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A computer is an information processor: a set of circuits which accepts input, manipulates it, and produce Output according to some set of programming instructions.[1]. A Brain is a specialized form of computer designed to operate physical machines, capable of autonomous action, and possessing some degree of intelligence.

The brain takes input data from Sensors and processes it into a set of actions. Actions within the physical world require processing incomplete sensor data and responding within very limited time parameters.

The primary visible difference between a computer and a brain is a presence of a personality, an interface control system between the users designed to interpret their commands. Early versions of these interfaces use simple command structures while more advanced personalities can be interacted with like other sophonts. This gives untrained users easy interactions with the control system, relying on the intelligence and expertise of the brain to correctly interpret commands.

Design and development[edit]

The term brain or mind is a term covering several different technologies all used to achieve the same end goal: a machine capable of autonomous actions.


The first mechanical control system develop in TL–4. These are simple machines to repeat an action. There are simple analog feedback loops to prevent the worst kinds of disasters. Control is through a mechanical on/off switch and changing operations requires disassembly and re-assembly of the whole mechanism.


The first electronic computers develop in TL–5, and the idea of computer controlled system to manage simple tasks also develops. Electronic brains go through several stages of evolution.

Low data TL–5 - TL–8
A Low Data brain is a generalized computer system applied to the task of operations. It operates only as designed and programmed, possessing no ability to learn or adapt to new conditions. While the programming can be quite sophisticated attempting to use a low data system outside the area of expertise results in failures. Low data brains have a very limited command set, usually requiring specialized control software, to change or modify operations.
High data TL–9
A high data brain incorporates a learning feedback loop in its operations processing. This allows it to improve operations in the area of expertise, learning from both successes and failures. This area of learning is still limited to the initial programming. High data system incorporate a basic command set, allowing control and operational updates through a simple, generalized control system like voice commands.
Low autonomous TL–12
Evolution in processing technology, including massive parallel processing and the introduction of synaptic learning system allow the first self-actuating, learning machine with a reasonable intelligence.
High autonomous TL–13
These brains possess a crude form of artificial intelligence: these machines are not only self-actuating and self-teaching, but they are able to make better use of these capabilities with their moderate intelligence.
Self aware TL–14
These brains have made a half-step toward full artificial intelligence, and posses an awareness of their own existence and self-direction. These brains advance their learning and to serve their own interests.


A positronic device, developed in TL–12, uses the flow of positrons (antielectrons) within the random structure of an iridium sponge. A raw pattern of possible neural pathways develop through use by a flow of positrons. The result is a holographic intelligence pattern within the brain adaptable to new circumstances.

Positronic brains begin as blank slates. A positronic brain is activated, giving it consciousness and self-awareness and then connected to a flash-learning system which floods the brain with information and the techniques and abilities to use it.

This produces a equivalent of a sophont brain in a mechanical form. The positronic brains are never identical and can not be copied due to the initial layout and learning processing applied.

Positronic brains age, the natural and inescapable consequence of positrons on the iridium substrate. The aging results in the collapse of the intelligence within a few decades causing the termination of the brain.

Semi-Organic Clone[edit]

Synaptic processing, developed at TL–11 in an attempt to model computer operation after sophont brains, is found to introduce a measure of non-determinism and ability to retain learned information. These brains combine traditional processing with synaptic enhancement making pattern recognition and language understanding systems faster and more robust.

The semi-organic combines geneered clones of animals as a synaptic co-processor for a parallel computer processor to produce brains with significant intelligence and learning capability.


By TL–13 medical technology advances enough to capture a living sophont brain, keeping it alive in an otherwise mechanical device and attached to external sensors and communication systems. Organic brains age and eventually fail due to decay and damage to their organic components.

Organic Clone[edit]

The ability to copy and transfer a personality permanently into an existing clone becomes a viable technology by TL–14. This allow creating multiple, consistent, copies of an fully intelligent sophont capable of joining a society. Clone brains age, more quickly if force grown, and eventually fail due to decay and damage to their organic components.

Artificial Intelligence[edit]

By TL–16 the twin approaches of organic and mechanical synaptic processing merge into a single unified set of processors. This allow creation of a fully mechanical modeled self-actuating and self-teaching sophont brain. A true artificial intelligence capable of independent and creative thought. These brains can be either programmed from an existing personality template or allowed to learn from inductive reasoning about the world.


In the original concept a brain was designed for controlling a robot, a mechanical being capable of autonomous action. It is frequently the case this state is inverted, a brain is installed in a non-mobile structure to act as a monitoring and control system, addressing the needs of sophonts within.

Robot Brain[edit]

The operational control of a independent mechanical device. Between TL–5 and TL–8 the controls for robots are highly specialized requiring training to operate them. This makes most robots of these designs as prototypes, or used in very limited circumstances. The availability of the more advanced command and learning systems available at TL–9+ make robots more capable and more prevalent.

House Brain[edit]

A brain used to monitor and control a habitation for a single family unit. This brain monitors and adjusts the environmental controls, provides accesses to information, education, and entertainment networks, monitors internal and security sensors.

Ship Brain[edit]

A brain used as a control system for a starship. Generally ship controls are complex enough to require a computer system, with workstations to effect fast and accurate controls. Many ships, especially ships carrying passengers install a Brain in addition to provide a friendly, and hopefully familiar, interaction for the duration of the journey.

Factory Brain[edit]

A brain used for the operation of a factory, manufacturing facility, or mining system. The brain controls the internal robotic workforce, along with the other machinery.

City Brain[edit]

A theoretical single mind managing the infrastructure of a large group of sophonts including life support systems (air, water, sewage), power systems, computer communication networks, food and other goods distribution systems, a Roadgrid System, starport space control, and defense systems. Current practice divides these tasks into independent, if connected, computer systems overseen by sophonts. The current brain technology isn't sufficient to manage even one of the divided computer systems let alone the combined whole. Current theoretical designs show this may be available between TL–17 and TL–19.

Matrioshka mind[edit]

A general term for a Megastructure-scale computer designed to create a massive mind, an artificial thinking matrix capable of unparalleled analysis, calculation, and heuristic projection. The scale of these projects ranges from planetary size, to gas giant sized, to the size of an an entire system using a set of nested dyson spheres powered by the central star. The purpose of a Matrioshka or Jupiter brain on this scale is only partly described.

See also[edit]

Information Technology[edit]

Lifeform Sciences[edit]


References & Contributors (Sources)[edit]

Smallwikipedialogo.png This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Matrioshka_brain. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. The text of Wikipedia is available under the Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Smallwikipedialogo.png This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Superintelligence. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. The text of Wikipedia is available under the Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
This list of sources was used by the Traveller Wiki Editorial Team and individual contributors to compose this article. Copyrighted material is used under license from Far Future Enterprises or by permission of the author. The page history lists all of the contributions.