchwood by Commander Eustace Houghton, who has long specialized in the universal translator, and related linguistic projects, during his career in the fleet. In addition to languages common within the Federation—and a number of non-Federation languages that are popular such as Romulan, Klingon, Orion, Cardassian—he has also created more specialized localization packs for dead languages, conlangs, and as requested non-Federation languages that are less commonly known within the Federation. The Tolkien conlang family is particularly popular among the photons, and there was a small flareup of Latin and Esperanto for a while, but both have mostly fallen out of popularity again.
Holograms on Active Duty
For help with css formatting for photons in the Nova, please consult with: LCARS:Photons Formatting