Mass Effect Month: Day 25 – Tali and Legion

We’re back with our month-long Mass Effect challenge! For previous days, click here.

Mass Effect Month, Day 25: What is your opinion on the quarian/geth conflict?

Gee, can you tell I have some time off from work? First I’m pondering the genophage and now I’m wondering about the issues between the quarians and geth.

A few days ago, I posed a question about whether or not artificial intelligence should be unshackled. My conclusion (which sparked some interesting discussions in the comments) was that we, as a species, are far too primitive to be able to design an artificial intelligence responsibly enough to then unleash it on ourselves. The quarian/geth conflict is a great example of these shortcomings that we, too, possess.

Image result for geth and quarians

The quarians originally build the geth to be servants and perform manual labor. The entire conflict began when one of the geth questioned, “Does this unit have a soul?” Of course, as it’s pointed out later, the very fact that the question was asked pointed to the answer “yes,” but the quarians, unable to fully comprehend that these creations were no longer dumb, unthinking machines, sought to destroy them. Of course, one could be generous and say that they tried to destroy the geth because the Council had strict bans on artificial intelligence (AI) and the geth’s question indicated that it was, in fact, a self-aware AI, rather than out of fear of “robot overlords.”

Regardless of the reason, the quarians mishandled the situation, winding up losing the very home they sought to save. Neither side was willing to cross lines and offer peace, and so the conflict continued, even to when some geth broke away from the collective to follow the Reapers.

Image result for geth

But, for me, the most interesting part of any conflict (other than how it begins) is how it ends. I’m always amazed to see how vindictive players become over this issue, with some choosing to destroy the quarian civilization in vengeance for their past mistakes. To me, that speaks volumes to our ability to create AI. If we cannot practice forgiveness during an imaginary conflict, how can we expect to “program” an AI to act morally? The quarian/geth conflict is then much less about what is happening in the game, and much more about how we might handle a similar situation.

I think the best course of action is to broker peace. Any end to a conflict is a time for idealistic thinking and a time for acting in the best way you possibly can, not for revenge and anger.

Image result for quarian geth peace

So, my opinion on the quarian/geth conflict is that, while it was an incredibly unfortunate event that went on for far too long, its conclusion presents many opportunities for both species to move forward together peacefully, in defiance of their own misunderstandings, and… well… in defiance of what the Reapers might have you believe about synthetic and organic relationships.

What do you think? Does the quarian/geth conflict teach us about ourselves, or is it simply a time for us to exact revenge for mistakes made centuries prior? Is this the Reaper conflict in a microcosm? What is your opinion on the conflict in general? Let me know in the comments!

I should go,

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  1. I’d agree it was definitely mishandled. But like you I loved the resolution to it all in ME3 and I was stoked when I as Sheppard had the choice to make things right between the Geth and the Guarian. One of the overlying themes in Mass Effect to me is unity. It was needed to overcome all the threats they face, and I think the Quarian and Geth conflict was one of the best examples of that.

    I also agree the best solution is peace. It may be naive for me to say, but with all the conflicts that go on, whether it be in the real world or in fiction, they can go on for was seems like forever, and in the end, you lose site of what you are fighting for. It may not be as easy as saying it, but simply to stop fighting always makes sense in my mind. In the end, the Geth and Quarians both lived in harmony at one point, why not strive to get back to that place? Again This is very naive of me to say given how the real world works, but I always prefer to simplest explanations to complex problems.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s true that sometimes it’s easy to get lost in hatred and habit, especially when “wounds” are old. It’s easier to keep living in the past than to entertain that the present might be different. It seems so silly to say “give peace a chance,” but I think if *everyone* involved truly gives it a chance, that will always be the best option!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I was happy the Let’s Player I watched opted for peace, because that’s what I would’ve chosen. I’ve seen quite a few people say they chose to destroy the quarians, because “they deserved it,” and then they laughed when Tali jumped off the cliff. That…speaks volumes for how messed up humanity can be, especially considering the hypocrisy of the action since we’re currently working on AI right now and could end up on the same situation. The geth becoming self-aware terrified their creators, and people react poorly when they’re motivated by fear. Bad moves were made on their end, costing them their home for generations and forcing them to survive on flotillas within special suits (I STILL want to see what a quarian looks like. I’m pretty sure they have bio-luminescent eyes, because you can see them through the suit’s mask). While what they did to the geth was deplorable, I think their species has suffered enough.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really don’t understand how people can be so unforgiving, really. It was a mistake from 300 years ago. At what point do we become the “better person” and forgive/move on? People can be so unforgiving and bloodthirsty, really. How is it okay to blame one person for the mistakes of an entire race, to the point where you *laugh* at their depression and suicide? Seems to me that the monster there isn’t either quarians or geth. The whole conflict was a poor situation all around, and you’re right that we were given such a well-developed means of exploring it that some people just missed.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It was really awful and definitely shows a lack of empathy. The coming back together was the best option. I’m not giving the quarians a pass in the least, but I think they paid for their mistakes. They were literally driven off of their planet by those they attempted to oppress and they lived in exile for generations. I did like how you had to completely shift your perspective of the geth since they were the primary antagonist from the first game and then you find out the truth about them.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Generally, I would try and broker peace. Otherwise, I would tend to favour the Quarians. This is mainly because I value organics over synthetics, but also because I like Tali.

    Another advantage of favouring the Quarians is that it conveniently removes one of the dilemmas faced with the Destroy option.

    If some are very pro-Geth, I imagine that they would hate the ending more than anyone if they don’t like Synthesis or Destroy

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Broker peace was the best solution to me. I loved how the geth welcomed their former masters home and helped them rebuild their homes on the planet. Unshackled AI is definitely a species that should be respected and not enslaved. I think rA9 would agree (my Detroit/Mass Effect crossover idea is still intriguing me, haha)


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