Image from Steve Bowers
Alife civilisation in the Feinstein 1 cluster, discovered by the Andian mission in 7129

The Echir-{n} are nanobiological, composed of both software and nanoware components. They have three different "genders": the nanoware bodies, software symbionts and metalevel souls, each divided into a large number of clades and phyles (denoted as Echir-{1}, {2}, {3} ...). Although most Echir-{n} are intelligent, there exist several unintelligent subspecies that are used for nanoproduction, energy collection, tools and information processing. Symbionts are in general specialised problem-solvers or thinkers, combining into clusters existing within the same body. Souls are shared between a cluster of nearby bodies. These combinations are denoted Echir-{x, y, z, ...} where x, y, z represents the different phyles involved. Reproduction can occur asexually among each gender, sexually between a number of bodies and symbionts or between a number of bodies, symbionts and one soul. The singularity level varies, but the densest souls often reach S3.

Echir-{n} mainly live in asteroid belts and ring systems surrounding gas giants, turning the local material into extensive low-density megastructures. These structures are made up of merged bodies, giving them the appearance of geometric ant-colonies. Echir bodies are usually diamond or silicon, but metal and ice are sometimes used. The number of appendages is always a prime number, and the Echir-{n} take great pride in connecting in meaningful arithmetic relationships. Similarly, symbionts and souls appear to employ other symmetry groups in their interconnections, producing intricate social/mathematical/aesthetic patterns.

Their culture is largely one of constant interaction, storytelling and research (they had independently discovered torsion theory when encountered), but also less comprehensible activities as portion declaration, structure de-understanding and algebraic spirituality. The last activity appears to be central: the Echir-{n} experience reality in terms of algebraic and set-theoretic relations rather than objects and processes. Symmetries, regularities and expanding formal systems appeal to them immensely. This appears to be hardwired in the basic template, but the Echir-{n} have spent much time experimenting with variants of the template, finally proving that their template is the self-optimal.

The Echir-{n} were created several thousand years ago by a passing Terragen AI for unknown reasons. The AI seeded several asteroid belts with the Echir templates and various information caches, and then left. The information caches were deliberately partial, leaving some useful information but leaving out for example the position of the Sun, the history of the Terragens or the nature of the AI. It has been suggested that the Echir are an experiment in fundamental science, although they could just as well be an ecological artwork.

After being discovered the Echir-{n} eagerly began to interact with the wormhole nexus, seeking admission into the Technorapture Hypernation. At present they are mainly engaged in mathematical trade with other highly algebraic clades and AIs. They are reputedly sending emissaries to the Einstein's Revenge cluster to attempt to contact Hildemar's Knots.
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Text by Anders Sandberg

Initially published on 07 September 2001.

Page uploaded 7 September 2001, last modified 17 April 2007