I’m working on a setting, and have a state I want to achieve but need to come up with a compelling reason for why it is the way it is (even if no one but me ever knows the ‘why’.) I’m after a reasoned, logical answer that flows along the lines of greatest probability rather than a “it’s this way because I say so” type answer. I don't need a “hard science” answer because fundamentally the scenario has at least one foot in fantasy, but well thought out discourse is appreciated.

The set up:

In the future humans invent and built half-biological, half-mechanical bio-suits. They stand two or so times taller than an average human and can contain one fully inside themselves; they were controlled via direct-neural link. These suits offered many advantages:

-Low maintenance (limited self-healing ability)
-Increased dexterity/reduced learning curve for new pilot.
-Increased situational awareness (pilots often “becoming” the suit while operating it)
-Massive strength increases compared to a normal person
-Greatly increased personal protection in almost any environment.
-Ability to operate independently for far longer than purely mechanical counterparts.

These suits functioned as a boon for their operators, increasing their physical capabilities many-fold… until the suits had the audacity to start talking to their operators from their own free will. (albeit given; this was a surprise for both parties)

The how and why and what happened are irrelevant in the scope of this question except for eventually these suits are recognized as a fully sentient, self-aware, cognizant species with IQs on par with humans.

When joined, control is often split between the bio-suits consciousness and the human’s consciousness, as desired by the pair. Joining is also considered more of a personal arrangement then a business one, so money exchanges are considered taboo.

The question:

What benefits could a human give that would encourage a symbiotic relationship between that human and a bio-suit?

There is obviously an advantage for the human, because they get all the above mentioned advantages as well as someone to talk to. The bio-suits does not anything out of the arrangement (besides extra weight and drain) on the surface, so it appears to be parasitic.

It’s hard to think of a justifiable advantage. Money certainly could be a motivator, but that puts it into a master/servant style relationship and over the longer term (I believe it is also untenable because at its base it’s still a parasitic relationship.) Things like “ability to get things from the corner market that has the small doors” would go away when construction adjusted after a generation to have bigger doors. Getting some sort of legal status or rights from the arrangement also is not a solution (see “just about any civil rights movement ever”).

So what advantages can the basically smaller and less physically capable humans offer in a symbiotic relationship with these bio-suits? Anything more intimate/interweaving then basically “do this for me and I'll pay you X”?

Edit space for questions:

  • The functioning-in-detail of the suits has not been pinned down; so various flaws can be introduced; however things like "cannot breath without human" would take things too far; each side should be able to exist independent of the other, but find advantage for working together.
  • Long term direct mind-to-mind exposure is the only real form of possible dependence that can form between a pair without intentional intervention; nothing stops a pair from separating beyond the fact that after a certain point they stop being a "pair" and start being a "one". Possible caveats to this are health considerations where one party helps support a failing system on another.
  • $\begingroup$ This happens to be a class of question I've been having a lot of fun with. The key question will be what limitations does the suit have on its own. If the suits are walking-gods-of-awesomeness, they may not need us. More realistic suits will have some flaws inherent to the implementation. Do you know what the flaws in your suits are? $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Oct 4, 2016 at 18:44
  • $\begingroup$ @the suits designs-in-detail are still in a fluid state, so they can have flaws added or subtracted easily. Ill edit the main question with an update $\endgroup$
    – Marky
    Commented Oct 4, 2016 at 19:12
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    $\begingroup$ One last question before I start my answer: once a suit is joined with a person, do they ever split? The answers are very different if it's a virtual marriage than if it is a more open arrangement. It's also a lot more personal if once a suit and human merge, they never merge with anyone else. $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Oct 4, 2016 at 19:36
  • $\begingroup$ @Cort Ammon the idea (based purely on story) that I'm working with now is there is nothing (by design) that physically keeps a joined pair from separating, but long term mind-to-mind interaction creates a intermingled consciousness and eventually what could be considered a single being if left in that state for too long. Better methods of more permanent joining could be sought, but don't just happen on their own. $\endgroup$
    – Marky
    Commented Oct 4, 2016 at 19:50
  • $\begingroup$ So at the very least, it's not a "at the end of the work day, I get out of my suit, and we say good byte to each other?" You'd prefer people to remain connected for long periods of time without detaching? (One of the prices of having had too much fun brainstorming on this problem is that I have to many options to choose from! I have to narrow myself down before answering =) ) $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Oct 4, 2016 at 20:06

16 Answers 16


The neuro-pathways of the suits are very simple when they are "built". There is a large cluster around the neural-link port that handles all the sensory input from the suit to the human and all the control input from the human to the suit. Over time, this cluster specializes and becomes more complex to more efficiently handle this transmission. Eventually this "brain" learns how to do things rather than needing to be instructed on each step.

For example, a new suit would need to have each individual step outlined (lift left foot, swing forward, plant left foot, lift right foot, etc). Over time, the suit would pick up on "walk over there" without each step needing to be defined. Eventually it could pick the optimal path, perhaps even deciding to move an obstacle rather than moving around it.

As the suit becomes more and more optimized and efficient, the operators need to focus less on the task of moving and may even engage in daydreaming while the suit does the work. The daydreams also drift across the neural-link which triggers building other pathways to decipher them.

Eventually, the pathways around the neural-link develop enough to awaken into self-consciousness.

So the benefit to the suit is the initial development of the suit's personality and consciousness.

Another benefit could be that the suits neural network is optimized to process incoming sensory input and receive outside commands. When there is no incoming commands, the suit is able to act autonomously, but it may not be as quick as it is when connected to a human. Or perhaps, part of a suit's pathways include paths to the neural-port where it would query the subconsciousness of the pilot when working out problem-solving skills.


A human-in-a-suit is stronger and more physically able.

A suit-around-a-human is more intellectually nimble and quick.


One option is to have suits simply "enjoy" having human inside. Neural link would feed thought, dreams, ideas and emotions to the suit that the suit is not able to create, but is able to receive them through the link and appreciate, even enjoy (or to go to extreme, become addicted to) them.

Another, similar, idea is to have suits consciousness limited when they are not being operated. Something like being asleep. Their neural pathways are not advanced enough to sustain higher level functions. When they link with operator, their consciousness awakens and they become fully sentient, mentally independent beings, perhaps even incorporating bit of operator's personality into theirs. They just need the link to kick their brain to higher gears. Suits are aware of this and seek this connection, because without it, they are not truly alive

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    $\begingroup$ This goes well with current AI development, which has largely targeted simulating the mechanisms of neocortical (“new brain”) processing. Some background: the human/mammalian neocortex layer is really good at learning and processing and adapting, but largely void of the instinct, intuition, and emotion that allow us to thrive (handled by the cross-animal-kingdom “old brain” mass). An advanced AI modeled upon neocortical processes would have intelligence but not ambition or purpose. I can imagine human-less suits falling into a state of boredom pretty quickly. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 12:09

Humans and suits have vastly different ways of thinking

IQ alone is not sufficient to describe a mind. Different individuals, beyond raw brainpower, can have vastly different mental abilities, with tasks that are simple for one brilliant individual being almost impossible for another equally brilliant individual. It may be that the bio-suit is as smart as a human, or even far smarter, but only when confronted with certain tasks.

A bio-suit, on its own, is excellent at fighting and has great battlefield awareness. They can form split second plans of how to accomplish simple tasks far faster than a human. They'r excellent visual learners and will perfectly remember even complicated urban environments, quickly determening things like optimal paths through these environments and rapidly making threat assessments about opposing forces based on their environmental stimulus. However, they don't know how to read, do basic math, or interact with any equipment besides weapons. Even for communication, they rely on a direct neural bond to communicate with their human partners, and are unable to learn the most basic of formal language. Anything that falls outside the realm of combat is essentially foreign to the mind of a battle suit, and they rely on their human companion to complete all of those tasks. A battle suit in an urban environment full of human enemies would effortlessly prowl about and eliminate all opposition, but would then promptly die of starvation, being unable to figure out how to fuel itself.

Human environments and tools are built for humans

Keyboards, vehicle cockpits, and buildings are all designed for humans, not 14-foot-tall combat brutes. A combat suit on its own would be unable to interface with any technology it encounters that isn't designed specifically with combat suits in mind. A combat suit with a human partner, on the other hand, can disgorge its pilot to drive vehicles, operate key pads, or do anything else that requires being human-sized and having human-sized hands.


My answer involves cognition of sensory input. How does this suit 'see'?

Lets say the suit becomes sentient as an emergent property of its internal computational abilities and programming, but that it was originally built by humans as a tool. Would it have the equipment to detect incident light? Would it be able to translate the light rays striking it into usable information?

First off, the suit might not have sufficient visual detection equipment (cameras, basically). What if the cockpit has an advanced bio-glass dome that allows the human operator to look around. Sure there might be smaller ancillary cameras to aid the human operator, like the backup camera in a car today, but those don't hold candle to the acuity of the human eye. In that case, the suit has limited or no ability to 'see' anything in the visual spectrum at all.

The second option is that the advanced bio-suit is equipped with cameras, but not with any software to interpret it. If it just relays information from the outside world to the user, and relies on the human brain to interpret the visual input (i.e. recognizing objects, determining movement and direction, judging distance, etc). If you designed a tool to have a human occupant, then you wouldn't spend the money on visual recognition software. That stuff is being developed for autonomous cars, not human occupied ones.

The suit could have its own set of excellent senses, maybe infra-red maps, radar, sonar, anything; or it could be virtually blind. But either way, adding a highly advanced visual-light interpreting computer in its human symbiote would be very advantageous.

  • $\begingroup$ Our vision isn't actually that good. We can hear thousands of different frequencies of sound, smell hundreds of different chemical compounds, and see... three, sometimes two or one, rarely four, different colours. Perhaps focusing on some other senses as well (e.g. sound, at the moment microphones just pick up a single vibration). $\endgroup$
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 18:46
  • $\begingroup$ @wizzwizz You say that our vision isn't that good, but try to walk down the street by hearing or smell. $\endgroup$
    – kingledion
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 18:52
  • $\begingroup$ Ok, I will: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_echolocation news.berkeley.edu/2015/06/17/smell-navigation $\endgroup$
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 18:58
  • $\begingroup$ @wizzwizz4 You can try, but you won't $\endgroup$
    – kingledion
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 19:12
  • $\begingroup$ I did, actually! After spending my whole life navigating largely by sight, I still only bashed into walls thrice and avoided all of the moving cars. $\endgroup$
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 19:23

Sorry, can't resist the pun: The suits feel empty without a human inside.

No honestly, they are artificial organisms built to take up and accept a human into their biological control functions.
How would you feel, if half your brain is missing? How would you feel, if it comes back to you?

The suits are bio-engineered, so presumably they are somewhat young and inexperienced, when they are boarded first time. They can learn so much from an experienced and trained pilot. And by the time they are experienced, they'll likely have come to an (in want for a better word:) intimate sort of partnership with their human.

Of course, experienced suits may accept some few different pilots. It's like teamwork with someone you know and can communicate most efficiently, i.e. understanding each other literally without words. However the suits would only accept "the best" humans, because of mutual empathy as well as skills or training.

To precisely argue the point, why this is symbiotic instead of parasitic: If half your brain, was an unbeneficial parasite, evolution would likely have rid humans of one half.
If the suits were optimized (although by their human engineers) to work with a human inside, they work suboptimal without.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ +1 for “an intimate sort of partnership with their human”. I like the idea of suits loving their human and humans loving their suit, much like the classic (hu)man-dog partnership. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 12:02
  • $\begingroup$ It's why it has "(in want for a better word:)" before it. I mean, how more "intimate" can you be than one is fully enclosed in the other, they share senses and motoric control, depending on each other for survival,...? It's a very unique situation. However "Love" can have many faces so please be considerate about how to interpret "intimacy" in this context. "human-dog" would be one way, "human-horse" is probably a better fit, because horses are in both physical and psychological sense less dependent on their humans than (many races of) dogs. $\endgroup$
    – NoAnswer
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 12:29
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    $\begingroup$ I think the form of love would vary with each human-suit pair. Eros, obviously would be highly unlikely because of the lack of compatible “equipment”, but different combinations of philia, ludus, pragma, or even (considering the neural link) philautia would all be plausible. (Agape, of course, doesn't make sense in this arrangement.) The human nature of variation between individuals should not be understated. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 12:36
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    $\begingroup$ Uhm, I guess that's what I meant with "Love can have many faces". I guess I have some googling to do. Feel free to edit those aspects into my answer. $\endgroup$
    – NoAnswer
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 12:47

A symbiot needs to be a mutually beneficial arrangement otherwise it is just parasitism.

This scenario is different from the OP's, but should serve as an illustration to explain the idea. Humans in space no longer wear space suits but are symbionts with "hyperplants", plants which have been genetically engineered to live and thrive in space. The human is sheltered from the space environment, and receives oxygen and sugars, while the hyperplant extracts wastes from the human (including carbon dioxide and waste waters), creating a closed loop ecosystem in space.

It isn't clear from the OP's description how the biosuit works, but if we assume the biosuit is at least partially a plant, then the human in the loop provides some sustenance to keep the biosuit alive through exhaled CO2 and solid and liquid wastes, which the human pilot recovers in the form of oxygen, clean water and sugars. While the two are joined, they also share in an ecosystem loop isolated from the outside world, providing some protection from a hostile environment if needed.

  • $\begingroup$ The workings-in-detail of the suits can be adjusted to support symbiosis, so they aren't really needed to be talked about in detail. I hadn't considered a plant based/O2->CO2->O2 loop. It fits within the framework and is interesting, but I'm under the impression that that particular loop requires a lot of solar energy to function? (could it work off thermal or some other energy?) $\endgroup$
    – Marky
    Commented Oct 4, 2016 at 19:22
  • $\begingroup$ Chemosynthesis also provides O2, it uses heat to do the same $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 4, 2016 at 19:25
  • $\begingroup$ The hyperplant example would indeed be rather large (it takes @ 1 acre of farmland to support a person, so the extended hyperplant might have that much leaf area in free space, but a chemosynthetic or heat based symbiotic reaction is probably more appropriate for the biosuit. $\endgroup$
    – Thucydides
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 13:46
  • $\begingroup$ @Marky - The Matrix. Terrible, terrible science, but the heat from the humans could fill some of role of the solar side. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 14:18

Like ckersch, I think the most interesting answers are those which recognize that there are many different ways to think, and that IQ doesn't capture all of them.

The solution I think is most interesting is to look at longevity. If the suits are "conscious," they likely have a desire to live as long as possible. It may be very reasonable to have the suits have a less than ideal lifestyle on their own. Perhaps they are tuned up too high by nature, and their behavior would get themselves killed due to wear and tear. To resolve this, they would naturally develop restrictions deep in their psyche to catch these spurious movements and inhibit them.

Humans, thinking differently, may be able to react to the spurious movements better, and provide a level of stillness for the suit. As long as there is a human in the suit, they can drop some of their inhibitions because they know the human is going to symbiotically care for the suit. This means they can use their IQ for something more than just babysitting their lower functions.

I have not read the series, but from what I have been told, the Halo series has a similar mechanic for their AIs. Their AIs grow up very fast and are very smart, but after a few years they start to go crazy. They eventually destroy themselves if they aren't decommissioned. I would expect that the captains were taught how to be symbiotic to these AIs, helping them stave off the insanity as long as possible.

Given how analog human minds are, and how digital many mechanical systems are, this is not actually very far from reality...


Humans are smart, suits are smart.

The union is smarter.

Humans are actually two brains with a high-bandwidth connection between them. If you cut that connection, each half of the brain seems capable of hosting an entire human personality. If you put half of the human brain to sleep, the other half can make up for it and move around and talk and the like.

When humans get into the suit, a high-bandwidth connection opens between the human's brain and the suit's brain. The two brains start to function mostly as one. This union is smarter.

The fact that these bio suits are physically stronger than humans is only really useful when doing certain kinds of labor. Even in warfare, biological level strength and toughness isn't all that useful today, let alone in the near future; especially when you are needlessly risking an intelligence.

The true value of the suit-human join is the brain link. These bio suits+human joins will be mathematicians, physicists, engineers, business consultants, researchers.

Not every bio suit will be interested in this kind of thing. But it is reasonable that the bio suit's neural network finds joining with a human pleasant (as a side effect of the original design), it could easily be common.


A lot of answers so far have suggested that the suit's brain/mind is limited when not linked with their pilot. I'll suggest something in the same vein, but different.

Suits are intelligent, self-sufficient, and plenty capable without a pilot. They could live their entire lives without a pilot linked to them, and be productive and beneficial to human/suit society. But their life, their thoughts, would be unimaginative. Inexperienced suit-minds wouldn't say they are bored, but that would be an apt description anyway.

Suits want to link with humans because suit-minds lack imagination. Human minds have so many new, interesting ideas. They look at the world differently, they have desires and ambitions which the suit-minds would never have on their own.

They especially like to experience dreams. Suits don't sleep and dream the way humans do, though they do need rest and mental down-time just like humans do. And since they essentially watch dreams from the outside, they can relay to their pilots what they dreamed of when they wake up.

Suit-minds do well at thinking in functional and utilitarian ways. How to stack boxes efficiently, or the shortest route from one place to another, or the least wasteful layout for cutting clothing parts from a bolt of fabric.

Humans think about what sorts of things go on those boxes, about the party at the other end of that shortest route, about a new dress design using that style of fabric but in red. They are creative and aesthetic.

Suit-minds also don't get emotional the way humans do. At most they get a vague sense of accomplishment when they finish a large job, or mild frustration when encountering unexpected problems, but not much else. Humans feel love, anger, loss, loyalty, pride. Suit-minds can't experience these emotions without being linked to a pilot.

Some other things to consider:

  • Are suits capable of reproduction on their own, or are they always made in, e.g. a growth tank? If they are capable of reproduction, they might not have a drive to do so unless linked with a human, essentially extending the human reproductive drive to their own kind.
  • Are suits always made the same, or is there variation in suits comparable to the variations in human genes?
  • Could suits potentially form a successful, self-sustaining society without humans? Maybe no unpiloted suit would ever think to do this, but if the idea were planted and no one stood in their way, they could accomplish it?
  • How much do suit-minds retain from their pilots after disconnecting? Do they retain it indefinitely (once learned, always retained), or does it fade with time?
  • What sorts of physical requirements do suits have? Thinks like food/fuel, waste removal, rest/down-time, repairs for non-biological systems.
  • What happens to a brain-damaged suit? Can it be repaired? Does it self-repair/heal? If it recovers from the physical damage, does it lose some memory, some sense of self, some personality?
  • Do suits have rights, independent of their pilots? Can they commit crimes? Do any of them go rogue? If they are piloted and involved in a crime, does the suit bear any responsibility, or the pilot, or both?
  • Can things a suit learns/absorbs from one pilot be sent the other direction to another pilot? For example, if a suit is piloted by a programmer for a few years, then by a dock worker for a few more years, would the dock worker get some programming skills, or at least have an easier time learning programming? Would the dock worker learn the programmer's dark, personal secrets? (If so, is this sort of knowledge transfer admissible as evidence in a court?)
  • Can suits get sick? Since at least some of the biological components will be based on human biology, are suits susceptible to some of the same viruses and bacteria that make humans sick? Can suits strengthen their pilots' immune systems and help them fight off infections?
  • How long do suits live?
  • $\begingroup$ So in short this is about the suits basically being people from the movie Equilibrium (imdb.com/title/tt0238380)? But instead of having to suppress their emotions they just naturally lack them/creativity? $\endgroup$
    – Marky
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 18:43
  • $\begingroup$ I haven't heard of it/seen it, so I can't answer that. But I'd guess you're right. $\endgroup$
    – Marsh
    Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 15:18

I can't think of a reason why people would manufacture a suit that can move around on its own, and then put people in it. If you're designing an autonomous machine, you design an autonomous machine, and you don't try to stuff a "pilot" inside it. If you're designing a machine that requires an operator, you don't make it autonomous.

So the simplest explanation is the best. They were designed as suits that require a human operator to move them around, and mobility is what these sentient bio-suits get out of the deal. You could obviously fiddle around with the exact details of this arrangement - instead of a human operator being a strict requirement, the original design intentions assumed a human operator, and thus, the bio-suits are slow or unwieldy without a human operator, or mobility requires a lot more energy without the human operator, or something of that nature.

Along similar lines of considering how they were designed, if you consider that they were designed to contain a human, and unexpectedly developed sentience, it would stand to reason that they would have a psychological need or desire to pair up with a human, much like the human psychological needs for social interaction and sex.

  • $\begingroup$ More and more vehicle controls are becoming software controlled. Not just the "self-driving" cars, but all cars. Originally the steering wheel was physically connected to the wheels (and mostly still is, just assisted by hydraulics). Some controls are being designed to send electronic signals to to other systems in the car rather than being directly connected to those systems. If their is a central control system that processes this control stream, and this central system became self-aware, then it would be entirely capable of controlling the vehicle, given a map or the proper sensors. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 19:08
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelRichardson Yes, but a vehicle is very different from an exo-suit. A vehicle is designed with the purpose of travelling between locations, and the presence of a driver or pilot is a technological limitation, not a functional design goal. An exo-suit, in contrast, is designed for a different functional purpose, generally to augment the person inside it. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 19:25
  • $\begingroup$ Correct. However, all control is done through the neural-port, which will need to have a communication module that receives commands and carries them out, and returns sensory input and other feedback to the pilot. If this communication module is somehow "hacked" (or becomes sentient), then all control paths are available to it. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 20:10

The theories of embodied cognition and situated cognition, in a nutshell, say that thinking doesn't happen just because there's a brain in your skull. Rather, thinking requires sensing, feeling, and acting; from infancy onward your brain's dialog with your body and your environment has been driving increasingly complex cognitive abilities.

If you buy into that, a newly minted suit intelligence has a lot of experimenting and observing to process before it's really thinking at a high level. But bridging a human intelligence in allows it to use, observe, and emulate your well-developed processing and bootstraps it.

Even after bootstrapping, you and the suit have different sensory and motor abilities, and different physiologies (i.e. emotions). Suits are generally just as interested in the expanded experience they get from your memories and imagination as humans are interested in the expanded physical abilities of the suit.

Also, consider how your psychological drives reflect your physical requirements and limitations -- the sex drive from the mammalian reproductive system and the love drive from being optimized for small-group living and kin care; the drives to avoid pain and cultivate pleasure from the body's relative fragility; the drives to eat and to create cuisines from an evolutionary background as persistence hunters and savannah gatherers, with a nuanced sense of taste and smell to avoid poisons but also with the capacity for a broad palate to make the most of available edibles; the drive to acquire a signed or spoken language from some brain hardware that's very suitable for that, plus exceptional manual and vocal dexterity.

Not to mention that the persistence hunt involves strenuous sweating, thinking, and running, which require supporting electrolytes, sugars, and fats, creating the famously deep-seated human drive toward salted caramel ice cream. That one's super important, I don't know how Freud missed it.

Anyway though, working closely with a human is designed into the suits' physicality and into the information processing skills that they inherit from before sentience. All the sensors, actuators, and processors are built for it, and that's going to bias the sorts of conditions and behaviors that are easy for it, and thus the sort of mind that it develops.


I am reminded of the mutual relationship between coral polyps and zooxanthellae algae. http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/education/kits/corals/media/supp_coral02bc.html One way to make sure that suits need to bond with humans is that when they were bioengineered in the first place they were created in such a way that they have to in order to gain sufficient nutrients. They might lack the ability to digest certain vitamins, perhaps mimicking a Vitamin B12 anemia. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitamin_B12_deficiency Or a similar condition that would mean that they would be unable to survive without the bonding process.


All the work performed to design and optimize the bio-suits for human integration has naturally converged to making the connection desirable for the suits.

This is no longer an overpowering need for the suit to work properly and experience "pain" in case of faults, but it is still there, and by now it would be both impractical and expensive to root out - it would imply redesigning the suits from scratch, which neither suits nor humans feel necessary or desirable.

But the end result is still that what humans think of as wearing a suit, suits think of as sex.

  • $\begingroup$ This made me laugh, thanks ^^. This idea has an appeal but (basing this on my limited understanding of the mob/people in general) wouldn't a lot of people become incredibly uncomfortable with something like this? $\endgroup$
    – Marky
    Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 13:33
  • $\begingroup$ Probably. On the other hand, some might be actually thrilled at the thought (I think it's Rule 37 or somewhere); it might take a special kind of person to woo a suit, which would have lots of interesting repercussions on society at large. Suit wearers might be even reviled by some as perverts against Nature, dubbed something like chlamysexuals (from the greek word for a cloak), clammies or suit-fuckers $\endgroup$
    – LSerni
    Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 13:47

Suits Learn Better from a Direct Link

This is somewhat similar to the (excellent) answers by Michael Richardson, ckersch and NoAnswer.

The suits can function very well on their own, they have a robust set of built-in motor and cognitive skills which they can either fully utilize from "birth" or find it very easy to acquire on their own. This is thanks to their original design as tools1.

However, the direct mind-to-mind link is the best trainer and educator for a suit - yes, they can run and jump pretty well from birth - but a few weeks of actively training with a parkour master would teach them more than they can learn on their own in years. Same goes for acquiring any advanced physical or mental skill - martial arts and weapon use, driving / piloting vehicles2, advanced engineering, zoology, art etc. etc. etc.

Maybe some of these skills a suit can learn on its own, but find that process inferior compared to a direct mind-to-mind link3. Other skills might be completely beyond an unbonded suit (either for a specific one for their entire "species").

That may even be true for evolving a suit's very basic but undesigned capabilities, such as intelligence, imagination, creativity or interpersonal communication4. Moreover, it makes sense that emotions, empathy and morality are not something the original designers will add to a tool - so suits must actively acquire these. That would suggest that a newly created suit (or its progenitors) may look for a good first link mentor to help with its education and expedite its maturity and transition from a very useful thing/tool to a fully fledged person. Additionally, this can be expanded to mean that the character and worldview of a person can be imprinted on a suit - especially so for a young one that did not yet solidify their personality. This will make choosing a worthy bonding partner very important for the suits, and could lead to "mixed-families" or even tribes/nations of humans and suits that share a culture (philosophy, morals, aesthetics etc. etc.) - with as much difference and diversity as human-only cultures exhibited through history.

1: The alternative, i.e. a suit which needs to be taught how to walk by breaking down each step into a set of multiple movements requiring explicit commands (not to mention the difficulty of acquiring bi-pedal motion and dynamic equilibrium this way) - is impractical and unwieldy.

2: Of course there'll be solutions to drive/fly suits around - some of them with the driver/pilot suited up themselves - this makes sense for combat and emergency response missions, where time is critical and quick deployment is a must. It'll also be very useful for single-person tasks - take delivery services, infrastructure maintenance, or forestry as examples - a single person and suit in a truck, speedboat, hovercraft or what-have-you, using the mundane vehicle for long-range, heavy load or fast transportation, with a lot of stops along the way where the suit comes into play (for heavy-lifting, protection or efficiency) - it'll be much easier not to have to suit-up at every stop and suit-down just to move to the next stop, and the suit has to be on board anyway...

3: Learning alone comes with greater difficulty, a slower pace and/or is boring or frustrating. Possibly learning with a linked tutor is also much more enjoyable and rewarding, not just more efficient (think of The Matrix scene where Neo states "I know kung fu!" and Morpheus's response: "Show me.").

4: They should have a built in ability to use language so they can communicate with operators / maintainers even without a linked human - but this could reasonably be limited to basic, functional phrases ("incoming enemy", "malfunction detected", "command acknowledged" etc.). The ability to convey complex ideas, understand non-verbal cues, negotiate compromises or use verbal subterfuge may not make sense to design into a tool.

  • $\begingroup$ I'm a little late to this party - but looks like no one has suggested this direction yet. What a fun question! :-) $\endgroup$
    – G0BLiN
    Commented Dec 27, 2020 at 18:16
  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to the party! A Well thought out and reasoned post, I appreciate your thoughts here, they 'click' very well. $\endgroup$
    – Marky
    Commented Feb 10, 2021 at 23:16

This may not be completely in line with the OPQ, but it would make sense if: The suit was actually several separate beings. The human is what connects them. The result is much like a jellyfish. The suit is aware, but it can't control the mobility units without a human connection. Additionally, the suit might require human gross bodily byproducts for sustenance (drink sweat, absorb heat, utilize CO2, etc.)


This might be going off on a tangent but does the "suit" have to be a suit at all it could could be something similar to the Klyntar aka"symbiotes" from Marvel, where the "suits" are an amorphous mass of cells and/or nanites that act similarly to an amoeba yet they are sentient, where they bond to the host permanently or have some semi-permanence to the bond where the "suits" could then be inside the human host and give them advanced abilities such as rapid healing, body weaponization, enhanced intelligence, and reflexes, or other such abilities. In return, the host must consume specialized foods and materials or instead they have to consume different animals or genetic material to gain these abilities after the bonding process as well as consume more food than was otherwise necessary to sustain the host for a day before said process. Said host could also have the ability to rapidly evolve in response to certain stimuli or circumstances. These "evolutions" could be performed in a lab like controlled environment to increase the likelihood of these "evolutions" taking place and/or these evolutions could happen in any environment at any time taking place randomly with the increased likelihood of these evolutions being beneficial but unknown in the scientific sense that the creators didn't realize that they could or could not evolve in that way, thus creating the possibility for endless rapid self-evolution, this could lead to extraordinarily long or near infinite life spans.

The symbiotes could also innately be only semi-sentient or sentient to a degree in that they understand that the one they bond with will be the one they die with or that they develop their personality with. The "suits" in a sense would be in a perfect symbiotic relationship where the "suits" and the host are in a permanent bond that couldn't be broken but would cause extreme often irreparable emotional harm not just to the host but also to the "suit". The "suits" after a while develop their own intelligence based on what would be the most beneficial for the host such as Eragon and Saphira (Inheritance cycle) and John-117's "Cortana" AI even though one example is dragon and rider telepathic bond and the other is a relationship between Master Chief and his AI the same principle applies it would cause irreparable emotional harm to kill one or the other.

The suit in a sense would become the partner of the host they could think individually and as one with the host even as each has a full range of emotions they can experience each other's.

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding, (Insert username)! If you have a moment, please take the tour and visit the help center to learn more about the site. You may also find Worldbuilding Meta and The Sandbox useful. Here is a meta post on the culture and style of Worldbuilding.SE, just to help you understand our scope and methods, and how we do things here. Have fun! $\endgroup$
    – Gryphon
    Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 22:02

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