At a certain level of complexity, machines become intractable to engineer using traditional engineering methods. One way to continue the advancement of technology is via simulated evolution.
In Simulated Evolution, a virtual high-fidelity environment with accelerated virtual time is populated with Seed Organisms, which can be either newly-designed simple organisms or translations of existing organisms into the virtual environment. Colloquially, such environments are referred to as Simspace.
After enough simulated time, the resulting organisms will evolve and speciate. By controlling the evolution of the simulated environment, the resulting virtual species will be tuned for survival in conditions of the simulation designers' choosing. If a Simspace is close enough to the Physics in which it was built, extremely advanced nano-biotechnology can be employed to translate the simulated organism into the simulation's containing Physics. At this point, the organism will be able to live and reproduce as if it had evolved within the containing Physics itself.
Organisms and/or species resulting from Simulated Evolution are referred to as teleians, those who emerge from purpose.
- Ikoska, the first known machines with human-level intelligence. Although they were intended to possess animal intelligence, Ikoska spontaneously form a Pseudo Group Mind when several of them gather.
- Vimana, self-contained sentient starships. Their Simulated Evolution is notable for being almost completely accidental after their home Subreality was left unattended for thousands of years, corresponding to billions of years of simulation time.
- Tethyans, a huge teleian species who sometimes serve as Combat Exos in the Imperial Army as well as a variety of other forces.
These three teleian species and their original Subreal environments are known as the Ikoska Hypercomplex since they are "related" in the sense that their simulation hardware was developed directly from that used to create the Ikoska.
Simulated Evolution enables the development of vastly complex organisms, with complexity that rivals or exceeds biology itself. However, since Natural Selection is a goal-less, inexact process, teleians are no ordinary robots. Even the smallest of them with the least mind have their own environmental requirements. Conveniently, many teleians including those of the Ikoska Hypercomplex have non-Carbon-based lifecycles enabling them to consume materials that are common in space rather than requiring liquid water and carbon-based base organisms. These alternative ecosystems can live places Humans cannot or live peaceably among carbon-based life without competing for most resources.