METAFIRE: What will be the most basic and important categorization of post-
singularity minds? It most probably won’t be gender, because the
ubiquitous use of metamorphic bodies or avatars it will be nonexistent
or very easily changeable. The same goes for race or species. After a
long time has passed, even the origin of a mind – natural/biological
or artificial – probably won’t matter a lot, because of the
convergence of nature and technology (for example by cyborgization or
uploading of biological organisms or interweaving (mind merging)).
Which nationality or culture a mind can be attributed to might matter
a lot, but nations and cultures are rather transient entities, so this
categorization isn’t fundamental enough. Whether a mind is embodied,
just uses avatars in simulation spaces or doesn’t even have a
simulated bodily existence seems to make a great difference, but then
the body or avatar of a mind still is a rather skin-deep quality. Also
how fast a mind runs or on which computation substrate (meat brain,
personal computer, computronium, etc.) is important, but not the most
fundamental attribute. Size (numer of bits or qubits a mind consists
of) and plurality (singleton, group mind, hive mind) of a mind are
really important characteristics, but still not the most elemental

In fact, what really matters is the basic structure of the functioning
of a mind in nemself (see below for an explanation of this pronoun). I
find it useful to categorize minds in these four basic types:

1. Bliss minds / blissies:
Those are the hedonistically optimized “decendants” of extreme
wireheads. They live a life in permanent, absolute, virtually
unabated, technologically maximized bliss and are troubled by (almost)
absolutely nothing. Usually they don’t do anything really useful other
than radiating joy and generating hedons. Their role in society lies
somewhere between those of pets, status symbols and decorative
Prefix letter: L (bLiss)

2. Utility minds / utils:
Who does all the boring work in the future? Non-sentient robots?
Perhaps, but that’s boring. It would be much more interesting to let
sentient minds do all the menial tasks, but let them really love doing
them. Working is the best there is for utility minds. And they don’t
mind if they are used by others as tools, no, they love it (though
they might have preferences about who uses them and for what)! Utils
may or may not experience boredom, but they are troubled if they do
their work badly and therefore try working as perfectly as possible.
In society they act as dedicated (workaholic) workers, tools or
(invisible) machinery.
Prefix letter: T (uTility)

3. Universal minds / univs:
What can be said about normal people? They are free to do whatever
they want to do (within some limits), they enjoy various rights and
freedoms, have a rich and diversified inner life and are more or less
curious. Compared to the other mind types univs are real universalists
although they still can be thoroughly specialised. What sets them
apart from the other types is that they don’t go into their special
extremes for a long time. If they actually do so, that really means
that they change their type, what usually is allowed.
Prefix letter: S (univerSal)

4. Focus minds / foci:
I’ve already written about my concept of focus minds. What defines
them is that they optimize their neural architecture for a single
(more or less broad) special interest, like doing physics, winning at
games, consulting, managing the biosphere, painting pictures or just
imagining totally weird stuff. Usually they are totally uninterested
in anything which lies outside of their special subject. If they
actually do something which doesn’t seem to have anything to do with
their special interest, they just do so, because they want to improve
their general capabilities in order to excell at the subject of their
focus even more. What sets foci apart from utils is that they are
rather independent and don’t like being pushed around. Instead, foci
pull the strings in most post-singularity societies. Societies in
which they don’t manage almost everything, work on very suboptimal
levels of efficiency.
Prefix letter: F (Focus)

Perhaps you ask yourself what’s this prefix letter about. Its purpose
is to replace the category of gender in pronouns. The contemporary
pronouns in the 3. person, singular are:
Male: he, him, his, his, himself
Female: she, her, her, hers, herself
Neuter: it, it, its, its, itself

I suggest replacing them with pronouns which are more suitable for a
post-singularity world (because I think the words “ve”, “ver”, etc.
are rather weird and confusing):
Generic sentient mind (neutral form for sentient minds): ne, nem, ner,
ners, nemself
Bliss mind: le, lem, ler, lers, lemself
Utility mind: te, tem, ter, ters, temself
Universal mind: se, sem, ser, sers, semself
Focus mind: fe, fem, fer, fers, femself
Inanimate entity / non-sentient mind: it, it, its, its, itself

It’s always safe and appropriate to use the generic form and it never
ought to be considered disrespectful. Using a wrong form for speaking
about a mind usually is really insulting or even insane. Often the
distinctions between the different mind types are rather blurry, so
it’s not absolutely clear which type a mind belongs to. Some minds
might refer to themselves as “generic minds” and claim that this four
type system is not useful in their case. So, it’s a really good idea
to use the generic form unless you are rather sure that it’s safe to
use a more specific form.

Of course, this is a rather primitive typification and the real future
might bring much more sophisticated systems, but I think it’s a good
start to think about post-singularity minds in these categories.

Original essay available at

BOTGIRL QUESTI: I don’t think one needs to have rezzed to have a firm persona. For instance, as Khannea referred to, there were quite a few highly developed characters that sprang from text-only MUDs, back to the 1980’s.

I think many (or most) serious virtual worlders have one or more alts, but I wonder whether some people have more than one avatar … See Moreidentity that they feel is a “primary”. I guess some people have a work avatar and a personal avatar. And there is certainly a variation in the status of various alts.

It’s interesting Liz, that it’s “Liz” talking about Chimera here. 🙂 I think there’s a difference between name/identity and form. For instance, in this video, Botgirl and Majic had the same names, but felt odd just because their usual appearance was altered to just a relatively very tiny degree”

ME: Depends what you mean by ‘rezzing’. I take it to mean setting up an account with an online world and then going forth into it. I definitely think that there is no substitute for having a digital person be part of a dynamic and complex social network; one that can impose a separation between the DP and its primary. Getting to know Botgirl, Khannea and myself through the looking-glass of web-based interactions provides the depth of social interactivity and the anomity (arguably) necessary for us to seem ‘real’ rather than ‘pretend’.

In SL, 98% of residents can identify which is their main avatar (87% in WOW) and across both worlds, users typically spend 76% of their time on their main avatar, 18% on their favourite alt and 6% on all other alts.

So that leaves 2% who cannot distinguish between their main avatar and their alt(s). This might simply be because they do not have any alts, but it could also be because they consider two or more avatars to be ‘main’.

BTW, dunno about Botgirl but in my terminology ‘primary’ does not refer to any avatar, but rather to the mind that has the highest-resolution paterns of that digital person.

‎…online words can include text-based MUDS. In fact, you could argue that these better facilitate the development of persona. In SL, the vast majority of people spend time developing a LOOK that is substantially different (in a positive way) from their RL appearance, but their personality hardly changes at all, and in fact becomes LESS different as time goes by. People seemed much more comfortable with alternate personaes in text-based MUDS, maybe because the lack of visuals encouraged examination of and experiment with one’s inner selves.
This entry was posted in Secondary Thoughts.. Bookmark the permalink.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s