Sophontology

Impromptu First Contact, from TV Tropes
Impromptu First Contact, from TV Tropes, Starfish Aliens (not sure of original source of artwork)

The galaxy includes countless different races and species of sentient and pathotic (having feelings and empathy) sapient/sophont (problem-solving, rational, self-aware), and singularitan beings, running the full gamut of degrees of awareness. These can be approximately grouped in a number of categories.  Each category consists of innumerable subtypes and combinations.

Nonsapient – possessing sentience but not sophonce

  • simple terragen and xenoc animal life
  • some simple AI and mechanoids
  • some alife infomorphs (exist only in a computational or virtual substrate)

Presapient – sentient beings that have partial sophonce

  • presapient animal life
  • primitive or simple human and xenocs
  • splices – human-animal hybrids, who often exist as an oppressed underclass as they don;t have full sentient rights in many human (and I suppose xenoc) societies (the term and concept is from Paul di FilippoRibofunk)
  • developing hard AI and some AI subroutines
  • some alife infomorphs

Parasophont -similar to modosoohonts in many ways, but not as obvious, and a distinct evolutionary line.  Like modosoohonts they evolved from presophonts

  • sophont but and non-tool-using, animals and xenimals –  distinguished from humans and xenocs in that they don’t have or use complex culture and tool using to bootstrap technology

Modosphont – sentients with average sapient capacity.  The most common form of sophont in the Civilised Galaxy.  Some  live on isolated worlds, others contact and trade with each other.  A modosophont can be a human, a member of a human derived species, an AI, xenoc, or any equivalent sentient.  But no matter what their form, they share a common type of intelligence that makes possible communication (see image at top of page).

From Mode (in statistics, the value that has the largest number of observations) and Sophont (a self aware,”wise” being).

Modosphonts include

  • AI, which are sapient beings in a digital or computational substrate
  • humans – who are simple one species of sophont among countless.  Humans in turn may be plesiomorph, heteromorph, or apomorph.  Other categories are furries (with animal genome) and  cyborgs – (a combination or organic and mechanical)
  • complete personality uploads
  • fully sophont mechanoids – (vecs) robots and AI in robot casing; these may be manufactured conventionally, or self-replicating von neumann machines
  • fully sophont splices
  •  xenocs – thanks to Peter F Hamilton for coining this useful term, it simply means “aliens”, that is, sophonts who come from any planet except Earth

Subsophont – sentient beings that have only incomplete or partial sophonce, or have had their sophonce degraded

  • pruned or degraded hard AI
  • partial personality infomorphs, scans, uploads, who were degraded in the uploading process or who have since been edited accordingly
  • madverts
  • some shipminds

Enantiosophont – alien sophonce that evolved in a very different direction to Terragens and Terragen-equivalent xenocs

  • some xenocs or xenimals
  • some alife

Cryptosophont – sophonce that is hidden or in some way unrecognisable

  • some xenocs
  • some alife
  • some silicon-based life

Postsapient – generic term for sentients and sophonts that are enhanced but still recognisable.  May have evolved themselves or been augmented by otherssapient condition

  • Superior – a sophont with enhanced or augmented characteristics. Intermediate between modosophont and jarchon
  • posthumans/postaliens
  • hyperturings – advanced AI
  • some shipminds

Interdimensionals – according to urban legend there are sophonts or transophonts that exist in other dimensions and only occasionally break through to or exist in ours.  Known as forteans, their very existence is irrational, and they are characterised by high strangeness

Hyperdimensionals – sophonts or transophonts that occupy higher dimensional space; only a small part of them enters into ordinary four dimensional spacetime

Transingularitan – also known as Jarchons, these are weakly godlike, transapient, postsophont, or transcendent beings. They have tremendous powers but are not beyond time and space.  Each is a microcosm in itself, and often the center of a whole ecology of beings (see also goddwellers).  The following is a list of individual entities rather than categories:

  • Yarvek – weakly godlike drytech
  • Elohom – weakly godlike superbiotech
  • Archailect –  weakly godlike transcended AI
  • Muu – weakly godlike hyperdimensional

Godsingularitans – according to urban legend there is or are transapients or  transingularitans who are beyond time and space and resemble the god of religion. So far there is no empirical evidence for such entities