Continuing investigation into sentience and intelligence prompted research on dolphins, whales and chimps, with their supposedly simpler social structures. This required a better understanding of dolphin and whale languages, and chimp chatter. This understanding led to the startling conclusion that while chimps are distinguishably less intelligent than humans, dolphins and blue whales are not. The key evidence was that although chimps could not grasp abstractions like numbers, dolphins and whales could, and only lacked the tool-making ability to expand their societies.
Therefore a program to enhance dolphins using waldoes (teleoperated mimics) was started. The idea is that dolphins, in the same way as humans, have many redundant muscles and sensory nerves, and that these are used for input/output to the waldo (with the assistance of scanning equipment). The user is then trained to use the waldo by using the neural pathways independently, while the ganged set of muscles are linked together.
The advantage of this approach is that it requires no extra understanding of the brain, just moderately extensive, but well understood, remoulding of neural pathways.
The brain, meanwhile, free associates its way through to recognising the patterns it receives from the waldo. This is the same method brain-damaged children still develop excellent language despite the normal language centres being knocked out.
Whales refused this enhancement, preferring to swim the oceans as they had for millennia. They were quite prepared to talk to humans in their native language, and to join discussion groups aided by expert system translators.
Work continued into chimps to see what made them different from humans and whales, and possibly whether it would be feasible to enhance, or uplift them to sentience.
The future of Ad Astra