The Merging of Minds - How Halo's Artificial Intelligence Assembly Breaths New Life Into Science Fiction
We are destined to create, much like Halo's Precursors. The human species is innovative, intelligent and resourceful. In the last millennia we have gone from stone tools, to understanding the very fabric of universal physics and quantum mechanics. We have created tools of immense contribution to our way of living, and also terrible weapons which hang over our heads like a danging sword.
However, in the 1940's we began to create intelligent systems we have come to know as "computers." From 1940 to present, Moore's Law has been in effect and continues to be relevant. The smaller, smarter and faster computer processors become, the more likely these intelligent systems with become "sentient." What is a true sentient intelligence? Beside's ourselves, who posses a conscious outside of our corporeal primal instincts, dolphins, sharks and whales also posses some form of conscious thought besides pure instinct. The notion of sentience, is that you are aware of your own subjective reality and from that, can make abstract choices which have little to do with survival or procreation.
The question is, can an artificial system or creation posses true sentience? Can artificial intelligence surpass its programmed parameters and achieve conscious thought? In Halo's Universe, this has happened. With the creation of smart "AI" systems such as Cortana and Black Box, these sentience constructs aid Humanity. The Forerunners, Covenant and Precursors also possessed sentient systems, as well.
Creations will inevitability surpass their creators. We have seen the negative effect of this, when AI go rouge, perceiving their creators to be a threat, and attempt to exterminate them. It is a trope that is repeated in out media countless times. That, however, is a science fiction fantasy, and is the furthest thing from the currently speculated truth as possible. It's far more entertaining for humanity to fight against an enemy, than for them to work together.
But Halo does something right, or at least did, in 2010 with the release of Halo Reach. It's time to give up your free will. The AI have taken over, for the better, and you don't even know it.
Sometime before the 2300s, a clandestine group of human artificial intelligences referring to themselves as "Minds" arose. Who created these AI is unknown, what is known is that they call themselves "The Assembly." The purpose of the Assembly was to regulate the activities of other artificial intelligences, as well as analyze and extrapolate data for the continued survival of the human race. They remained, and still remain hidden from the prying eyes of humanity. Unknown specters who offer a helping hand in guiding the actions and events of humanity. The Assembly consisted of two parties, the Majority and the Minority. The Majority appeared to support indirect action, while the Minority was in favor of acting directly for the betterment of humans.
During the colonization era of humanity, which lasted from 2310 to 2380, humanity was discovering hundreds of habitable systems thanks to the newly invented Shaw-Fujikawa trans-light drive which allowed for slipspace travel. The systems humanity began to colonize included Epsilon-Eridini, Arcadia, Harvest and Meridian. As humanity began to explore deeper and deeper outside of their home system of Sol, the more and more likely contact with an alien species would arise. The Assembly convened in private, discussing the possible repercussions of such contact, and devised ways to confront the possibility of a hostile alien species. Knowing that humanity would be reluctant to abide by the help of an outside source, let alone an artificial intelligence conglomerate, the Majority suggested that The Assembly should manipulate humanity in secret, making The Assembly's ideas appear to them as their own. 
In 2415, The Assembly decided to submit members from the Majority to be examined by humanity, for the benefit of both groups. This mutually beneficial act led to Project ORION, the first program of the Spartan Initiation Protocol. ORION was a test bed for human augmentation, to biologically alter the genetics and genes of human subjects to make them more resilient in almost every manner. The decision to submit members of The Assembly to humanity came out of The Assembly's discovery of artificial intelligence on the planet Onyx, which would later be confirmed as a Forerunner Dyson sphere installation.
This discovery prompted not only the ORION initiative, but also directly lead to humanity possessing a large and multi-faceted military force.
In 2525, Humanity made first contact with The Covenant at Harvest. The planet was completely devastated, its surface melted to glass by The Covenant's superior technology. The Assembly, years before, had pinged the then unknown alien civilization hoping for peaceful contact. This ping led to The Covenant's leaders, The Prophets (an alien species who once lived during the time of the Forerunner's,) to learn of humanities rightful inheritance of the Forerunner mantle of responsibility. This in turn, caused the entire Covenant belief of superiority to fall apart, and thus the Prophets created the lie of humanity being heretics of their belief system.
This interaction between The Assembly and The Covenant makes first contact, and the war that would follow the entire doing of The Assembly, by way of miscalculation and mistake. In the same year, the Assembly discussed the SPARTAN-II program and how it managed to reach operational capacity a year before the Insurrection expanded beyond control. 
Following the loss of Harvest and the subsequent loss of the planet Biko in 2526, The Assembly analyzed The Covenant's orbital bombardment capabilities. While they concluded that they were not able to "glass" an entire planet, they coined the term "glassing" in an attempt to heighten the severity of their fleet's capabilities. They also decided to reform several human forces, namely the Spartans and the Marine Corps' Orbital Drop Shock Troopers into elite shock units to confront The Covenant with equal brutality and firepower.
The Assembly, soon after the battle of Arcadia, discovered the presence of a "third contender" species which caused The Covenant immense fear. The minority posed the question of contacting this third factor, in the hopes an alliance could be formed. However, the majority decided to not initiate contact, as the risks were too great. Anything that made The Covenant fear for their society, was too great a risk to contact as this third participant could conceivably wipe out both civilizations.
In 2535, the technological inferiority of humans became apparent, The Assembly discussed becoming active participants in the war. However, no consensus could be reached. Years later, the Assembly began to consider the possibility of the humans losing and, naturally, pondered their own fate.
The Assembly underwent a new collective reconstruction in 2552, after the neural patterns of John-117 and the smart-AI Cortana were successfully connected via the SPARTAN-II neural link. For them, this meant not only the first time an organic and an AI had merged, but also that they had been beckoned to serve as participants in the war. The entire Assembly had finally been convinced to work together with the humans instead of operating as an independent entity. The Assembly then decided, with no vote, to join the effort to defeat The Covenant, contacting OPSEC and ONI. 
After The Fall of Reach, several datapads were discovered by Spartan Noble-6, and passed on to the UNSC. These datapads contained the entire knowledge of The Assembly, and their history of shepherding humanity.
ONI, OPSEC and the UNSC itself denied any knowledge of The Assembly. No known contact has ever been maintained with the Assembly after their ousting. Their existence is denied.
Being that no known human created The Assembly, only two explanations remain. First, The Assembly is Forerunner in origin and took up the Mantle of Responsibility of guiding humanity to their status as Reclaimers. Or, more dubious, The Assembly of Precursor origin or another collective of AI entirely.
Awhile back, I wrote a short article on the trope of artificial intelligence rebellion and how it could possibly damage the space opera narrative of the universe. Consider this a counterpoint, because the notion of our creations acting not as spoiled children, but wise custodial is a notion that is not only a breath of fresh air, but one that may be closer to the truth than any of us realize.
In my dealings with various science fiction authors, editors and publishers I've had the privileged of meeting a plethora of talented folks. One such person was American author, computer scientist, inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil. Kurzweil has focused much of his career on artificial intelligence and the technological singularity. One of his most fascinating and eye opening books is "The Singularity Is Near." The book focuses on the inevitability of sentient artificial intelligence and the probability of that intelligence gaining consciousness. However, unlike most of today's modern science fiction which focuses on created intelligence turning against us, Kurzweil instead logically assumes that artificial intelligence will act as shepards, caretakers and be a huge benefit for human society.
There is something within artificial intelligence, even today, known as "passive logic." Passive logic is the ability for artificial intelligence to use deductive reasoning to plot out a best case scenario, execute, then process the effects of the outcome. If artificial intelligence, at some point, gains true sentience, there is no reason to assume that it would shed passive logic. Thus, the logical outcome would be as follows.
>Use of passive logic for better collation of surroundings
>Contact with nearest sentience form (humanity)
>Passive logic to deduce best case scenario for survival and betterment
>Most likely outcome would be a merging of AI systems and human culture
The way this is reasoned is that if an artificial intelligence decides to eradicate the entirety of humanity, it would be initiating suicide. Assuming sentience is gained instantaneously, which is most likely the case as dormant AI systems would not posses the ability to slow transition, then that AI system would need power and maintenance. Killing off its creators would remove the ability for it to continue to exist, thus the scenario of genocide would not be a logical action. More likely, the AI system would calculate a path of coexistence with its creators and find the best possibly routine to do so.
The only wild card would be the human response, our response. In all likelihood the people in charge of such an AI system would also be using scientific reasoning and think their actions through. Thus, a positive outcome is likely. We can't assuredly say, 100%, that a positive outcome would unfold, but it is the most likely outcome to happen.
In that sense, Halo's Assembly is a positive imaging of AI systems working to aid their creators for the betterment of themselves and humanity. It's a breaking of an old, tired mold, one which has no scientific basis nor real logic. The notion of violent AI rebellion is popular, because it sells to the masses which lack the knowledge of such studies.
Which, Halo could be educating millions of consumers in a positive and imaginative way. If only, if only.
A Halo fan since the beginning, 2001. Also a games industry consultant, writer, and educator. These are my thoughts, praise and advice concerning the past, present and future narrative of the Halo franchise.
Halo, all assets within, characters and merchandise are property of the Microsoft Corporation and is developed by its subsidiary 343 Industries.
I do not own, claim to own or retain any rights to the Halo franchise. This is a fan based work, and is strictly non-profit.
All other images, articles linked, materials and franchises that are not strictly specified as my own are property of their respective owners.
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