CW: for existential dread on the nature of the self. Also Class-O xenodrugs
The Compact has the means and the method of copying a consciousness into a digital format to run on affini computers. Affini have digitized themselves, their florets, and also a great number of other non-affini sophonts. (the Terran Accord lacked the means to intentionally create true digital sophonts… intentionally, they had accidents and work arounds)
Entire stations, ships, and even planets are dedicated to housing the servers upon which these sophonts live. Many such sophonts over time modify themselves or are modified by their owners to expand their cognitive, and sensory capabilities, though at the start most restrict themselves to mimicking their physical senses in simulated environments.
Ways of interacting with the physical world include but is not limited to audio or video displays (immersive or non-immersive), holograms, and piloting artificial bodies in any form. Alternatively non-digital sophonts can use VR to interact with the digital world!
Florets that have been digitized still have code mimicking a Haustoric Implant only with their consciousness made up of code, their owners can exert even more extensive loving control over their adorable little pets. This includes digital code injection versions of xenodrugs!
Digitization is generally one of the last technologies developed when encountering a new sophont species, due to the necessary depth of understanding of their specific brain structure and functioning.
Because of their nature's all methods of digitization are generally considered a last resort for sophonts that are otherwise incapable of being happy in their biological bodies; sophonts that simply want to spend time in the digital world can do so with the affini's advanced VR technology (and most chronic health problems can be accounted for with affini medical technology or lifestyle changes, even for independent sophonts)
When a sophont is digitized they are separated into the ramet and the ortet. One being the biological original(the ortet) and the other being the digital copy (the ramet). Ortets are often put on class-O xenodrugs while the Ramet acts as the continuation of the sophont's consciousness.
Sometimes, (especially in the case of digitized affini) they don't always get put on class-O drugs/xenodrugs, thus the ortet and the ramet exist simultaneously.
Once digitized into code, a ramet needs to be able to interface with the digital and physical worlds, thus they use a Digital Interface Chip or DIC (pronounced dick) for short. The DIC translates digital brain signals to interface them with their network and the wider world. Once a ramet is trained to connect to the their DIC they can plug and play with most digital and physical equipment, such as digital avatars, physical proxy bodies, or direct code interfacing.
Basically the DIC is your brain stem/sensory organs, it can coordinate your digital or robotic legs while you walk and talk, feed you video, audio, olfactory, tactile, and all other sorts of sensory information. Once trained to use the DIC it can be second nature to switch from conscious, "One leg before the other" to autonomous walking action. Same with other senses and forms of interaction!
The DIC also acts as a floret's implant with few modifications, and inject digital xenodrugs into the floret's consciousness, or remotely control their thoughts, actions, and sensory input mediating their reality as much as their owner wishes.
So for many sophonts, the existential horror of forking your continuity of consciousness is very scary and are less put off by having it slowly replaced bit by bit until fully converted into a technological data structure. Essentially, instead of creating a copy, the Haustoric Implant slowly overgrows the brain, replacing neurons with simulated biotech replacements that fit in seamlessly and preserve the continuity of consciousness.
The process is akin to the "Ship of Theseus" thought experiment. By the end of the process no original matter of the brain is left, yet the sophont remains running off the bundle of technological plant matter in their body which can be transferred to another shell or the floret's consciousness can be digitally transferred. It can even be transferred early, as the Haustoric Implant makes brain transplants much safer and easier.
Only florets can use this method, as it requires a fully bonded Haustoric Implant to begin the process, and since it takes a long time it isn't useful in emergency situations. The Haustoric Implant is designed with safeguards against overgrowth, and overriding those safeguards can be potentially dangerous, particularly with a species as new to the Compact as Terrans! By the time the Human Domestication Treaty was signed it was still heavily experimental and for most not even presented as an option, however one brave little pet, Aster Lutea, Second Floret, was one of the first Sol system native sophonts to undergo this digitization, hence the naming.
During the Terran Cotyledon Program, destructive implant overgrowth was the cause of a condition known as sunset syndrome, a sadly common aliment in Terran cotyledons. During initial implantation trials on the Baiera crop of cotyledons, a design oversight led to tragic outcomes when the implants overgrew important brain and other vital systems causing long term health issues for the cuties. Some of these most severe cases required the use of a class-O xenodrug. While some of the damage was eventually fixed, allowing the sophonts to be carefully taken off class-Os (albeit with lasting cognitive changes), many haven't and it remains a reminder of what can go wrong with this method of digitization.
Aster Digitization is an entirely viable treatment strategy, and incredibly safe by Terran Accord standards, but many veterinarians are cautious about offering it as a first-line digitization treatment to Terrans as a consequence of the aforementioned tragedy. Additionally, this form of digitization has a number of additional constraints that might contraindicate this technique in some cases:
Ultimately, while traditional digitization remains the standard first-line treatment due to its simplicity, easy replicability and consistent results, Aster Digitization remains a bloom in the bouquet for owners and veterinarians seeking alternative options