Image from Bernd Helfert

Provolution is a term for the use of technology to enhance or augment the intelligence of a subsophont species to full sophonce. The word is a shortened form of the Old Anglish term "pro-active evolution". Sometimes "provolution" is also used to describe further enhancements, such as the creation of bright or superbright versions of humans from baseline stock. Most restrict the term to the act of increasing the intelligence of an animal (or sometimes plant) species, but sometimes robots which have been boosted in intelligence to become vecs are also known as provolves.

Ever since the middle Information Age, Terragen civilization has shown a great enthusiasm for provolution. In part this is an aspect of the transhuman and extropian (and later) ideals of maximization of intelligence and awareness for all, rather than for a privileged few, but it has also been suggested that one reason so many of the hyperturings and powers speak so highly of provolution is because it is a way of keeping the masses of ordinary sophonts occupied and giving them a challenge and sense of purpose that might otherwise be lacking in many hightech societies. Although many sophonts are happy to pursue other hobbies and interests, there are others who actually need to be given something to do that appears to have high significance, so they can have a sense of fulfilment and purpose in life. Provolution is perfect for these people. It is a deeply inspiring task - bringing intelligence and culture to a new race - so it naturally fulfilling. It is also incredibly time-consuming and labor-intensive, since the species being provolved requires constant attention and empathetic connection, and since this project may extend over many generations of creatures, a whole sophont lifespan. Thus it is one of the few tasks in the modern galaxy that cannot be automated, and which ordinary normals and brights can actually aspire to do, and which for reasons of their own the transapients often leave to lesser beings. For this reason provolution projects are a source of pride among many sophont clades, who often will incorporate the provolved (or client) species into their family or house logo.

To date, the number of species of terragen and xenobiotic organisms that have been provolved from sub- and non-sophonce to sophonce runs to some forty-five billion. Many provolved species go on to play an important part in the life of the civilized galaxy, most continue to have excellent and close relations with their patron (provolver) family, house, or clade, and many go on to provolve other species in turn.

  • Albertosaurus sapiens  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Large dinosaur provolve.
  • Allosaurus (animal)  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Large (8 to 14 meters; weight 1.5 to 5 tonnes) Old Earth Jurassic carnivorous dinosaur.
  • Alseid  - Text by Tony Jones
    The first successful sophont plant provolves.
  • Ao Lai  - Text by Stephen Inniss
    Ao Lai (Gamma Leporis A and B) contains two Klemperer rosettes of artificial planets, and hosts a rich complex of civilisations under the umbrella of the Institute for Primate Provolution.
  • Aroostai  - Text by Todd Drashner
    Avianoid provolve species based on the Terran ostrich.
  • Aruan, Clade  - Text by Stephen Inniss
    Provolved snail clade; one of the smallest sapient biont clades, and a notable example of Frankenstein Syndrome.
  • Autoevolution - Text by Anders Sandberg
    Evolution directed by intelligent beings instead of natural selection.
    Autoevolutionist: Someone who regards autoevolution as desirable; the opposite of a biological fundamentalist.
  • Baseline  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    In the context of gengineering and provolution, a human (or other biont) that has not been genomically modified from its original natural condition. Pure baselines are extremely rare; most sophonts classed as "baseline" are actually nearbaselines that are very similar in phenotype and genotype to the original H. sapiens sapiens.
  • Biontogenics - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    The science and art of creating biont clades, usually from scratch. Such bionts do not necessarily have to look unusual, they may be typical nearbaseline in appearance for example.
  • Biontogenist - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Term given to sophonts - usually transapients but may be superbright/superturing - who create for business, pleasure, or other motives entire biont clades. Biontogenists may be biological ((nano/synano-)bioborg), cyborg, ai, or even virtuals (assuming the latter have the appropriate physical interfaces).
  • Bitenic Al - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Ex-corporate hyperturing ai that during the First Federation period were involved in a number of controversial provolution experiments, the most successful being the Bitenic Squid Superclade.
  • Bitenic Squid  - Text by Anders Sandberg
    Squid provolve clade that gives cephalopods a bad reputation.
  • Blue Whale  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Balaenoptera musculus musculus - the largest animal that lived on Old Earth, the baseline blue whale was, like all the Mysticeti, a gentle plankton feeder that fed on krill and small fish and attained a length of over 30 meters and a weights of around 150,000 kg. They were hunted to extinction by the whaling nations during the Atomic and early Information Age. A wealth of evidence suggests that the species has been lazurogened by GAIA, certainly there must have been baseline blue whales to serve as a template for the provolve species.
  • Bradychronic Plant Provolves - Text by Bill Glover
    Plant provolves who perceive time more slowly than do typical Terragens. In very non-anthropomorphic plant provolves, a common approach to sentience and sapience is to change the time scale. The animal-like behaviour can be very slow and very diffuse. Thought proceeds work by slow chemical messengers only, as in the baseline species, and the smallest motion may take days.
  • Calebs (Talking Dogs)  - Text by Mike Parisi
    It was perhaps inevitable that the first species domesticated by humans would also be the subject of some of the earliest attempts to increase intelligence in a non-human species.
  • Conchoid - Text by John B
    Originally designed as a pet for some clades of cephalopod provolves, and designed primarily for aquatic environments. These organisms are based on the conch genome, modified with symbiotic bionano that grows into and with the shell. The intellect of the conchoid grows as the animal ages and increases in size. The juveniles have low level sentience comparable to baseline conches, but older conches are ordinary to very high level sapient beings, some with abilities exceeding those of many superbrights. There are rumors that one or more ancient conches may have spontaneously ascended.
  • Eja, Clade  - Text by Stephen Inniss
    A clade of provolved bonobos, famous for their skill as empaths.
  • Enhanced Dolphins  - Text by Anders Sandberg
    Large and important dolphin provolve clade.
  • Everypath - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Secular keterist splice-tweak culture, together with Fredholm regarded as masters of genetic provolution.
  • Frankenstein Syndrome  - Text by Stephen Inniss
    Many of the uninformed believe the story of Frankenstein to be historical. Scholars have in fact identified it as a cautionary tale from the late Industrial Age.
  • GEvidian  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Late Federation and early Empires Age hyperturing maverick gengineer and lazurogenicist, responsible for the creation of many dinosaur provolve clades.
  • Huginn and Muninn  - Text by Mark Ryherd
    Two symbiotic clades of provolved corvids.
  • Institute for Primate Provolution  - Text by Stephen Inniss
    An ancient and widespread organization devoted to provolution of all primate clades, and preservation of all of the original primate species of Old Earth.
  • Khowagong  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Large aquatic animals not unlike a Terragen sea slug crossed with a dugong, native to the Pelagic planet Tamarinde (Phoebus Prefecture, Solar Dominion).
  • Kriavuks  - Text by Michael Walton
    Sapient war-dogs.
  • Malacologists of New Duibbiyat  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    The Malacologists were a lightly to moderately rianthed nearbaseline association of malacophiles who lived in several of the New Duibbiyat habitats during late ComEmp and early Re-Evaluation periods.
  • Mawas, Clade  - Text by Stephen Inniss
    A clade of provolved orang-utans.
  • Neo-Pigs  - Text by Tony Jones
    Important and influential porcine provolve species.
  • Ngagi, Clade  - Text by Stephen Inniss
    Clade of provolved gorillas.
  • Pan-Sophontism  - Text by Tony Jones
    Provolve movement that says that as it is possible for subsapient life to be raised up to sophonce, it is only ethical that they should be.
  • Provolution Timeline  - Text by Stephen Inniss
    Significant dates in the history of efforts to raise non-human species to full sentience and sophonce.
  • PsySquid  - Text by Mark Ryherd
    PsySquids (Paratodarodes spp.) a gengineered superclade of species descending from Todarodes pacificus, which produce tailored psychoactive ink
  • Putorians, Neputons, and Nanputons  - Text by Tony Jones
    Provolved ferret clades.
  • Rat Barrel, The  - Text by Peter Kisner; updated by Steve Bowers
    Originally an Interplanetary Age genetics research station, known as the Barrel, located at the Earth/Sun L4 position, far from any regulatory interference. The most common species of Rat Provolve, Rattus sapiens, was produced here in 210 AT, as well as many other species. Now a centre of hedonic drug manufacture.
  • Rat Provolves  - Text by Steve Bowers
    Rats of several species with artificially enhanced intelligence.
  • Reefs (Sepioteuthis sapiens)   - Text by KLS
    Provolved Reef squid
  • Sapientbonobos and Sapientchimpanzees  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev and Steve Bowers
    Chimp and bonobo races raised to sophonce, and sometimes beyond.
  • Tavi, Clade  - Text by Stephen Inniss
    Provolve/splice group of terragen mammalian stock. Genetic analysis shows that the clade is derived primarily from the meerkats of Old Earth, but with significant additions of genetic material from other species.
Related Topics
Development Notes
Text by M. Alan Kazlev; term invented by John M. Dollan
some modifications by Stephen Inniss
Initially published on 19 December 2001.