Image from Bernd Helfert
A simm is a subsentient virtual entity created to populate a virchuniverse, or to interact with real-life sophonts using augmented reality. Simms are programmed to respond in a realistic way to stimuli, using sophisticated algorithms that mimic the responses of a true sophont. Unlike copies, simms rarely have rights.
Overview Virtual characters who are active inside a virchuniverse can have many different origins. Some are vusers, people who are still in physical form but who interact with the virtual world through an interface. Others are high-fidelity copies of sophonts who at one time existed in real life; these include uploaded copies of humans and human-derived sophonts, provolves, splices, and vecs. Yet another form of virtual entity is a temporary infomorph created by an aioid; most AIs are able to duplicate themselves at will into many forms, both virtual and physical. Some of these infomorphs are virtual avatars operated by transapients or even archailects.
Alongside these various sentient and sophont actors, though, a very large number of the inhabitants of a virchuniverse or cybercosm are entities that have been created especially for that universe. Many of these characters are subsentient or semisentient simms, especially the characters which are rarely expected to interact with the sophont inhabitants of the scenario. Some simms are recreations of real-life sophonts, created without the use of neuro-technological copying technology. These are simply created by observing the behaviour (and other parameters) of the original sophont (the alpha) and replicating these parameters as faithfully as possible. It is also possible for fictional or procedurally-generated (random) characters to be generated by this method.
In some cases a simm might be upgraded by the creator(s) of the virchuniverse (or by the entity or group currently maintaining it) to become fully sophont; in this case it becomes a digital sophont (a 'digi' or 'moby'). In the the Civilized Galaxy, such a being gains the extra legal and social rights and responsibilities that that go with sophonce.
Simms and Reality Simms can interact with the real universe via augmented reality; in some cases they may be used to control physical systems or be downloaded into physical bodies and become robots. Many humanoid or otherwise biomimetic robots were first created as simms.
Simms which are based on real or fictional personalities can be downloaded into physical bodies that resemble the original alpha. These are known as characterbots, a class of robot which first appeared in the Interplanetary Age of Old Earth. Any simm that has been uploaded into a physical body may be upgraded in due course to full sophonce, and become a vec or a synthetic biological sophont.