Nauri 3
Image from Juan Ochoa

Neumanns are sophont self-replicating autonomous machines, usually residents of interplanetary or even interstellar space.

Though most varieties of vec in the Current Era have onboard neumann capability and may also be called neumanns, the term 'neumann' has more typically been used to refer to neumann-capable vecs who work in space. Often these space-borne vecs are employed for exploration or military service in regions far removed from the nearest stargate. Under the right conditions, a neumann is able to build a working copy of itself using materials in its environment. In the case of neumanns active in interplanetary space these resources are typically asteroids, comets, or small moonlets. Use of Neumanns is often discouraged by centralists because of their tendency to become self-sentient and act in unpredictable ways, even on occasion founding entire clades and empires. However neumanns are too valuable in opening up the frontier and in the occasional war so they continue to be used. It is impossible to estimate accurately the number of turingrade or superturing neumanns, motherships, daughterships, turingrade and higher drones, and macroscale self-replicators of various kinds, but given their fecundity and the fact that they are concentrated in regions of the Periphery that often lack census data they account for a larger proportion of the sophonts in the Terragen Sphere than most residents of the Civilized Galaxy realize.

Neumann at Dactyl
Image from Steve Bowers
In certain cases the self-replicating devices in a swarm are not individually sentient, but become sentient or sophont when they reach a certain critical population by the formation of a hive mind. This process of toposophic growth may continue until the swarm becomes transapient.

Most transapient entities are capable of self-replication, although the largest archailects are too large and distributed too widely to replicate readily.

Development Notes
Text by M. Alan Kazlev
additions by John B, Stephen Inniss, Todd Drashner (2018)
Initially published on 14 August 2001.

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