Sympathetic Sentience is an ongoing collaborative project which began in 1995. Several iterations of the work have been built. Sympathetic Sentience One was built entirely in hardware logic (TTL ICs). The basic technical premise is extremely simple: each unit is receiving, processing and forwarding a continuous stream of data. Each unit 'edits' that stream 'on the fly', adding or omitting an occasional bit. This editing is done in such a way that the 'density' of the sound is 'self-governing'. The critical part of each unit is an exclusive OR gate. On each unit, the signal is received by an IR receiver, demodulated and sent to a shift-register (delay). Emerging from the delay it meets a feed from the on-board oscillator at the exclusive OR gate. The signal emerging from the gate goes to both the IR emitter and the audio amplification circuit. The units communicate in modulated infrared signals using hardware similar to that used in TV remote controls.

While in Sympathetic Sentience One, only the rhythmic patterns were subject to change through the emergent complex behavior, in Sympathetic Sentience Two, other sound characteristics such as pitch and envelope are also subject to gradual change through the emergent complex process. To achieve this, Sympathetic Sentience Two uses small microprocessors (PICs) to replace the hardware logic, this allows new versions of the code to be downloaded.