THEORY: Artificial Brains, Velika, The Red Star, And The Awakening

This started off some time ago as a simple theory about the nature of the brains of everyone in the Matoran Universe, but I recently realized that it could also explain some of the greatest unsolved mysteries about the earliest years of the Great Spirit Robot.

(Note: so as to avoid typing “Matoran Universe beings” over and over, I will be using the word “Matoran” as a “nationality” of sorts to refer to all artificial beings in the Matoran Universe, not just the Matoran species)

(Note 2: Any reference to “organic” tissue is really referring to organic protodermis, not actual Spherus Magnan organic tissue)


THE BRAIN BITS

For starters, the brains themselves: based on a few implicative sources from various parts of the Bionicle story, I propose that the Matoran brains are neither mechanical/digital nor organic, but rather a hybrid of the two; there’s sources implying each individual possibility, as well as some that outright imply a mix.

Proof Of Mechanical Brains:

For starters, Greg has said that Eliminator “fried” the brains of the Toa Mangai that he killed, which is why they can’t be revived. Admittedly, given Bionicle Physics, it’s not impossible that he was referring to Eliminator’s lightning attacks damaging organic tissue, but common sense tells me that Greg was thinking of frying electronic hardware when he said this.

Proof Of Organic Brains:

There are many instances throughout the Bionicle story where a character is said to pass out due to lack of oxygen. Time Trap even explicitly mentions air going to the brain:

Makuta’s vacuum had starved [Voporak’s] brain of air and [Voporak] had collapsed.

Now that I’ve established sources for each type of brain, I turn to some of the earliest scenes ever shown in Bionicle, not only to prove the hybrid theory, but also to define what each portion of the hybrid brain is responsible for:

When the Toa Mata awoke on Mata Nui, they were all in similar states to each other; their organic tissue had decomposed, allowing their intact mechanical bits to fall apart. What if the same thing happened to their brains; the organic parts decomposed, but the computer hardware was intact? With this line of thinking, I would then claim that the computer parts of Matoran brains are responsible for basic functions such as sensory input, motor control, and basic personality traits, while the more adaptable/neuroplastic organic parts exist to learn, and to form and store memories.

This hybrid brain theory explains the homogeneity of the Toa Mata’s mental states far better than the organic or mechanical brain theories alone: if Matoran brains are the same throughout, then shouldn’t the Toa Mata have lost motor control and memories in equal amounts, and at random? The hybrid theory explains why the Toa’s memories were more-or-less completely gone without damaging any other mental faculties.


THE EARLY HISTORY BITS

Now that I’ve (hopefully) provided a convincing argument for the hybrid nature of Matoran brains, I can get to the fun bits: The Red Star, Velika, and how the latter both caused the Awakening and ended up on Voya Nui with one move.

The basics of my theory are simple: when the Red Star downloads the brain of a dead being whose body can’t be revived, it only downloads the computer part, due to the (theorized) fact that organic brain patterns can’t really be “downloaded”. While I don’t necessarily have a ton of proof for this theory on its own, it would make a lot of other stuff make sense.

For starters, I turn to this quote from Greg, which states that Velika’s Great Being mind cannot be revived on the Red Star due to a difference in “mind layout”:

Would the way velika transferred himself into a matoran body be the same method that the red star brings people back to life with? (Wait, who does the actual bringing back? The kestora?)

  1. I would say no, because in the case of MU inhabitants, you are dealing with AI that can be downloaded and transferred. GBs do not have AI, so another method would have had to be used other than what is done on the red star.

This quote somewhat aligns with my above theory, with the basic concept that the organic Great Being consciousness is different in makeup from the artificial Matoran consciousness.

Now, on its own, the fact that Velika can’t be revived doesn’t make sense: if Velika can be in a Matoran brain, why can’t he be transferred like one? However, if we combine my above theory with the stated difference between consciousnesses, a new theory emerges: Because of the differences between digital and organic brains, Velika couldn’t transfer his mind to the computer parts of his Matoran brain, forcing him to cram his entire consciousness into only the organic parts of the brain. Of course, this is the part that can’t be transferred, which is why Velika can’t be revived.

From here, we can now theorize about how Velika caused the Awakening, although this portion of the theory is a little bit less rooted in any actual sources.

With Velika “misusing his hardware” like this, it seems to be within reason that the organic parts of Velika’s brain might change over time to accommodate these new brain patterns; after all, the increased neuroplasticity of organic brain compared to computer brain is why the organic brain was included in the first place. From there, with just a little bit of Bionicle Physics, it’s not unreasonable to think that these changes to Velika’s organic brain eventually became transmissible and spread throughout the Matoran Universe, allowing everyone to host higher levels of sapience in their organic brain matter. Hence, the Awakening.

Of course, Greg has implied before that Velika intentionally caused the Awakening, meaning that Velika must have rooted around in his own brain to isolate whatever changed and turn it into a virus (an actual, human-definition, transmissible virus, not a Bionicle-definition Makuta Virus).

Then, as the final major link to this theory, I propose that this is why Velika was sent to Karzahni for repair: there are so many ways that he could have damaged himself while doing this. Even if nothing went wrong, the sight of a Po-Matoran digging around his own brain in a Ga-Metru* lab would probably be enough to send him off to Karzahni for what was supposed to be the Bionicle equivalent of a mental health check.

Then, as a bit of a footnote, this hybrid-brain theory would also have important implications for those revived on the Red Star: anyone who was moved into a new body wouldn’t have any memories. Even if their original body was revived, some of their memories might be affected by brain damage, depending on how long the revival process took. Heck, if the Awakening caused some of their higher-order processes to “migrate” into the organic parts as described above, even their sapience could be affected. This would explain the mental shock that Greg has said a lot of the revived beings go through.

Ga-Metru*

The reason I specify that Velika was on Metru Nui is due to yet another unrelated theory. Greg has previously said that in The Kingdom alternate universe, The Great Being Known As Velika was not in the Po-Matoran Velika, and was instead “probably” in a Matoran who was on Mata Nui in the prime universe. This, of course, means that he must have taken over the body of a Matoran who started off in Metru Nui.

Of course, that doesn’t mean he stayed there; Velika was absolutely crucial to the Toa Inika’s quest on Voya Nui: most importantly, he created the Zamor Launchers and knew that Energized Protodermis would free the enslaved Matoran. It seems unlikely that Toa Inika’s journey would have succeeded without Velika, and it also seems unlikely that what he did could have been contributed by anyone other than a Great Being (especially the bit about Energized Protodermis and its interactions with Antidermis). As such, The Great Being Known As Velika must have still ended up on Voya Nui in The Kingdom, contributing to the Resistance under a different name.

So if, in The Kingdom, “Velika” started on Metru Nui and ended up on Voya Nui, and The Kingdom only really majorly diverged when Matoro failed to save Mata Nui, that must mean that Velika followed the same path in the prime universe, just in a different body.

Plus, if Velika wanted to watch over the Matoran Universe, Metru Nui would probably be the best place to do it.

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Great write-up. I’ve always wondered how Velika ended up being sent to Karzahni, since I would think being a Great Being in disguise he would be at least a bit more careful than the average Matoran. But I think the explanation you came up with is a good one.

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Velika is permanently banned from the labs after apparently injuring himself on purpose following severe head trauma, cause unknown. That makes for a terrifyingly good story.

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