Parasapient A-life

Artificially evolved virtual lifeforms

Image from Anders Sandberg

A parasapient alife is an artificial being that has evolved spontaneously to a condition resembling sapience, usually in a virtual reality environment. Although a few are certainly sapient and rational in the way that humans, vecs, and some xenosophonts are (and hence are true sophonts), others have completely novel and exotic forms of consciousness. Their diversity of consciousness is matched only by their diversity of form. A very small number go on to become "hyperturing" animins.

Although they could be compared to organic sapients, alifes are often very different from any beings evolved in the physical universe and seldom find it easy to interact with real-life without specialised interpretation protocols. The digital environment allows rapid speciation, especially in new or isolated virtual worlds, and most local nets have their own indigenous forms. There are also cases where alifes have taken on robot and even bionoid bodies in order to explore or even migrate into reality.

The number of presapient, parasapient, and sapient-grade alifes existing in the Known Net or in isolated virchworlds or ai cores (some hyperturings collect alifes, the reason is often not clear) cannot be calculated, but it may run to many thousand trillions, with countless trillions more of subsapient but still sentient grade.
  • A-lifes  - Text by Anders Sandberg and Steve Bowers
    Beings evolved in artificial life simulations. Instead of being designed like AIs, they evolve in a Darwinian way within a virtual environment (see Software Based Evolution).
  • Affines  - Text by David Jackson
    Sentient virus affecting transapient behaviour.
  • Altair Knowledge Designs (AKD)  - Text by Anders Sandberg
    The first hypersentient alife species to evolve.
  • Artificials  - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    generic term for any sophont of a non-biological nature [noun]
  • Cybercosm - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Generic term for any virchworld in or apart from the Known Net; a subdivision of the Cybercosm.
  • Download  - Text by Fernando Peña D'Andrea
    [1] The transfer of a virtual or a-life being or object from computronium to a physically discrete embodied state (biological, mechanical, electronic, synano, etc.);
    [2] The resulting being or object, whether sapient, sentient, living or simply existing;
    [3] The same as an upload but meaning also a "downgrade": when the new substrate matrix cannot accommodate the sentient adequately.
  • Echir-{n}  - Text by Anders Sandberg
    A-life civilization in the Feinstein 1 cluster.
  • Feinstein 1 cluster - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Home to the Echir-{n} - a nanobiological Alife civilisation.
  • Fractaroni Spaghetti Worms  - Text by Steve Bowers
    Transapient clade of a-life/neogen hybrids.
  • Magvivisystem Hyperpolity  - Text by Liam Jones
    Ultrasmallscale Maglife TRHN polity
  • Near-Human ai - Text by M. Alan Kazlev, after the original in Creating Friendly AI
    Baseline term for "turingrade", an ai, bot, or vec roughly in the vicinity of human intelligence, and capable of interacting with humans as equals. May have some transhuman and some infrahuman abilities or qualities.
  • Plebware - Text by Tony Jones
    A name given to the vast mass of 'baseline' virch, AI and alife entities to be found in software systems of various kinds all across Terragens space, usually by those who are ignorant of the truly vast diversity of the entities inhabiting these systems and who, seeing only their similarities when viewed from 'outside', are happy to lump them all together.
  • Program - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    [1] A set of instructions that enables a computer to perform a specific task.
    [2] The machine language substratum of an AI's code.
  • Sensestem  - Text by Thorbørn Steen
    Any large system that has gained sentience but not sophonce as an emergent property
  • Subsumption  - Text by Stephen Inniss
    Subsumption is a form of violent assault, carried out by one AI or virtual against another. It has been compared, inadequately, to such perversions as rape, cannibalism, and bodyjacking. Of these, cannibalism is the closest equivalent.
Development Notes
Text by M. Alan Kazlev

Initially published on 14 August 2001.

Additional Information