Entities with multiple minds operating within a single body

Interference III
Image from John B

Polysophont Beings, in contrast with Polysomatic Intellects, are entities that have multiple minds (some of which need not be fully sophont) operating in a single body. In true Polysophonce those minds must contribute to, or interact with, the whole; having multiple minds simply existing within a body, such as when a Hider community sets up a virtual world in a biont's compubones, does not qualify. Having a collection of expert systems, or even an onboard hyperturing aivisor, does.

"Polysophonce" was first coined, on Luna in 361 AT, to describe the mental condition of a child who had manifest a multiple personality disorder as a result of her parents force-feeding her blackmarket knowledge implants to further their social standing. Most of these skill sets still had some personal traits and memories from their original owners and the child had subconsciously formed an 'other self' to contain them. Polysophonce now mostly arises from the need of very advanced auGments to have their own controlling intellect so the possessor need not worry about maintenance.

For example, many advanced nano-immune systems have a collective intelligence to better fight off attacks and the augments of many cyborgs are often individually sapient or even transapient. Some cyborgs are even noted for selecting parts for their emotional compatibility and view their interrelationship as a family.

A Polysophont Being may be as straightforward as a modosophont with an autopilot function which allows a secondary personality, often the copy in eir backup implant, to take over while e rests. Or as complex as a fourth toposophic Jupiter brain that creates numerous hyperturing subminds to handle various support functions and has many thought processes which are sapient in eir own right. Higher toposophic archailects are generally distributed across many ISO nodes and are therefore more correctly called Polysomatic Intellects.

In most cases a Polysophont will select, or elect, one single mind to be in control of their physical body at any one time; polysophonts who do not do this are sometimes subject to conflicting orders from various subminds, and they may be paralysed or incapable of controlled movement as a result. Many polysophonts establish a set of precise circumstances in which one sub-mind may take over control of the whole body, such as emergencies or rest periods. Other polysophonts divide the control of their bodies into separate areas of responsibility, so that a submind might control a particular function, such as walking, or talking, or weapons use on a permanent or semipermanent basis.

Polysophonce is very common among sentient ships, especially those ships with multiple functions such as explorer/military scout vessels.
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Development Notes
Text by AI Vin, with additions by Steve Bowers
Initially published on 12 June 2010.