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A mind-state is a Virtual copy of an entity's personality.[1]

Mind-states are also called souls, dynamic full-brain process inventories,[1] and - when read from a biological brain - brain-states.[2][3]

The technology to create mind-states from naturally evolved creatures has existed for billions of years prior to the 30th century CE.[4]


Mind-states are ultimately intended to be used to create new instances of an entity, either as a Virtual entity within Virtualities, or as a Real entity through revention.[1] Inactive mind-states could be stored for extended periods of time.[5][6]

A mind-state may be duplicated, each potentially becoming a concurrent - or child - instance of the parent personality.[7][8] Each instance is a complete and independent individual.[9][8] Mind-states from different individuals may share information or even merge with each other; an individual may use this to gain the experiences from differing child instances.[7][9]

In the Culture, sapient child instances were treated as distinct individuals. They were not obligated to re-integrate - or merge back - with their parent.[10]

Mind-states may be used as personality back-ups; if the original entity is lost or killed, it may be "revived" by creating a new near-identical entity from its mind-state.[9][11]

Storing inactive mind-states is alternative to long-term Real suspended animation; this may be the only alternative if the body is destroyed.[5][6]


Neural laces could be designed to record a high-fidelity mind-state from its host. Laces that had years to grow with and co-exist with its host's brain could mirror the host's mind in very fine detail[1]; a mind-state could be extracted quickly from such a the lace at any time.[12][13]

A neural induction device used on a dying biological entity for a few seconds may produce a low-fidelity mind-state.[1]

The technology to record, or map, mind-states is an expected development once a civilization reaches a certain stage of development.[7]

For 24th century Culture technology, it was infeasible to quickly create a completely new mind-state from a pan-human brain in an emergency without any brain augmentations or assistance.[12][13]

The Culture attached metadata to mind-states, which included basic identification information like the entity's name. Reading mind-state's fell under the Culture taboo against reading minds without permission; without metadata, it was impossible to glean any information from the mind-state without querying an instantiation of it.[1]


A mind-state abstract is a limited non-sapient version of a mind-state[14] used as an intelligent virtual agent for specific tasks.[15][14] Abstracts are interactive enough to have conversations with.[15][14] They are superior to simpler seeker-agent programs in the intelligence role.[14]

The creation of intelligent, but ultimately disposable, mind-state abstracts was not fully accepted within the Culture for ethical reasons.[14]

See also[]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Surface Detail, chapter 5
  2. Excession, chapter 1.2
  3. Excession, chapter 10.7
  4. Surface Detail, chapter 7
  5. 5.0 5.1 Look to Windward, chapter 2
  6. 6.0 6.1 Excession, chapter 2.2
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Look to Windward, chapter 8
  8. 8.0 8.1 The Hydrogen Sonata, chapter 11
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Look to Windward, chapter 13
  10. The Hydrogen Sonata, chapter 18
  11. Excession, chapter 9.5
  12. 12.0 12.1 Surface Detail, chapter 21
  13. 13.0 13.1 The Hydrogen Sonata, chapter 21
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 Excession, chapter 7.1
  15. 15.0 15.1 Excession, chapter 1.3