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"In 1970 I found little difficulty staying 30 years ahead of the man in the street, and now I find it difficult to stay 18 months ahead of the man on the street."
- Vernor Vinge

Synthetic Personality  
  A artificial identity, a legal fiction of a person.  

When relocating members of a clandestine organization, it was necessary to create travel documents based on legal fictions, identities that do not correspond to an individual, but are specially curated for just this kind of use.

"What's a synthetic?" I enquired.

"Eh? Oh, it's a composite personality, very carefully built from faked records and faked backgrounds. A risky business--it involves tampering with the national archives. I don't like to use a synthetic, for there really isn't anyway to fill in completely the background of a man who doesn't exist. I'd much rather patch into the real background of a real person."

"Then why use synthetics at all?"

From If This Goes On..., by Robert Heinlein.
Published by Astounding Science-Fiction in 1940
Additional resources -

I can't remember the exact term used, but I think this is called a "legend" in espionage tradecraft.

Thanks to Connor Lawrence for submitting this item.

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  More Ideas and Technology from If This Goes On...
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