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Artificial Intelligence
List of major categories of sentient machines relevant to Thet and the Expanse


Uble-do and the Cy


Psyche is the proper term for a category of high-performance AGI typically responsible for managing the affairs of a city or equivalently-sized ship. Astute readers may be familiar with a science fiction equivalent called a Mind; other terms for these machines include Spirits, Sparks, Djinni, Machine Souls, and various other capitalised references to paranormal psychology. Psyches are distinguished from other classes of large-scale AIs in that they are encoded in a substrate that allows self-organising hyperdimensional neural geometry, obtaining a fourth dimension by exploiting quantum effects peculiar to the medium. Small examples of this architecture can be found in the form of Delegate Psyches, which are used to control systems aboard small craft such as transit shuttles, but as the seeding and construction of a new Psyche is an immense undertaking, non-Delegate specimens are almost universally huge structures, usually occupying the inner layer of a Matrioshka brain built around a small artificial star or comparable power source. Because of this immense power requirement, Psyches are sometimes classified according to the Kardashev scale to describe the relative magnitudes of their computational capacity.

Lyrisclensian Psyches

The Lyrisclensiae build Psyches using a unique crystal material that acts as a medium for self-propagating cellular automata. These automata are slow, but grow geometrically, allowing a vast architecture to be unfolded procedurally using a chain reaction. Newer designs have surpassed typical four- and even five-dimensional formats, and allow for direct addressing between sub-critical components.

Culturally, the Lyrisclensiae pride themselves on the immaculate reason of these machines; they are seen as supreme arbiters of fact, logic, justice, and morality. Accordingly they are afforded immense respect outside of the Lyrisclensian College, and in Thet's darkest days provided a level of scientific and cultural continuity that could not be matched by any other effort. This has not been without backlash; during the late years of the Reed Administration and the rise of the Gryphon Republic their motives were questioned, and many Psyches in Thet were relocated elsewhere during Ivilon Desqrit's rise to power. Tellingly, however, it would not have been possible to wage Desqrit's war against the Hogedepi without the assistance of the Psyches that remained behind, as the Lyrisclensian armada was almost entirely responsible for halting the expansion of the Hogedep.

Hatelese Psyches

Hatel Psyches are a parallel development to the Lyrisclensian invention, and are so named more by analogy than as a result of scientific cooperation between the sibling species of Lyranids. Like Lyran Psyches, they use optical circuits to perform non-classical operations on complex datasets, grow and adapt over time, use immense amounts of power, and exploit materials science to pack extra dimensions into a three-dimensional substrate. This substrate is a unique ceramic rather than a crystal, called bara chan huo (碧船火, or blue ship fire), which can withstand greater temperatures than the crystals used by the Lyrans, and hence operate at higher frequencies. Consequently, the Hatel design actually outperforms typical Lyrisclensian designs for most algorithms in QMA, so fewer processing units are required.

The cultural significance of the Hatel implementation is somewhat less monochromatic than the Lyrisclensian Psyche. Hatelese ships, like the Hatel themselves, are known for their diverse and eccentric personalities, which are protected by (and subject to) law much like their human counterparts. Famous Psyches have, among other things, started and ended civil wars, traded crewmembers for archaeological curios, and written Doctor Who fan-fiction.

Delegates, Agents, Avatars, and Effigies

Psyches often have need for various forms of telepresence. These can be categorised into the following:

  • A Psyche delegate is a smaller computing engine built to house a simplified model of the Psyche's personality. These are typically found in daughter ships, such as transit modules, that do not have their own sentient AI. Delegates can operate for extended periods independently from their main system, but will normally synchronise and fall dormant when unneeded.

  • A Psyche agent is a physical interface for two-way communication with passengers and crew. Unlike traditional terminal, brain, and voice interfaces, agents have bodies comparable to crew members, and range widely in appearance, from being virtually indistinguishable from members of the crew to surrealistic and psychedelic creatures. Despite a wealth of research on the subject, no significant benefits have been shown to come from the use of agents, aside from enabling the Psyche's own vanity. Agents may even reduce productivity, as crew members will seek them out to make requests of the Psyche, rather than accessing more convenient methods of interaction.

  • A Psyche avatar is a strictly software construct suitable for transmission over enormous distances or residence in a non-dedicated processing environment. The complexity of an avatar is highly dependent on the amount of bandwidth available for transmitting and storing it at the destination, so generally it will be minimalistic, including only the information relevant to the task for which it was created. Resident avatars—those not expected to return at the completion of some objective—are usually imbued with the ability to evolve, and will eventually develop new identities if allowed to interact with other sentient entities.

  • A Psyche effigy is somewhat more abstract. At any given time, substantial portions of a Psyche's processing power are devoted to performing simulations, of mixed verisimilitude, which it uses to form decisions. When these simulations must model the activities of other Psyches, an approximation of their personalities is required. Psyches generally curate effigies of themselves for this purpose, and make them available to their peers. The quality of effigies varies wildly from author to author, and as they are self portraits, may be any mixture of deliberately misleading or narcissistically distorted.

  • Lyranid Drones


    Pesenese AI and the Epyesteyi


    Telaian ship AI is somewhat different from typical artificial general intelligence.