Forum:SIVA, the Vex, and Other Theories
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I'm aware there are several previous discussions on this topic, but I've been thinking about this more and more and wanted to throw some ideas around for general discussion. A lot of this is speculative, but I do try and root my ideas in established lore.
We know that SIVA was created by Clovis Bray during the Golden Age and that its initial purpose was to be used as a universal resource for colonization, the idea being that it can be used to create anything necessary during colonization efforts of different worlds.
It's worth noting that at the same time SIVA was being investigated and developed, a separate project was being worked on by Dr. Bray's teams to use nanotechnology to enhance the strength and intelligence of test subjects, but was scrapped due to unforeseen consequences. Focus was then turned solely to developing SIVA instead. This was discovered by Owl Sector during the Transmission incident. I believe this is at least partly important to connecting the dots, but it is where I'm going to speculate. I'll save the rest for later.
Essentially, SIVA is nanotech that breaks down matter and reconstitutes it as whatever it is programmed to become. The key here is the open-ended nature of of what SIVA is capable of - with the right (or wrong) programming, it can be used to create with endless possibility.
Excerpts from the Grimoire are interesting in understanding not only what it was going to be used for, but how it works:
We've found a way to push our matter encryption technology even further. ~SIVA.MEM.WB002
Based on this, we can assume that this was originally developed from Engram tech, which is what "matter encryption" refers to. This is important because it immediately implies complex data structures capable of storing huge amounts of data in small spaces.
Habitats, equipment, repairs of all kinds—all of these things can be made from one material. ~SIVA.MEM.WB003
Pretty straightforward description of what SIVA can be used for that mainly highlights, again, the main idea that SIVA as a whole can used to manipulate matter into just about anything.
SIVA doesn't expire, degrade, or forget. It can remain dormant even on long voyages. ~SIVA.MEM.WB004
It's an inorganic material, not subject to entropy (likely due to it being derived from Engram tech), and more importantly, has a data storage capacity of some kind. This is important because it tells us that SIVA doesn't need to be directly manipulated, but can be encoded with commands and then "released". This also implies that it has a data transmission structure as well - similar to how machine code for hardware uses binary 1s and 0s, SIVA has some way of reading/writing data that isn't specified.
Well, SIVA requires no external power source, so…forever. ~SIVA.MEM.WB007
This is also very important. The wording here makes it complicated to be 100% certain of the structure of SIVA and whether individual particles have their own eternal, internal power source, or because of its inorganic nature it simply doesn't require power to work. Most likely, it doesn't require power to perform it functions (data transmission and data storage) but does require power of some kind to be restructured into whatever it is programmed to become. This is speculation at best, however, since the Grimoire and other sources don't really expand on this idea.
Just give it a directive, and it won't stop until it gets a new directive. ~SIVA.MEM.WB008
This is another sticky one - this can imply either giving inert material its programming which is then executed somehow by an external force, or that once the programming is given, it is self-executing.
Given what we know about SIVA, it seems to be the latter. That adds some additional aspects to the nature of SIVA, namely processing capabilities and possibly some level of either operating structure or "software", so to speak.
In order for the transmitted and/or stored data to be turned into an action by SIVA, data processing has to occur, much like how a CPU translates machine code to some kind of output. Furthermore, for that output to become a coherent outside structure (for example turning SIVA into a replacement part for a colony ship), the input data has to have instructions on how to achieve that end-result and the data processing structure needs to have instructions on how to process that kind of set of instructions.
What I'm getting at is that SIVA is more complicated than it seems, containing at least:
Data storage Data transmission channels Data processing Output capabilities It's clearly not "intelligent", so we can rule out AI and look at it more simply as an all-in-one universal 3D printer with all-encompassing systems. It can accept commands and use itself as the structure for "printing" whatever it was programmed to become. This is further confirmed by the statement:
General, poorly worded or malicious code is the fault of the programmer, not SIVA itself. ~SIVA.MEM.WB010
This pretty much confirms that SIVA is not AI, just to get that out of the way.
This is where things get really speculative and I'm going off of bits and pieces and doing some more liberal dot-connecting.
SIVA and the "Transmission incident" are directly related. It's no coincidence that Dr. Bray's teams were working on SIVA and attempting to find ways to enhance test subjects with nanotechnology at the same time. While the benefits of SIVA in its final form were obviously also huge (which is why that portion of the project continued after the failure of enhancing people with nanotech), I speculate that the original goal was to use this nanotechnology to both enhance and possibly integrate humanity with capabilities similar to what SIVA can do. Imagine a person infused with the additional storage and data processing capabilities of SIVA to enhance intelligence, and the structure-altering nature of the same material to modify bodies to improve strength (such as strengthening muscles, fortifying bone structure, etc). Something like that would be extremely useful for colonization efforts on foreign worlds, particularly where the climates/atmospheres may require physical adaptation. A body integrated with SIVA could do that very well. There's also the following correspondence to consider:
Doctor Bray, I'm sure you've realized SIVA's applications extend beyond colonization. ~SIVA.MEM.CL011
I'm not sure what you mean, General. Is this still about the Exodus program? ~SIVA.MEM.WB012
The Exodus program would be interested in exploring SIVA's defensive applications. ~SIVA.MEM.CL013
General, my team did not intend for SIVA to have military applications. ~SIVA.MEM.WB014
Willa, some of history's greatest inventions began as unintended side effects. ~SIVA.MEM.CL015
Dr. Bray may not have been in on it, but there was definitely a military interest in this as well. I imagine when the infusion of nanotech into human bodies failed, interest turned elsewhere.
Exos are the direct result of the failure of integrating humans with nanotech We know that Dr. Bray developed Exo technology. I speculate that this was done after the failure of integrating nanotech directly into humans and possibly after SIVA was developed as well. The Warminds were involved in their creation, though the possible reasons could vary - it's possible that an extremely advanced AI was needed in the development of such a complicated project, that the Warminds were explicitly creating a tool for war, or some combination of both of those. The Exos are cited in lore as being developed as machines of war, but with their original purposes forgotten and Cayde-6's lore implying he was once human, I'm willing to bet that the Exos were part of an experiment with SIVA to infuse human consciousness into a machine body with the assistance of the Warminds (the body created with SIVA to host said consciousness). At that point, the military benefits of the Exo program may have either been a direct part of the project or a not-so-subtle re-purposing after the fact, but the end result is the same: Exos (that can eventually become Guardians) that were used in a forgotten war by the Warminds.
Vex origins are unknown, simply put. There is plenty of speculation as to where they're from, why the exist, and how they function, but as far as I know, there's nothing in established lore that states their origin outright.
One thing is clear: They are from our reality.
Arriving at that conclusion comes primarily from their interactions with the Hive.
With regards to the Hive, we see the Vex interact with them directly for the first time when Savathun tricks Crota into opening a rift to allow the Vex into High War, Oryx's Ascendant Realm. There are two key aspects of this to note:
Savathun knew of the Vex Any time we see travel between an Ascendant Realm, it's always to our reality Based on that, we can assume that the Vex already existed in our reality and weren't introduced to it by Crota as has been assumed in the past. However, how and what Savathun knew of the Vex remains a mystery, beyond her knowing that they would be a threat to Oryx and Crota. And while it IS possible they are from some unmentioned dimension entirely and just happened to be in our reality prior to their interaction with the Hive, I find that even harder to assume and prefer the idea that they were created in our reality entirely.
Some lore, lots of speculation incoming:
We know from lore that the Vex are synthetic chassis that contain a biological substance called radiolaria - affectionately known as Vex milk or mind-fluid. That milky white substance that attacks anyone that comes into contact with it is the de-facto collective mind of the entire Vex species. Each individual Vex contains some of this Vex milk and functions essentially as the "brain" for these cyborgs.
We know from lore that this fluid is extremely powerful stuff in what it's capable of. For example:
The fluid itself seems to be sentient and capable of single-minded thought, despite being made up of separate radiolaria organisms.
The fluid has massive data transfer, storage, and processing capabilities. Vex have the ability to simulate entire realities within themselves to an almost perfect degree of accuracy - something like that isn't physically possible by a single-celled organism, or even a collection of single-celled organisms, so there's something else at play (I'll come back to this).
The fluid seems to be able to separate from itself, yet be aware of the existence of other beings that contain the same fluid (and therefore the same collective mind). We have instances shown of Vex being both individual (in the case of Quria, for example) yet still tied to the collective Vex mind. This implies advanced communication and organization skills as well as the obvious sentience, and all of this from a bit of homogeneous fluid (as far as we know, there isn't a different type of fluid for different purposes).
The fluid is able to infect living beings and transform them into Vex (see: Kabr). Therefore it is able to interact with biological matter and somehow convert it into either the same fluid or something else - the process isn't outlined, unfortunately.
A few additional details about radiolaria that will be relevant in further discussion as well are that the structures are usually made of silica, and that silica can be used to create fiber optic cable for data transmissions (thanks to Byf and his video on the Vex mind-fluid for pointing that out).
With all of this said, we can make a few assumptions about the Vex mind-fluid:
While the radiolaria is organic, its structure is primarily silica, which has known uses in data transmission.
These single-celled organisms working together exhibit complex data systems found in modern computing, sentience, and advanced communication and planning capabilities (advanced intelligence) that is otherwise impossible in a single-celled organism.
The Vex loaded with this fluid, aside from being actual synthetic chassis, exhibit different behaviors. A Vex Harpy behaves and operates differently than a Vex Goblin, for example. Each displays a level of sentience with a simultaneous programming of specific capabilities. Despite this, these are still a collective intelligence. Something central is obviously controlling the picture, but is still able to function on an individual level at the same time. Seems suspiciously like an AI replicating programs into smaller vessels to do its own bidding.
From the interactions and lore behind Quria, we see machine learning taking place. The Vex mind-fluid gathered data on the Hive and generated a non-organic counter-measure in Quria for the express purpose of combating the Hive. Where a biological being would have to evolve and adapt to a new situation, despite learning, we see an explicit nature of the Vex to seek information and create a rigid response to it - exactly like an AI would theoretically function (and we see the Warminds work during the Golden Age and beyond). So while this fluid may have a biological foundation, there's definitely more to it than a simple, single-celled organism.
The Vex show behavior that is very similar to a central AI controlling various smaller versions of itself, all capable of advanced communication, machine learning, and decision-making. Each individual Vex has its own directives and functions as part of the whole.
The Vex real-time world simulation function is a glaringly obvious sign that this isn't a purely biological lifeform. Simulations by their very nature are theoretical, mathematical projections of possibility that require much higher reasoning than even a single human brain is capable of (which is why we use machines to do them). Humanity in Destiny created the Warminds to do the same exact thing: understand and combat threats to humanity. This absolutely would be done through simulations of scenarios and projection of outcomes into real, tangible preparation - exactly what we've seen the Vex do.
There is no explicitly stated process for the creation of the Vex chassis, their portal system that allows them to materialize just about anywhere within reach, or how that's connected to the mind-fluid directly. There's also no explanation of the terraforming "conversion" process the Vex use on planets/centaurs like Mercury or Nessus. We don't see any terraforming ships or giant machines that would do the job, but we do see Vex mind-fluid running over Nessus like water. Could it be that the fluid itself is what's doing the work and creating the material, similar to how SIVA works?
Connecting Dots and Ideas The Vex, SIVA, Warminds, and Exos are Connected Somehow
There are too many similarities between how the Vex operate and the separate (but connected) topics of SIVA, Warminds, and Exos.
1) Vex intelligence is similar to a Warmind in both the way it operates and possibly purpose. The Vex are, from what we see, a militaristic species. Inherently, the whole purpose of the Warminds was to also be militaristic and defend Earth and humanity.
2) SIVA shares similar attributes to Vex mind-fluid. While one is inorganic and the other organic, there are too many similarities on the functional nature of both to ignore. Data storage, data transmission, processing, and programming are all inherent in both. And while SIVA is lacking the intelligence/sentience portion of Vex mind-fluid, that can possibly be explained another way.
3) SIVA + Warmind = Something similar to Vex mind-fluid. We know that SIVA contains the basic structures of a computing environment. It wouldn't be a stretch to assume that a Warmind would be able to utilize this structure to create what is, essentially, a massive network of itself in this material and to, for all intents and purposes, make it seem like a living material. With SIVAs ability to materialize into whatever it's programmed to become, this means the Warmind could create something like a robotic chassis, inhabit it, and control it all from that one single medium. This is very similar to what we see the Vex doing with the mind-fluid. While we don't have direct proof that the fluid is what's used to create the Vex themselves, it at the very least, controls what's going on.
4) Exos, if we take them as being a direct product of a failed SIVA-related experiment, the Warminds, and possibly SIVA itself, would represent a similar concept to what a single unit Vex is to the Vex mind-fluid: an extension of the mind-fluid's "will", so to speak. While Exos are individuals in their own right, they are all tied to the same origins, history, and programming (hinted by them dreaming of the Deep Stone Crypt). If the Warminds were able to fuse humans with machines in the creation of the Exos (as hinted at by Cayde-6 lore) than it would explain their higher individuality than that of single units of Vex.