Alcon is short for alch construct, a kind of mechanical creature created using a variety of disciplines.
The idea for creating alcons originally came from an old Eloquist technique that used rituals to create rudimentary conciousnesses. These creations were simple, but capable of performing useful tasks, such as unlocking and locking doors, watching for intruders and sounding alarms or remembering information.
Frustrated by the simplicity of the crafted conciousnesses, a famous eloquist named Fiova Harness developed a method by which an existing conciousness could be converted into an artificial one. Harness spent years converting and studying animal intelligences. Her research increased the understanding of artificial intelligence tenfold, allowing for the construction of even more complex conciousnesses.
Years later, improvements in alcaotech allowed for the creation of complex devices used for construction, farming and other forms of heavy labor. These machines could lift heavy loads, demolish buildings and perform tasks too dangerous for people. These machines were called alcons, and while useful, they were very difficult to control, requiring manipulation of dozens if not hundreds of buttons and levers.
To solve this problem, alcaotech joined with eloquism, creating artificial conciousnesses that could be used to automatically manage some of the complexity of the new alcons. Converted animal intelligences were used to craft these conciousnesses. This met with limited success. Most animal intelligences could not adapt to their new mechanical bodies. Alcons shaped like the animal's original body proved more reliable, but didn't have the functionality of the purpose built alcons. Adding to the problems, many found the process of converting animal intelligences distasteful since the process always killed the animal. These problems lead to the research of a new technology.
Coming full circle and using Harness' research, custom built conciousnesses were prepared from scratch. These intelligences were able to reliably control alcons of all shapes and sizes. The conciousnesses are housed on etched glass globes located in armored shells inside of each alcon.
Modern alcons perform a variety of roles and are intelligent enough to accept complex commands. They are still mostly used for heavy labor, though some have been adapted for the military.
Some alcon founders are skilled enough to create intelligences indistinguishable from those of people. There is some debate over whether this practice is ethical, and what rights, if any, an intelligent alcon has. Current law requires that any such alcon be freed after a certain period of service.