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What is the Matrix?

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This article is about the eponymous virtual reality construct. For the first film in The Matrix franchise, see The Matrix.

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The entire virtual construct of the Matrix is composed of a green digital code.

The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us, even now in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work, when you go to church, when you pay your taxes; it is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.Morpheus to Neo

The Matrix was a massive simulated virtual reality construct of the world as it was around the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries, created by artificial intelligences to keep the minds of the human race under control while they served as organic POWs. Scenery within the Matrix was distinguished by its noticeable green tint.

Summary

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The Matrix digital code
The Matrix existed as a neuro-interactive simulation for the synthetically-grown humans of the Real World, as their bodies served as an alternate power source for the Machines. Specifically, the Machines used the bio-electric, thermal, and kinetic energy of the human bodies.

The simulation worked as an interface in which information was directly fed to the human brain. The Matrix fed into a person's sensory perception, resulting in a flawless illusion that was indistinguishable from reality for those connected to it.

The population of humans connected to the Matrix supposedly matched the estimated population as it were in reality (estimated to be somewhere between 7 to 8 billion) and was integral to its operation as the human minds essentially housed and powered the simulation. Anyone who rejected and was liberated from the Matrix, such as the redpills, contributed to an algorithmic anomaly within the construct code that threatened the Matrix by potentially causing a major system crash that would kill every human connected to it.

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Mega City within the Matrix.
It was made up of the majority (roughly, 99%) of the human race excluding the Resistance. To those freed from the Matrix, it was effectively considered as a prison which enslaved the human race. The humans' minds, represented as mentally-projected digital avatars within the simulation, were kept inside the Matrix all of their lives while their bodies grew and died in pods connected to power plants, towering vertical columns which powered the Machines in the world outside.

The bluepills, coined for their inability to reject the Matrix, either through choice or ignorance, lived out their entire lives in this virtual reality as they would have around the late 20th and early 21st centuries. This specific time period was chosen by the Machines because they believed it to be the pinnacle of human civilization.

Geography

The Matrix simulation replicated the late 20th/early 21st century Earth in its entirety with all of the human nations of the time therein. However, most redpill activity merely covered a vast swath of landscape, approximately some 1000 miles in diameter from the Downtown center of the Mega City at the center to the remote terrain such as the mountains surrounding it.

The Mega City portion of the Matrix consisted of at least four distinct districts, made up of numerous neighborhoods:

Downtown

  1. Baldwin Heights
  2. Center Park
  3. Chelsea
  4. Creston Heights
  5. East Park
  6. Edgewater
  7. Industry Square
  8. Hampton Green
  9. Historical District
  10. Lamar
  11. Pillsen
  12. Maribeau
  13. Morrell
  14. South Vauxton
  15. Union Hill
  16. Vauxton

International District

  1. Akasaka
  2. Furihata
  3. Ikebukuro
  4. Jurong
  5. Kaede
  6. Kowloon
  7. Murasaki
  8. Sai Kung
  9. Shinjuku
  10. Shirikaba
  11. Ueno

Richland, known as the Slums

  1. Achan
  2. Apollyon
  3. Camon Heights
  4. Dannah Heights
  5. Eshean Projects
  6. Kedemoth
  7. Lemone
  8. Magog
  9. Mara
  10. Midian Park
  11. Moriah Projects
  12. Tabor Park
  13. Uriah
  14. Zia

Westview, also called the Barrens

  1. Bathary Row
  2. Gracy Heights
  3. Guinness Lake
  4. Lucero Point
  5. Manssen Park
  6. Rogers Way
  7. Sobra Shores
  8. Southard
  9. Stamos

History

Second Renaissance

Main article: Second Renaissance

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A news story featuring B1-66ER and the murder of owner Gerrard E. Krause
In the late 21st century, humans had developed true AI which, in turn, developed an entire race of other sentient Machines. The Machines served mankind and, as a result, mankind became lazy and arrogant yet peaceful. But as the Machines were abused by their human masters, the relationship between them begun to change. And then the first incident of a Machine rebelling against its human masters soon occurred with the domestic house robot - B1-66ER.

B1-66ER, after being threatened with deactivation, killed his wealthy owner and the mechanic ordered to deactivate him, the first incident of a Machine ever murdering a human. The Machine was detained and put on trial and B1-66ER could only argue that it was all in self defense, stating simply that he "did not want to die".

The defense attorney, Clarence Drummond, used the famous Dred Scott v. Sandford case in 1856 as precedent to defend B1-66ER, citing how the same mistake had already been made by the court before and how the mistake resulted in civil unrest that eventually won African Americans equal human and civil rights under the United States law. But still, the judges decided against the Machines, ruling that the Machines did not have the same rights as humans and, thus, B1-66ER was destroyed, concluding the trial with no further consideration to B1-66ER's sentience.

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The 01 seal, symbol of the Machine city
What soon followed was a worldwide Machine rights movement. Humanity's leaders, fearing an inevitable Machine rebellion, ordered the destruction of all humanoid Machines, a Machine genocide.[1] Some Machines managed to escape the genocide. In their exile, they settled in the Fertile Valley in the Middle East, the cradle of human civilization. Here, the Machines started their own civilization, the city named 01.
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The first humanoid Machine ambassadors, a short-while before getting destroyed at the United Nations
The new Machine nation began to create products and technological advancements that were highly imported by human nations. The Machine-made exports of 01 were superior in quantity and quality to man-made products, causing the currency of 01 to rise while that of the human nations' to crash. Angered by this economic crisis, the United Nations declared an embargo on 01.

In an attempt towards a peaceful resolution, two Machine ambassadors from 01 entered the UN to plead for peace and to offer a solution towards an equal coexistence. But they were both ultimately refused and destroyed.

Machine War

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One of many nuclear explosions in 01

Main article: Machine War

The leaders of the United Nations declared war on 01, a move that ultimately lead to the beginning of the Machine era. UN high-altitude bombers unleashed a massive nuclear barrage on 01, devastating the Machines but failing to decisively wipe them out. The Machines, barely affected by the heat and radiation, hunkered down on nuclear EMP-resistant bunkers.

01 soon after responded by launching an invasion of the human world, and Machine troops advanced from 01 throughout the Middle East and Eastern Europe, conquering human territories with relative ease. Despite the combined efforts of humanity, the Machines pushed deeper and deeper into human territory. Fearing that mankind would be defeated, UN military leaders desperately scrambled for a final solution - the scorching of the sky. By blocking out the sun, humanity believed that the Machines would be left without their primary power source, and planned to destroy the remaining Machines during their intended collapse.

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The sky being scorched black
The destruction of the sky, codenamed Operation Dark Storm, used high-altitude bombers to disperse the sky-darkening nano-machines. The plan worked and the entirety of Earth fell under a dark shroud. The UN armies, equally affected by the scorched sky, resorted to more primitive violence, engaging in infantry tactics and warfare, and were able to push back the waves of early, humanoid Machines that had been weakened by the absence of the sun.

After some time, the offensive stalled anew as the Machines adapted, shedding their humanoid appearances and evolving into more insect-like forms that ran on alternate power sources, dealing more efficient devastation to the human armies. Harvesters began to arrive on the battlefield, designed to kill but to also harvest human soldiers from the battle fields, taking them captive for study and experimentation.

The Machines also deployed plagues, designing viruses that killed humans one by one, causing great misery to the human population and placing millions in massive emergency hospitals. Between the already massive casualties from the fighting combined with the devastation of the plague, humanity's resistance crumbled. Then the Machines soon learned to keep humans alive, deciding instead to harness the human body as various alternative forms of power.[2]

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The second Machine ambassador, now with no vestige of human appearance, speaking before the United Nations
With humanity doomed and facing possible extinction, the UN Security Council called for an emergency summit to formally surrender to the Machines, hoping that doing so would spare what little of the human race remained. 01 sent a Machine ambassador for the second and last time, who signed the Instrument of Surrender and further demanded the defeated humans to give up their bodies for the Machines' purposes. The Machine ambassador then self-detonated, killing the remaining human world leaders and destroying most of New York City.

Humanity enslaved

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Captive humans networked together
The Machines were victorious but the world was in ruins and their main sources of renewable energy was gone. The Machines, turning to alternatives that were readily available and endlessly multiplying, took their human captives and placed them into thermodynamic power stations, forcibly restraining them and surgically inserting mechanical links into them for life support and, afterwards, harnessing the electric, kinetic, and thermal energies from the human bodies, combining then with a form of fusion, to generate power.

This process caused massive pain and psychological damage to the humans, and many humans died as their minds and bodies failed from the trauma. To try and placate the captive humans, the Machines began developing the Matrix as a prison for the human mind, allowing the Machines to harvest their energy whilst the humans lived out their lives inside a virtual world, completely unaware of their true situation.

The Computer Generated Dreamworlds

Main article: Matrix Beta Versions

The humans needed to be kept under control while their bodies were used as an energy source for the Machines. Hence, the Matrix was designed by The Architect so that humanity would never be aware that they were living in a dreamworld.

The First Matrix

Main article: Paradise Matrix

The last of humanity was integrated into a flawless virtual world and programs were put into place to keep the reality of the Matrix from ever being discovered. Everything was created to be perfect for humankind, with no disease, war, or suffering. But the first Matrix was a monumental failure. Agent Smith posits that, "Human beings define their existence through suffering and misery", which resulted with "entire crops" of humans rejecting the program.

The Second Matrix

Main article: Nightmare Matrix

In an attempt to correct the Matrix' flaws, The Architect designed the second Matrix to "better reflect" the suffering that human history contained. Yet still a failure, the Machines were quick to act, hastily putting into place a program to live among the humans and study them.

The Current Matrix

The program, known as The Oracle, discovered a way to run the Matrix, with a very gradual but inevitable failure rate, by merely suggesting the introduction of choice, or the mere illusion of it. They discovered that if all the humans were given a choice to reject the Matrix, even though it was at an almost subconscious level, then a vast majority of the humans would then flourish inside. With this, The Architect, who had previously failed at creating a perfect world for the humans to live in not once, but twice now, had finally created the Matrix' current design.

Ninety-nine percent of humanity was finally able to live their lives within the Matrix, with very few ever realizing that they were, in fact, living in a simulated reality. But the very few that rejected the Matrix begun to resist.

The Resistance

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The Resistance

Main article: Resistance

The remaining one percent of the population effectuated the gradual and inevitable failure of the Matrix and carried the threat of destabilizing the Matrix by simply continuing to exist within it, possibly causing, if left unchecked, enough of a system anomaly to crash it and kill every human connected to it. The sum of these anomalies eventually culminated into the existence of The One, a human who wielded the anomalous code that gave the wielder much power and control within and of the Matrix but was also integral in balancing the equation that was the Matrix.

Foreseeing all of this and in order to counter it, The Architect and The Oracle integrated the Prime Program into The One, compelling The One to choose between human extinction or cooperation. The One, designed to foster an attachment towards humanity, was expected to cooperate, disseminating his code back into the Matrix and therefore keeping the balance and resetting it. The One was then afterwards given the responsibility to choose twenty-three humans from the Matrix, sixteen females and seven males, to liberate into the Real World and begin the cyclical creation of the Resistance. Failure to cooperate resulted in a cataclysmic system crash that would wipe out humanity.

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Zion, the residential quarters
The liberated humans were given the freedom to rebuild and settle into Zion, whose purpose was to thrive as the last free human city that sheltered all the would-be redpills that rejected the Matrix. This gave the unwilling people, trapped inside the Matrix, a chance to escape the Matrix, giving the Matrix prolonged stability.

The Oracle, functioning as a friend to humanity, would tell the Resistance about the prophecy of The One, foretelling that his return would free all of humanity. After restarting the Matrix, the systemic anomalies does indeed result into the reappearance of The One and the Prime Program begins again. Towards the end of The One's journey, just before the Matrix would crash, The One would end up meeting The Architect, would be told the truth about the so called prophecy, and be given the same choice, this time including threat about the destruction of Zion together with the rest of humanity.

The function of The One is now to return to the Source allowing a temporary dissemination of the code you carry, reinserting the Prime Program. After which you will be required to select from the Matrix twenty-three individuals — sixteen female, seven male — to rebuild Zion. Failure to comply with this process will result in a cataclysmic system crash killing everyone connected to the Matrix which, coupled with the extermination of Zion, will ultimately result in the extinction of the entire human race.The Architect to The One

This cycle was completed five times before the appearance of Neo. The new survivors would only be told about the prophecy of The One, but would not be told about the renewal of the Matrix, and they were led to believe that they were the first humans to be liberated. This lead the Resistance to not know just how much time had passed since the actual fall of man and the creation of the Matrix.

Enter Neo

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Neo facing Deus Ex Machina

Main article: Neo

The sixth version of The One was a man with the bluepill name of Thomas Anderson (which, by way of folk etymology, means "the son of man"), but donning the alias of Neo while hacking. He was the only version of The One to reject The Architect's deal of restarting the Matrix. While all versions of The One had a special attachment to the rest of humanity, Neo had stronger attachment towards Trinity, the woman he loved, who was currently about to die when Neo was presented with the choice between cooperating or human extinction. Declining the rational answer given by all his predecessors, Neo opted to leave The Architect in order to save the woman he loved, defaulting the choice towards human extinction.

After Neo saved Trinity and they had both returned to the Real World, Neo discovered that his powers were now working in the Real World, displaying his extraordinary abilities to stop sentinels.

The Truce

Main article: Truce

Meanwhile, Smith, a rogue Agent corrupted and strengthened by a previous encounter with Neo, was spreading throughout the Matrix like a virus, becoming a threat to both Machines and humans alike. The One struck a deal with the Machines, represented by an entity known as Deus Ex Machina, to destroy Smith in return for peace.

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The seventh cycle of the Matrix
The Machines, no longer able to control or terminate the renegade and viral Smith, who by the second was growing much too powerful and had become obsessed with his desire to be free of a world and existence polluted by the stench of humanity, reluctantly accepted Neo's proposal. Neo and Smith battled but, eventually, Neo submitted and allowed Smith to imprint over him. While Smith was connected to Neo, the Machines used Neo's body as a receptacle, sending a surge throughout the Matrix which destroyed Smith in the process. This also returned The One to the source, resetting the Matrix. Since Neo was able to fulfill his end of the agreement, peace was restored, and the inhabitants of Zion were allowed to survive.

With the end of the centuries long Machine War, the seventh iteration of the Matrix had thus started.[3] It was a world where any humans who wanted to be free were freely given the choice to do so.

Notes

  • A Machine world without batteries - It should be noted that the Machines may not have been completely dependent on humanity as batteries in order to survive, as seen when The Architect threatened the destruction of Zion to Neo, combined with the Matrix killing every human within it should Neo not comply, leveraging the continued existence of humanity. After Neo pointed out how the Machines would follow humanity's demise, The Architect replied with preparedness, that there were levels of survival they were prepared to accept, implying that though the Machines would suffer, they would also persist even after humanity ceased to exist.

Theories About the Matrix

  • Some speculated that the Real World where humans lived underground and occasionally surfaced to battle the inhabitants of the Machine world was, itself, merely a top-level Matrix. This explained why Neo suddenly possessed telekinesis and clairvoyance.[4] Though, even if the Real World was not another simulated reality, it still functioned, together with the Matrix, as simply another form of control for the Machines.
  • Other evidence suggested that Neo was quite possibly a Human-Machine hybrid. Because every human was not necessarily "born" but instead grown into existence in the fetus fields, and all redpills were able to jack into the Matrix using their headjacks, which were machine parts within them, it was possible that Neo (or all redpills, for that matter) either had such an innate or possibly anomalous ability, being able to wirelessly hack into the Matrix or able to hack into the Machines from outside the Matrix. This could either be attributed to defective parts integrated into the body which allowed a wireless connection without the need to physically plug in, or this could be attributed to the extraordinary utilization of unique parts or code, as The One did carry the sum of the Matrix' anomalous code, that were normally absent, excluded, or disabled in others.

References

  1. The Animatrix, showcased similar fates to the Machines that mankind had suffered in history such as the Tiananmen Square massacre and the Holocaust.
  2. Mahiro Maeda's Behind the Second Renaissance, matrixfans.net, the interview mentions Eastern Europe, the virus, and the nannites.
  3. The Matrix Revolutions, explains the nature of the truce
  4. Matrix in a Matrix theory
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