Hey Bungie Community! In my wanderings through these forums, someone asked me: "What are the Exo?" I'm a really philosophical guy, so I started my answer to help out and tell him what we know, but as I dove deeper it developed into a discussion not only of what an Exo is, but what it means to "be" Exo. The remainder of this post is my answer to him (heavily edited and expanded), and I wanted to share my thoughts with all of you to maybe provide a new perspective on, and perhaps a new appreciation for: the race of Exo. With that introduction, I give you: Exploring The Exo: The Exo were war machines designed and built by humans. The Traveler wiped their memories of all of the time before and then blessed them with true sentience. The Exo are true thinking, feeling beings now. They are still machines inside and out, but they absolutely have full and evolving personalities like everyone else. The Exo must confront their lack of mortality (an Exo lives forever with effective maintenance), to my knowledge they cannot mate or reproduce (I'm fairly certain the secrets of building the Exo was lost in the collapse as well), and that they cannot remember any of their existence before the Traveler uplifted them. There are both male and female Exo. I believe this is only for the purposes of defining themselves as having a male or female persona now that they are sentient, rather than for mating capability. The body types are likely different to accent and celebrate that "choice." I know gender isn't a choice per se [at birth], so when each Exo was uplifted by the Traveler, it was likely "born" in that moment and must have realized that they were either one or the other. That issue of gender without gender roles may be another of issues that every Exo faces. They also have no childhood, no learning process through years of experiences under the guidance of parents to make them who they are. They were static. One moment they did not exist from their own perspective, and the next moment they did. Its like their entire personality, all of who they are... was just given to them, handed down from on high, rather than developed over years of growing up and experiencing things. Its gotta be a shocking way to enter the world, and it can't be comforting to know that SOMETHING ELSE decided who YOU were going to be. To look at another possibility, assume for a moment that when they were born in that moment of uplifting it was as if they knew nothing at all (emulating a human newborn), then they would have learned everything from humans (in the Golden age and early stages of the collapse there were no Awoken, and those who existed in the dark ages lived almost exclusively on the Reef. This would make it very unlikely for an Awoken to have ever "raised" an Exo). What would that mean for them? How alien would it feel to sit down to a family dinner when you cannot grasp the concept of food? As children, these Exo would not have been smaller than their adoptive parents, they would in most cases be physically superior. By what method then could a young Exo be disciplined? As a sentient being, every Exo should be vulnerable to feelings like pride or anger. How would a proud and self aware Exo take orders from a mother or father figure whom they could beat to a pulp in seconds? Why must he or she listen to those who cannot enforce their own rules? In the end I don't know if one or either of these cases is the truth concerning the uplifting of the Exo, but both possibilities are rife with unique challenges that simply are not faced by members of any other race. The Exo are philosophically pretty cool. They can make really interesting characters, especially when/if they learn that their entire race were once unthinking slaves used by humans for protection and warfare. This event raises some wicked questions. How does that make them feel about the robots that we see doing all of the menial labour in the tower now? Would they understand that the use of a non sentient machine is different from slavery, or would they see what they could have been and be disgusted? Even better, how does that make an Exo feel about being a Guardian?A being brought back from the dead for the singular purpose of protecting the City by roaming the solar system and killing every single threat to its inhabitants? Does that diminish them once again into no more than slaves used by others for protection and warfare?With the knowledge of his or her race's past available to them, An Exo guardian might feel more like a slave than a hero. As if we didn't have enough degrees of separation already, the Exo also don't sleep which is admittedly badass and quite useful, but could also be very lonely in a world of Humans and Awoken. Could this make Exo society self contained? When the Humans and the Awoken of the City go to sleep (I can't comment on the sleep patterns of the Awoken, they may not match those of humans, but lets assume for now that they're similar), the Exo population in its entirety remains exactly the same. Naturally they could spend this time together, and no member of the other races can be there for them all the time. Eventually the differences in schedule and culture could lead to many Exo folk drifting away from organic society, preferring their own kind exclusively. There are likely no rituals for eating, there are none for sleeping, waste excretion is a non issue. Routine maintenance could be better understood by those who also perform it upon themselves, and of course there must be many other issues besides. In addition, organic races would eventually be surpassed in knowledge and wisdom by the Exo, who have lived every moment since the moment of uplifting to the present (with the exception of those who died and were raised as Guardians, they/we clearly missed a big chunk of time). The sheer number of experiences they have would make most Exo very wise and interesting people. This raises another interesting question. Does the Exo have limited memory storage space? Of course it probably does internally. Exo memories were never designed by humans, but rather were "granted" by the Traveler. The physical computational memory used by them as machines of war before their transformation is certainly quite significant, but is that how they record their memories now? If that was so there would be a defined limit to what an Exo can know and remember. This is true for all races, but the Exo may be forced to actively pick and choose which of its experiences, which parts of its life to simply erase. At first glance such an ability is both a blessing and a curse. It is also one more thing that may prevent the Exo on a fundamental level from fitting into the human societies we all know. Moving on from there, we've assumed so far that as sentient mechanical beings the Exo are fully emotionally capable... so then what in Gods name does an Exo do when they fall in love with an organic? It could happen to an Exo as easily as to a Human, and as any wise person understands, we can't choose who to love. The Exo don't need sexuality as part of their companionship, but its presence in organic life could make that a serious barrier to her (or him). They could not produce offspring with that person, and if they were exclusive romantically, they would condemn their partner to a life with no sexual component, and more importantly no children. Then, even if all that works out, when the Exo's organic partner dies, they have to continue on alone. Nevermind all of the potential social stygma around the idea of organic/synthetic relationships. Like I said earlier, the Exo are philosophically very interesting. Just by virtue of their birth race they can be quite tragic characters. They must shoulder burdens we can only even wonder at. They see a World they cannot be a part of that has existed since before they themselves were even an idea. They owe the Traveler their "existence" (in its Cartesian definition), but they would not exist without the Humans who built their bodies. All they are, the good and bad, was someone else's decision. Do they love the others for making the right decisions, or hate them for making the wrong ones? Should they thank us for their existence, or blame us for the pain they suffer because of it? There is an old saying that "To 'ere is human, to forgive, divine." The Exo are neither. Thanks for reading -Thoughtfully yours, TheDestined
I had the intention of saying something about the matrix and blah blah but I read your theory and enjoyed it. While I may not agree on every detail, (personally I believe EXOs power down for maintenance/sleep) it was an interesting read. Thanks man.