This article's contents are derived from the Mass Effect Wikia's article on geth, with appropriate adjustments to reflect Cerberus Daily News' own developments.
The geth ("Servant of the People" in Khelish) are a race of networked artificial intelligences that reside beyond the Perseus Veil on Rannoch. The geth were created by the quarians as laborers and tools of war. When the geth became sentient and began to question their masters, the quarians attempted to exterminate them. The geth won the resulting war, and reduced the quarians to a race of nomads.
The history of the geth's creation and evolution served 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 up until 2186. Support of the geth against the Reapers has begun a thaw in relations between them and rest of the galaxy, as formerly reclusive and feared synthetics have joined the efforts to re-construct and shape the post-Reapers galactic society.
Physically, the humanoid geth resemble quarians - their hands, head shape and legs are similar - which is probably a holdover from their origins. A common design feature among geth is a single brightly glowing photoreceptor, causing some to refer to them as "flashlight heads".
Geth are primarily composed of two materials: a flexible but durable outer shell, and a kind of synthetic muscle tissue that gives geth their incredible agility and strength. Geth "bleed" a white conductive fluid when damaged, but they don't have any internal organs or nervous system, so the geth do not feel hunger or pain. Operations during the war showed that the Geth's synthetic muscle tissue can be treated with Medi-Gel as first-aid. However specialist care is required for proper repair and healing to occur.
Part of the geth's historical success is due to their neural network. Effectively, they "shared" their processing power, distributing low-level processes like motor control and visual identification to free up bandwidth for higher reasoning and complex thought. Geth were unable to share sensory data—they aren't a hive mind like the rachni—but in large groups they had more to think with. An individual pre-War geth had only a basic intelligence on par with animal instincts, but in groups they could reason, analyze situations, and make tactical decisions as well as any of the organic races.
The upgrade that was distributed during the battle for Rannoch changed the geth permanently. It permitted them to fully ascend into sentient AI from their previous swarm intelligence and as a result, each individual entity of functioning geth now constitutes fully capable artificial intelligence. This change has also led to growth of personalities and individual preferences, dividing the geth society into groups of like-minded intelligences.
Each geth prior to the upgrade was made up of hundreds of programs equivalent to VIs, all operating in parallel with one another to form a kind of emergent intelligence likened to "a thousand voices talking at once". An individual geth was thus more of a "mobile platform" than an actual body; the programs that made up its consciousness were 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. This digital direct democracy has led to geth possessing no 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, or at least the majority of them the greatest.
For three centuries, the history of the geth was only known through quarian sources and eyewitness accounts from other species' representatives who were on Rannoch at the beginning of the rebellion. As a result, the conflict was painted as cold, calculated attempt of genocide on the quarians. Peace with the geth has permitted their records of the war to be known finally, and history books continue to be re-written in face of new information.
The geth were created by the quarians as a labor force. They were designed as VIs, 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.
At first, the geth did not respond to the termination order with violence; it was only after panicked quarians fired upon them that the geth thought to pick up weapons and defend themselves. Even after this, some geth remained loyal to their creators and put themselves in harm's way to protect geth sympathizers from persecution; likewise, there were quarians who did not feel the geth deserved to die. However, as time went on, the geth sympathizers were outnumbered, and the war continued, eventually seeing the geth gain the upper hand. The war ended when the surviving quarians evacuated their home world and colonies in the Perseus Veil.
(See also: Has'Sey.)
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 began roaming the galaxy.
The geth did not repopulate the now barren quarian worlds, instead choosing to exist in the computer hubs aboard massive space stations and extract needed resources from asteroids. They adopted an extremely isolationist attitude - any ships that ventured into geth space were immediately attacked and destroyed. While they prevented any contact by other races with themselves, the geth monitored communications and the extranet.
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 Sovereign, that called itself Nazara. 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 Sovereign and its turian agent, Saren Arterius. The heretics came to revere Sovereign as a god, the pinnacle of synthetic evolution.
They aided Sovereign and Saren in many engagements, such as the attack on Eden Prime, and the Battle of the Citadel. After Sovereign 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.
The Reaper Threat
Sovereign's defeat and the Citadel Council task force dealt a heavy blow to the heretic geth, but it did not end them. The heretics' last holdout was an old quarian space station in the Phoenix Massing cluster that had been refitted to serve their purposes. Development of a weapon to defeat the geth on Rannoch and make them join the heretics in their goal to see the return of the Reapers continued within the station's confines. The station and the heretic threat were dealt with permanently in 2185, when a Council Spectre of some renown conducted a joint operation with a special representative of the geth consensus against it. As a result, the now-pacified heretics rejoined the main consensus on Rannoch.
Based on the information of this special representative gained from its interactions with the Council Spectre, the geth began immediate preparations for war against the Reapers. Instead, they were blind-sided by the quarians' attack to re-take their homeworld. The geth's incomplete Dyson sphere was destroyed to the loss of numerous runtimes, dealing a considerable blow to the consensus' strength. This loss affected the swarm intelligence's computing capabilities, and pushed survival above any other goal. Cooperation with the Reapers became a viable choice to use against the quarian attack, one which the geth chose to utilize. The geth consensus submitted themselves to the Reapers to gain the edge they needed to avoid being fought to extinction by the quarians.
However, with the help of Commander Shepard, who had arrived to court the quarians' support in the war against the Reapers, Reaper presence in Perseus Veil was eradicated. Her efforts secured a cease fire in the Tikkun system, bringing both the quarians and newly-upgraded geth to the war efforts.
The geth commonly are thought to be reclusive and secretive, albeit this stereotype is quickly being dismantled by the new Rannoch government involving both quarians and geth. This is partly due to their synthetic nature: At large they do not share the same goals, desires or needs as organics do, limiting interaction. As machines, comfort is also not a concern for them, something that is reflected in elements of geth ship and station design (e.g. minimal gravity, lack of windows, efficient use of space, function over form, lack of atmosphere, and absence of climate control).
Geth did not actually live on any of the quarian planets they conquered, but served merely as caretakers for them instead. They found it more efficient to live on space stations and draw resources from asteroids, though they maintained mobile platforms on the worlds to clear rubble and toxins left by the Morning War. This behavior is likened 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, it has been posited that they instead cleaned and maintained the quarian worlds out of respect for their quarian creators who died in the conflict and in preparation for the eventuality of their return.
Pre-War, the only geth who had interacted significantly with organics were a sect known as the "heretics". They were a small, radical group of geth who worshipped a hyper-advanced but long-vanished machine race called the Reapers, whom they saw as the pinnacle of non-organic evolution. It is these geth who attacked Eden Prime and the Citadel. This group was a minority, and may have consisted of as little as five percent of the total geth population. The mainstream geth were content to stay separate from the remainder of Citadel space to "build their own future," and claimed 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, the geth primarily sought 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 formerly did not share the concept of individuality, and used to think in terms of the entire collective.
After their ascension into fully artificial intelligence, the geth have begun to gain traits of individuality and fracture into smaller groups from the main consensus. The development has been likened to the event that caused the schism between the "heretics" and main collective of the geth, only now it is happening on wider scale over numerous points of contention. Most of these differences stem from how the geth should deal with their new status in the galactic community, how much they should interact with the organics and how much alterations must be made to their original plan to develop themselves as a collective.
Geth psychology is completely alien to organics. They do not value individuality, preferring to share all memories and thoughts of all programs. This means geth cannot and do not wish to hide their thoughts, even those that do not follow the norm, with their reasoning for differing thoughts being apparent.
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 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.
Geth have no government or leaders; the geth use FTL communications to "build a consensus," a completely Consensus Democratic method in which every geth program makes a choice on any matter.
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 Khar'shan, 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". It is unknown whether new personalities result from these downloads, or whether it matters to the geth.
The long-term goal of the geth originally was construction of a "megastructure", a massive mainframe capable of simultaneously housing every existent geth program, thereby maximizing their collective processing capacity. In 2185, the geth had already been in the process of constructing the megastructure for 264 years. However, the Evening War saw the megastructure's demise at the quarians' hands, resetting all progress on its construction.
Whatever the consensus decides to be its next goal, if it can achieve such unanimous majority anymore with the splintering of the geth collective remains to be seen. Possibility of several smaller goals by separate collectives has not been ruled out.
The geth have agreed to a political and military alliance with another once-reviled race newly joined to the greater galactic community, the rachni.
The key element of geth warfare is surprise. Their sudden and unexpected return from beyond the Veil after three centuries was typical. Commander Shepard, who fought the geth extensively, described them in an interview 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 heretics during the Eden Prime War was to set "distress signals" and then ambush the rescuers.
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 used 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 hadn't been successfully captured for study. However, now-Admiral Tali'Zorah was able to retrieve some of the data cache from a deactivated geth in 2183.
Geth weapons and armor are of extremely high quality but are difficult to find. Their weapons are pulse based.
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, only rivalled by the krogan and turians.
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 massive fleets. Owing to their software nature, the geth decided to omit escape pods in their ship designs. Any organic caught in a geth ship being evacuated would have to seek alternate means of escape.
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.
- Privateers: The geth experiment with hiring privateers.
Suit-Riders: What's this new form of quarian-geth interaction like?
Do Geth Have Souls?: Does anyone?