Empathy and Deductive Telepathy

Modelling an individual's state of mind simply by close observation and empathy

Image from Steve Bowers
"What is this, Holmes?" I cried. "This is beyond anything which I could have imagined."
He laughed heartily at my perplexity.
"You remember," said he, "that some little time ago, when I read you the passage in one of Poe's sketches, in which a close reasoner follows the unspoken thought of his companion, you were inclined to treat the matter as a mere tour de force of the author. On my remarking that I was constantly in the habit of doing the same thing you expressed incredulity."
Arthur Conan Doyle,
The Resident Patient, 77 BT

Certain modosophonts have a very strong, innate ability to identify with other people to such an extent that they feel powerful empathy with them. This ability was analyzed during the Information and Interplanetary age and eventually a range of algorithms were produced to emulate this ability in the first Turingrade AIs. The researchers hoped to achieve the creation of so- called Friendly AI, with varying degrees of success.

The resulting field of empathy studies produced a deeper understanding of the process of empathy, or identification with the other, and this field became the specialty of a clade of augmented humans which were found throughout the early solar system colonies, and in the Eridanus League and Terranovan colonies in particular. Later the Empathic Communion of Worlds developed into a major distributed empire and diplomatic clade. Empaths from the Communion of Worlds have been in great demand over the millenia, mostly for their ability to sympathise with other individuals, and to model their internal mind-states on a basic level.

Later the Hyperturings developed these artificial empathy algorithms into advanced real-time character modelling, so that an advanced AI could constantly check its own predictions of a bioid sophont's actions and responses against reality. By monitoring speech, heart rate, body temperature, body language and involuntary movements the hyperturings could assess the citizen's internal state non-intrusively.

A transapient empath can build up and maintain a high resolution model of a citizen's internal thought processes over time simply by close observation of their behaviour, replacing the need for intrusive mind scans (in most cases). (Note that external, non-intrusive mind scans using neoSQuIDs and other sensors may also be used by transapients to obtain reasonably accurate data on an individual's brain state, but this appears to be regarded as impolite by most transapients and archai).

This modelling allows the thought-processes of a modosophont to be predicted with a high degree of accuracy, especially when the amount of processing power applied to the modelling is particularly large. If necessary a transapient can dedicate much more processing power to the activity of deducing the internal mind state of a modosophont, so that the process resembles true telepathy in effect.

However the process of Deductive Telepathy is not perfect, and particulary random thoughts, inspiration and pathological imaginings can not be predicted as accurately as other thoughts. In fact it is possible for a modospohont to learn techniques which can defeat the process of deduction; randomisation, artificial subroutines and encrypted exoprocessors all can make a modosophont's mind unreadable.

Entities higher on the modosophont level pride themselves on their ability to defeat Deductive Telepathy; and transapients of higher toposphic status still are reputed to take pride in their acheivements in deducing the thoughts of particularly difficult subjects. At the highest levels, Deductive Telepathy seems to be a cross between a game and an arms race, sometimes with deadly consequences.

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Development Notes
Text by Steve Bowers
Initially published on 06 September 2002.