The Architect is a highly specialized, humorless program of the Machine world as well as the creator of the Matrix. As the chief administrator of the system, he is possibly a collective manifestation, or at the very least a virtual representation of the entire Machine mainframe.
Constructing the Matrix Prototypes EditThe Architect was constructed by other machines resembling a human to understand the nature of humans. He created the very first Matrix as a utopia for the humans whose minds inhabited it to keep them subdued while their body heat was used as energy by the Machines. However, the human minds rejected this first attempt as a perfect world and so this Matrix crashed. A second attempt added "vulgarities" of human nature and a basic cause and effect, but this beta was also a failure.
The Architect turned to a more human intuitive program designed to understand human nature and psychology to augment the framework of the next Matrix. This time, the power of choice was added to the programming, where humans would be allowed the power to choose, even if the person was only aware of the choice on a vague, subconscious level. This version of the Matrix worked, except that choice itself would continuously result in an escalating probability of an "anomaly", which if left unchecked would ultimately cause another system crash.
The Architect noted that the Matrix was not as perfect as he would have wanted. The choice-programming that stabilized the first iteration of the Matrix was also causing its destabilization. In approximately a hundred years' time, a reload of the Matrix would be required. There was also the matter of Zion, which could not be allowed to grow too large, lest humanity became a threat to the Machines again.
One significant anomaly appeared two-thirds into the Matrix's first cycle. A man was born with control of additional Matrix programming that actually came from the Source. The Architect tried to remove this anomaly, to no avail. However, he would find a way to work with this human and return the critical Source code he carried for the eventual reloading of the Matrix.
A New Matrix Edit
Together with the human intuitive program (which could be considered the "mother" of the Matrix as the Architect could be considered the "father"), the concept of the Prophecy was formed. The intuitive program (known to the humans as the Oracle) would tell of this story to the small members of a human resistance that periodically infiltrated the Matrix, who would find the anomaly and help him to find the Architect's hidden room deep within a fortified building. There, the Architect would use his measures of control to keep the Anomaly, and in turn both Zion and the Matrix, in check.
In each of the first five cycles of the Matrix, the Anomaly, known to the humans as the One, would manifest itself within the Matrix and eventually find the Architect and his hidden lair. There, the Architect (who is also bound by the choice-programming within his own creation) presents the One with two doors of exit. One door leads to the Source. The second door returns to the Matrix proper. The Architect tells Neo that, even as they speak, Zion is about to be utterly and totally destroyed. He states that the function of the One is to save humanity, and the key is which door the One chooses to use as the exit from the Architects' lair.
If the One does not choose the door to the Source, this will lead to an eventual catastrophic system crash of the Matrix. Given that the only remaining humans (after Zion's destruction) remain in the Matrix and will all die if it crashes, humanity as a species will be annihilated. Choosing the door to the Source, however, will preserve the Matrix. Everyone in Zion will still die, but, the Architect explains, the One will select seven males and sixteen females from the Matrix to repopulate and rebuild Zion.
In each of these cycles, the One enters the door to the Source, the Matrix is reloaded, Zion is destroyed but is then repopulated under the One's mentorship.
The Sixth One EditOn the sixth iteration, Neo, the sixth Anomaly, appears on schedule before the Architect. The Architect is surprised that this One, unlike his predecessors, is quicker of thought. This sixth Anomaly possesses the same dispensation for protecting humanity as the others, but unlike the previous Ones has a deep attachment to one human: a Zion resistance member named Trinity. The Architect delivers the usual speech and threat, but can already see that, unlike the previous five incarnations of the One, Neo will not comply. Neo leaves the Architect to save his love, and leaves the future of the Matrix in doubt.
The Oracle tells Neo more about the Architect at their final meeting. She says that the Architect's purpose is to balance the equations of the Matrix, but her purpose is to unbalance the same equations. She tells Neo to head to the true location of the Source, the Machine City, to save not only humanity, but the Machine world as well. She also tells Neo not to worry about the Architect's 'prediction' that Zion would be destroyed, as the Architect can't see past the equations of things as part of his purpose which limits his ability to view things.
After Neo's destruction of Smith, the Machines gather Neo's body and successfully reload the Matrix. The Machines also oblige the truce that Neo bartered, calling off the attack of Zion and leaving the two worlds at peace. The Architect meets with the Oracle and speaks of the "dangerous game" that she played, and acknowledges that the truce will be honored, although he doubts it will last very long. The Oracle asks him what will happen to the ones who want out of the Matrix, to which the Architect replies they will be freed. The Oracle asks if she has his word, to which he replies "What do you think I am? Human?", implying he has a low opinion of humans and their tendency to break promises, whereas he will keep his.
The Matrix OnlineEdit
The Architect appears as a leader of the Machinists in the The Matrix Online. After finding out about the Zionites' construction of New Zion, the Architect promptly calls off the truce and would no longer accept freeing any more humans.
As a machine created by machines, when being confronted by Neo the Architect displayed little emotion. He was cold, analytical, logical, pragmatic and clearly possessed of an attitude of superiority. An exceptionally brilliant AI, the Architect was extremely intelligent as he was able to create the Matrix and its predecessors. He infused it with the concept of cause and effect, and, eventually, choice (something which he is also bound by). However, despite his high intellect, the Architect was capable of making errors, as shown when the previous five Matrices failed. Although he displayed little emotion, the Architect did experience them. For instance, he expressed to Neo that he became gradually frustrated after the predecessors of the Matrix were all failures. The Architect was familiar with the concept of love; he understood that emotions overpowered logic and reason and he knew that Neo would save Trinity instead of Zion.
He was capable of surprise as well: the Architect was intrigued that Neo appeared to be more quick-thinking than the Ones that preceded him. The Architect also showed signs of misanthropy, smirking in contempt (also an emotion) when Neo displayed hope in choosing the door to re-enter the Matrix. And again as – near the end – he revealed his low opinion of humanity when asked by the Oracle if she had his word that he would honor the truce and he replied "What do you think I am? Human?"
The Architect's appearance is likely a homage to Sigmund Freud (who was considered by social psychologist Erich Fromm to be one of the "architects" of the modern age). He also resembles Vinton Cerf, who is one of the creators of the internet, and Andrew Carnegie, an 1800s steelworker and eventually the richest man in the world. In terms of role in the plot, he can be compared to the gnostic/platonic concept of the Demiurge, as he is ultimately responsible for the existence of the Matrix, the "fake reality" in which humanity is trapped.
Likewise, in his white suit and beard, he may possibly be a depiction of a rather modern variation of the stereotypical Judeo-Christian God, which some gnostic sects interpret as being the identity of the Demiurge, as he pretends to be the highest being; the real God transcends the false reality and is incomprehensible to the human mind. Cornel West, the person who played Councillor West, and a source of inspiration for the Wachowskis via his 1982 book Prophesy Deliverance, has implied that he was meant to represent the Judeo-Christian God of the New Testament, citing that the Architect scene was meant to be "a devastating critique/twist of salvation stories."
Within Freemasonry, God is referred to as "the Great Architect", and is artistically depicted in a similar manner. As yet another religious connection, the Architect and the Oracle resemble the two Hindu deities Lord Brahma, (who is a male, corresponding with the Architect, and is usually also depicted with white or pale skin) and Kali Ma, the Goddess of Time (hence clairvoyance) and change. (Who corresponds with the Oracle, and is generally depicted as being jet black).
Given the presence of the Indian girl Sati and her parents at the end of the second film, it is likely that the producers of the films either consciously intended this association, or at least knew about it.
The scene where the Architect and Neo encounter each other was similar to the Patriots contacting Raiden in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, namely in that both were the ones who were responsible for the events in question, revealed the truth about what had occurred, and also attempted to entice Neo/Raiden into doing their bidding, although a notable difference is that the Architect, while mocking Neo for choosing Trinity over fulfilling his role as the One, nonetheless allowed him to do so without stopping him, while the Patriots forced Raiden to do their bidding by threatening to kill both Olga's child and his then-girlfriend Rosemary. As the producers of the movies and the producer of Metal Gear Solid 2, the Wachowskis and Hideo Kojima, respectively, were real life friends and the latter also admitted that elements from the first film inspired him to create Metal Gear Solid 2 with several of the same themes, it's likely that the similarities were deliberate.