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Biotics and human evolution in the ME universe
Topic Started: Dec 21 2010, 10:00 PM (3,430 Views)
Ieldra
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In this thread, I'd like discuss the question "Can biotic abilities play a greater role in human evolution." in the ME universe? The obvious answer is, of course "Nobody knows", but still it's interesting to debate the various problems pertaining to the question.

This thread was triggered by a post in a remotely related thread, where someone claimed that humans "are not meant" to have biotic abilities. Among other things, I will set out to prove that this false, given the observations of the ME universe and the human biotics in it. As a slightly related topic, a fanfic currently sets out to deal with the question of natural human biotics, with "natural" meaning humans that have biotic abilities as a natural inherited ability. I will describe the conditions needed for those to become possible.

1. Biological basics

1.1 Dispensing with the term "meant to".

If you say a trait is "not meant to" exist in a species, you imply that there exists either agency or purpose that prevents that trait from manifesting in humans. From our observation of natural world, we can conclude that no such agency or purpose exists. If you use the term "meant to" to say that there is some law of nature that prevents a trait from airising, then its use is misleading. If the laws of nature prevents it, then the trait will never manifest. It would not be "not meant to" exist, it would be impossible to exist. So a trait is either possible or impossible to exist, and if it is possible, then we can go to the next stage and ask how likely it is to manifest.

1.2 What is a species?

This is, as strange as it seems, an unsolved problem in biology. The reason is that species do not have sharp boundaries on a genetic level, while they appear morphologically distinct to the human eye. Since any definition used for classification must by necessity draw boundaries, there can be no such definition that takes the genetic level into account completely. Nonetheless I'll start with such a definition:

In the simplest terms, a species is a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and thereby producing fertile offspring. There are exceptions and refinements, but let's not make things more complicated than needed for now. "Species" defines a collective at any one time, and can incorporate changes over time. A few thousand years ago adult humans couldn't digest milk, now that trait is common in various parts of the world. Still the humans then and the humans now are members of the same species.

The question of whether an individual is a member of a species appears simple at first glance: an individual organism's species is defined by the species of its parent(s). I'm using this working definition to avoid the false assumption that an individual born of a species can ever be something else than a member of that species. Speciation does not occur by single individuals breaking away from a species, but by groups separating and evolving in different directions.

Genetic engineering muddles the picture considerably, but we can fall back on the basic definition: if an genetically engineered organism in healthy condition can mate with a "natural" member of a species and produce viable offspring, it belongs to that species itself. This definition is based on the assumption that any healthy organism has the biological equipment for mating, which is not true for all species, but it is a common sense assumption we can use for humans and most other intelligent species of the ME universe. Since I do not want to deal with the question "How much alteration is necessary until we must consider a genetically engineered Rachni drone not Rachni any longer" I'll leave it at that.

1.3 The thorny question of the genetic identity

Biologists often define species as "populations of organisms that have a high level of genetic similarity". The problem with that is that the degree of similarity is arbitrary. Suppose you take the human genome and gradually change traits. At which point does the organism grown from that genome stop to be human anymore? Again the fallback position is the definition given in the 1.2 (second paragraph), but that leaves the possibility open that there might exist individuals that don't look all that human, but must be considered human because they can produce viable offspring with a "natural" human.

If the genetic definition of a species is by necessity arbitrary, then no species has a sharply defined genetic identity. Of course, human culture might try to impose sharp boundaries of what is genetically human, but biology offers no support for such an idea. Human culture might also want to define what is human by morphology, but genetic similarities are often much greater than morphology appears to indicate.

1.4 What is a human?

As we have seen, biology offer no conclusive "natural and true" answer to that question. Define a species by the ability to interbreed, by morphology or by genetics, we'll get different answers and arbitrary boundaries. "What is a human?" is in the end not a question answerable by biology as we enter territory where the definitions do no longer intersect and where new traits appear and are created in front of our eyes. Do we consider a biotic human? Do we consider Miranda Lawson human? Can we add a third eye to the human genome, and is the resulting organism human? Where is the end?
I do not propose an answer here. The point I wanted to make by this extensive section is that it is tricky to use biology as support for normative ideas about what is and is not human.


2. Biotic abilities

2.1 Requirements for biotic abilities in humans.

We know humans with biotic abilities result from in-utero exposure to eezo. We also know that not all fetuses survive that exposure and that only about 10% of the children develop biotic abilities. Human biotics develop eezo noduls in their brains (I have speculated that they also develop them throughout their nervous system) that enable them to create mass effect fields through trained electrical stimulation of those nodules.

2.2 Genetic predispositions for developing biotic abilities.

Obviously, biotic abilities in a human are not inheritable. Eezo does not naturally exist on Earth and on the human colonies, so the human organism could not have developed the ablity to metabolize it. At the moment, biotic abilities are sporadically appearing accidents of nature. But why do some children survive the exposure and some not? Why do some develop biotic abilities and some not? I think we can take it as a given that the answer is not "it's completely random". If it is not, then it is likely that genetic factors influence the probabilities.

If that is the case, then it is possible to create a human from a specially selected or engineered genetic template who will reliably survive and develop biotic abilities after in-utero exposure to eezo. We know there is one organic species based on DNA and protein like humans are whose individuals develop biotic abilities naturally, so there is no "law of biology" that says that humans cannot be genetically predisposed to have that trait as well. The question of whether or not these traits are tied to other, specifically non-human traits is not answered yet, but since humans can survive the eezo exposure without being damaged in the process, it is likely that nothing in human biology prevents them from being so predisposed.

At this point, biotic abilities themselves remain non-inheritable because humans have not acquired the ability to metabolize eezo. The exposure must still take place.

2.3 Genetic requirements for natural human biotics

Once humans can be made who reliably survive the eezo exposure and reliably develop biotic abilities if exposed, there remains one final hurdle to overcome before biotic abilities can be incorporated in the human genome at large: humans must acquire the ability to metabolize eezo from what they eat.

Let me first deal with a question rarely asked: why can the asari be natural biotics? Eezo nodules in the nervous system are required for biotic abilities. Where does that eezo come from? There are two answers: from their natural environment, and/or from what they eat. Are all asari born in a eezo-rich environment? We do not know, but given how widely the asari colonize, it seems unlikely. So if the eezo does not come from their environment, it must come from their food. Of course the sources are not mutually exclusive, and couldn't be if biotic abilities are to remain a standard asari trait. I conclude that asari can also metabolize eezo from what they eat. It seems likely that they require eezo in their food.

Again, there is no reason to assume that humans cannot be engineered to have that ability as well. It could not have arisen naturally, since eezo does not exist in sufficient quantities on Earth. But - to counter claims that having that trait would make those individuals something other than human - it could have arisen under certain circumstances, for instance if an eezo-rich asteroid had crashed on Earth somewhen in human pre-history, and the conditions had been right to make biotic abilities an adaptive trait. Given the high energy requirements of biotic abilities, this is an extremely unlikely scenario, but it should illustrate that the absence of natural biotic abilities in humans is just as accidental as their survival in the asari.

2.4 Developmental requirements for natural human biotics

How will that proposed natural biotic human individual come into existence? For biotic abilities to develop, the eezo nodules must be grown within the womb of the mother. Which means, the mother must be able to metabolize eezo as well and pass it to her growing child just like the other nutrients. She will have to acquire that ability by genetic modification as an adult (like the packages Alliance soldiers get), and her gametes will be modified to include the traits outlined above. The father, if any, will have to have his gametes modified as well.


3. Biotics in human evolution

3.1 Can humanity make itself a natural biotic species?

The short answer is "no". The procedures outlined above would have to be implemented on a massive scale to make it so, and the food requirements would change for a large part of the human population. It is an unlikely scenario. But biotic abilities could be inherited, and given sufficient reason for selection, the trait might become more widespread with every generation. If it survives non-expression for absence of eezo, and it not selected out, there is no way to tell the long-term consequences.

That raises the question "Are biotic abilities adaptive?". That is, are they an advantage such as that humans who have them are more likely to survive to childbearing age and have viable offspring? There is no way to tell. In human history, the high energy requirement for biotic abilities alone would have ruled such a scenario out, but technologically developed societies apparently tend to have a high surplus of food. One obstacle removed. Other than that, there are other factors, mostly cultural, to consider that are impossible to predict. Again, in the past biotics, had they arisen, would likely have been put to death as witches or suchlike, but I'd like to imagine that 22nd century humanity is mostly beyond such superstitions. There is also a considerable religious bias to overcome, but humanity is not limited to one planet anymore. There can also be no doubt that biotic abilities are extremely useful in everyday life and in a variety of human endeavors, most notably for the second-oldest human profession, that of the soldier. Against that, we can hold the fact that such considerations do not influence the likelihood of procreation as much as they'd have done in the past.

So we do not know. The most likely scenario is that at some point, there will be a population of humans somewhere on some eezo-rich colony world consisting mostly of natural biotics, who will artificially select for biotic abilities and will have a cultural bias against children who do not have them. Near the end of the 22nd century, the human species has spread to many worlds with many different environmental conditions. The local population will, over time, adapt to the local conditions and be changed by them. Some of those worlds will inevitably be isolated enough that the local population will develop a genetic identity of their own.

3.2 The boundary of the human species

As a conclusion of 1.1, it is false to say that humans are "not meant to" have biotic abilities, if you take that to mean there is agency or purpose to make such traits unviable, and meaningless to say so with regard to biology. The existence of a single human biotic with the ability to mate and have healthy human children proves that biotic abilities are possible for a human individual to have. What we can ask with some meaning is "If there is a population of natural human biotics", can we really consider them human any more? Aren't they a separate species? Falling back on the definitions in section 1, it is safe to say that they are a different species if they cannot mate with normal humans anymore, but that largely depends on factors other than biotic abilities.

In the end, I propose that it does not matter. We claim as our own those we want to claim and those who want to be claimed, and in a galaxy that will eventually have countless genetically differring subpopulations having emerged from human stock, whether they have created their own subspecies or not, the only uniting factor will be ancestral origin. It might become necessary to interpret the term "the human species" as a plural, the family of species whose ancestors came from Earth.

This has grown to be more massive than intended. If you have read to this point, then thank you for your attention.
"Let us build ships that travel the celestial aether, and there will be men who do not fear the empty spaces" -- Johannes Kepler, Dissertatio cum Nuncio Sidereo, 1610

"[...] the real heroes don't save princesses. Real heroes uncover the secrets of the universe." -- abstractwhiz about science.
 
Nightwriter
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I remember the "are we meant to have biotics" question getting brought up in another thread.

I think you took the people there to mean that we shouldn't have biotics, much like people said of aviation, "If God wanted us to fly he would have given us wings."

When what I thought they really meant was, "Had we never left Earth, we would never have naturally evolved as biotics due to lack of exposure to eezo."
 
Ieldra
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Nightwriter
Dec 21 2010, 10:07 PM
When what I thought they really meant was, "Had we never left Earth, we would never have naturally evolved as biotics due to lack of exposure to eezo."
Which raises the question: "Are humans meant to leave Earth?" For if they are, then they are - in the environment of the ME universe - consequently also "meant to" have biotic ability.

Anyway, that question was just a hook. I've wanted to write this for some time. I wouldn't have spent hours just to refute a simple statement.
Edited by Ieldra, Dec 21 2010, 10:14 PM.
"Let us build ships that travel the celestial aether, and there will be men who do not fear the empty spaces" -- Johannes Kepler, Dissertatio cum Nuncio Sidereo, 1610

"[...] the real heroes don't save princesses. Real heroes uncover the secrets of the universe." -- abstractwhiz about science.
 
Nightwriter
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Well, like you, I dislike the phrase "meant to" altogether. What the hell does that even mean, anyway? It seems it would imply that there is an entity which is doing the meaning, and there isn't. So it must all boil down to a religious debate.

I realize your post wasn't intended to refute a simple statement. :) There's just this odd pattern I've noticed: long OP threads remain untouched until someone else bumps them. Wanting to get discussion started, I bumped it with an off the cuff response.

I'd like to talk about this:
Ieldra
 
But why do some children survive the exposure and some not? Why do some develop biotic abilities and some not? I think we can take it as a given that the answer is not "it's completely random". If it is not, then it is likely that genetic factors influence the probabilities.
This is very interesting, because the idea of increasing that 10% (or whatever the number is) of children who become biotics after exposure is very exciting. You make me think it could be done.

I often wonder why we don't ask the turians about this. The turians, I take it, didn't evolve as biotics. Yet they are now - they likely become biotics through the same methods we do.

But it's been over a thousand years since they joined the Council. Surely they have been experimenting since that time? Researching ways to make more turian biotics? They're militarily inclined, you'd think they'd be very interested in this. Why does it always seem like it's only the humans who are pushing boundaries and experimenting with new technology?
 
Posted Image AntiChri5
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Ieldra, i suggest that you reread the codex entries on human biotics. There is the odd snippet like: "even if biotic talents manifest themselves, they aren't always permanent." Which may be of interest, as well as how it is very explicitly stated that human biotics are treated with suspicious superstition, and the only field they are welcomed into is the military.

Now, onto the "meant to" issue.

Quote:
 
If you say a trait is "not meant to" exist in a species, you imply that there exists either agency or purpose that prevents that trait from manifesting in humans.

A reader may infer that, but it is not implied. Had the intention been to say that humans can not be biotics that is what would have been said.

The words "not meant to" simply mean that the human body is not constructed to have these abilities.

Just like the human body is not meant to have wings. We may discover some odd radiation which causes mutations resulting in wings, but that doesn't chamge the fact that the human body is not meant to have them. It will take many generations before this abnormality is optimised by the body adapting to suit it.

And Nightwriter, there is a codex entry on Turian military doctrine that goes into detail on biotics.

Turian biotics are put into specialised units called "cabals", i believe.
 
Nightwriter
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But there should be more turian biotics. They've had over a thousand years to study biotics. I can't conceive of how any race could look at asari and not say, "I want our race to be like that - natural biotics and thousand year lifespans!"

And in regard to your first paragraph: ever wonder why the game doesn't represent biotic mania? The Codex says people are suspicious of biotics, but I never really see it. Odd. Anyway, I think if we had more biotics, that superstitious nonsense would get better.
 
Posted Image AntiChri5
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We only ever interact with civilians in an official capacity (when we are saving their asses, and it would be retarded of them to complain about how powerful we are).

Turian culture stresses a large, disciplined army and fleets. Biotics are too rare to hold much appeal to the turians, who stress unity and similarfullness so much. I think their lack of focus on biotics understandable and realistic. They would research it, but not with much effort or focus. So they just put the biotics they have in specialised biotic devisions.
 
Posted Image AntiChri5
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I just reskimmed a few entries, turian biotics are viewed with suspicion by the general infantry. Which is pretty much every turian.

Good. This will hold them back as we advance.
 
Ieldra
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Quote:
 
There is the odd snippet like: "even if biotic talents manifest themselves, they aren't always permanent."

Saying that something is not always permanent implies that it is usually permanent. Besides, I cannot see which statement of mine this might refer to.

Quote:
 
it is very explicitly stated that human biotics are treated with suspicious superstition, and the only field they are welcomed into is the military.

You're referring to this entry:
Quote:
 
Unfortunately, human biotics also face suspicion and persecution, beginning with the popular misconception that they can read and control minds. Biotics symbolize the dehumanization of mankind to people philosophically or religiously opposed to gene modification and cybernetics. Militaries are the only organizations that always welcome biotics, offering them huge recruitment incentives.

It seems to me that there is considerable leeway in how you read this. Militaries are the only organizations that *always* welcome biotics, meaning other organizations *sometimes* welcome them. Biotics face suspicion, but not everywhere and mostly from certain groups of people. I think it is plausible that the prejudices differ greatly by region. The scenario I described makes allowance for that, though on an interstellar scale.
Quote:
 
The words "not meant to" simply mean that the human body is not constructed to have these abilities.
Just like the human body is not meant to have wings.

The analogy fails. We cannot create conditions under which humans grow wings. We can (within the ME universe) create conditions under which humans develop biotic abilities, albeit not yet reliably. It appears that the human body is not unable to accomodate these abilities.
I should also mention that the human body is not constructed at all. Evolution is no agent. From the presence of biotics I can conclude that the human body can adapt to the presence of eezo, and adapt to incorporate it into itself. In fact, 10% of the newly born humans are already so adapted. So yes, for any biologically meaningful definition of "meant to", the human body is very much meant to have biotic abilities. Apparently, in spite of the complete absence of eezo for the whole history of life on Earth, including humans and all their ancestors, the genetic predisposition to develop biotic abilities exists in 10% of all humans. In an evolutionary scenario, that's almost like screaming "I want this."
Edited by Ieldra, Dec 21 2010, 11:49 PM.
"Let us build ships that travel the celestial aether, and there will be men who do not fear the empty spaces" -- Johannes Kepler, Dissertatio cum Nuncio Sidereo, 1610

"[...] the real heroes don't save princesses. Real heroes uncover the secrets of the universe." -- abstractwhiz about science.
 
Nightwriter
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I think they would be more interested in it.

Someone would be more interested in it. Batarians, hanar. Obviously not the quarians, though Tali does wonder about it. Sadly, I doubt the quarians have had the resources to funnel money to biotic research in 300 years.
 
Posted Image AntiChri5
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Quote:
 
Saying that something is not always permanent implies that it is usually permanent. Besides, I cannot see which statement of mine this might refer to.

It isn't reffering to any statement of yours, simply information you seem to have missed.
Quote:
 
It seems to me that there is considerable leeway in how you read this. Militaries are the only organizations that *always* welcome biotics, meaning other organizations *sometimes* welcome them. Biotics face suspicion, but not everywhere and mostly from certain groups of people. I think it is plausible that the prejudices differ greatly by region. The scenario I described makes allowance for that, though on an interstellar scale.

The biotic suspicion is also stressed in the Mass Effect books (through Hendel Mitra, to be precise).
Quote:
 
The analogy fails. We cannot create conditions under which humans grow wings. We can (within the ME universe) create conditions under which humans develop biotic abilities, albeit not yet reliably. It appears that the human body is not unable to accomodate these abilities.
I should also mention that the human body is not constructed at all. Evolution is no agent. From the presence of biotics I can conclude that the human body can adapt to the presence of eezo, and adapt to incorporate it into itself. In fact, 10% of the newly born humans are already so adapted. So yes, for any biologically meaningful definition of "meant to", the human body is very much meant to have biotic abilities. Apparently, in spite of the complete absence of eezo for the whole history of life on Earth, including humans and all their ancestors, the genetic predisposition to develop biotic abilities exists in 10% of all humans. In an evolutionary scenario, that's almost like screaming "I want this."

The ability to give people wings was a part of the example.

Biotics in humans are a mutation brought on by an unusual reaction to often lethal radiation which require extensive cybernetic modification and training to utilise. To state that humans are mean to have them simply because they are capable of having them seems absurd to me.

The human body is not designed, but it is built along certain lines, to have certain traits. We are "meant to" have certain things, like an attraction to healthy members if the opposite gender while we are "not meant to" have certain traits, like an attraction to members of other species.

Is it possible, through evolution or engineering for the human body to get to a state where we are "meant to" have biotics?

Yes.

The simple amount of cybernetics needed to utilize biotics suggests it is not a trait we have evolved to have.

@Night: I think you just want someone to be as interested in biotics as you. We do really need someone doing non psychotic biotic research.
 
Ieldra
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AntiChri5
Dec 22 2010, 12:19 AM
Biotics in humans are a mutation brought on by an unusual reaction to often lethal radiation which require extensive cybernetic modification and training to utilise. To state that humans are mean to have them simply because they are capable of having them seems absurd to me.
That is incorrect. The genetic disposition pre-exists and gets phenotypical expression through the presence of eezo. Were it otherwise, it would be the parents who needed eezo exposure, not the fetus.

Quote:
 
The human body is not designed, but it is built along certain lines, to have certain traits. We are "meant to" have certain things, like an attraction to healthy members if the opposite gender while we are "not meant to" have certain traits, like an attraction to members of other species.

That is also incorrect. We are not "meant to" have certain traits, we have them by accident. The only ability we absolutely need, like all life, is the ability to procreate. Just as accidentally, some hitherto useless or otherwise functional genetic disposition suddenly acquires (additional) utility by a change in the environmental conditions. Selection for it might or might not follow, but the acquisition of biotic ability is just the latest in a series of accidents that created the human species. To say that the human species is meant to have certain traits equals saying that a specific series of accidents was meant to happen. It makes no sense. Or rather, it only makes sense in a religious context which we both don't have.

As for the implants, they're needed for heavier applications. Likely an unamplified biotic cannot lift anything heavier than a pencil or a cellphone, but the ability itself must exist independently from cybernetics, or it would not have been discovered. The timeline entry for 2156 supports this: "A small number of human children exposed to element zero exhibit minor telekinetic abilities." The true potential of biotics is discovered two years later. I should mention that even those minor abilities can be extremely useful.
Edited by Ieldra, Dec 22 2010, 12:52 AM.
"Let us build ships that travel the celestial aether, and there will be men who do not fear the empty spaces" -- Johannes Kepler, Dissertatio cum Nuncio Sidereo, 1610

"[...] the real heroes don't save princesses. Real heroes uncover the secrets of the universe." -- abstractwhiz about science.
 
Elyvern
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I believe that implant use is also universal to all species, even natural biotics like the Asari. Without implants, the best a good Asari biotic would be able to do is perhaps lift a chair, far more than what biotics of other non-natural biotic races can do, but nonetheless it wouldn't be useful in military applications.
 
Giggles_Manically
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I dont think we should try and force it or create it, if it does not happen naturally in someone. We can hardly even grasp how DNA works and even in the future people can screw up badly.

On the whole unless you are hurt by your DNA or left incredibly disadvantaged by it, I see little reason to even attempt it.

Also i really dislike it when people throw terms like:
Genetic Destiny
Evolutionary next step
Better people being made.
etc.

Once those get into your head then people start doing some dumb things.
cough Teltin. Cough.
Why yes I am proud to be a Canadian.

Courier: Any thought's on Caesar's Legion?
Boone: Lots of thoughts. All about the best ways to kill them.
 
Elyvern
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But you can't discount that if the possibility exist, some human out there with the money and the power to achieve it may likely want to do so. Our insatiable curiosity to open Pandora's boxes despite warning letters stamped all over them throughout history will continue despite what general wisdom and hindsight may say about the issue.
 
Giggles_Manically
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True if someone wants to do something of their own free will to themselves they can feel free to do it.

Do I agree with groups like Cerberus or BAaT who tried to force it on people? No.
We should not tamper with something we cant even understand fully.

Its like randomly mixing chemicals blindfolded in the lab, you may make something interesting, or you may blow yourself up, or everyone in a few block radius.

Although I think Teltin was a little over the top in ME2.
So you kidnaped Children?
Then tortured them?
Then disected them in a lab?
Then you expect me to work with them Bioware?

Sorry my hate for ME2 seeps out once again.
Why yes I am proud to be a Canadian.

Courier: Any thought's on Caesar's Legion?
Boone: Lots of thoughts. All about the best ways to kill them.
 
abstractwhiz
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Nightwriter
Dec 21 2010, 11:23 PM
But there should be more turian biotics. They've had over a thousand years to study biotics. I can't conceive of how any race could look at asari and not say, "I want our race to be like that - natural biotics and thousand year lifespans!"
The Imperial Glory fanfic series actually does this. Humans are all biotic (some exceptions, it's complicated) and significantly longer-lived. They're also the size of Krogans, and just as strong. The whole thing is set in a strange but cool alternate universe where humanity's central theme is that they recognize that they're predators, and act accordingly. As a result, they've been breeding for strength and intellect for centuries, long before genetic engineering was even developed. There's a Terran Empire, and a meritocratic nobility. (If a Noble House produces no notable offspring in a generation, it loses its status.)

Also, these humans didn't get obsessed with mass effect tech, since they were already going their own way before they discovered the Prothean ruins on Mars. (The standard weapons are plasma guns, not mass accelerators.) Needless to say, the First Contact War goes very differently. :D

That ends our trademark absy infodump for today.

I can think of an in-universe explanation for the lack of Turian biotics. Notice that what you're really saying is that Shepard encounters no Turian biotics. From what I remember about Turian biotics in the Codex, and the authoritarian structure of Turian society, I think it's quite possible that Turian biotics are simply not permitted to leave military service. Spectres are presumably an exception, as Saren shows. In any event, you only fight Turian mercenaries. If you fought the Turian military, you'd probably run up against their biotics.
"Hahahaha only you could have something EXPLODE and still sound pleased about it."
- magelet

"I found a disassembled quadricycle in the garage."
"I don't think you did."
"...I invented the quadricycle. :D "

"You are indeed fortunate that your continued existence is factored into my plans."
- Thanos of Titan
 
abstractwhiz
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Ieldra
Dec 21 2010, 11:44 PM
The analogy fails. We cannot create conditions under which humans grow wings. We can (within the ME universe) create conditions under which humans develop biotic abilities, albeit not yet reliably. It appears that the human body is not unable to accomodate these abilities.
I should also mention that the human body is not constructed at all. Evolution is no agent. From the presence of biotics I can conclude that the human body can adapt to the presence of eezo, and adapt to incorporate it into itself. In fact, 10% of the newly born humans are already so adapted. So yes, for any biologically meaningful definition of "meant to", the human body is very much meant to have biotic abilities. Apparently, in spite of the complete absence of eezo for the whole history of life on Earth, including humans and all their ancestors, the genetic predisposition to develop biotic abilities exists in 10% of all humans. In an evolutionary scenario, that's almost like screaming "I want this."
I'd like to amend this slightly - it's only crying out "I want this" if biotics wind up having more offspring than non-biotics. The fastest way to develop extremely inflated traits is sexual selection.

If Cerberus thought more long-term, the smartest way to improve human biotic potential would be to incentivize biotic reproduction. Establish a fund to pay biotics to have more kids, start a PR campaign glamorizing biotics like rock stars, convince people that biotic strength is extremely desirable, start biotic sperm banks, etc. In three or four generations you'll have Jack-level biotics (sans mental trauma) and after a few centuries most of humanity will be biotic.
"Hahahaha only you could have something EXPLODE and still sound pleased about it."
- magelet

"I found a disassembled quadricycle in the garage."
"I don't think you did."
"...I invented the quadricycle. :D "

"You are indeed fortunate that your continued existence is factored into my plans."
- Thanos of Titan
 
fongiel
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Thong of God
I think military biotics are useful, but only in specialized circumstances. You wouldn't need or want entire squads of them making up the core of your army for several reasons. One, as Napoleon said, an army marches on its stomach and a biotic army would have at least 50% greater nutritional requirements. Two, biotics need to spend time training their abilities and this time spent honing biotics is not spent honing marksmanship, conditioning, fieldcraft, and other soldiering skills. Three, the impression I got from the books was that biotic abilities have a significant buildup and cooldown time which means biotics aren't exactly 22nd century mages. My final point is related to my second: every dollar spent on biotic research is money that isn't spent on other projects, military or civilian. Biotics are useful, but so are other technologies that may have wider applications.

These considerations could explain why the turians and other races that have been around longer than humanity haven't invested a ton of time or money into biotics. Sure, a biotic's ability to throw a person fifty feet is impressive, but you can kill a man just as easily with a bullet to the head and the money spent to field armies of biotics could be used to build more warships instead.

Another point I'd like to make is that I absolutely hate the use of "meant to" when it comes to human evolution. Humans really aren't "meant to" walk on two legs either, which explains why we suffer from a multitude of back problems and partially explains why human pregnancies are so complicated (humans are the only primates that require assistance with birthing). Evolution takes what it was given and makes the best of it. Our ancestors had pelvises and spines made for walking on four legs and evolution adapted the design for walking on two. The result works relatively well but is far from perfect.

If an existing trait is advantageous to survival, it has a greater likelihood of being passed on. Humans won't evolve wings any time soon because we lack any traits that could allow us even a modest ability to fly. Humans could evolve biotic abilities in the near future (particularly with the assistance of genetic engineering) because the traits that allow humans to survive eezo exposure and utilize it DO obviously exist.
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Elyvern
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Misanthrope
Turians are really not the best option to bring up on the basis of why haven't "this race" done any research towards creating natural biotics. It's been stressed that turians think by the book and the First Contact War was won by humans precisely because turians were taken aback by humanity's unorthodox approach to warfare. Remember what Mordin says about never seeing a krogan scientist worth the appellation? The same could apply to the turian race too, albeit to a lesser extent.

What is really boggling if the possibility of natural biotics exist for non-asaris is why haven't the salarians attempted it? Could it be that the drawbacks that wouldn't plague an Asari biotic like neural degeneration would shorten Salarian livespans even further? Because judging from the number of pragmatic salarians we've seen throughout ME, Anolise, Mordin, even that salarian dude Shepard talks to in the bar in Noveria, they as a race, feels like the sort that would pursue such an approach.

Also, the answer to neural degeneration in human biotics or any non-Asari biotics for that matter is simple - genetically engineer them with a fast-healing ability, presto!
Edited by Elyvern, Dec 22 2010, 03:35 AM.
 
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