The history of the geth's creation and evolution serves as a warning to the rest of the galaxy of the potential dangers of artificial intelligence and to the legally enforced, systematic repression of artificial intelligences throughout galactic society.
Geth are primarily composed of two materials: a flexible but durable outer shell, and a kind of synthetic muscle tissue that gives Geth Hoppers their incredible agility. It is actually possible for this synthetic muscle to be grafted to organic tissue (Saren Arterius has a grafted geth arm). Geth "bleed" a white conductive fluid when shot, but they don't have any internal organs or nervous system, so the geth do not feel hunger or pain. The geth are also seen using omni-tools, and have seemingly modified them to heal synthetic wounds; likewise, some geth facilities contain first-aid kits, implying that their synthetic "tissues" can be repaired using conventional medical technology.
Part of the geth's success is due to their neural network. Effectively, they "share" their processing power, distributing low-level processes like motor control and visual identification to free up bandwidth for higher reasoning and complex thought. Geth can't share sensory data—they aren't a hive mind like the rachni—but in large groups they have more to think with. An individual geth has only a basic intelligence on par with animal instincts, but in groups they can reason, analyze situations, and make tactical decisions as well as any of the organic races. An exception would appear to be Legion, a geth specifically designed to operate as an autonomous sentient unit outside the Perseus Veil. Legion possesses over 11 times as many geth programs as a standard geth platform and can function intellectually on its own.VIs, all operating in parallel with one another to form a kind of emergent intelligence described by EDI as "a thousand voices talking at once". An individual geth is thus more of a "mobile platform" than an actual body; the programs that make up its consciousness are constantly being transferred and downloaded; the mind operating one of these "mobile platforms" might just as easily inhabit a starship body should it need to. Most of the time geth programs can be found residing in server hubs, which function as something akin to the organic equivalent of a city, and can run millions of geth in communion.
As all geth are networked to each other, they may communicate their exact thoughts and ideas at the speed of light. They find organic methods of communication, such as body language and spoken word, to be largely inefficient; the geth are able to communicate their thoughts flawlessly without any fear of misinterpretation. Because of this they have no true form of government and no system of rank. When a matter must be decided upon, the geth communicate all viewpoints of a situation and a consensus is made, the decision being whatever benefits the geth as a whole the greatest.
Subtypes Editturrets and drones (rocket, assault, recon and repair drones, specifically). It isn't clear whether these are also AIs, in the same way Geth Armatures are not just tanks but platforms for geth programs themselves, or simply controlled by the geth.
Geth subtypes include:
- Geth Armature - Anti-personnel light walkers capable of launching geth siege pulses. Also possesses machine-guns, heavy armour and shields.
- Geth Colossus - Geth heavy walkers capable of launching devastating siege pulse attacks and machine gun attacks. Extremely strong armour and shields.
- Geth Destroyer - Equipped with Geth Pulse Shotguns and strong shielding. Specialised for close quarters combat, have the ability to charge, melee, and can utilize Carnage. They can also be equipped with flamethrowers or rocket launchers.
- Geth Dreadnought - Flagships of the geth fleets. They are both larger and better equipped than their organic counterparts, utilizing longer, more powerful main guns and more energy-intensive ultraviolet lasers for their point defense systems.
- Geth Dropship - Geth frigates that also serve as troop transports and close air support. Extremely resilient against ground vehicle fire, though fairly vulnerable to fire from other frigates and cruisers.
- Geth Hopper - Cyberwarfare and ambush platforms, capable of sabotage, overload, and radar jamming. Attacks using the geth sniper beam. Lightly shielded.
- Geth Hunter - Stealth troops armed with shotguns and shielding. They possess tactical cloaking devices.
- Geth Juggernaut - Similar to Geth Primes. Equipped with Geth Pulse Rifles and able to launch distortion rockets. Heavily shielded and very resilient.
- Geth Prime - Elite geth units equipped with heavy weaponry. They possess very strong shields, heavy armor, tech abilities and are extremely resilient. They also improve combat skills of nearby geth and are capable of jamming radar.
- Geth Pyro - Geth units that are highly dangerous in close quarters. Equipped with flamethrowers, shielding and heavy armor. Very slow and harmless at distance, but highly resilient and deadly in close range.
- Geth Rocket Trooper - Anti-armor/anti-air infantry. Equipped with rocket launchers and shielding.
- Geth Shock Trooper - Advanced Geth Troopers armed with the Geth Pulse Rifle, Geth Barriers, and Carnage.
- Geth Sniper - Armed with Geth Sniper Rifles and shielding. Capable of using assassination, specialised for long-range combat. Capable of jamming radar.
- Geth Trooper - Standard geth troops equipped with Geth Pulse Rifles, Geth Barriers, and capable of recharging shields via the Geth Shield Boost ability.
- Legion - A unique geth platform designed to operate outside the Perseus Veil and interact with organics. While most standard platforms hold approximately 100 geth programs, Legion houses 1,183 programs, the better to facilitate independent decision-making while separated from the geth consensus for long periods of time.
Creation EditVIs, as advanced as possible while remaining non-sentient. They were also designed to operate more efficiently when networked together. Unfortunately, this feature was the quarians’ undoing. Geth programs were indeed non-sentient individually, but slowly gained sentience through the massive geth network.
Eventually, they started asking the quarians questions only sentient beings would think to ask; in one notable instance, a domestic geth unit asked its owner if it had a soul. Alarmed at this, the quarians decided it would be best to shut down all geth before they conceived of revolt. The attempt failed, and a war began between the geth and the quarians, which geth afterwards referred to as the Morning War.home world and colonies in the Perseus Veil.
Unknown to the quarians themselves, the geth actually allowed them to leave; unsure of the repercussions of eradicating an entire species-namely their own creators- and having decided that the quarians were now too weak to be a threat, the geth decided to draw back their forces so that the surviving quarians could flee. The fleet of quarian ships that escaped the Veil became known as the Migrant Fleet, and has been roaming the galaxy ever since.
The geth continued development of new technology and variations of mobile platforms, separating their technology base from the rest of the galaxy. They obtained an ultimate goal in this time period - to create a Dyson Sphere-like object, which could house every single geth program.
Approximately three centuries after the Morning War, the geth were approached by the Reaper Nazara, also called Sovereign. It offered them technology that would aid them in achieving their goal, in exchange for their assistance in capturing the Citadel and letting the Reaper invasion begin. The majority of the geth dismissed the offer, deeming it better to accomplish their goal with their own technology rather than be dependent on another race’s technology. These geth discarded what they called the "superstitious title" of the Reapers, and simply called them the Old Machines.
A small percentage of geth, however, accepted the Reaper’s help. Henceforth these geth were referred to by the mainstream geth as "heretics". They were allowed to peacefully leave the main geth network, and aid Nazara and its turian agent, Saren. The heretics came to revere Nazara as a god, the pinnacle of synthetic evolution.
Unknown to them, Nazara was repulsed by the heretics' worship of it. The Reaper was actually insulted by their "pitiful devotions", though it recognised their value as tools to facilitate its goals. They aided Nazara and Saren in many engagements, such as the attack on Eden Prime, and the Battle of the Citadel. After Nazara was destroyed in the latter battle, the heretics lost much of their menace, and their operations outside of the Perseus Veil were quickly mopped up by Council forces. The heretics did maintain operation of a large space station within the Terminus Systems, located in deep space between stars.
Mass Effect Edit
Using Sovereign's influence over them, the rogue Spectre Saren Arterius commanded an army of geth in an effort to take over the Citadel and release the Reapers from dark space. The geth formed the bulk of Saren's forces, following him because they believed he had the means to find the Conduit and bring back their "gods". In addition to providing ground troops, the geth also crewed (or tended to) Sovereign.
After the Protheans broke Sovereign's hold over the keepers, and the keepers evolved so that they only accepted commands from the Citadel, the Reaper realized organic races were difficult to control. It found the geth to be suitable replacements as servants, and exploited their religious beliefs. Saren claimed that, although they were viewed disparagingly by Sovereign, the geth were valuable as tools, and would therefore survive the Reaper invasion because they were useful. The example of the geth inspired Saren to prove organic races could also be useful to the Reapers. He hoped that, instead of harvesting them, the Reapers would spare the organic races of the galaxy, even if that meant they would only survive as slaves.
Saren's plans were foiled by Commander Shepard and the crew of the Normandy, and Sovereign was destroyed in the battle over the Citadel. The remaining geth that were not destroyed in the assault on the Citadel continued to put up resistance and were systematically hunted down by an emergency Citadel coalition force, headed by the Alliance.
Mass Effect 2 Edit
The true geth became interested in Commander Shepard, as Shepard had defeated Nazara and the heretics. They commissioned a unique mobile platform, holding 1183 programs rather than the normal hundred or so, to operate independently and go looking for Shepard. This geth retraced Shepard’s footsteps, from Eden Prime to Virmire to Ilos. During this time, the geth sustained considerable damage, and used a discarded piece of Shepard’s N7 armor it found to partially repair the damage. It tracked Shepard all the way to the crash site of the SSV Normandy, where the trail went cold—Shepard had died there. The geth was reassigned to a different task.
Though the heretics had faced a major setback with the defeat of Nazara, they did not rejoin the main geth. Rather, they continued development of a special virus which Nazara had given them, in an unfinished version. This virus could alter the result of a fundamental calculation in geth processes, radically changing their logic and reasoning. Through this change, the virus could force the true geth to accept the heretics’ conclusion, or it could force the heretics to accept the true geth’s conclusion.
The true geth understood the threat, and sought a way to eliminate the virus. However, the virus was stored on a Reaper data core, which the true geth could not access. To gain an understanding of Reaper technology, the unique mobile platform was sent to a derelict Reaper. Aboard the Reaper, it encountered Commander Shepard, who was on a mission to recover an IFF in order to safely use the Omega-4 mass relay. The mobile platform was brought back to the Normandy SR-2, where it accepted the designation "Legion".
Shepard aided Legion in its mission, going to the Heretic Station. Once there, Legion realized that the virus was ready, and could be used to rewrite the heretics’ behavior. Unable to form a consensus on the matter, Legion left the decision to Shepard—destruction of the station, or the rewriting of the heretics. Either choice constituted a crippling blow to the heretics.
Mass Effect 3 Edit
In 2186, the quarians have declared war on the geth. They have successfully managed to push the synthetics back to their home system, where the quarian homeworld Rannoch is located.
If Legion survived its interactions with Shepard, after the unit's return to the geth consensus and the revelation of its evidence on the imminent return of the Reapers, the geth began preparing for war. However, while building their megastructure, the quarian flotilla attacked and destroyed it. A significant number of geth programs were installed at the time the quarians began bombing, and due to a lack of surplus server hardware not all of the programs could be saved.
With the loss of so many programs, their intelligence dimmed and survival took precedent among the consensus, forcing the geth to make a deal with the Reapers. The synthetics allowed themselves to be controlled by Reaper code in order to become more effective fighters, believing the cost of their free will an acceptable price to avoid extinction. They were then able to bring the fight to the quarians, trapping their civilian ships and destroying much of their fleet.
Commander Shepard arrives and was given the task of infiltrating the geth dreadnought from which the controlling signal was being broadcast in order to return the geth to a defeatable state. After fighting through a large number of geth platforms, Shepard arrives at the ship's drive core to find either Legion or a geth VI trapped inside a piece of Reaper tech, the unit being used as a signal booster of sorts. The Commander disables the device and frees the unit contained within.
As a gesture of goodwill, the geth unit deactivates the ship's weapons and barriers. However, the quarian heavy fleet took advantage of this and began firing on the dreadnought while Shepard and their crew were still on board. Shepard manages to escape despite this, and the geth are now at a disadvantage.
The geth have a backup system in place, however. They have a base on Rannoch that can restore the Reaper control signal across all geth, location unknown. Legion, or the Geth VI, goes on to aid Shepard while searching for the base, occasionally lending field assistance like the disabling of geth fighter squadrons targeting the quarians' liveships. Geth programs previously under Reaper control are liberated from the fighter servers due to the unit's actions, transferring to Geth Prime bodies in the interim. Eventually the base's exact location is made known, and plans to destroy it begin in earnest.
During the assault itself, the geth unit reveals that it still contains fragments of Reaper code that will allow all geth to achieve true intelligence. Shepard and company put aside their concerns for the moment, focusing on the Reaper control signal, now revealed to have been coming from an actual Reaper. The Reaper is later destroyed with the combined might of the quarian fleet and Shepard's targeting systems, disorganizing the majority of geth.
Depending on Shepard's choices only one of three distinct events will play out: the geth unit will either proceed with the upload allowing each geth program to achieve true individual consciousness and the power to resist and obliterate the quarians, the upload is interrupted and the geth eliminated, or Shepard convinces the quarians to stand down, the geth unit completes the upload, and the two sides hesitantly make peace. Whatever the outcome, the geth unit sacrifices itself for what it thought was the best course for its people.
If Shepard allows the geth to achieve true intelligence, they will provide assistance to the War Effort. The Systems Alliance and the Turian Hierarchy receive geth support with open arms, although there is still some animosity between them.
If Shepard chooses to use the Crucible to destroy the Reapers, all synthetic life in the galaxy including the geth will be destroyed. If Shepard uses the Crucible to take control of the Reapers or merge all synthetic and organic life, the geth will help rebuild Rannoch. If both quarians and geth were spared from their mutual destruction and Shepard merged organic and synthetic life, the two races will be seen side by side. If both quarians and geth were obliterated during the course of events a desolate Rannoch dotted with ruins of geth structures is seen, the only legacy of two once-great races.
According to Legion, geth do not actually live on any of the quarian planets they conquered, serving merely as caretakers for them instead. They find it more efficient to live on space stations and draw resources from asteroids, though they maintain mobile platforms on the worlds to clear rubble and toxins left by the Morning War. Legion likens this behavior to the human tendency to establish cemeteries and memorials to commemorate dead persons and tragic events. However, since geth do not "die" in any traditional sense (upon the destruction of a geth platform, its programs are simply transmitted to the nearest available platform) and so have no real losses to mourn from the Morning War, Legion posits that they instead clean and maintain the quarian worlds out of respect for their quarian creators who died in the conflict and in preparation for the eventuality of their return.
The only geth who have interacted significantly with organics aside from the Legion platform are a sect that Legion refers to as the "heretics". They are a small, radical group of geth who worship a hyper-advanced but long-vanished machine race called the Reapers, whom they see as the pinnacle of non-organic evolution. It is these geth who attacked Eden Prime and the Citadel. This group is estimated to consist of about five percent of the total geth population. According to Legion, the mainstream geth are content to stay separate from the remainder of Citadel space to "build their own future," and claim that all sentient creatures should have the ability to "self-determinate", strictly adhering to a policy of non-interventionism in respect to the affairs and development of other races.
While they have made attempts to observe and understand organics (an effort embodied by the unique platform known as Legion), the geth primarily seek the peaceful advancement of their own race independent of the influence of the rest of galactic society and believe every sentient species should be able to do the same, an attitude which shows that the geth are significantly less hostile than the galactic community initially believed.
Depending on the context, the term "geth" can refer to an individual program, mobile platforms which house a number of individual programs, or the entire collection of all programs. Organics generally refer to each mobile platform as a geth. However, the geth do not share the concept of individuality, and think in terms of the entire collective.
More importantly, deceit, manipulation and lying are impossible among the geth. No concepts of vulnerability or privacy exist; geth are completely honest with each other about their thoughts and their reasons for those thoughts. This means there is a great deal of understanding amongst geth, with every geth being part of the consciousness of every other geth. A possible consequence of this type of networked intelligence is theorized by EDI to be why the geth were able to turn on the quarians, preventing them from developing preferences and devaluing the significance of an individual life.Consensus Democratic method in which every geth program makes a choice on any matter. Even within Legion itself, consensus must be reached among its many programs before decisions can be made.
While the geth are incapable of deceit amongst themselves, they are not above using deceit to study organic behavior. One example is the geth introducing a falsified report on the extranet detailing a constellation resembling a salarian goddess seen from the batarian homeworld, which some salarians immediately believed to be proof of the goddess' existence. The experiment ended when a salarian cult attempted to buy the rights to the stars, only to find that they did not exist.
There is some question of whether geth personalities remain stable over time. When an artificial intelligence is transferred to a new blue box, a completely new personality is created. Geth frequently download into different hardware according to need, from starships to the "mobile platforms" that Shepard is familiar with. It is unknown whether new personalities result from these downloads, or whether it matters to the geth.
Despite this difference, the baseline geth respected the heretics' decision and did not label it as "wrong". Using another analogy, Legion explains that in simple terms, "Heretics say, one is less than two. Geth say, two is less than three." The heretics were allowed to leave peacefully, to join their god and its prophet.
It was therefore a shock to Legion when the heretics grew deceitful against the baseline geth. The heretics planted run-times within geth networks to spy on them, and obtained a Reaper virus from Sovereign capable of changing a geth's judgement, introducing a subtle math error which would eventually compel them to believe that worshipping the Reapers was correct. If Legion is allowed to join Shepard's team, they can go to Heretic Station in The Sea of Storms to stop the virus. Legion suggests that the virus could be re-purposed to reprogram the heretics into rejoining the collective or destroy them, thus depriving the Reapers of useful servants. Legion, however, cannot reach a "consensus" among its programs and defers to Shepard's judgment, insisting Shepard make the decision because the Commander has fought the heretics and the "Old Machines". This gives Shepard a perspective the baseline geth lack.
Should Shepard state that rewriting the geth is morally acceptable as geth are machines, Legion will concur with the Commander's logic. If Shepard's team member expresses surprise at Legion for this, it will respond that to believe every being shares your views and abides by your morality is arrogant and racist. Ultimately, Shepard can choose whether to destroy the heretic geth, simply removing the threat, or reprogram the heretics to no longer follow Sovereign and return to the geth.
Future Goals Edit
The long-term goal of the geth is the construction of a "megastructure", a massive mainframe capable of simultaneously housing every existent geth program, thereby maximizing their collective processing capacity. As of 2185, the geth have already been in the process of constructing the megastructure for 264 years. Legion suggests the closest conceptual analogue is a Dyson sphere and, as it poignantly states "no geth will be alone when it is done." It believes that Sovereign promised the heretics a Reaper body to serve as such a megastructure.
Notably, however, Legion considers this arrangement a Faustian bargain. The position of the baseline geth is that even if they share an ultimate goal with the heretics, self-determination toward that end has intrinsic value. In other words, the journey is as important as the destination. The heretics are to that effect consequentialistic, where the "true geth" are deontological. Something ineffable would be lost if the geth—and indeed, all galactic civilization—were merely to evolve along the rigid lines arranged by the Reapers.
Military EditShepard describes the geth as perfect ambushers—"they don't move, they don't make noise, they don't even breathe." Their freedom from the need to eat or sleep allows the geth to leave dormant garrison units in ambush at key positions, and the fact they don't feel pain allows them to drop units directly onto the battlefield from high altitudes. Geth can even be packed tightly into crates and left in storage, shutting down their power sources to stay undetected. A tactic particularly favoured by the geth is to set "distress signals" and then ambush the rescuers; they also turned the freighter MSV Cornucopia into a drifting trap.
In combat, geth units show little sense of self-preservation. Because geth programs can share memories and files with extreme ease, the experiences of individual geth programs are not lost when a platform is destroyed and archived versions of programs can be downloaded into new bodies. As geth programs are functionally immortal, they place little value on platforms and will expend thousands of units to take an enemy position, which was commonly experienced by the quarians during the Morning War. For this reason, geth are willing to engage in seemingly-suicidal actions like boarding a ship, engineering it to crash, and then remaining on board to ensure the ship goes down.
Heretic geth use psychological warfare on the battlefield with dragon's teeth, a Reaper implement. These implements pierce the bodies of dead soldiers, turning muscle tissue into synthetic material, creating a zombie-like monster called a Husk. This severely lowers morale, as their enemy now has to kill fallen comrades.
When geth shut down, they fry their memory cores as a defensive measure, which is probably why geth haven't been successfully captured for study. However, Tali'Zorah nar Rayya was able to retrieve some of the data cache from a deactivated geth, using her quarian tech expertise and quick decisiveness.
Despite preferring stealth and cutting edge technology to neutralize their enemies, the geth are extremely numerous, and are well capable of building a much larger force than they have. They have massive fleets and the largest infantry corps in the galaxy.
Best size estimates on a single geth fleet (the one around Charoum to be specific) range from 5,000 to 10,000 ships with unknown armament. These fleets include dreadnoughts, dropships, cruisers, and fighters. Since the geth are not limited by the demands for rest, wages, or autonomy that organic workforces require, they are limited only by time and raw materials in what they can construct, allowing for the creation of such massive fleets. Owing to their software nature, the geth decided to omit escape pods in their ship designs, requiring anyone who can't download who's trapped in one of their vessels to seek alternate means of transport off the ship, like stored geth fighters.
In addition, the geth are not restricted by the Treaty of Farixen and other Citadel regulations in building their ships. Geth dreadnoughts can exceed the size of Alliance dreadnoughts by as much as 30%, and utilize more expensive and energy-demanding ultraviolet antifighter lasers as opposed to the cheaper infrared antifighter lasers employed by most organic built ships.
Geth Worlds Edit
- Geth function by means of advanced swarm robotics. This is evident in their origins, and is the philosophical basis on which Legion acquires its name. They separate into local clusters during the mission Legion: A House Divided, and during Tali's loyalty mission as her father links the geth using a neural network to force sapience. This seems to suggest that the geth use a form of swarm intelligence.
- Geth are one of the new playable races in cooperative multiplayer mode added with the Mass Effect 3: Resurgence Pack.
|Citadel||Asari • Drell • Elcor • Hanar • Human • Keeper • Salarian • Turian • Volus|
|Non-Citadel|| Batarian • Collector • Geth • Krogan • Leviathan • Quarian • Raloi • Reaper |
Virtual Alien • Vorcha • Yahg
|Historical||Prothean • Rachni • Other Historical Races|