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In Transformers, Headmasters are formed from two minds, creating a being with vastly increased abilities than than the individuals alone:

When connected with each other, the human or Nebulan and the Transformer essentially share a single mind and can work together seamlessly, but when separated from each other, both retain their individual minds and bodies. This allows for greater cooperation, and with twice the experience, a better understanding of possible combat or other dangerous situations.

However, with combiners / gestalt (of typically five minds) robots, the situation seems to be worse:

Combiner technology has its downsides as well; the primary one being that the combined robot can only do what all of its components agree upon.

Are 2 minds > 1 mind > 5 minds? Or is there a better in-universe explation?

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    True for humans, too, at least in some contexts: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pair_Programming (More than two just get in each others' way) – Izkata Dec 22 '11 at 1:45
  • @Izkata: that's a very good analogy: a committee won't work well but a pair will. Thanks! – Reinstate Monica - Goodbye SE Dec 22 '11 at 9:13
  • Isn't it explained in your second quote: 2 people can cooperate easily to great result (that's usually called a couple), whereas it is difficult to find a compromise between 5 individuals. This is out- and in-universe explanation. – Taladris Mar 25 '16 at 0:03
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There's a major discriminator between the Headmasters and the gestalts, the Headmasters bond with a human/Nebulan (both organic humaniods) while gestalts bond with other Transformers.

That said, it's a common trope in many fictional universes that humans are special and that it's this bond with a human that makes the bond that the Headmasters have much more effective (in certain things, they certainly don't contain the raw power that the gestalts have) than the gestalt's.

  • I like this answer, especially when taken together with @Izkata's pair programming comment. – Reinstate Monica - Goodbye SE Dec 30 '11 at 13:30
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    @Wikis if only the two could combine into a super answer... – AncientSwordRage Apr 25 '12 at 23:39
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    @Wikis in the same way that the two minds in a 'Headmaster' is better, I was joking the same would be true of merging this answer with Izkata's comment... – AncientSwordRage Apr 26 '12 at 7:06
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TL;DR: Two partners are always more efficient than a group or committee.


Headmaster Transformers

In the original cartoon & comic, the Headmaster technology was developed on the planet of Nebula. The technology allowed a Nebulan (or human) to receive several cybernetic transplants, thus allowing them to combine with a Transformer in a process called "Binary bonding". The process of binary bonding allowed the two minds to work in tandem, with some basic functions being "offloaded" to the Nebulan/Human mind, while offering the Transformer access to the more unique qualities of the human mind, such as intuition and "sixth sense".

The process was not perfect, nor was it seamless. The binary bond was most effective when the Transformer and its partner possessed personalities that synchronized well. If the Transformer possessed an aggressive, warlike personality whereas the Nebulan/Human possessed a passive refusal to kill, it would present problems. In such a case, the minds would conflict, causing the combined body to freeze or hesitate while the two minds argued over which course to take - in effect, the same exact problem seen in gestalt Transformers.

The best analogy for a Headmaster team-up is a marriage - when the two partners are in sync, it can be extremely effective.

Gestalt Transformers

In nearly all versions, gestalt Transformers are formed when a team of five or more Transformers combine to form a new Transformer. Rather than creating a new mind, however, gestalts are actually a "link" between the individual minds creating the body. In such a case, a gestalt mind is literally five or more minds attempting to work in tandem - as long as they all agree to do something, the body does it.

The obvious drawback to gestalt technology is that, even under normal circumstances, it can be difficult to get five Transformers - especially Decepticons - to agree on a specific course of action. If a gestalt Transformer is presented with five separate targets, and each individual within the gestalt wants to attack a different target, the end result is that the gestalt either freezes or lurches uncertainly towards one target or another.

The best analogy for a gestalt team-up is a committee, or any other room full of people with equal authority - for every action, the first task always has to be agreeing what that action will be. The second task is to agree on HOW to perform that action, and so forth.

BTW, gotta give credit to @Izkata for the committee analogy on gestalts.

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The 5 minds are worse problem was a design flaw in the original Gestalt combiner, Devastator. His combined mind could only operate on what all 5 minds would agree on at any one time.

Once the flaw was repaired in later Gestalts the 5 minds combined into a singular cooperative consciousness instead of Devastator's competitive consciousness.

  • I disagree. First, G1 Devastator had six minds. But that's nitpicking, the real problem is that many later gestalts also had issues, the prime example being Menasor. Finally, the answer does not address the question of comparison with Headmasters. For example, why was a Headmaster like Siren still considered a success (despite his incompatibility with Quig): what is so special about Headmaster technology? – Reinstate Monica - Goodbye SE Jul 19 '12 at 16:08
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two minds aren't necessarily better than one because they don't always fare well together like siren and quig. Five minds are terrible only in decepticons because the standard in decepticon combiner teams is that all of their individual members are terribly mismatched personality-wis( ie. devastator is crazy because the constructicons can't work well together, all of the stunticons hate motormaster, and the terrocons are varying levels of idiocy and savagery). the exceptions to these being piranhacon who only wants to hunt, predaking who is basically an animal, and bruticus is just stupid. the latter all have individual personalities but no one said they wouldn't have personality quirks. The autobot combiners on the other hand have unique personalities.

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Two minds might be better than five supposedly because when two transformers combine to form a Powerlinx rather than a Fusilateral Quintrocombiner, the consciousness is less than the later

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