- Communications networked from Korvatta fleets in space, all the way down to the shas'ui squad leader. Meaning that all pertinent information is available to all levels of command in the battlespace. All of it available in real time.
This is something the Imperium should be able to do, but can't. So, much for being more technologically advanced!
- Real time updates of battlefield conditions at all levels of the battlespace.
- Coordination of ground, air, and space units in dealing with the threat of enemy movements and attacks
- Increased reaction times as information is decimated to the proper units, whether ground, air, or space
What a GITS implant specifically could do for a 5th Sphere firewarrior commander (should be 4th sphere, but okay we'll go with GW's version.)
- For the team shas'ui/shas'vre:
-Superior "hands free" and "voice free" wireless communication link to all other squad leaders, cadre shas'nel, shas'o as well as to cadre drones, transports, and tanks.
Note, that like GITS a firewarrior would be able to "talk" online without actually speaking! And the firewarrior so equipped could switch back-and-forth between voice communication and back to online communication with ease.
- For the cadre shas'nel:
- Superior "hands free" and "voice free wireless communication link to all squad leaders, and the cadre shas'o as well as to cadre drones, transports, and tanks.
- Instant updates to his cadre's tactical situation, updates to GPS position of his squad versus other squads in real time.
- Instant "real time" updates to his cadre's tactical situation vis a vis the other squads of the cadre.
- Updates to position and disposition of enemy
- Ability to track needed resources - Pathfinders, Marker drones, Piranhas and Tanks
- For contingent and higher shas'o:
- Superior "hands free" and "voice free" wireless communication link to all cadre commanders; but networked to higher levels of the netcentric command; including kor air units, fio support units, and higher levels of command.
- Instant "real time" updates to the tactical situation of each cadres in the battlespace.
- Instant updates to position and disposition of friendly air resources: transport and ground attack
- Instant updates to the disposition and movement of enemy ground and air units
- Secure links to other cadre commanders, air caste squadron commanders, earth caste support team commanders etc.
- Fire caste Crisis battlesuit pilots, and Air caste aircraft pilots
- Superior "hands free" and "voice free" wireless communication links to all team/squadron members
- Greater interface between battlesuit/aircraft A.I. units, creating a seamless interaction between pilot and vehicle. That is to say the pilot becomes their vehicles. Yes, this is the same kind of link that Imperial Titans pilots have, but Imperial Navy fighter pilots do not have; and for that matter neither do Imperial Guard tank commanders! Only the Adeptus Astartes come anywhere close to this level of integration between their user and power armour. See, we're still more advanced; because we don't have superstition to get in the way!
- Tank and light skimmer pilots can have the same interface between themselves and their vehicles. Who needs that fancy XV02 Pilot Battlesuit, when you can interface directly with you tank? XV-02, that's so Third Sphere technology!
- FOR ALL CASTES AND RANK LEVELS: Instant upgrades! No, need to change your installed hardware; just download the latest earth caste upgrade.
"Longstrike 3.0 is now available from the Fio App store."
"Hey, want to be a Firesight marksmen, but don't have time to practice? Download the latest Firesight 4.2.0 app from the Fio App Store."
"Need that Puretide expertise in battle? Forget that 'fries-your-brain' engram chip; try the new Puretide 5.0 app! Available with the proper authorization from the Fio App Store."
A compelling list (one might almost say advertisement
) of features to be sure, but it still doesn't quite address some of the issues raised by those of us advocating for 'team less cybernetic implants'. The question isn't really "What can cybernetic implants do?", it's quite obvious they can do a lot, the questions are really "What can cybernetic implants do that conventional devices can't?" and "Do the things they can do over conventional devices outweigh the costs?". This is the sort of thinking that pragmatic Tau are likely to have.
Cost is still going to be a major factor, especially in the interests of the Tau Empire's leadership - the Tau might be able to equip every Fire Warrior with top-level weapons and wargear, and mass-produce battlesuits, hover tanks and high-capacity fusion reactors of varying sizes, but even their resources have limits. Those cybernetic implants are still going to be expensive, complicated to make and require very specialised infrastructure to install, and official background seems to support that with evidence like the hard-wired support systems being character-only items and hard-point mounted support systems still being a thing. Conventional devices like cellphones, radios, computers and so on, on the other hand, are almost certainly able to be manufactured by the Tau very quickly and at low cost, from anywhere with the right factories set up (and those factories would be easier to tool, since they're not making something that needs to be small enough to fit inside a Tau's head). There could be thousands if not millions of factories for such devices across the Tau Empire mass-producing them, with no further integration work needed unless they're going on something like a tank or an aerospace craft. A newly established colony could begin producing them right away, ready for use, as soon as the right prefabricated factory has been put together. That makes them a very economical option.
Looking at the context of military operations, it seems to me that a lot of those features listed could be handled just as well by sufficiently advanced conventional devices (such as a Ratnik-style systems package), for only a fraction of the cost. For the same resources it would take to give an entire Hunter Cadre networked cybernetic implants, you could perhaps equip two Hunter Cadres with networked conventional devices that give a large number of the same advantages. Or, alternatively, equip the same Hunter Cadre with those devices and put the savings towards something else, be it military like more tanks/battlesuits/aerospace craft/weapons/other equipment (and if the Fire and Air Castes don't need more of that, their Gue'vessa and alien auxiliary allies could probably put it to good use), making better tanks/battlesuits/aerospace craft/weapons/other equipment or just good old fashioned improved logistics support (the real deciding factor in any major conflict), or a civilian use like medicine and healthcare, education, public works, improved infrastructure and so on. From a pragmatic point of view, that's a very good deal.
And if you absolutely must pack everything into just one micro-chip, why does it need to be put inside a Tau's brain? The codexes themselves take this into consideration with a whole other class of hardwired support systems that are built into infantry helmets and battlesuit head-pieces instead of being cerebral implants:
Codex: Tau, pg. 18, 'Hard-Wired Support Systems' wrote:In addition to their battlesuit systems, some Tau have support systems hard-wired in. These systems are cybernetic in nature and are either entirely contained within the battlesuit helmet or are implanted as warrior jewellery and cannot be removed without surgery.
Underlined emphasis mine. By taking this option and instead installing such systems in an infantry/tank crew/pilot helmet or Battlesuit head-piece instead (or really anywhere on the Battlesuit), you get even more of the listed advantages - almost all of them - but in a package that's still only half the cost since the medical/biological half of the equation is removed.
The only real advantages listed that could only be handled by cerebral implants are the voiceless communication element and the neural pilot controls, both of which are of questionable value when universally applied. Voiceless communication may be silent, but it still consists of sending some kind of signal, and with the right equipment (or even alien abilities) any signal can be detected, jammed, or intercepted and decoded. Not all of the Tau Empire's adversaries will have the capability to do that of course, but a few of them might - the Adeptus Mechanicus is a good example of a major opponent that could have the ability to do this, but even a smaller power opposed to the Tau with the right technology could pull it off. Given this factor, and the inherent risks involved with implanting devices into a living brain (like loosing a very valuable commander or fighter ace to medical complications during or after the implant proceedure), cerebral implants for voiceless communication seems unnecessarily risky when you could achieve similar results by simply taking all the full-face helmets the Tau use and giving them soundproof insulation (along with soundproofing battlesuit cockpits and vehicle crew spaces). It still seems to me like using cerebral implants for battlefield networking is a case in building a space-pen to write in microgravity environments when an ordinary pencil will do just fine.
That just leaves neural controls for vehicles. I see this idea crop up a lot in science fiction, and it's an interesting idea, but direct neural interfacing - to the point of becoming
the vehicle, as you say, can have a lot of complications. Organic brains of any kind are typically very complex things with a very specific set of neurological 'programming' if you will, and don't typically react well to being thrust into environments that are foreign to them. Thus, integrated neural-links can work for vehicles in a shape that conforms to the operator's own anatomy, like humanoid battlesuits (and indeed general consensus hold that battlesuits are typically controlled by direct neural link), but can cause problems when adapting the operator's mind to a 'body' that's totally alien (what do you do for the sensory inputs for arms and legs, for example, on an aircraft that has neither?). The XV-02 pilot suit is actually a fairly clever way around this problem, because it effectively acts as a middle-man between the operator's brain and the machine being controlled, thus taking a lot of the sting off. Less integrated neural control can also be viable, but that could be handled with a good set of electrodes instead of invasive implants (or some kind of advanced pilot suit, for that matter).
Given all this, the pragmatic solution seems to be to use conventional devices for the bulk of applications, and leave cybernetic implants in a supplemental capacity for niche roles, which is exactly what the hard-wired systems paradigm seems to suggest. Thus, the questions to be addressed are 'what exactly can cybernetic implants bring to the table that advanced conventional devices cannot?' and 'does what they bring to the table justify the costs and potential risks involved?'.
That's my 'Black Hat
' take on the matter.