"We [science fiction writers] always wanted to believe in "private sector" space -- hucksters make better characters than a government does."
The Sphere uses a technology called "Nerve Stapling", which is used to pacify rioters. No details are given, but to use this technology is considered an atrocity. The Sphere does this, but instead of applying every few hours, it does it every five minutes. In game, it reduces research, and subjugates not only the disruptive elements of society, but also the highly educated as well.
Thanks to Gatomon41 for the reference.
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