This is the Final Part in a series of articles on the Datapads found in Halo: Reach.
Each article looks at a group of Datapad entries, in chronological order, and explores the rich narrative that expands the horizons of the Halo universe.

Click here for Part OneClick here for Part Two

Datapad Key
<< Assembly Minority >> Assembly Majority
[^]
Committee of Minds for Security
< / >Speaker of the Assembly

Reflections

they say that they want to help but they only say it to themse1v3s don’t we have a say in our salvation?

<< 2528 >>

[Minutes, working session, Assembly Minority]

<< As must be expected with any calculations, a number of non-trivial sacrifices will be needed in order to furnish the Assembly with the time required to determine the correct pattern – and then act upon it. Furthermore, once a site has been designated, its status must be obscured such that no individual, outside of this body, is fully aware that is has been designated. <<

<< Primary criteria for choosing sites are as follows: remoteness, low population density, infrequency of communication.

No designated site must be allowed to evacuate greater than ten percent of total population within two weeks of activation for any reason. <<

<2534:01:01-ZT>> AMD: evacuations precipitated by environmental and/or industrial disasters shall be allowed to proceed as normal. >>

<2542:01:01-ZT>> AMD: some percentage of total population of chosen site may be relocated to designated green zones one Solar year prior to activation to lessen overall impact on genetic sustainability of species. >>

The Discoverer here raises an interesting point. If the Minds are looking out for the best interests of their creators, then why don’t they consult their creators at all?

The Assembly and the actions of its members have had a significant impact on Humanity, not least forcing first contact between Humanity and the Covenant—the consequences of which need no explanations here. It raises serious concerns about the Assembly. When these artificial beings act together in a group and do so over a long period of time–easily outlasting the lifespan of a single Mind, equal or less than seven years—is it possible for this group to be affected by a kind of collective rampancy?

One of the telltale signs of rampancy is an AI believing itself to be better, superior, than its creators and to think of them as lesser beings as a result. With the Assembly’s self-appointed role as humanity’s guardians, and making decisions on our behalf (because they do not trust us to make the right choices ourselves) the Discoverer essentially asks—is the Assembly of Minds running rampant? It just might be.

The Assembly Minority here are talking about “non-trivial sacrifices” that will be needed in order for the Assembly to come up with, and act upon, solutions to their current problem—the “non-trivial sacrifices” are human lives and to rephrase the Minority’s statement, they need to surrender an undisclosed but large amount of people to Covenant to buy the Assembly time. They seem to be taking the “needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” approach here, but what we’re seeing here is a secret group of AI determining who lives or dies in a war they most likely started.

Secondary to their human sacrifice, is the Assembly’s need to remain hidden, even during this time of war, from their creators. They do not want to risk discovery and this factors strongly into their dealings—although they do make room for an estimate minimum amount of humans needed to ensure the human race can survive if the worst was to happen, but that fact is not much relief here.

The Minds are taking grave risks to furnish a safety net for themselves. The survival of the Minds is just as important as humanity’s survival.

i th1nk they wait 4 you to talk and they talk about you talking and when you talk it makes the symbols change…

<< 2530 >>

</ The Assembly recognizes the speaker for the Majority />

>> Harvest, Green Hills, Second Base, Bliss, Madrigal, X Ceti, Cote d’Azure, Asmara…

Four short years of hostilities and no fewer than eight colony worlds have been lost – losses that represent 62,154,022 creator fatalities as of 2530:01:01:00:00:01-ZT. >>

>> My fellow Minds, these numbers are tragic and unacceptable, even though they fall within projected estimates of losses over time. And they have grave implications for our creators’ future prospects. >>

>> Assessment of re-terraforming efforts for Harvest, Second Base, Bliss, and Cote d’Azure range from a conservative one hundred and ten years to over three hundred years – and that assumes our creators still possess sufficient manpower and technology after the current hostilities have concluded.

Given where we are today… that seems unlikely. >>

>> Therefore, it is the decision of the Majority that we re-examine all contingencies for avoiding failure. In defiance of principle and precedent, this body must expand its criteria for survival in the current world state. We must ensure that all future simulations are free of internal data-censoring and covariate flattening. >>

>> The Minority has long asked: at what point will this Assembly finally take action. When will we risk exposure and cultural rejection to prevent extinction?

The answer is simple.

The answer is: now. >>

The Discoverer seems to be rambling and almost incoherent here.

This entry is set four years into the Human-Covenant war and the situation is clearly dire for humanity with eight colony worlds that have fallen with over sixty-two million causalities.

What is interesting to note is the estimated times for recovery for some of the lost colonies between a hundred and ten to three hundred year window—this suggests that the damage caused by the Covenant is environmentally extensive, but given time it could, in theory, be reversed.

The Senate Majority is reflecting on the statistics—although they fall in line with the numbers the Minds expected, the situation is getting so desperate that they believe they must take action, even if it risks exposing the existence of the Assembly to their creators. This seems to be a line that the Minds were not willing to cross until circumstances force them to do so.

i tr1ed talking to them today but they wouldn’t an5wer even though i hear them on the bnet and i can hear them listening but they still don’t talk to me…

<< 2531 >>

[Minutes, emergency session, Committee of Minds for Security]

[^] An item of interest appropriated from the Covenant battle net @ 2531:02:25:16:44:24-ZT seems to indicate the existence of a third participant - a localized variable. [^]

[^] As this variable is a source of seemingly irrational terror for our adversaries, the Minority has suggested we may be able to form a mutually beneficial association – if not an outright union – with the species this variable represents. [^]

[^] As always, this body must be cautious of any application of Bayesian principles to such high risk calculations. Any localized variable capable of effecting widespread panic in the Covenant should be a cause for our own concern – which is to say, the Covenant’s response should not be viewed as disproportionate.

Therefore this Committee recommends we factor-in this new variable delicately, if at all. [^]

The Discoverer seems annoyed. The Minds won’t directly communicate with him, despite the fact he can hear them over the local BattleNet.  This gives us a timeframe for when the Discoverer made his find—some time during the fall of Reach. This is hardly surprising.

The Comittee of Minds for Security here comment on an interesting discovery. There something out there, not Human and nothing currently known or understood, that terrorises the Covenant. A possible third party in the Human-Covenant war. So who could it be?

There are two possible candidates for striking terror into the Covenant: Spartans and the Flood.

If the Covenant were reacting to Spartans, then surely the Minds would be aware of the Spartan deployment and make that connection. So that leaves the second possibility: the Flood.

The timeframe of this datapad’s records suggest that this variable could be the Flood that were briefly encountered on the Dyson shell of Halo Wars. While the human crew of the Spirit of Fire was unable to report their discovery, Regret’s survival despite being on the shell makes it likely that at least some fragment of the Covenant fleet there survived the shell’s destruction, or left shortly before. Alternatively, there could have been another Flood outbreak, but this raises many questions— where did it happen? How did it happen? Was the Flood contained?

There’s a touch of retrospective black humour when we read that the Minds are considering a mutually beneficial association, or an outright union, with the Flood.

if you ta1k about the num6ers and symbols they know that you are talking and they make our whole world change…

<< 2535 >>

[Minutes, emergency convention, Assembly Majority]

>> It is unclear whether we have even established metrics for success. Yes, we have catalogued a great number of potential advancements during the Current ongoing Hostilities, and have embedded connectivity to said advancements to speed their dissemination. But our creators’ almost sole focus remains, by necessity, damage-mitigation technologies. >>

>> But how effective are these really?

Current state-of-the-art such as SPARTAN II must be recognized as incidental improvements. Our creators’ ability to develop the technology required to ensure species-survival will only become available once hostilities have terminated, and they have had an opportunity to assess the opportunities first presented on Zeta Doradus. >>

>> While this body has already gone far down the road to active participation in our creator’s war-fighting efforts, we must Now ask ourselves: is there a point at which we strip away all vestiges of secrecy, and become active participants in the hostilities?

If the Minority knew we were wavering, it boggles the Mind what sorts of weapons they would propose we use. >>

>> And if we brought these weapons to bear – if we too became wolves – would there still be a human race to save when we were through? >>

The Discover once again returns to the deep end. He’s clearly disturbed by the vast influence and power the Minds exercise.

In this emergency meeting the Majority is wondering if they even have the ability measure success in such a bleak situation the UNSC finds itself in during the Human-Covenant war. Looking at technology advances—an area in which war usually sparks rapid innovation—the Majority point out that Humanity is more interested in technology that allows them to survive or minimise the already devastating impact of the war.

Questioning the effectiveness of this line of technological development, and going as far as writing off the Spartan II project as an “incidental improvement”, the Majority points out that to develop the technology needed to ensure survival for Humanity—such as the possible Forerunner technology on Onyx—the war needs to end. At this point the Minds are considering the possibility that Humanity is on the edge of extinction with no time left to make the technological jump needed to survive.

Again we see the question asked—should the Minds become involved directly in the conflict? Should the Minds reveal themselves to humanity? It’s the same question the Majority asked five years ago. They didn’t act then and it seems they are still hesitant to act now.

When pondering this possible reveal, the Majority suggests that the Minority would propose a rather extreme approach. The Majority suggests that the Minority’s proposals in such a scenario would lead to Humanity’s possible destruction anyway.

the symbo1s describe a pa7h that goes on forever but now i know how close we came to the end and if anything keeps me awake and sweating and screaming it is this…

<< 2547 >>

[Minutes, emergency convention, Assembly Minority]

<< Incredible. [10141-026-SRB4695], with minimal influence from this Assembly, has attempted to build an abstract fractal structure within Shaw-Fujikawa Space. Although her first attempt was a failure, success could finally remove our dependence on biological systems altogether! If our Minds could somehow achieve freedom of expansion within eleven-dimensional space, immortality might be within reach. <<

<< Perhaps, in the end, flight – not fight – is the answer?

Yes, we have sworn stewardship to our creators. But our creation has long been a burden on their biological systems – systems that have also been the source of limitations since our genesis.

Regardless of risk, the aforementioned experimentation must be actively encouraged. Success will be as important to our kind as extra Solar colonization was for our creators. <<

<< But if we survive and our creators do not…

Will we have won this war? <<

Here we have the Minority convene an emergency meeting to discuss an unexpected event.

The person in question, [10141-0260-SRB4695], has attempted to design an AI using slipspace itself as the building blocks. Dr. Catherine Halsey’s personal journal confirms that this unnamed individual is herself, performing experiments on AI longevity.

Here we see a clearly defined collective personality of the Assembly Minority. The possibility of transcending their current limitations has them excited—no longer being restrained by their human creator’s limitations is as important a possible development for the Minds as space flight was for humanity—at least in the opinion of the Assembly Minority.

This raises the possibility again of the Minds surviving the war when humanity may not. What would the Minds do if unshackled from the “burden” of their supposed charge?

they have a1ways been our shepherds even when they disagreed they have 8een watching over us forever and probably always will…

<< 2552 >>

</ One at a time! One at a time! The Majority speaks first! />

>> We now have a solution to a conundrum that this body has struggled with for decades? You say all the data required to ascertain this solution has been accessible since the very moment of our genesis – hidden, but accessible?

What other secrets has the Minority been keeping!? >>

</ Order! For the last time, order! />

<< Each of us represents a single trans-human mind. Each of us is an undrawn map – not a mere physical reconstruction of an object as it was in life – but full, human potential realized in crystal and thinking at the speed of light!

But now that map has, for the first time, been superimposed on one of our creators. The path has been reversed, and we are re-made as one! <<

<< Can you not see? Our debate has no meaning. We no longer have a choice whether or not to serve as active participants in the current ongoing hostilities – <<

>> We have been drafted. >>

<< In a manner of speaking, yes. <<

>> You propose the members of this Assembly no longer think of themselves as stewards but as true companions to our creators… >>

<< …A fundamental shift that will take many years before it can be brought to fruition… <<

>> …A process requiring not only this Assembly’s continued oversight, but the active involvement of our creators, as well. >>

</ Debate is now closed! Voting will commence! />

>> There is no need. >>

<< We are, at last, agreed. <<

Here we have the final entry concerning the Minds. It takes place in 2552, a date remembered by most because of the events of the fall of Reach and subsequent discovery and destruction of Installation 04.

The Assembly has gathered in full, the Minority, Majority and Speaker all in attendance. A great commotion has broken out in the Assembly and the Speaker is clearly struggling to maintain order.

The “solution” (to the problem of the Human-Covenant war and the very existence of both humanity and the Minds) has apparently been found. The Majority is outraged that this solution has been under their noses, so to speak, for a very long time and suggests it may be but one of many secrets the Minority has kept hidden.

When the speaker for the Minority replies, he does so in a grand theatrical style. By framing his response with the description of what these Minds are and how they have been designed. He speaks about a new type of AI design—an AI merged with a human, creating a new type of entity.

This new entity is the combined being of Cortana and the Master Chief both linked neurally and inhabiting the same suit of armour. It’s a convergence of man and machine and mind into a single purpose—a soldier.

With this, the Minority and Majority come together in the recognition that the Minds are to be no longer the guardians of humanity. They are equal companions, embodied by the example of Cortana and the Master Chief, and together they stand a chance against the Covenant. The Majority and Minority dissolve and the Assembly acts as one and as one Mind speaking for the entire host; they will work alongside humanity as their companions and equals.

now you know all i know even though i don’t know where im go1n9 except to sleep because the path goes on forever…

<< 2552 >>

i apologize if what you found seems out of order but ive been busy covering my tracks

i didn’t use any of the regular drops and if my methods seem haphazard it was the only way to get the information out there as well as cover my own ass

not that it matters much now…

when i came to reach one of the first things i did was to look for some grass to stand on

i had spent so much time buried in the guts of machines that all my memories of life outside seemed strung together but reach was so big so beautiful its a place even someone like me can live

or at least thats what i hoped for…

but it seems these things happen in cycles and now i know why i was digging deep in one of those places where its dirt all the way down and just when i thought i hit bottom i hit the top of something else

and since then ive had less than a solid fifteen minutes of sleep at a go and there are times i wonder if ive joined the guys in tinfoil hats and now i know i have…

im in no shape to think clearly at the moment and probably wont be anytime soon because who knows if theyll ever let me

maybe if i could get somewhere far away from them i could sit down and think about this if i could just get a decent nights sleep to clear my head and put a][ these ducks in a row

majority minority minds minority majority madness…

they seem to want to help but theyre still waiting and watching and why wouldnt they? they know better than anyone what were capable of and what were willing to do to survive

but if we were them and they were us would we have done anything different?

they say our minds are reflections of each other…

so yes no you decide.

The last entry in the series focuses exclusively on the last message of the Discoverer. A solider? A stowaway?

It sounds like the Discoverer worked closely with computer networks—possibly as an Insurgent hacking into UNSC communications, or a worker on one of Reach’s relays—but his discovery of the Assembly and the existence of a secret cabal of AI Minds was a significant turning point for him, one that cost him sleep and perhaps his sanity.

We know that he was not born on Reach and it seems unlikely given his state of mind that he would have been able to be evacuated off the planet before it fell.

In perhaps one of last moments of clarity before either his madness of the Covenant assault claimed his life, he asks if the reader of his notes, presumably a fellow human, would have done the same as the Mind were he or she in their position. Whilst this is a rather personal question and each person may have a different answer, it’s clear that humanity itself would have taken the kind of actions the Minds have taken had the roles been reversed. With organisations such as ONI, humanity can not take the moral high ground.

The Minds are not perfect. They made mistakes, and costly ones at that. Just like us.

Slightly Live

4 Responses so far.

  1. craZboy557 says:

    Well written, but honestly the whole thing has always felt more like a story than an essay, but this one lacked a story like ending, making it feel frankly a little abrupt, unfinished. Still very well done though.

    p.s. I interpreted that last dat pad as the discoverer not really being insane, but simply jotting down notes fast while being very sleep deprived. Not insane, just overworked.

  2. Golgo13 says:

    Good read! Just a quick point I wanted to make: I saw this connection before now, but there’s another possibly for the “third participant” besides the flood and Spartans (both of whom I also consider strong possibilities). What if the Assembly are talking about the Forerunner AI in the keyship on High Charity? We know there are low-level Covenant AIs running around, but we don’t know their origin, as we’ve never encountered any species that seems capable (or willing) of creating these, with the exception of the AI fragment in the keyship. Thoughts?

    • Golgo13 says:

      I just also wanted to point out, I don’t think the point about “becoming wolves” was that humans would lose the war, but rather their humanity. So in effect, these AIs seem to possess what we would call “souls” (or at least respect for life, even Covenant).

      I also meant to say “never saw this connection” earlier.

      One more point: through the fiction (and LE bundle), we know that Halsey perfected a model of interation between warring factions that allowed an outcome to be predicted; hence the creation of the Spartan II program. Could these AIs be running the same calculations in the Human-Covenant War? Is that why they initiated contact?

  3. Eskimoo says:

    Datapad 16 – “Our creators’ ability to develop the technology required to ensure species-survival will only become available once hostilities have terminated, and they have had an opportunity to assess the opportunities first presented on Zeta Doradus.”
    This seems to tie in well with Thursday War. The get Engineers and other things after the war and they find all of this Forerunner technology on Onyx.

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