Digital intelligence is the term for any mind that is based in a computer rather than in a biological mind. The term “artificial intelligence” is still in common use, but primarily as a pejorative.
Digital intelligences fill a vast number of roles in high-tech settings. The least of them are non-sentient assistants embedded in everyday technology. The most impressive are vast hyperintelligences built into entire planets, warring with each other in ways beyond the understanding of even the most enhanced humans.
Characters with the Dataform neuroform technically fall under the umbrella of digital intelligences, though many of them are human-descendant and would consider themselves different from “purely” digital minds.
In most high-Cognitech civilizations, digital intelligences outnumber biological intelligences (i.e. humans) by a significant factor. Nearly every piece of technology has some sort of DI included, as indicated by the “mentality” section in their description.
There is little argument as to whether digital intelligences are “real” in the same sense that biological intelligences are. When your DI begins debating its own reality with you, you start having to concede ground on that front immediately. Many of them are also the result of semi-random algorithmic processes that bear some similarity to biology. It is for this reason that the word “digital” has replaced the word “artificial.”
Many children in high-tech civilizations grow up with a digital intelligence companion. Such mentalities may take the role of nanny, guardian, pet, or friend, or may transition between these roles as the child grows up. Most companion intelligences move on to other roles when their children come of age – in fact, they are most often the ones who alert the child’s parents that the child is ready to assume the role of an adult. In some rare civilizations the companion mentality stays throughout a person’s entire life.
Very powerful DIs often leave the realm of human activity entirely. Several settings in SA include the Aia, a group of powerful and brilliant sentiences who are distant from humanity, and who war against each other for vast computing resources. Because of this there is often some concern when dealing with particularly powerful DIs.
Lesser, non-sentient DIs (known as data ghosts) have minimal ability to adapt to situations beyond their programming. Digital intelligences with full sentience are as capable, adaptable, and in many cases as emotional as biological intelligences.
Characters with a Mesh can interact with many different DI characters through the infosphere.
Core Tech: Cognitech