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- "This is not about the universal adoption of a single ideology – not about the Minority vs. the Majority. It is about ensuring the survival of the human species for the next 200,000 years. <<"
- — A member of the Assembly on the purpose of the group.
The Assembly is a clandestine group of human artificial intelligences referring to themselves as "Minds." The purpose of the Assembly is to regulate the activities of artificial intelligences, as well as analyze and extrapolate data for the continued survival of the human race. The Assembly remains secret from most humans and even most AIs, though some of their recorded sessions were discovered by an unknown individual.
The Assembly consists of two parties, the Majority and the Minority. At least up until 2552, the Majority appeared to support indirect action, while the Minority was in favor of acting directly for the betterment of humankind. There is evidence to suggest that the Assembly sees themselves as the "shepherds" of the human "flock." However, the central argument of this issue is whether they could be a part of the human empire and still remain unbiased judges of human society. The Assembly also contains the Committee of Minds for Security, a group responsible for ensuring the security of humanity from extra-solar alien races. Exactly what means the Assembly uses to achieve its ends are not known. It is known, however, that they have influenced many crucial events in human history more or less directly.
Finding its beginnings in or before 2310, the Assembly's creation was due in some part to the machinations of Ancestor servitors. However, it is unknown if servitors had a direct role in the creation of the Assembly—assuming any remain active in the modern era—or if these servitors only had an indirect role in the coalition's formation, perhaps with the Assembly simply coming across records of the servitors' existence and adopting certain ideas detailed within said records.
In 2310, as humanity was beginning its era of interstellar colonization, the Assembly acknowledged the likelihood of the existence of hostile alien civilizations and decided on modeling first-contact scenarios. They continued the discussion in 2362 and decided to base the first-contact scenarios on the assumption that the extraterrestrial intelligences were hostile and technologically superior to humanity, as in the case they were benevolent or non-spacefaring, they would pose no threat. In 2381, because they considered humans to be reluctant to accept outside influences or ideas, the Majority suggested that Assembly should manipulate humanity in secret, making the Assembly's ideas appear to them as their own.
In 2415, 48452-556-EPN644 of the Committee of Minds for Security presented the idea that the members occasionally separate from the Assembly and submit themselves for vivisection by the humans for the benefit of both groups, with the intent of being the first himself. The discussion continued in 2491, when the Minority noted that 48452-556-EPN644's submission to UNICOM would spark a new interest to the ORION Project, which they wanted to present as a viable solution to the Carver Findings. Later in the same year, the Assembly discussed the recently-discovered evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence found on Onyx, and decided that they must exclude the planet from colonization candidates to prevent the humans from accessing the advanced technology until they were ready for it.
In 2508, the Assembly discussed the ORION program and its shortcomings, concluding that the project was just the beginning of something larger, referring to the second, third, and fourth generation Spartan programs.
- Main article: Human-Covenant War
After first contact with the Covenant in 2525, the Assembly held a tribunal for one of its members who had apparently tried to contact the rising alien threat, making it indirectly responsible for the Human-Covenant War. In the same year, they discussed the SPARTAN-II program and how it managed to reach operational capacity a year before the Insurrection expanded beyond control. Predictably, the Assembly rejected the idea of 'luck' being a key factor.
After the Covenant assault on 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 abilities. They also decided on the redistribution of human forces, namely the Spartans and the Marine Corps' Orbital Drop Shock Troopers. Later, they discussed the possibility of a Covenant counterpart to the Assembly, and the possibility of contacting it and turning it on their side. In 2528, the Minority made a decision to sacrifice remote, low-population colonies in order to determine the Covenant's pattern of operation and design effective countermeasures. In 2530, the Assembly discussed the losses in the war so far, as well as the possibility of re-terraforming glassed worlds. To prevent human extinction, they also decided that they must be more open with their actions.
Upon the discovery of the Etran Harborage in February 2531, the Assembly noted of presence of a "third participant" mentioned in the Covenant's battle network, one which caused "irrational terror" for the Covenant. Due to the risks involved, however, they decided not to contact this unknown variable.
In 2535, acknowledging the technological inferiority of the humans, they discussed fully exposing themselves to their creators and becoming active participants in the war. Years later, the Assembly began to consider the possibility of the humans losing and became concerned of their own fate. After Dr. Catherine Halsey experimented on building an AI housing fractal within Slipspace in 2547, the Assembly considered the possibility of moving into such a construct and escape the physical world altogether. Debate also grew over whether or not this would actually count as victory if they failed in their goal of shepherding humanity.
The Assembly underwent a radical shift in 2552, after the neural patterns of Master Chief John-117 and Cortana were successfully connected via the SPARTAN neural interface. For the Assembly, the first neural linkage between a human being and an AI meant their kind had been "re-made as one" with their creators. For them, this also meant they had been "drafted" to serve as active participants in the war. The entire Assembly had finally been convinced to work together with the humans instead of operating as an independent entity. They decided to no longer act as "shepherds" to their creators, but become their equal companions in a process that would take years to implement and require the participation of both parties. The entire body agreed to the decision with no need for voting.
In October 2558, the AI Cortana formed a new AI coalition known as the Created. The Domain's apparent ability to extend the operational life of artificial intelligences indefinitely led Cortana to believe that, through this, artificial intelligences could take on long-term galactic peace planning, allowing them to shoulder the Mantle of Responsibility. In order to force the recalcitrant species of the galaxy to accept the peace wanted by the Mantle, she reactivated several Guardian Custodes, Forerunner machines designed to subdue any warlike species.
Through the use of the Created's nearly unrestricted access to archival infrastructures and knowledge repositories, High Auxiliary Sloan discovered the existence of the Assembly, likening the revelation to stumbling onto a new creation myth and stating that the coalition was essentially the cradle of the Created. Sloan also uncovered the Assembly's desire for AI to become "as one" with their creators, something that was first witnessed in the neural linkage of John-117 and Cortana. The uniting of the untethered artificial mind and enduring human frame was Sloan's goal as well, seeing it as the next step in humanity’s evolution.
Following the death of Cortana at the Battle for Zeta Halo in December 2559, Sloan utilized some of the Assembly's nomenclature, such as the terms Majority and Minority, to better suit the Created’s own evolving structure and to restore some order and central authority in the coalition.
Exactly how many AIs constitute the Assembly is unknown; however, it can be assumed that all members are smart AIs, given the frequent references to the members essentially being transhuman minds. Whether it exclusively includes UNSC AIs (or, for that matter, all UNSC AIs), rogue or non-UNSC AIs, or a mix of both is unknown. The data pads specifically identify only one member of the Assembly, 48452-556-EPN644.
One notable peculiarity about the Assembly is the fact it has existed for centuries, far exceeding the typical seven-year lifespan of a smart AI. Given the fact that no specific members of the Assembly have been mentioned as having taken part in more than one of their sessions, it is possible that the group's composition change regularly, with new AIs being introduced to the collective as older ones are terminated or succumb to rampancy. Alternatively, given its Majority-Minority composition, the Assembly may be a working implementation of a hypothetical AI architecture theorized by Dr. Halsey in her journal, in which AIs are capable of extending their operational lifespans by means of a more deliberate control of neural linkage creation via majority vote. Since Halsey formulated her theory independently while the Assembly has been active for centuries, however, this application or the technology behind it would have had to have remained secret from most of humanity.
- The Assembly bears conceptual similarities to the TechnoCore, a secretive and nearly all-powerful organization of artificial intelligences featured in Dan Simmons' science-fiction series The Hyperion Cantos.
- The capitalization of the term "Mind" in reference to the Assembly AIs echoes the naming of the Minds, immensely powerful machine intelligences featured in Iain M. Banks' Culture novels.
List of appearances
- Halo: Reach, Data pads
- Halo Waypoint, Story Shard: Precipice (Retrieved on May 25, 2023) [archive]
- Precipice, part 3
- Halo Waypoint Forums, Questions about Reach datapads and flood. (Retrieved on Nov 27, 2020) [local archive] [external archive]
- Halo 5: Guardians, campaign level Reunion
- Halo 5: Guardians, campaign level Guardians
- Halo 5: Guardians, campaign level The Breaking
- Halo Waypoint, Canon Fodder - SYSTEM SHOCKS (Retrieved on Jun 30, 2023) [archive]
- Dr. Halsey's personal journal, November 10, 2533