At least two separate versions of the biochip prototype were developed by 2077, according to the summarized internal report assembled by the former director of the Relic project, Anders Hellman, upon turning coat for the benefit of Arasaka's rival corporation, Kang Tao.
The first version was intended for the commercial market and advertised as a means for wealthy elites to store their psyche in form of an engram capable of basic communication with their loved ones. The form itself would have consciousness but lack true self-awareness. In spite of its limitations, Relic 1.0 has managed to enter the market and the lives of Night City residents, giving hope by providing a notion of immortality truly approaching human reach. Arasaka logs on the other hand reveal that the Relic's initial purpose was of a more capitalist nature - using Soulkiller on celebrities, important cultural icons and artists in order to create engrams for commercialisation purposes.
The second version of the biochip was a top secret project, personally commissioned and supervised by Saburo Arasaka. It was intended for internal use within the corporation only, never to be sold. Unlike the original biochip, which was only used to communicate with pre-saved engrams with artificially integrated limitations, Relic 2.0 contains a system which was meant to install and activate the engram in a new organic body. The core idea of the project was to implant a digitized psyche into a new host, although only after the body had all neural and cardiac functions terminated, at which point it would automatically expand into the host's brain using nanotechnology. In short, a person who copied their mind onto Relic 2.0 and then died could be restored to life in a new body using the chip, effectively granting them immortality. Internal testing of Relic 2.0 showed promising results, but Arasaka scientists had difficulty preventing the personality construct from becoming emotionally unstable after re-implantation, and the biochip eventually failed in every trial. The Arasaka Corporation also confirmed that Relic 2.0 would not activate if implanted in living individuals who were on the verge of death. The project had not progressed past the trial phase until an unplanned undertaking of the process by a living individual. Examination of the relic's advancement proved that, despite keeping the subject alive, it was continuing its functional expansion and taking over the motor and psychological functions of the host.
Technical note: Transport and storage
The Relic biochip must be stored and transported in stable thermal conditions and in an appropriate neural environment. Even momentary exposure to temperatures falling outside the recommended range could result in permanent damage to the technology. It is currently recommended to store the Relic device in Arasaka laboratory-certified isothermal containers to ensure a stable storage temperature within 2-8 degrees Celsius (35.6-46.4 degrees Fahrenheit).
It is easy to discern that a great majority of people, regardless of closeness to the Secure Your Soul program, treat the Relic as a device that grants immortality. Hanako Arasaka treats the engram of her father as a real human being and the relic as a vessel of his consciousness. Yorinobu Arasaka potentially believed that interrupting the Relic project might prevent his father's resurrection. Liam Northom, the manager and lover of Lizzy Wizzy, had plans for making a backup of her own engram and editing it in order to modify her behaviour.
While Anders Hellman himself never treated the biochip as a device that can actually host consciousness, the contract for the repossession of a human "soul" for the Secure Your Soul program signed under his name promises not to make copies of the created engram due to ethical concerns.
Alt Cunningham, explains that, while she exists as an engram, uploaded to the net, she has no consciousness and effectively poses a role of a rogue AI. She adds that the real Alt died with her organic body once Johnny Silverhand severed the connection between the engram and her consciousness during the 2013 Arasaka raid. As an untethered AI, she is able to read other engrams in their most basic form so regardless of them potentially experiencing a very human thought process, the raw data written this way leaves nothing concealed. On the other hand, the Mikoshi environment allows engrams themselves to interact with one another on a more human level, without the restriction of reading ahead of each other's thoughts, emulating proper conversations.
Similar to all other types of data, engrams can be overwritten with another digitized psyche, which is something Alt offers as a final solution for V's troubles.
- Relic is an interface and component of Arasaka's experimental, flagship project publicly known as "Secure Your Soul." It uses the concept of personality transferal by converting the data in the human nervous system into a digitized engram and stored as construct on the Relic biochip. The purpose of "Secure Your Soul" is the ability - the currently only available to the wealthiest clients - to communicate with deceased loved ones. Their personality constructs, which are preserved on the Relic biochip mean that in practice, death is no longer the ultimate barrier. However, it doesn't take a genius to realize that the potential for the Relic technology is much higher - Arasaka currently is not sharing any information on its further plans for the program.
The Relic® : Advanced consciousness-saving technology from Arasaka Corp., packed onto a shard that is the pinnacle of minimalist design. Relic® and The Relic® are registered trademarks of the Arasaka Corporation. Any similarity to products or services that are either extant or in development is purely coincidental. The compilation of personality-construct data and its operative writing to data carriers is a nascent realm of technological, neurological and psychological exploration - results may vary.
- Through the events of The Heist, it is proven that a human head can provide a functional, if not properly adequate storage alternative to the Arasaka laboratory-certified isothermal containers - at least temporarily.