Baroquification

Behavioural crypsis among modosophonts and transapients

Junsanpa ships
Image from Anders Sandberg
Junsanpa ships show distinct signs of over-ornamentation, a characteristic that is often attributed to contact between that culture and transapient baroquification technology at some time in the recent past

In any example of intertoposophic relations entities of a higher toposophic level have a great advantage in that they can dedicate considerable amounts of processing power to the task of understanding and predicting the behaviour of entities in lower toposophic classes than themselves. Quite often a transapient or archai can dedicate many times as much processing power to this task as the lesser entity has available for eir own use. This can mean that an entity at a high toposophic level can model or predict the actions and even to an extent the internal mind-state of lesser beings; this process is often known as deductive telepathy, and can be very accurate in many cases.

In order to defend against this sort of behaviour modelling and prediction, many sophonts use some sort of deception to mask their inner thoughts and motives. In modosophonts this can take the form of deliberately misleading forms of behaviour, often superimposed over the top of their natural behaviour by external processing augmentations as part of their exoself. At the same time the exoself will suppress part, or most, of their natural behaviour. Any sophont of a similar or higher toposophic level which wishes to deduce the internal mindstate of someone using such behavioural camouflage will have to distinguish between the real internal motivation and the extra layers of faked behaviour.

Although this is challenging for a being of the same level, it is not generally too much of a problem for an entity at least one toposophic level higher than the camoflaged sophont, assuming they are using behavioural modification technology created at the lower technological level. However a number of higher toposophic entities in the Terragen Sphere have made transapientech and even godtech behavioural modification technology available, deception technology which can camouflage modosophont behaviour well enough to deceive various kinds of transapient scrutiny. Because of the complex and bewildering range of behaviours this technology can induce in users, the use of this transapientech is known as baroquification.

Godwatchers and archailectologists have long suspected that various transapients sometimes use baroquification techniques to hide their own motivations from each other, with varying degrees of success; this is believed to explain some of the more unusual aspects of transapient and archai behaviour. Modosophonts who are able to obtain access to transapientech baroquification systems become almost incomprehensible themselves, behaving in strange ways and adopting outlandish modes of fashion and architecture.

Baroquification can adversely affect the everyday interactions of sophonts who live in any kind of society, as they cannot instinctively read each otherís body language and emotions accurately. In many cases even the language of users is changed beyond easy comprehension, with hidden messages encrypted into everyday speech, allusion and ellipsis or randomised irrelevant nonsense superimposed over the top of any true meaning. Often users of this technology have to deactivate it when interacting with each other socially, a practice which gives outside observers useful data about the changes effected by the technology when in use.

The most sophisticated forms of baroquification allow the users to interact with each other and with society in general quite normally, while hiding their internal mental processes from various levels of transapient surveillance. This is generally achieved by hiding the true mentality of the user deep within an outer shell of apparent normality; the true motivations of the user can be revealed by some eventual act of revelation, or might remain hidden over long periods while working towards some hidden goal in a clandestine fashion.

 
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Development Notes
Text by Steve Bowers

Initially published on 12 December 2012.

Fiction about Baroquification
A sophont with a hidden subpersonality is described in this story by Anders Sandberg.
Chuan Tsu's Scorpion