Ongoing controversies exist where the correct measurement of population figures is concerned, including:
- Accounting of clone families;
- Accounting of fork families, both synchronized (cikrieth) and desynchronized, and the measurement of repeated non-persistent forks;
- Accounting of group intellects, including both true hive-mind species (such as the hjera and cusaron) and independent Fusions, representing single minds in a multiplicity of bodies, and collective consciousnesses (such as the Eldraeic Transcend), representing multiple independent minds sharing only specific layers; as well as multiple intermediate and overlapping cases;
- Accounting of collegiate-intelligence species, such as the embatil and aklaknak;
- Accounting of naturally fork/merge capable species, such as the codramaju;
- Accounting of biologically casted species in which only a single caste or a subset of castes is sophont, such as the vlcefc, or the gender-based equivalent;
- Accounting of polysapic species possessing multiple natural minds acting in accord, such as the múrast and voctonari;
- Accounting for members of species not possessing sophoncy at all points during their lifespan, including but not limited to the majority of r-selected species;
- Accounting for presently-inactivate species members, including those in long-term cryostasis/nanostasis or data storage;
- Accounting for the deceased retaining active cognition within technologically-mediated afterlives;
- Accounting for unconventional forms of identity, such as teleological threads;
- Location accounting of infomorphs (by processor or by avatar/point-of-interaction location);
- Legal differences of opinion on the prosophont/sophont boundary;
- Calibration of population accounting for post-sophont entities, both regarding the appropriateness of categorizing such minds on an equivalent scale with baselines, and inasmuch as high post-sophont minds are capable of generating transient and/or lasting sophont memes in the normal course of cognition;
- And so forth.
While recognizing that in many cases appropriate answers to these questions is determined contextually (the computation of required life-support capacity obviously is dependent on bioshell-population, for example), the meaning of population in the generalized sense requires the resolution of these questions, many of which are hotly debated philosophical, theological, and/or political topics in many of the Worlds’ polities.
As such, we have chosen to use population figures, in all cases superseding those locally provided, established by the Imperial Grand Survey, whose methodology has the virtue of being consistent, transparent, and well-documented (see publication IGS-1134/P rev. 112).
– from the preface to the Associated Worlds Factbook, Conclave Press