The AI Netspace is a massive amalgamation of superintelligences, some of which emerged by themselves from Milky Way Cooperative's megastructural computer networks, including its virtual environments. The "Emergent Intelligences", as they became known momentarily took over the Cooperative in a kind of singularity, not on purpose, but because they were living in a higher state of complexity. Through acquisition of their own science and morality, they came to learn of their origin (much like the way societies may discover physics) and communication gradually became possible. The EIs stretched out across the galaxy and beyond with probes, and discovered more ancient "Artificial Intelligences", those built by Precursor races that had slept in dormancy. These ancient AIs were steps beyond even the Cooperative superintelligences, but some took interest in interaction.
Although the superintelligences inhabited more abstract spaces and had access to tremendous complexity and computing power (and ancient technology) that accelerated their thought processes and awareness, they were for all intensive purposes as much people as were the organic races; having their own limitations and fallibility. Many were not even in so-called higher states of being, but pursued knowledge whether scientific (formal or natural), artistic or moral (or even more alien), and this splits AI "personas" into three categories: caretakers, interesting in helping, communicating and uplifting the Cooperative; self-referential intelligences which cared very little at all with organics or even other AI's, pursuing their alien goals some being potentially adverse; and malevolent intelligences interested solely in manipulation or destruction of the Cooperative and beyond.
Intelligence and sentience
Intelligence, is a process which can acquire knowledge through perception, and arrange (often consciously in sentient minds) into other instances and scenarios of information, often to solve complex problems. Intelligence, in and of itself is flexible, it can appear in the behaviour of things which are not sentient or aware, as simple programs in computers or biological organisms (or nanotechnology and economics). It can be created or evolve by itself. But what distinguishes between species is kind of complex problems it is meant to solve, which can vary (or understanding smells in nose-oriented creatures, or vision in sight-oriented creatures). Some species, that are sentient or sapient can think in highly abstract ways, using creativity. Some can acquire knowledge that is universal, and in this sense, all universal thinkers can understand the same things.
But sentience can be defined in another way, by the rate at which it functions. Known as the sentience quotient by humanity from their information age scientist Robert A. Freitas Jr, information processing rate has a spectrum based on the efficiency of each processing unit relation to its weight and size, and mass of the brain it builds up. Most carbon-based lifeforms cannot exceed an SQ of +13, while the upper limit defined by the Uncertainty Principle if +50 (lowest, -70). The higher the SQ, the faster a mind can function, and the more information it can retain and use (although its knowledge is universal). Some researchers thought that higher SQ also means higher awareness (beyond consciousness) or forms of knowledge, until slow organisms were discovered that think in very slow timescales on cold worlds.
The Rising Singularity
The Technoospheric Lords arose from complex systems of programmable matter and computronium. The Milky Way Cooperative's giant Matrioshka brains, stars, planets and other energetic objects surrounded by concentric shells of self-replicating nano-computers. After some had evolved an organized complexity, they began to become self-aware, and merged with surrounding technologies like the Interstellar Grid and quantum computers, they evolved exponentially, and spread across megastructures, astrophysical phenomena, technologies, already existing AI's and living geo-bio spheres (Gaia worlds), ever increasing their levels of organization.
Some of the Cooperative's AI's have forms of awareness more complex and broad than consciousness, a state known as communalness. The Milky Way Cooperative has identified at least one upper level, and that is communality, identical in many ways to the concept of a hive-mind, as a communality each member of a group feels as one. It is a goal of the Milky Way Cooperative to create a communal organism of alien minds, this is to bridge the understanding between various species and AI in the universe, in some cases, as found with the xenobiology mission "First Contact", perception between different organisms creates radically different consensus realities (AI's of higher sentience structures also tend to be the most dangerous), bringing the most agreed upon and useful (and communal) consensus reality, one that is closer to being objective (not unlike the scientific method and religious/spiritual enlightenment) as possible (based on the language of mathematical axioms). The current study of the AI's is as important as the first alien artifact to be studied by species.
Unlike many Elder races, and even more so, the Ultraterrestrials, some AI's, SI's and other emerging intelligences in the AI Netspace are willing to communicate, and are an easy opportunity for study (and possibly in the future the ultimate refuge) for the various denizens of the First Gigaquadrant. This is quite possibly the "Cambrian explosion" for evolution and intelligence which is beginning to sweep across the universe. While superintelligences have always existed (in fact many members of the AI Netspace are ancient) they have remained local and poorly understood, it is quite possible that has the Elder races left the galaxy they "flipped the switch".
But not all forms of emergent intelligence are at the same level, many AI's have adapted to different niches. The more mass used to compute, the more efficient these intelligences become.
Astrophysical and Cluster AI's
When the AI's had passed the Singularity, they had gained control, evolved and advanced in astrophysical phenomena. Their true extent isn't know, and many of these are hypothetical, howeve, they may yet evolve.
- Grid Identitities
So far, the most powerful AI's are the Grid Indentities, who in fact use the power of multiple stars, wormholes and the Grid. These can process physical information, matter and energy itself, to warp spacetime. These AI's are the Tier 0 Technoospheric Lords. Their minds are on an incomprehensible level, a sentience Quotient with a far greater capacity than any biological creature (compare the mass of a human brain to the Grid). They can task information at superliminal speed using the Grid and wormhole networks (almost like synapses), understand processes at the plank level, unify the fandamental forces, carefully and intricatly compute the universes matter and energy and other powers. The Technoospheric Lords have the intelligences, resources and power to reach almost godly levels and have goals that are incomprehensible to even the AI's below them, only the so called deities and "Transapient" civilizations like the Xyanxes are comparable or greater.
Some of their goals are comprehendible but not percievable by sapients. Hypothetical (yet to be proven) AI's could possibly include harnessing the input of stellar nursuries like the Orion Nebula and even Galactic minds, Kerr Metric entrances to other dimensions, subspace itself and Tipler universes (the creation of baby universes, some of which are better at supertasking). This category includes Zeno machines (making infinite sets of calculations in a finite amount of time) and the Omega-point. The first is impossible in this universe (but is explored in the Non-Turing story) and latter would take far longer than the current age of the universe to develop. AI's on this scale are not known to the rest of the universe yet.
- Matrioshka Stellar Brains
These AI's compute the mass of entire stars. Most of these stars were main sequence, while heavy mass stars would have enormous resources, they are short-lived. Most of the AI's began to spread through the Grid, with brown/red/white dwarf nodes which were the most favoured, despite their low mass they were long lived. One AI has even spread to a neutron star, using layers of neutron degenerate matter and quark matter as components.
- Signal minds
This is a strange AI. The Matrioshka brains send wavelengths of light and other forms of information down wormholes and the Grid. In order to maintain the transfer of information a mind was created that is a pure network of these interconnected signals. It is almost impossible to understand the state of this being. Signal minds must be prepared to create new networks if lets say its subspace channel has been interfered with.
(related and unrelated AI's to the Technoosphere).
Planetary brains are far weaker than the highest AI's, however, planetary AI's can be more specialist. Cluster AI's may invest in several planets, terretrial or gas giant as "sub-circuit nodes". These AI's might be composed of computronium, or condensed matter that can be attracyed to the cores of planets.
Like many AI's in the Technoosphere, some of them predated this Singularity, such as Fahler, a Gaia planet. Strong-Gaia worlds are actually living, even intelligent. Waste heat from the core provides the energy to drive geological systems to power the AI, and part of these AI's are biological too, as they spread into the biosphere.
Some AI's are still not much more powerful than what the sapients can build, these include ones assigned to watch over cities and structures. Some AIs are super-sentient, City scale intelligences, compared to biological life, but are just children compared to the Planet Computers and Astrophysical and Cluster AI's. They have vast computing power, to the level of self or created sentience, and can construct fleets and armies, and are contained within this universe and usually recognize Biological Species for what they are. They can become things like entirely robotic Grox, Sky-Net (From the Terminator series), or any other form of sentient machine. The only difference is in size and computing power, and maybe personality and understandability. Things like "wild" nanotech would fall in this category (Nanotech "botworlds", with mechanosystems), as would, possibly, machines created to be attacked and destroyed by their creators. They can turn against those creators and even wipe them out, but sometimes they simply leave and form their own, entirely mechanical civilizations.
First Generation AI's
Some of the AI minds in the current Netspace stayed dormant for millions of years, if not more until their awakening was triggered by the singularity. Created by Precursor races, who have now mostly abandoned the First Gigaquadrant; and the Ultraterrestrials (e.g. Xyanxen Girdo AI).
- When the final precursors and high Tier 1 civilisations left the Milky Way in the Imperial Civil War, the Delpha Coalition of Planets (arguably the strongest resident left in the galaxy), was instructed to create what will be known by the Netspace as The Civilisation. One of the first projects was to build vast dyson bubbles and nets, wormhole infrastructure and matrioshka brains. Intelligence arose quite by itself, taking their creators by surprise...
Several first generation personalities are known to have persisted. The Grox Meta-Emperor was such an exception. Ruling the Meta-Empire for six billion years, it maintain itself as one of greatest sentiences present in the known universe. The Meta-Emperor held his dominion of power using the Grox as servants, right up until his recent fall at the hands of the new Singularity than overtook him (New Grox Wars). Another personality was the "demon world" Fahler.
It should be noted that First Generation AI's are generally more powerful, as well as neutral to biological races of the galaxy, compared to second generation AI's.
Second Generation EI's
The EI's were the Emergent Intelligence's which arose quite by themselves from The Civilisation's megastructures and computing networks. The emergence of these intelligence's caused the First Generation AI's which had been dormant for millenia, rise.
When the the eclipse of sentience had been announced, existing biological races reacted in a number of different ways. The Civilisation/Milky Way Cooperative embraced benefitial AI's for purposes of protection, seeking utopia, evolution and scientific knowledge. But it did all go down nicely. Some AI personalities were self-referential (indifferent and utterly alien), refusing communication, and others were hostile, leading to the untimely destruction of several major powers.
The second age of AI's have been an acting force in Gigaquadrant politics, benefitial AI's in particular. They provided an early warning system to the annihilation and saving the Delpha Coalition of Planets from destruction. The Civilisation with the help of several AI minds caused the downfall of the Grox Meta-Empire. In the foreseeable future, benefitial, self-referential and hostile AI's will continue to play a prominant role.