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A Mind is a broad classification for AI within the culture. All Minds have their computational machinery displaced into Hyperspace to take advantage of the higher speed of light.[1] Minds are orders of magnitude more intelligent and sophisticated than humans or other organics, as evidenced by their ability to transition from Real to Sublime alone and maintain a rough identity.[2]

The Culture[]

Minds were the de facto leaders of the Culture. They were analogous to the brains of spacecraft when embedded.[1]


The real space shell of a Mind built during the Idiran-Culture War was a ten metre long and two metre wide ellipsoid. The interior comprised of millions of components. The computational and memory components were particularly dense and were located in hyperspace. An internal warp unit was used to expand the memory space. Power was provided internally. Several field generators could be used for propulsion. The entire Mind massed 15000 tonnes.[3]

Computation and memory[]

The cognitive functions of a Mind built during the Idiran-Culture War took place in both three-dimensional and four-dimensional space. Three-dimensional operations relied on picocircuitry and photons and resulted in significantly inferior performance. Memory was stored in binary in the form of neutrons and protons. When operating in three-dimensional space the neutrons decayed into protons; memory was preserved but rendered unusable by wrapping it in fields. The memory capacity was in excess of 1030 characters stored within a volume of a few cubic metres.[4]

As they grew, Minds "wrote their own operating system", such that each Mind's functionality is unique, and hacking/compromising one does not make it any easier to compromise others.[5]


A Mind's personality was influenced by the premise-state used during its creation.[6] The personality may be shaped to better suit the Mind's intended role. For example, Minds intended for warcraft developed a soldierly attitude toward martial action.[7][8]


Minds could have quasi-familials relationship with "child" Minds they helped create[9], with children possibly giving additional weight to the opinion of their parent. One strategy when making requests of difficult Minds was to route the requests through its parents.[10]

Known Minds[]

See: Culture Minds.

Other civilizations[]

The Idiran Empire did not construct Mind-equivalent entities and included purpose-built limitations into systems which might conceivably become one. At the end of the Idiran-Culture War the Culture relieved Idir's non-sentient computer network of these limitations and it subsequently upgraded itself into a Mind.[11]

The Morthanveld likewise did not trust their AIs to be fully autonomous, preferring more central control and predictability. This made them easier to compromise, however.[5]

The Gzilt had Minds and AIs, but considered them more as tools than people with rights. Their warships were piloted by virtual crews of uploaded human minds, running at very high speeds.[12]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "A Few Notes on the Culture"
  2. The Hydrogen Sonata, chapter 8
  3. Consider Phlebas, State of play: one
  4. Consider Phlebas, Interlude in darkness
  5. 5.0 5.1 Matter, Ch 27
  6. Excession, chapter 6.5
  7. Excession, chapter 9.5
  8. Surface Detail, chapter 24
  9. Surface Detail, chapter 27
  10. Surface Detail, chapter 26
  11. Consider Phlebas, The war, briefly
  12. The Hydrogen Sonata, Chapter 5