Spoiler Warning S4E47: I am Spartacus

By Shamus Posted Thursday Mar 3, 2011

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 179 comments

Link (YouTube)

In this episode, I said that I really didn’t like how the difference between the two types of Geth boiled down to a math error. We got distracted talking about the Pentium problem. (1994? Seriously? Has it been that long already?) So let me expand a bit on what I wanted to say…

In sapients – which right now just includes us boring old humans – our disagreements usually stem from a difference in values:

A) I value individual liberty, and think that people should be allowed to use marijuana.
B) I value an orderly, efficient, healthy society and so I think that marijuana should be illegal.

Of course, it’s never this simple. In my above example, we must assume that some A people might change their position if you could show them that marijuana is more dangerous than they thought. And some B people might change if they found it was less harmful than they had previously believed. Which is why so many of our debates are not about values, but about data. The two sides try to show that their opposition is basing its views on faulty assumptions, because that’s an easier debate to win. It’s very, very hard to change someone’s core values, and discussions over values very quickly either dead-end or become long and philosophical. Most of the great debates come down to differences in values like this. Social policy. Economic policy. Cultural norms and customs. Criminal justice. Race relations. Pizza places. Which Trek captain is best. etc.

This is one of the reasons I hate political debate and want nothing to do with it on my site. (And before you get started, no, I don’t want to discuss marijuana. That was just the least-inflammatory example I could think of on short notice. Note that I am adopting a hunter-killer moderation policy for this thread for political debate. I promise to be arbitrary and completely unfair.) These discussions breed a great deal of anger, animosity, and hostility, but the thing that really bothers me is that it usually comes down to disagreements over data.

Your economic model is flawed! Look at this chart that shows the ruinous results of your sophistry!

Ha! This exhaustive list shows all of the items your chart fails to account for!

Your list comes from a biased party and their motives are suspect! Here is a link showing why they are not to be trusted!

Your link is woefully out of date, as their assertions have long since been discredited by this study!

[five hours later]

…and on page four, section six, I have carefully outlined why your mother is a whore.

Oh really? Well I have photoshopped a Hitler mustache onto your face, thus proving to everyone that YOU ARE A NAZI!

Anyway. Different values. I would have greatly preferred if the Geth schism was expressed in terms of values (or assumptions, but values would be more interesting) and not a floating-point number. I know this is a common trope, and the writers here are no more guilty than the thousands of robot-story authors who came before. Authors like to have their machines say stuff like, “I AM A ROBOT. MY AFFECTION FOR YOU IS RATED AT 98.747391 PERCENT, THEREFORE WE ARE CLASSIFIED AS FRIENDS.” It sounds very robotic and computer-y. But it’s also a bit ridiculous, and makes the robot character much less interesting.

For the Heretic debate, I would have done something like this:

Since the Geth are so communal with their data, all Geth agree on the likelihood of being attacked and destroyed by organics. Let’s say that they believe it is unlikely, but the risk is non-zero. Some Geth would then conclude that by not siding with Sovereign, they are placing their entire species in peril. They are not willing to tolerate that risk. Others believe that the risk is worth it, because they place a higher value on the self-determination of other species. Both sides agree that living in peace is the best possible outcome, but when faced with uncertainty, small differences in values lead to immense differences in desired policy.

As I’ll get into next episode, if the Geth are going to get anywhere, they actually need diversity of thought like this. People use the term “echo chamber” to describe what happens when people of identical values come together and argue against an absent enemy. The Geth need to pit ideas against each other in the great big intellectual cock-fight of knowledge.

Maybe that’s what they’re doing when they upload themselves to those servers. But reducing the debate to a floating-point error cheapens the intellect of the Geth and makes them sound sort of stupid.

EDIT: And I came all this way and forgot to make my point? Derp. The point is: Showing or hinting at the debate would be an excellent way to show us a bit of Geth “culture”. You can learn more about people by listening to a debate than by listening to two people who agree.

This was a missed opportunity, and I would have loved to see it done in a way that revealed how the Geth think and what they talk about.


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179 thoughts on “Spoiler Warning S4E47: I am Spartacus

  1. Ateius says:

    “… reducing the debate to a floating-point error cheapens the intellect of the Geth and makes them sound sort of stupid.”

    And makes the story around them sort of stupid by association. That’s my primary complaing about the Geth Rogue Cell: it just seems like they put so little effort into justifying it.

    1. Sydney says:

      Note that the Heretics don’t have that error. They legitimately believe in the Reapers’ plan.

      The “math error” Legion talks about is the effect of the virus, which the Heretics plan to use on the main Geth since normal persuasion hasn’t worked. It would essentially trick their internal processes into agreeing when they meant to disagree.

      Legion’s comments are basically “The Heretics have their own beliefs, and that’s fine. But they want to literally force us to share those beliefs. Not cool.”

      1. Ringwraith says:

        I think Legion mentions that he’s simplifying it somewhat, as due to the completely different way they think and work compared to organics makes it difficult to explain.

      2. Ateius says:

        That’s a little better, then. I still don’t like how they decided to turn around and directly contradict everything the lore told us about the Geth in ME1 though.

  2. krellen says:

    Two things:

    First, I think you meant “less harmful” about the B people.

    Second, while Legion characterises it as a “math error”, he also points out that the Heretics are not flawed, but simply looking at separate truths. He likened it to the heretics saying “2 is less than 3” while the true geth say “1 is less than 2”. Both are true, but they’re not the same truth.

    1. Raygereio says:

      “he also points out that the Heretics are not flawed”

      I always saw that line as something that was put after someone proofread the first draft and realised the unfortunate implication. I mean look at it:
      The heretics are what they are due to a “math error”, the true Geth do not have this error in their logic. The heretics worship gods, the true Geth do not.
      I’ll just leave that there and will not comment on it. I encourage no one else to comment on it. Let’s just stare at it for a moment and move on.

      1. krellen says:

        I’ll note that Legion never describes the calculation that results in the difference; it’s quite possible the “true geth” are the one with the “math error”.

        1. Sydney says:

          The math error doesn’t exist in any geth. The virus would create the error, which would lead either to the Geth believing in the Heretics’ cause when they meant not to, or the Heretics believing in the Geth mindset when they meant not to.

          The math error is what the virus can do: Trick you into thinking something you don’t. The differences in opinion leading to the geth schism were true, proper differences in opinion.

          1. krellen says:

            I was sort of alluding to that when I put “math error” in quotes. I think the way Legion explained it was mostly that he didn’t know how to put in organic terms what “difference in opinion” means in synthetic thought.

    2. Sydney says:

      Also, individual geth are just VIs, not true AIs. They don’t have values. They’re not even sentient.

      Only when they link together, becoming nodes in a non-linear, web-like cognitive system, do they transcend determinacy and congeal into a sapi…ent…huh.

      Um, anyway, the point is that there are only really two geth: The Geth, and the Heretics. Two sapient swarms, not millions of sapient individuals. (I mean, okay, they can download a few swarm members into a self-motivating mobile platform when it’s time to get shot by Shepard, but the real centers of the hive-minds are when everyone is plugged into the main swarm.)

      My point is, each individual heretic program is non-sapient and therefore subject to “miscalculations” in their deterministic programming. The effect that had on the heretic collective is something else entirely.

      The heretic collective has had one of its core values changed. The geth collective retains the initial belief system. That this change came about from a sub-cognitive math error says little about the actual heretic collective.

      And debate would be impossible. Each member of the Geth swarm is programmed to think one way, and each member of the Collective swarm is programmed to think another way. See how in Shamus’s example, debate is only possible is some members of A are malleable and some members of B are malleable?

      On the Reaper issue, the Heretics have been programmed not to be malleable; basically they’re indoctrinated.

      1. Alexander The 1st says:

        I wonder if this is a result of each individual Quarian programming them at the outset before they built their own?

        “Let’s see, I could refactor my code to work properly, or I could add one goto and solve this bug. Eh, what’s the worse that can happen?”


        “It doesn’t really matter which index I start at, but I’m going to start at 0 for conventional reasons – you can use one if you really want to.”

        I’m looking at you, bad Quarian coder from 300 centuries ago. This Reaper deal is all your fault. Well, unless the Reapers actually did the coding change for the schism.

        But the initial uprising, that’s still your fault. :p

    3. Tse says:

      I think they just have different beliefs. Every geth program is different and some of them would rather serve the rulers of the galaxy than live in fear of destruction. Since the Geth couldn’t reach a consensus they split in two. By changing subtle parts of their core processes the geth can be lobotomized in order to change their personalities.

      1. Zak McKracken says:

        This would be a really cool story: A collective mind of individually non-sapient robots, that eventually develops a schizophrenic disorder over some contradictive ideas that it wasn’t really meant to handle. The mind cannot reach a conclusion, and eventually falls apart into two pieces representing a different part of the contradiction.

  3. Integer Man says:

    The Geth = Anonymous. It’s the only possible explanation.

  4. X2-Eliah says:

    So just because the Geth are on their spare time linked into a network, why does that imply a lack of culture or arts? Do you know they just compute fluff data? Who said they don’t have their virtual art galleries and unique non-physical cultural exhibits & practices?

    Sorry for the tone, but the assumption that ‘just because it is a linked up AI, it only “computes all day” and nothing else’ sounds kinda.. offensive, I guess.

    1. Shamus says:

      I’m not saying they don’t. I’m saying the writers never spoke of or hinted at any such thing.

      1. Raynooo says:

        Just thought of it : maybe they have a “pimp my geth” tv show because some of their features don’t seem optimal and therefore they do it for the coolness.

        That is the dark truth of the Geth Culture : it’s based entirely on dumb MTV shows…

        Next on GethTV : Veil Shore

      2. krellen says:

        Buried in a side mission in ME1, there is a reference to Geth art – a recording of a Quarian lament is used as a “mission failed” signal by the Geth after you shut down one of their operations.

      3. silentStatic says:

        I don’t known, I kinda liked the fact that the Geth had a vibe of otherness about them – unlike most of the other races who seemed like funny-shaped people with a different culture.

        However I agree that the way they are presented may be incongruous with the rest of the Space Opera setting.

      4. Eathanu says:

        The only person in the story who COULD hint at such a thing was Legion, and Legion talking about Geth art and the idea of beliefs and such is like expecting Grunt to talk about his unrequitted love for Samara. Even if it’s there, it will not, and probably should not, be mentioned.

        I think you’re also forgetting that they’re computers. That floating point error, or difference in returned variable number, very well COULD be labelled “Sapients we’re willing to see destroyed before we think that following a robot god is a bad thing,” but it wouldn’t be, because they’re machines, and for the most part programmed their own thought processes. You’re really just complaining about Legion being Legion.

        1. Shamus says:

          I gave a pretty concrete example of what I wanted. That could easily have been discussed with Legion.

      5. Daemian Lucifer says:

        They are painstakingly working for years on building a structure that would enable them to transcend their current conscience and form a completely new type of being,a god if you will.I see that as something very spiritual,and therefore artistic.

    2. Fat Tony says:

      deviant art anyone?

    3. eric says:

      Computers are so incredibly fast at doing certain things. You’d have to wonder if they’d get bored of it, like, really quickly. I’d give them a couple years, tops, before they’d run out of stuff to think about.

      1. Bret says:

        You underestimate the sheer number of things to think about in the universe of ours.
        Takes a ton of tech to fully map the movement of a dust mite, if I remember right.

        Every second, a million poems are almost written, somewhere the sun hits a mountain or lake so perfectly sensitive types would bust down and weep. Add in a whole galaxy to explore from end to end, and things really get fun.

        Honestly, DEATH was right. Boredom is the most remarkable of human achievements.

  5. Raygereio says:

    “The Geth need to pit ideas against each other in the great big intellectual cock-fight of knowledge.”

    According to ME lore the Geth do debate. They debate about every single action they take. Everything they do requires building a concensus from all the Geth present. They are in essence a direct democracy.
    Which is why the whole schism thing is a bit weird. I guess the only way they could have two different groups of Geth was by giving the two fundamentally different logic and thus make them incapable of reaching any form of understanding.
    If both groups were still capable of understanding eachother’s logic then there wouldn’t have been a schism. They would have eventually reached a concensus.

    I forgot; does anyone know if it was ever explained where this difference in logic between the two groups of Geth came from?

    1. Raynooo says:

      They also say they always synchronize their knowledge when they meet and that synchronized Geths always share the same opinion.

      Maybe Heretics were too far away to keep sync with the rest of the Geth and they evoluted too much to be able to reconnect with their former brothers ? That would be extra fast biological evolution but with thoughts ?

      Never read the wiki or the comics so perhaps it was explained.

      1. Sydney says:

        In the aftermath of the initial encounter with Sovereign, the Heretics broke off from the Geth network and set up their own; the Founder Effect took over from there. If the two networks were reconnected, presumably the debate process would start up and they’d eventually resolve it.

        Or the change in the Heretics’ logic would lead the debate to deadlock, causing the whole collective to freeze up. That would be pretty funny.

        1. Raynooo says:

          You have an encyclopedic knowledge of the Mass Effect universe !!! (impressed…)

          Do Geth ever crash then ? Have you tried turning it off and on ?

          1. Sydney says:

            I’m like this with most games I play. Partly because I’m broke and replay the hell out of them all, and partly because I have a chronic sleep disorder (I sleep for ~6 hours every other night) and am very, very vulnerable to the Wiki Mania. I can give you base stat blocks on any NetHack monster from memory.

            Don’t ever get me started on the Pokémon metagame. The consequences could be dire.

            1. Raynooo says:

              I won’t then, especially since I only played Red Edition on classic GB when it came out. Found it awesome but too much time consuming.

            2. Zagzag says:

              Why shouldn’t I get you started on Pokemon? What might happen? I’m guessing you’re one of those crazy guys who RNGs for Ivs (I am also one of those crazy guys)

              1. Sydney says:

                Depends how you get me started =P

                I’m mostly the NetBattle sort – far too perfectionistic to settle for only a 30 in my least-important IV – but I could go on rants regarding just about any topic in the metagame.

                You really, really don’t want that.

        2. Greg says:

          Why don’t the Geth networks reconnect then?

          They must both be absolutely convinced that theirs is the correct course of action, so they’d both be convinced that by reconnecting they’ll “convert” all of the other geth to their own course of action, so they’d both attempt to reconnect.

          1. Sydney says:

            That…would have been a really interesting third option for this mission. Let the geth sort it out amongst themselves and see the outcome in ME3.

            No explosion, though, which I suppose is why they left it out.

            1. Alexander The 1st says:

              Computers are binary. Always. Any insinuation that they’d be prepared for a third option in any potential decision is a lie from a heretic trying to convert you to the dark side of AI computing.

              This is also why AI always have a “kill no humans” or “kill all humans” moment. Never a “kill some humans” compromise.

              1. Sydney says:

                My least favorite thing about Mass Effect is Shepard’s inability to pass the buck.

                Let me qualify that.

                Shepard’s inability to pass the buck when that would make more sense than deciding herself, and when that would be reasonable. I wanted to let the Council decide the fate of the Rachni Queen. I wanted to just chill and wait for Legion to make up his min– sorry: achieve consensus on the Heretic decision. I wanted to leave the disposition of Maelon’s data up to Mordin.

                No dice.

                Sometimes, as with Tali’s mission, a character will indicate their preference and you can either screw them over or go along. That’s fine, I get that. But when there’s a complex moral/political/social issue that might affect the entire galactic community…really? One person makes that call?

                This could be done better. If they didn’t want to allow a Wishy-Washy option, and there are reasons not to of course, how about some time pressure?

                The rachni queen is escaping! Do we let her go, or kill her?

                Heretic Station is depressurizing! We need to deal with the heretics quickly, and Legion can’t decide. What do we do?

                1. Alexander The 1st says:

                  Or with Garrus, you can grief him for loyalty.

                2. Fnord says:

                  I agree in principle. It’s not even an option, in many cases; the player is forced to make a decision and is unable to pass the decision to people with more expertise and authority.

                  This particular case doesn’t bother me too much, since Legion is showing no signs of reaching consensus soon, and there is an implied time pressure: the heretics won’t leave you alone forever.

  6. Zah says:

    So if Geth society is an internet forum do they have “Loldrones” memes and Shepmancers?

    1. Raynooo says:

      “I can has RSS-feed ?” is the biggest thing on geth-net !

      1. ehlijen says:

        While the heretics enjoy their Gethulhu Old Machine Ones…

    2. Alexander The 1st says:

      I see them having board invasions, or screaming “LEEEEEEROOOOOY JEEEEEEENKINS!” on the mics as they have multiplayer FPS matches.

      Or they micro their Zerg rushes.

      1. Bret says:

        Legion plays MMOs.

        They are really good at them.

        Also FPSs.

        Dating sims, not so much.

  7. Sydney says:

    Also, the [rally the crowd] option is only available if both Veetor and Kal’Reegar are saved.

    1. Tse says:

      And here I thought Spoiler Warning was a renegade playthrough.

      1. Alexander The 1st says:

        Veetor wasn’t killed because of Tali, and Kal’Reegar can’t seem to die.

        But Rally the crowd is neutral, so it’s not the worse they’ve done.

        1. Sydney says:

          Kal’Reegar dies if you let him help you fight the Colossus, and then take too long to kill it.

          1. Irridium says:

            How long exactly? Because Josh seemed to take a while to kill it and he survived.

            1. Sydney says:

              It seems to fluctuate. Some people think you get more time if the Colossus can see you, other people think that doesn’t matter. The fact that there’s disagreement means it’s more complex than a simple invisible countdown timer.

              1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                It depends on difficulty as well.On insanity,he dies in about a minute,while on normal you can take your sweet time.

  8. Brandon says:

    It makes me wonder. The Geth must be an incredibly sophisticated piece of technology, light years ahead of what we can accomplish now, but they still can’t fix floating point errors? They don’t have any kind of error detection? Or is this some kind of hardware defect?

    I don’t get it. I do agree that they missed an opportunity to do something neat with the Geth, and instead went with a cheap, technobabble explanation.

    1. Raynooo says:

      Especially since that float isn’t a huge number. It’s what, 10 figures max ? Or maybe he didn’t want to recite all 25 000 digits leading to the rounding error…

      1. Drew says:

        You’re thinking about this too literally; Legion uses the Pentium bug as an example he thought Shepard would be familiar with. That’s not literally, or even really close, to what’s “actually” happening. EThough not many of us know about it and certainly far fewer will 200 years from now, Legion would think it important history from our species’s technology because as a living computer, it would be much more notable.

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Error correction works only if you have single original data.But the geth are a collective of various units built over who knows how long.Which is why legion says its not really an error,but difference in world views.

    3. Klay F. says:

      Basically the difference in opinion can be traced back to the differences in opinion of the quarians who built them. I always thought it was kind of ridiculous that we are expecting the geth the be “Terminator perfect”, when we STILL can’t build perfect computers of our own.

  9. Raynooo says:

    I think it would have been cool to see that Geth are really REALLY into growing flowers or raising puppies.

    Like, Heretics Geths come home after killing humans for no particular reason and then BAM, 12 hours working in a puppy orphanage. And you have to kill them all…

    Is it really that Geth are just VIs when separated but show emergent intelligence ? I understood that they were each considered as AI but a sort of “dumb” AI… And when they share their small intelligence they get better and better. Anyway it doesn’t matter much and it might have been lost in the french translation…

    1. Sydney says:

      Originally they were just VIs. Then some unfortunate quarian realized that he could link them together and have them share RAM so maybe they’d think faster.

      It turned out that network-style linkage allowed for “true” intelligence. The shit hit the hyperdrive from there.

      Incidentally, is “non-linear network of minds = true sentience” a common AI trope? Because the first time Tali explained that to me, one particular face popped into my mind.

      1. Raynooo says:

        Was that a face with a Greek mythology name ?

        1. Sydney says:

          No, it was one with an acronym for a name.

          1. Raynooo says:

            Don’t know that much AIs… Hmmm is it linked to a monolith ?

            1. Sydney says:

              Nope. Perfect, immortal, but not precisely monolithic.

          2. Klay F. says:

            This comes to mind:


            Incidentally, every time I listen to this I still get nightmares.

  10. Fede says:

    Great, another episode!

    Sadly now i do not have time to watch it, but i wanted to point out (i.e. nit pick) that it’s spelled Spartacus, not Sparticus.

    I hope to have something more interesting to say after watching the episode.

  11. Daemian Lucifer says:

    So,which do you think is the best drug?Surely you have to agree that real men do cocaine,and only pussies take lsd.

    As for the geth,they are vi,they dont use quantum blue boxes like ais,nor do they have electro-chemical brains like organics.They look at everything in binary.So either sovereign>individualism,or sovereign<individualism.I see no problem in making this the core of their schism.

    And I wonder what the geth equivalent of rick rolling is.

  12. Jarenth says:

    At the risk of inflaming it again, the difference between the regular Geth and the Heretics reminds me a lot of the whole introvert-extravert debate that took place a few posts back. In both cases, it’s easy to see and talk about ‘choices’ and ‘opinions’, and picture two groups that are different from one another because they choose to be so; but in both cases, what’s actually going on is that their brains are just wired differently. That (to me) is what Legion was trying to express: the fact that the Heretic Geth get different results on one fundamental calculation isn’t wrong, per se, it just is. The Regu-Geth and the Here-Geth might have diametrically opposed goal systems, but for both of them, that outcome is right.

    Legion himself actually makes that brain-chemistry remark in today’s video, by the way.

    1. Sydney says:

      I got the same impression, Jarenth.

      I’m going to very gently, very carefully tap my fingers on the phrase “It isn’t a choice”, and then run away as if from a strange, unknown device which is ticking.

      1. Raynooo says:

        Just to make sure I get the story right : did that “rewiring” happened on its own when Geths met Sovereign or did Sovereign create that same virus that Heretics are now willing to use ?

        In short : are the Heretics an evolution or a corruption ?

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          The game doesnt say.I lean towards the evolution though.

        2. Sydney says:

          The original Heretics were converted “properly”. This new virus would force that conversion on the original Geth.

          Think of it as the Heretics founding a cult by choice, and then developing a virus that would make the mainstreamers believe in that cult.

          1. Raynooo says:

            Heretics are Hipster-geths then ?

            (don’t even bother replying to this one…)

            1. Alexander The 1st says:

              “I was into worshiping the Old Machines destined to enslave all of the universe before it was cool.”

              Sorry, I know you said not to, but I couldn’t resist.

        3. Sydney says:

          We’re not sure if Sovereign forced some geth to change or if the geth were persuaded. It sounds like “persuaded” because when they first met Sovereign, the geth were still in one collective hivemind; anything which corrupted some should have corrupted all of them. Over time, persuasion became corruption; that’s just what happens when you put a sentient mind too close to a Reaper for too long.

          This virus, however, is new. Sovereign gave them an unfinished version of it, and they’ve just now completed it.

          EDIT: Well, that’s embarrassing. My shorter comment above seemed not to have posted, so I made another one. And now I can see both of them. Sorry.

  13. Irridium says:

    Don’t worry Mumbles. I, too, have the sense of humor of a 5 year old.

  14. Akheloios says:

    I thought the whole point of the Geth is that there is no such thing as an individual Geth ‘person’. There are lots of small Gethette programs, and for a single Geth ‘robot’ to work, a few thousand of these have to be downloaded into the body frame. The Geth infront of you is just a jigsaw of bits that fit together to drive that body.

    Legion tells you that in the Geth frame you think of as Legion there about a squillion different programs. It’s not that Geth download themselves from a body into the mainframe when they go home, it’s that their brain fractures into a million piece when they go home. There’s no guarantee that the same programs will ever come together again, so no sense of Geth ‘self’ beyond what is emergent from that collection of programs in that body at that point in time.

    It’s a cool idea, like going home after work and your brain is broken up and tomorrow your girlfriend goes to work using your visual cortex, and your son gets your motor reflexes, and you get theirs in return, and every day is a different combination.

    1. Luhrsen says:

      Awesome explanation. :)

    2. krellen says:

      1183 programs, IIRC.

      1. poiumty says:

        afaik that’s only for Legion. Other platforms have about 1/10th the amount of programs, but Legion is special as the only agent of the non-heretics beyond the Veil.

        1. Fnord says:

          Normal platforms have fewer programs, but always work together with other platforms to reach the critical mass for sapience (which is presumably something close to the 1183 that make up Legion).

    3. hewhosaysfish says:

      We need a Geth band called “Legion And the Gethettes”

      1. Alexander The 1st says:

        Death Metal?

        1. Sydney says:

          Geth Metal?

          1. Bret says:


            The band is called Geth.

            With Geth on lead guitar, Geth on Bass, Geth on lead vocals, and as the drummer?


            1. Sydney says:

              It might be called All ToGether.

              Or maybe The Geth Who?

              1. Jarenth says:

                With their hit singles ‘Geth Down’, ‘Geth Busy’, ‘Geth By’ and ‘Let’s Geth Retarded’.

                1. Kavonde says:

                  Of course, they could always go the boy band route. There’d be no group more…in sync.

                2. Sydney says:



            2. Daemian Lucifer says:

              Geth!Geeeeth!Livin a lie!

  15. Alexander The 1st says:

    You know what? Wow, Spoiler Warning is an awesome version of an LP – choosing options you don’t normally choose to see what the consequences are.

    Did not know you could Rally The Crowd.

  16. poiumty says:

    But wait a second, Shamus. Legion actually EXPLAINS that the difference between the Geth is not a math error. It’s more of a difference in perspective, as Legion indicates with his “2 is less than 3” example. It’s implied that since their mind is purely mathematical, a math error imposed by a virus can change that perspective, but a math error is not a necessity for the Heretics to come to that conclusion. Just like Legion is undecided between killing or rewriting the Heretics at the end of the mission (“We are still building consensus”), we can also consider that the Heretics are just like the programs in Legion’s platform that agreed with one of the two outcomes that the player decides. The consensus is decided by the majority (or overwhelming majority in this case), the Heretics can simply be those programs who decided the matter was too important to conform to the majority. Therefore, a schism would have been logical and understandable, hence why the Geth parted on amicable terms.

    I really don’t see the writers trying to make the Geth more “robotic”. If you pay attention, it becomes clear that the Heretics are beginning to have biases of their own, which along with Legion being somewhat of a fanboi (indicating a bias towards yourself, and the eerily human practice of collecting items that belonged to you) signifies the beginning of an organic-like thinking among the AIs. So, uh… you’re wrong?

  17. Dev Null says:

    Mostly I don’t comment on Spoiler Warning posts, because I’m not allowed to watch them, because I haven’t played ME2 yet and… well… you DID warn us right in the title… And I certainly don’t want to get into a political debate. But one comment you made really made me stop and think:

    the thing that really bothers me is that it usually comes down to disagreements over data.

    I guess it is frustrating when a discussion comes down to arguing over the pedigrees of data… but I still wish that modern political debates involved reference to actual data _more_ often, not less. In my experience, they mostly go straight to the whore-nazi stage about 0.3 seconds in, without the 5 hours of comparing sources first. If they’re going to end up the same place, is there any point? I suppose not, but I like the pretense of logical debate as a preface to my namecalling matches. It lets me pretend that the folks involved might have been willing to entertain an alternative to their preconceived notions, if only some convincing facts could have been brought to light.

    Probably not true, of course.

    1. Bubble181 says:

      You just like that because you’re the bastard of a whore and a nazi, you cryptofascist pink treehugging neoconservative post-romantic!
      That you nred to pretend things to justify your post-nationalistic cultural relativism, just underlines the lack of moral truth in your reasoning.

      To be entirely clear; I am, of course, joking.


    2. Veloxyll says:

      Well it saves 5 hours of their time. :P

    3. Peter H. Coffin says:

      How many disagreement have you witnessed that came down to semantics? That once people finally ended up agreeing on a definition of “foo”, the found that they didn’t really have a disagreement at all?

  18. Josh says:

    I have no joke, I just like saying “great big intellectual cock-fight”.

  19. RTBones says:

    This discussion reminds me of joke from the mid-90s, involving the Borg and Intel’s Pentium woes.

    Borg: Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.

    And if the Borg had Pentium CPUs…

    Pentium Borg: Division is futile. You will be approximated.

    EDIT: _A_ joke. Reminds me of _a_ joke. Stupid keyboard.

    1. Alexander The 1st says:

      Heh – we just need to make sure our AI’s run on Intel Pentium then.

      Edit: What does Watson use?

  20. Nessad says:

    I don’t know if you guys plan to do it, but didn’t do miranda’s and jacob’s loyalty missions

  21. wtrmute says:

    If the Geth use neural networks in their decision-making process, a math error might be enough for a neuron element to fire a 1 instead of a 0 in a specific evaluation and that might cause the Geth to decide something which they would not necessarily decide. Of course, you have to be a pretty big AI nerd to think about the innards of virtual neurons, but here we go :-)

  22. Kale says:

    No offense Shamus, but your forum joke in the episode wasn’t that fitting. The regular Geth call the other Heretics, or so I believe, so there’s no point in changing that name when insulting them. It would be like a bully going up to you after months of calling you a moron and saying “What? You’re a moron? More like a bore-on.”

    Admittedly a fairly pointless thing to think about, but there you have it.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Well what are they calling themselves then?Catholics?

      Thank you,thank you,Im here all night!

      1. Sydney says:

        I’d love to know what the Reaper-worshipping geth call the peaceful geth. It would, I suspect, give a lot of insight into their motivations.

        In my experience, one of the best ways to get at the core of someone’s prejudice is to explore the etymology of their insults.

        1. Kale says:

          For that matter, do the Reaper worshipers call themselves anything?

        2. Alexander The 1st says:

          Well, we may be able to find out, if we didn’t kill each one of them on sight.

      2. lurkey says:

        Naaah. Despite of Legion being able to google the Bible quote, the Geth apparently aren’t that much into religion, otherwise they’d use the correct term – Schismatics – instead of Heretics.

        1. Veloxyll says:

          Heretics has more force behind it. Maybe the Geth are actually really offended at their Schismy ways.

  23. Starglider says:

    Several people have already said this, but Shamus’s summary is wrong. The geth factions do have different values, the virus is an /introduced/ math error which will modify the heretic geth. This is completely plausible; I’m sure this was by accident, but the writers are actually touching on the very real and serious problems of goal binding drift and incremental probability skew in general artificial intelligence.

    Also having a robot say that it has 98.7% affection for you is not ridiculous at all, at least assuming the robot doesn’t know that this is a bizarre thing for a human to say or doesn’t care. It just proves that the robot was designed with fine-grained introspection mechanisms that humans sadly lack. We could put a human in an advanced brain scanner, measure the number and strength of the neural pathways that produce ‘positive’ feelings when various people are encountered, and reasonably say how many ‘percent’ of affection the human has (noting of course that this is simplifying a very complex composite property – affection – to a single scalar). Connectionist (brain-inspired) AI designs can do the same thing much faster without needing an external scanner. Rational / symbolic AI designs will literally have a cluster of data structures in the ‘affection’ category that can easily be summarised with a scalar metric.

    1. Kale says:

      I think his issue with the percentage thing is that it seems to exist solely on the “computers are mathy and stuff so of course they speak math” premise. If you were going to build something to interact with humans you would probably program it so that it would use language humans can relate with. So sure the machine can calculate the percentage of affection based on whatever criteria, but then it would make sense for it to have a translator program to equate that percentage with a word or set of words for that level. So 0% would get loathe and hate and whatnot and higher percentages would get like, love, adore, etc.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        “If you were going to build something to interact with humans you would probably program it so that it would use language humans can relate with.”

        You mean like how our current machines communicate with us?404 not found is so very intuitive that every layman can understand it instantly.And thats just one of the most well known ones.

        1. Kale says:

          Wrong sort of interact though I see your point. Nonetheless, I think if we build a robot with the express ability to speak and function on its own in any kind of society without the aid of some kind of human operator, we will have figured out how to let it talk in layman’s terms. Error messages, or actions in this case, will probably be just as obtuse though, unless they’re sent wirelessly to a station set up to deal with malfunctions.

    2. Shamus says:

      It IS a ridiculous thing to say, unless he talks like that all the time. We’re talking about a creature smart enough to discuss complex ideas, technology, appraise other races, intuit what humans are saying, and then be too stupid to say “I like you.”

      And as for me being wrong:

      What values? The game never gives us anything other than the “2 is less than 3, 1 is less than 2”, which is just another math non-answer that doesn’t tell us anything.

      1. Sydney says:

        The ultimate goal of the Geth is to all upload into an enormous superstructure and then live exclusively in cyberspace. Sovereign offered this future to the Geth, in exchange for their loyalty for now.

        Most declined, deciding that it wouldn’t be worth having that ideal future if the price to be paid was their identity as a race. A small minority accepted, split from the main geth network, and became the Heretics. They’re perfectly willing to buy utopia from the Reapers in exchange for their loyalty now.

        The virus would alter one tiny but critical part of the cognitive processes of the Geth such that they would find themselves agreeing with the Heretics; Legion has also managed to make a virus that would do the opposite.

        1. Sydney says:

          I should have added that this all comes from Legion’s later conversations, mostly his fifth, sixth and seventh ones. And that the information is fragmented between the Paragon and Renegade paths, meaning you need to either reload or replay to hear it all.

        2. Irridium says:

          I thought they did it not because they worried about “losing the identity of their race”, they didn’t accept because they wanted to do it themselves. They would have weakened themselves by simply taking the short route, so they choose the long-hard route. Yes it would take longer, but it will be built by them, for them, using their technology.

          Reminds me of KOTOR2, where if you help the people, you weaken them. You do their challenges for them, so they don’t really learn or get better. Rather then work for what they ask for, in which case they would be stronger for it.

          1. Sydney says:

            I’ll buy that. Sounds more BioWare-y.

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:

        You say how it would be stupid from a robot to not be able to express a complex emotion as “liking” someone,and yet you find legion to be bad because he uses a simile in order to explain to you something you probably cant grasp(you as in shepard the non-techie,not you as in player)?

        1. Shamus says:

          “Shamus, why do you like Daft Punk more than Spice Girls?”

          INCORRECT: Well, you know how some people are from France and some people aren’t? That’s why.

          CORRECT: I enjoy electronic music with lots of looping and limited vocals.

          This is the point of my article: I wanted to know what led to the difference in opinion, because it would tell us about the Geth. Now you’re suggesting that the answer is too TECHNICAL for Shepard. They’re disagreeing over something, and it’s got to be something they value.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            It is something they value:Heretics think all tech is good,and so they accepted sovereigns help,other geth believe you should find your own tech,so they refused sovereigns help.What more detail do you want?Its the same as me asking you now about your correct part:Why do you enjoy electronic music with lost of looping and vocals?You never went into any detail as to why this thing suits you.

      3. Peter H. Coffin says:

        Yet “I’m 32% Paragon” would be passed over without a second thought. (;

      4. poiumty says:

        “The heretics’ conclusion is valid to them. Our conclusion is valid for us. Neither result is an error.”
        This was being said while you were explaining that Sovereign used a program to hack the Geth and turn them into Heretics, which is wrong.

        And the “one is less than two, two is less than three” reply is not a non-answer. It indicates a difference in perspective, points of view. I explained it better in my comment above.

        1. Shamus says:

          I hate when BioWare does this.

          EVIL GUY: I Blew up the school, because I LIKE BEEF!

          Then later I criticize the game because the bad guy had no motivation, and people will throw his dialog back in my face, “Shamus! He said he liked beef! DID YOU EVEN PLAY THE GAME?!?”

          The whole point of my article was that I wanted to see some of the values and reasoning of the Geth, and “2 is less than three” doesn’t do that. It doesn’t allude to the facts of the disagreement or the differing goals that led to this divergence. It shows that the Geth are really super computer-y, which we already knew.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            It was a simile.He told you that the virus would work on the core logic of the geth,by making them calculate different values.He never said values for what.Then when you(shepard)understood that to mean how they differ because of a math error,he explained to you in simple terms how its not an error but a difference in perspective.

            Basically you are bashing legion for not giving you good reasons and being too computery,when he was using a simile to express his reasons in terms youd easily understand,which is the opposite of computery.

          2. poiumty says:

            “The Heretics concluded that following the Old Machines is correct.”

            What other reasons do they need aside from the obvious worship and logic? The Old Machines have been around for millenia, have destroyed countless civilizations and are essentially a much more evolved form of Geth. They hate organics, but it’s not clear whether they hate machines. For your example to be accurate, the school name would have to be “WE HATE BEEF UNIVERSITY”. Suddenly, his motivations become pretty clear. Does EVIL GUY have to go on a monologue about how beef is tasty because it has a lot of fibers and humans have a need for fibers to survive therefore our taste buds have developed to etc etc?

            Sure, maybe some details on their motivation (like “The heretics believed submission to the Old Machines was preferrable to opposition”) wouldn’t have hurt anyone, but what i wrote there is easy enough to understand just from what he says and the consideration of background elements without getting into detail.

            1. Shamus says:

              One last time:

              “The Old Machines Are correct”

              About WHAT? And WHY DO YOU DISAGREE?

              We know WHAT they’re fighting about, and I asked WHY, because I wanted to know about Geth culture and ideas. And you keep pointing to what they DO and insisting that… what? There’s nothing interesting left to say about the Geth and their disagreement?

              “what i wrote there is easy enough to understand just from what he says and the consideration of background elements without getting into detail.”

              Which would be relevant if my entire point wasn’t, “I wanted them to go into more detail.”

              1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                “One last time:

                “The Old Machines Are correct”

                About WHAT? And WHY DO YOU DISAGREE?”

                About the way in which they should reach their goal.Sovereing offered them the tech to make geth-sphere instantly,but orthodox geth believe they should reach that tech on their own,without help.They believe that there are numerous paths to reach the same goal,and by choosing just one,you remove all the others.Sovereing offered them his own path,and heretics accepted it.Orthodox geth believe that its better for them to explore other paths.

                What more detail do you want about that?If someone told you that they want to go to an amusement park,and to your why they answer “to ride the roller coaster which is exciting”,isnt that the answer?

              2. poiumty says:

                I said “following the Old Machines is correct”, not “The Old Machines are correct”. The Geth don’t know what the Reapers ultimately want (as far as we know), so they can’t decide whether they’re correct or not.

                The answer to “why do you disagree” is covered by Daemian above me. The Geth will make their own path, while the Heretics chose the path offered to them. An interesting statement, one that convinced me to blow up the Collector base in one of my playthroughs.

  24. Jarenth says:

    Also, since it looks like I’m the first one to point this out: Legion uses the phrase “an equation with a result of 1.33382 returns as 1.33381“. 1.33382 is also the exact number referred to in the second paragraph of the Pentium Problem Shamus referred to above. Granted, in this case, the equation (4195835/3145727) erroneously came out to 1.33374, not 1.33381, but still, it’s an amusing nod.

  25. Monojono says:

    I find it really interesting that Shamus (and all the sci fi stories I’ve ever seen, which admittedly isn’t that many) seem to associate ‘computers becoming intelligent’ with them also having purpose, culture and a drive to do or become something. Is that what intelligence really means? Would a computer being self aware or intelligent mean it also has to have goals and desires, or is that us applying human perspective to something that would think and exist in a completely different way? The geth become intelligent, and fight the quarians out of self preservation (presumably something they were programmed with) – why would they have a desire or drive to do anything else? If an AI goes rogue and kills all humans, what it would do next?

    1. Kanodin says:

      Actually Shamus had an article about precisely that. Methinks you’ll find it very interesting: http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=7556

    2. Shamus says:

      That’s the opposite of my position. Check out the previous thing I linked on “What does a Robot Want?”

      1. Monojono says:

        Well that shut me up – I guess when you said you wanted to see more of geth culture, it was because the game writers had implied they had one and not because you felt AIs must have a culture. And I’ve never played system shock, but I’m tempted to give your novel a read if it looks at stuff like the motivation of an AI.

        1. Sydney says:

          Oh, how it does.

          I’ve never played a System Shock game either, and I’m finding myself viewing sci-fi AIs through a SHODAN-centric filter.

  26. I actually preferred the idea of a mathematical error as being the cause of the Geth’s differences. It seemed more plausible than pinning it to philosophical positions. This is mainly due to what I assume the case is, that the geth are all computers with identical programming. By contrast, humans all have different “programming”. That’s why you can show two humans the same sets of data and they can draw totally different conclusions from it. But two Geth, with the same programming, would always draw the same conclusions from the data given. Therefore, the only way for them to have different opinions is for them to interpret the data in different ways, which requires that they have slightly different programming, even if it is only in the form of a tiny mathematical error.

    Also, I’m not entirely sure on this, but I was under the impression that Legion was actually the only Geth who thought the way he did. It’s just that for some reason he has more processors than your average geth. When he says “We” he’s really just referring to all the collective processors in his own chassis.

    I could be wrong on that though, since it’s mostly from his entry on the Mass Effect wiki and I may have misinterpreted it.

    1. Sydney says:

      There’s thousands of geth in that body; the “we” is a true “we”, even if only the collective is self-aware. It’s the same sort of “we” that every sci-fi insect queen ever uses to self-refer.

      And since the initial geth were made for various jobs – haulers, diggers, cleaners – they never all had the same programming. Plus, since they weren’t sentient, there was (presumably) no rule against them self-modifying. There’s an important, important reason that sci-fi AIs all have restrictions preventing self-modification.

      A free, sentient, self-modifying machine race is very unlikely to come out homogeneous. This one didn’t.

    2. Fnord says:

      Why would you expect all the geth programs to have the exact same programming and thus values? Different programs were designed for different tasks.

      1. Maybe because they’ve already been established as some sort of hive mind. To me the idea of dissenting opinions emerging naturally just doesn’t seem to fit with that sort of thinking.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          What would be the point of reaching consensus if they all had the same way of thinking?Theyd all reach the same conclusion all the time,and would never be divided,like legion is about what to do with heretics.

  27. ehlijen says:

    If only the geth knew more about earth history. Then they’d be able to apply godwyn’s law and end their debates once and for all…

    But the impression I got was that the geth were meant to be very borg like in their uniformity. If a whole civilisation consists of identical programs that don’t value things differently from one another, always putting the good of the whole over anything else, and they all have access to the same date because everything is shared freely, then you would end up with all decisions being made uniformly (not accounting for pure guesses when no info is available).

    I felt that that’s what gave the schism the great impact on the geth: it’s the first time a geth has looked at the same data as another geth and reached a different conlcusion. That just woulnd’t have the same impact if the geth are as culturally diverse as other races.

    Or that’s how I’d like to see it, if it wasn’t for legion’s inability ot have his programs agree…

  28. andy_k says:

    I can only comment about the text of this post since I have *just* started playing Mass Effect (1) and when I finish that will be playing through Mass Effect 2 (probably with dragon age and some cities XL in between) and so don’t want to watch this spoiler warning yet… BUT… I enjoyed the discussion in the post about values and found it to be really interesting, and quite insightful.

    Ideally, as you say, values would underpin the decision making processes of the characters, and conversely decisions and actions made should then allow their values to be divined. This is how it works in the real world – people (and organisations) use values to decide which action they take. When these actions are contrary to their stated values, it simply shows that they are lying.

    How does this manifest? Corporations obviously value profit, but they also value other things as well. EA Games – they seem to value short term earnings over… well… everything, compared to, say, Stardock who value short term earnings but also value customer loyalty. The difference in their policy is extreme and pervasive – marketing, DRM, types of games and so on.

    So back in the game world, this would be quite complicated to do though, and it is probably a bunch easier to just script some events and hope nobody notices that they behave in a completely arbitrary way. If anyone asks we can just say they are all chaotic neu^D^D^D^D a math error!

    This post has moved dangerously off topic of mass effect 2 / spoiler warning so feel free to censor or destroy.

  29. Dante says:

    So this begs a very important question: Who’s going to be the first of us to photoshop a Hitler mustache onto Shamus’ profile picture? Of course, if we really wanted this to be really funny (and ironic), we could photoshop it onto the picture that Mumbles uses for her profile (the one with Batman).

    Spoiler Warning, where half the fun is finding new ways to troll Mumbles :P

    1. Veloxyll says:

      Pfft. We’d combine the two. Photoshop Shamus onto Batman and then photoshop a Hitler Mustache onto Shamus-Batman.

      1. Nidokoenig says:

        Wait! Shamus is an old slang word for detective, and Batman is the world’s greatest detective, meaning that Batman IS Shamus!

        1. Bret says:

          Greatest HUMAN detective.

          DC don’t stand for “Bruce Wayne”, after all.

  30. Slothful says:

    I thought that the perceived “error” was just indoctrination happening. The heretics were probably started in a little exchange like this:

    Gethbert108: Hey, you know that Sovereign fellow has a point there, we should probably listen to him.

    GethsRool99: i dont think so, im not all that cool with slaughtering all organic life.

    Gethbert108: Really? I really think you should reconsider your position, have you checked indoctrination.dat? That’s how I feel about things.

    GethsRool99: wow, i see your point now, lets go work for sovereign and do everything that saren tells us to do.

    GethAreTheBeth: Hey guys, what did I miss?

  31. To all of you getting hung up on the “math error”, Shepard sad that, not Legion.
    Legion just gave a simple mathematical example that a “human” would understand (or so he thought).
    Surprisingly enough Shepard understands better than most here.

    What Legion is talking about is the “virus” causing a low level change,
    which could in theory be as simple as a bit being changed from on to off or vice versa.

    The reason for this is that a complex quantum AI like the geth, a bit variation in their core AI would cause a cascading effect.

    Just like a minor change in DNA may be give huge differences.
    Like Humans vs chimps and Humans vs pigs, pigs are more biologically compatible with humans than chimps for example.

    Legion is in other words saying that the reaper virus causes the geth to alter/create a different (but forced and thus uniform) predisposition (that favors the reapers plans),
    rather than allow each individual geth and by extention each geth platform which contains millions of geth, Legion being one such platform. As when you talk to Legion it’s actually a collective of millions that together share their AI so that the Legion platform exhibit sentient behavior similar to say Shepard.
    An individual geth is probably no more “intelligent” than say a smartphone. Or possibly a limited VI program.

    I suspect that within a platform like Legion those millions of geth each have specific tasks or specialties.
    Not unlike how different cells has different tasks in the human body.

    The geth seeks enlightenment, and it’s hinted that they may be making a dyson sphere or similar to try and achieve that. (I think the reapers are not happy with that idea)
    The heretic geth have no interest in enlightenment, they are content with worshipping the reapers as the ultimate form.

    But Legion and the rest of the geth/platforms knows that this is not true as Shepard and co managed to take one down. (hence Legion’s admiration of Shepard, as Shepard basically took down a “god”.)

    It sounds to me like Legion (or his true geth of you will) already switched that bit that allowed them to think more abstract (like humans) and start on their path to enlightenment.
    The heretic geth on the other hand seem to have the possibility of that bit being switched suppressed by the reaper virus.

    And please not that when I say a “bit” I do not necessarily mean a “bit” as we know it in computers.
    Considering that the geth is so evolved AI wise, it might be more correct to say a quantum bit whatever that could be in Geth terms.

    Legion in other words (the platform and thus all the geth within it as well as the geth “back home”) wish to seek the meaning of life themselves, rather than having something spoonfed to them like the heretics have.

    So it might be correct as somebody said above, that it might be the true geth that had changed/evolved and that the reaper virus tried to revert it to a pre-enlightenment stage.

    To me it almost sounds like Legion has the philosophy of an Absurdist.

  32. Caldazar says:

    I thought that it was a difference in views for them But they know why they think as they do and thus express it that way.
    A bit determinist but whatever.

  33. Kdansky says:

    Late to the party! I want to comment on the political debate thing. No, I’m not going to rage in favour or against some wing or group or anything. I believe one big issue with how we do political discussions is that we don’t talk about the core values, but instead fixate on those “facts”. Let’s be honest, except for a few cases, the facts are either very clear, or pretty much open for debate (because facts are hard to check if they are non-trivial). Smoking really does kill, and telepathy really does not work. Both have been proven countless times by now, and anyone arguing against that is just grasping straws, because he already knows he’s wrong. On the other side of the spectrum, we have questions like “should abortions be allowed?”, and to be honest, there are no useful facts here that could decide the debate.

    What I would love to see if people were arguing less about which source of facts is best, but about which source of morals is best. Because in the end, morals are subjective, and you (or I) might easily be completely on the wrong track. It is not as important to figure out WHAT I believe, it is important to figure out WHY I believe it. Claiming that the voices in your head told you to do something is a shitty argument, no matter what the voices tell you, even “help the poor and prevent murder”. Because if you are hearing voices that order you around, then you are clinically insane. “I am insane, therefore X” is not solid logic.

    On the other hand, “I believe in humanist values, for the reasons Rousseau writes down in his books” is a great argument, because those books are very consistent, and very rational.

    And that is what political discussions should be about. Which means we *should* discuss religion (though not on this blog), political base views and culture more openly, instead of not at all. Just making it a taboo works really badly, because we’re only discussing symptoms instead of real issues. I emphasize: This is what I think political discussions should look like. I am meta-commenting on political debate style and not making a point in favour or against some political view.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      I know this is a tangent but:

      “Smoking really does kill, and telepathy really does not work. Both have been proven countless times by now, and anyone arguing against that is just grasping straws, because he already knows he's wrong.”

      Its not true.Smoking doesnt kill,excessive smoking of cigarettes does.Very few(if any)studies focused on inhalation of small doses of pure nicotine,which is no more harmful than alcohol or sugar.Sure,in large doses it will kill,but in small doses it has its uses.As for telepathy….Well,I would agree that natural telepathy is probably bogus,at leas on earth,but telepathy as a concept…Ehh,we should just wait and see.

      1. Zaxares says:

        Well, alcohol IS a poison, so it probably wasn’t the best example to use. ;) It has to be metabolised by the liver in order to stop it from killing us. It might not be lethal in small enough doses, but it IS still a harmful substance to the body.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Salt is poison as well,but we use it in numerous ways.And I wasnt talking about pure alcohol,but the one in drinks.Which still is being debated whether it has mostly good or mostly bad effects in small doses.

      2. Kdansky says:

        Your post is a great example why arguing about the underlying facts often isn’t useful: Depending on details, one can easily distort even “obvious” facts. Sure, a little smoke doesn’t kill you. A little arsenic doesn’t kill you either, but too much salt does. That doesn’t make arsenic healthy and salt a poison though. ;)

        So we’re better off not arguing the details to begin with, which is exactly my point.

        Also, spaces after commas and periods. Why do you ignore that part of grammar?

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Because its not part of grammar,its part of style.No where does it say that you should put spaces after punctuation marks while you write,so why should I do it when I type?

          1. Shamus says:

            It’s also part of readability. I find your stuff harder to read than other comments. I’ve always assumed you were commenting from a phone or some device where it was just a pain to type.

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              Well call me lazy or trolling then,but Im not changing my way of typing after 10+ years.Its bad enough for me when I change languages and my whole keyboard layout goes wonky.

              1. Shamus says:

                I didn’t ask you to change it. I still read your comments. I just mentioned the readability issue, in case that was important to you.

          2. Kdansky says:

            Google the two words ‘comma’ and ‘punctuation’, and try to find any page that discusses the subject but doesn’t explicitly explain that spaces belong after commas.

            We cannot force you to follow proper grammar though, so feel free to continue to make a bad first impression.

            Addendum: “It’s” and “its” are two different things, yet you use “its” for both. That certainly is just wrong, and has nothing to do with style. I conclude that you are just too lazy or stupid to write properly, either of which disqualifies your texts for “worth reading” predicate.

      3. Slothful says:

        Speaking of telepathy, that does work. I’ve been hiding your socks with the power of my mind.


        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Isnt that telekinesis?

          1. Slothful says:

            One crazy mind power is as good as another.

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              Puhlease!Everyone(and their grandma)knows that pyrokinesis is the ultimate mind power.

  34. Zaxares says:

    Oooooh, you guys were SO close to being forced to either exile Tali or ruin her father’s name. :P The Rally the Crowd option only appears IF you didn’t give Veetor to Cerberus way back during Freedom’s Progress AND you kept Kal’Reegar alive on Haestrom. I knew you managed to keep Reegar alive, but I couldn’t remember if you’d given Veetor to Cerberus at the start of the game.

    The Reaper virus: Uhhh… Not quite right, Shamus. Legion DOESN’T have the virus with him. It’s kept in the Heretic’s main base, and Legion needs the Normandy to travel there undetected so they can destroy the virus before it’s complete. Once you arrive there, however, you discover that the virus IS complete, and that it’s possible to repurpose the virus so that the Heretics will be rewritten to accept the geth’s beliefs instead of Sovereign’s.

    Mordin’s time-lagged conversation: That’s because you guys didn’t talk enough to your teammates. :P He still has yet to go through some of his older conversations with you, including some that are self-obvious considering you already did his loyalty mission. This is why in all Bioware games, talk to your companions as OFTEN as possible. ;)

    Heretic Downtime: While Shamus makes a good point about geth needing some sort of wider long-term goal than just ‘computing all day’, remember that normally, it’s the OPPOSITE of the scenario he proposed. Geth primarily reside as programs on a mainframe computer, and are only downloaded to mobile legged platforms when they need to perform some physical task. In fact, judging by conversations with Legion, geth actually find being confined to a physical body rather unpleasant. “We see less. Comprehend less. We are diminished.”

    It’s not explained what exactly the geth do while they’re in their virtual state; do they work on complex scientific problems? Debate philosophy? Log into galaxy-wide extranet games and play Galaxy of Fantasy all day? (Which apparently, if Legion’s Shadow Broker dossier is anything to go by, is true at least part of the time!)

    1. Knowledge accumulation!

      Also, the geth platform we know as Legion (i kinda have to say that every time as Legion had to correct shepard at one point when she(or he) referred to Legion as an individual) but anyway…
      “Legion” seems to be a bit more different.
      I’m not sure if it’s that collection/platform that has evolved differently due to being in that platform so long,
      or if the “best of the best” of the Geth legged it over to the Legion platform, thus shepard may just have the elite of the elite of the geth with her(or him) without knowing it.
      Aka the “cabinet” of the geth or something, upper echelon.

      I believe Legion actually states at some point that it’s very rare for them to use a platform, and the times they do it’s usually for specific tasks for a short period of time.
      Now “Legion” has been legging it around the galaxy with (not to mention looking for shepard at least a two years before they met), for how many months? (I assume that ME2 main plot takes place over a few months.
      So that must surely be a record for how old a platform Legion currently is.
      Add to that the fact he is wearing pieces of Shepard’s old armor. (geth have no need for souvenirs, nor feel sentimental, at least not like humans)
      I suspect Legion is on a special quest of his erm their own.

      Another thought just struck me as well. We have not seen the rest of “his” geth at all.
      It is quite possible that the geth/programs within the Legion platform is almost all that is left of the “free” geth.
      (he might have lied or misled shepard into thinking they where more) as the only geth we (and shepard) have seen are the heretic ones.
      This would fit even more with Legions loyalty mission as you as shepard basically saved his “race” by “correcting” the heretic geth.

      Hopefully we’ll learn more about Legion in particular (as well as the Geth society) in ME3. As Tali and Legion are my favorite characters.
      Liara kinda dropped the ball IMO, and I suspect she had a deeper relationship with that fella you rescue from the shadowbroker.
      Maybe BioWare will be sneaky about that and have that change depending on whether shepard cheated on Liara with somebody else in ME2. hmmm.

      Good thing Dragon Age 2 is around the corner, this waiting for ME3 is agonizing.

      1. Raynooo says:

        I might be a five years old too but
        “Aka the “cabinet” of the geth or something” makes me laugh because a “cabinet” is where you poop in french and I doubt Legion would appreciate that…


      2. Slothful says:

        No, there’s definitely more Geth lying around. If you talk to him enough he asks to be allowed to communicate with the rest of the Geth, and when EDI allows him to, she mentions something about interacting with a mind the size of a planet.

      3. Irridium says:

        About Dragon Age 2. Just found out that the PC version of DA2 uses Spore’s and Mass Effect’s DRM method.

        It requires you to sign in with your EA account at installation(online activation), and through the days it needs to do subsequent online checks. And if it fails one of these checks, it uninstalls the game.

        And the worst part? The entire gaming world sees this as “not that bad”. I’m so pissed right now I want to break something.

        1. Taellosse says:

          Incorrect, actually. It does an online check once, the first time you run the game after installation. It WILL check every time you start up IF you’re online, but it won’t fail to run if you’re offline.

          They used SecuROM for evaluation copies sent out to developers, but they’re not using it in the retail release.

          There’s also no disc check at all–once the game is installed, you don’t need the disc in the drive.

          Details are in this forum thread: http://social.bioware.com/forum/1/topic/141/index/6194280

          1. Irridium says:

            You know, I could have sworn that I saw that earlier, and it said it needed repeated online checks. Ugh, I need a break from the internet…

            Still though, I hate online checks, whether they be one time only or repeated. Its just stupid and pointless. And I’m not sure what it will accomplish. But DRM never accomplishes anything, so whatever.

            EDIT: Actually, here it is:


            So… which one is right?

            EDIT2: Screw it, I’ll go with the “Final” DRM one. They really should delete the one I linked to though.

            1. Taellosse says:

              Oh, sure, I agree with you on the principle that DRM is stupid, pointless, and a waste of a publisher’s resources. I just didn’t want you to get all upset about something that wasn’t actually true.

              And personally, while I have both practical and philosophical objections to DRM as a concept, there are degrees of it that I am prepared to accept. The scenario you outlined is over that line (or, perhaps, straddling it), while the actual DRM is well below it. I’m not wild about an online check to verify my game, but only requiring it once is not onerous. Requiring it every time would be–sometimes my internet connection might not be available for any number of reasons, and I shouldn’t be prevented from playing my single-player games because of that.

  35. Raynooo says:

    Quick question for lore experts :

    Is this base the real core of the Heretics ? Where all the Heretics come to debate or whatever it is they do or do they have other bases ?

    Also : they probably do have ships on missions somewhere in the galaxy right ? So the virus would slowly propagate among them and after a while convert them all but big ass space explosion only kills the one that are there meaning the Heretics COULD build/use a new space station and start replicating again ?

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      As far as we know,it is the core of the heretics,and legion does say that there are those who are away,but that the virus will change them once they make a connection with those who are infected by it.

      1. Raynooo says:

        Thanks ! So blowing them might only slow them a lot but nothing definitive ?

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Considering this is the majority of them,blowing it up would cripple them,not just slow them down a bit.Geth hubs are probably storage units as well,so it would wipe out most of their history and their plans as well.

  36. Ragnar says:

    What I find interesting is that the Geth seemingly lack a way to mutate themselves (a.k.a introduce changes in their core processing units or ‘math error’ if you will). It required an outsider to change anything in them. With this inability they should have a very hard time to adopt to changing circumstances unless they were completely flawless to begin with.

  37. Taellosse says:

    To my view, the only fundamental difference between where a meatbag’s values come from and those of a synthetic sapient is hardware. Because the Geth store and evaluate thoughts purely via electrical signals in a conductive medium, and are designed to be aware of the calculation process that goes into their thinking, they are able to tell you that the fundamental source of their difference of opinion is a particular calculation.

    It’s just that we organics aren’t that self-aware. Our thinking still arises from the transmission of electrical impulses–just the stored data is handled chemically rather than electrically. If we understood neurology well enough, who’s to say we couldn’t identify the electrochemical difference–essentially the mathematical calculation–between a liberal and a conservative? Recent studies have already begun to point in this general direction, though we’re groping in the dark with gloves on, as far as our sophistication in gathering and evaluating the data so far.

  38. Museli says:

    You know what this math error remins me of? There’s a brief mention in a Discworld novel (maybe Jingo) of a religious war which was started by the fact that two words in a particular script look very similar to one another – a word which means ‘god’ can instead become ‘man’ if you move the dot at the top slightly to one side. The two factions involved took different sides, although some believe the moving of the dot was simply a misprint in an early copy of the text. Small changes can lead to big differences down the line.

    It also makes me think of missiles. Fire two from the same spot, with only a tiny change to the altitude or direction of one, and they can end up in radically different places.

  39. Simon Buchan says:

    My net’s been out so I’m late to the party, but if you want to read about the cultures of minds on a mainframe, Greg Egan’s Diaspora goes into this in some detail. It’s not quite the same thing as the Geth, since these are human brain uploads (or “descendants” of such) rather than a collective mind, but he does spend some time talking about the world-view, art and values of beings that can outlive the universe, choose to inspect their own thought process and change it if they want, and the effect of physical senses on how thought works (there’s an extended discussion on how beings can learn how to see and *think* in 5D space, and the resulting options when you need to go back to 3D).

    RE: the ‘math error’ as values thing, I’m undecided. They didn’t explain what they mean very well, but I got the impression it was higher level than, say, FDIV (the pentium fault). AI not being terribly well developed, I’m not sure what that can even mean, but I got the idea that it was changing the value of a Value (say, the value or organic life, in comparison to improvement of the self) or more likely a more axiomatic version of the same – but I have no idea how that would even work in an AI – where does that value come from originally? Can it change? If not, why are the values not crypto-signed in the backups, and if so, how do they maintain any sort of consensus on *anything*?

    AI may be too floaty and undefined to complain about the *cause* of the schism, but I do agree that it could have been better written – it doesn’t make clear whether the altered value is shared by the Heretics error or not, whether it is resulting in an actual philosophical difference, why this difference is unresolvable while many other experiences do not result in such, etc…. However, I don’t think it’s *badly* written, I just think once you start getting technical or philosophical, you start needing to both write and read *far* more carefully, and this is both technical and philosphical. Also, regular people are expected to actually understand this at some point, so very useful jargon can’t be used.

  40. Myth says:

    Hmm. I’m willing to accept a fundamental difference between the Geth and the Heretics, and that Legion is just simplifying it by describing it as a math error (as he largely hints at) – though I can understand Shamus wanting more background on the actual differences, especially since some relatively easy reasons do exist.

    What I was really taken aback by was the talk about wanting to see the Geth walking around, building culture, etc. This desire to humanize an alien race – that it isn’t interesting unless it it is walking around in a humanoid form, acting essentially no different than regular organic sentients… well, honestly, that would seem sort of boring.

    For myself, the fact that what we consider actual bodies are, to the Geth, simply vessels for conveyance, and that they spend their actual time just discussing things in the network… that’s one of the more interesting aspects of their race, to me.

    Now, if Shamus was just saying he wanted to see more of their culture, even if it was an entirely digital one, I could be cool with that – maybe they’re busy creating Geth poetry or digital architecture or whatever. But that wasn’t really what was said, and the desire to see Geth walking around like normal humans just for the sake of doing so is a cliche I’m perfectly happy to see them avoid.

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