The Architect is a highly specialized, emotionally desolate program of the Machine world, as well as the creator of the Matrix. As the primary superintendent of the system, he is possibly a collective materialisation, or at the very least a virtual representation of the entire Machine mainframe.
Constructing the Matrix Prototypes
The 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 at 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 conceptualise anthropological nature and psychology to inaugurate the framework of the consecutive Matrix. In the next iteration, the mechanism of choice was implemented into the simulation, where humans would be imbued with more autonomy of choice, even if the person was only aware of the choice superficially. This iteration of the Matrix succeeded, except that choice itself would continuously culminate in an inevitable probability of an "anomaly", which - if left unchecked would ultimately decimate the system - facilitating humanity's extinction and the Machines destitute of their only feasible energy source.
The Architect explicated that the Matrix was not as perfect as he endeavoured. The choice-programming that stabilized the first iteration of the Matrix was mutualistic with its destabilization. In approximately a hundred years' time, a reload of the Matrix would be necessitated to negate the impending probability of decimation. There was also the matter of Zion, which could not be permitted to expand in populous and eminence, lest humanity became a threat to the Machines again.
One significant anomaly appeared two-thirds into the Matrix's first cycle. A human was imbued with control of additional Matrix programming, and an instrinsic, metaphysical conceptulisation of the Matrix that was derived from the Source. The Architect endeavoured to remove this anomaly, to no avail. However, he would devise a means to coerce this human to return the critical Source code he carried for the eventual reloading of the Matrix.
A New Matrix
Your life is the sum of a remainder of an unbalanced equation inherent to the programming of the Matrix. You are the eventuality of an anomaly which, despite my sincerest efforts, I have been unable to eliminate from what is otherwise, a harmony of mathematical precision.”
― The Architect explains the origins of The One to Neo[src]
Together with the human intuitive program, the concept of the Prophecy was formed. The intuitive program would tell of this parable to members of the human resistance that periodically infiltrated the Matrix, who begun referring to the program as The Oracle. The Resistance would - in turn, pursue the anomaly and assist them to find The Architect's hidden room deep within a fortified building. There, The Architect would use his measures of control to superintent the Anomaly, and in turn both Zion and the Matrix.
In each of the first five cycles of the Matrix, the Anomaly, intonated to the humans as The One, would materialise itself within the Matrix and inevitably pursue The Architect in his concealed, surveillance lair. There, The Architect (who is also constrained by the choice-programming within his own creation) presents The One with two doors of exit; one door leads to the Source, whilst the second door returns to the Matrix simulation. The Architect elucidates to Neo that - even as they speak, Zion is imposed under imminent destruction- "To be utterly and totally destroyed." He states that the function of The One is to salvage 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 culminate in an eventual, catastrophic system crash of the Matrix, resulting deaths of all humans imbedded into the system, and thus - the extinction of the human race as Zion will be decimated, as well. Subsequently, the Machines will be destitute of their main energy source, though The Architect explicates that they'll be able to compensate for the expenditure. 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 inaugurate Zion.
In each of these iterations, The One chose the door to the Source, reloading the Matrix to facilitate Zion's destruction, and superintend the city's repopulation and restoration for the next cycle.
The Sixth One
On the sixth iteration, Neo, the sixth Anomaly, presents as anticipated 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 contrary the previous Ones, has a intrinsic infatuation for one human: a Zion resistance member named Trinity. The Architect orates the convential speech and menaces, but is perceptive that - unlike the previous five reincarnations of The One, Neo will not comply. Neo leaves The Architect to save his love - presumably jeopardising the foreseeable future of Matrix.
The Oracle divulges more to Neo about The Architect at their final interaction. She explicates that The Architect's objective is to balance the equations of the Matrix, but her purpose is to unbalance the same equations. She cautions Neo to pursue the legitimate location of the Source - in Machine City, to redeem not only humanity, but the Machine world, as well. She also tells Neo not to concern himself with The Architect's trivial 'prediction' that Zion would be destroyed, as The Architect can't conceptualise past the equations of things as a constituent of purpose, which impedes the variability in his thought.
After Neo's destruction of Smith, the Machines salvage Neo's body and successfully reload the Matrix. The Machines also oblige to the truce that Neo bartered, withdrawing the attack of Zion to inaugurate peace between the two worlds. The Architect meets with The Oracle and speaks of the "dangerous game" that she engaged in, and acknowledges that the truce will be adhered to, although he doubts the sustainability of such. The Oracle asks him what will happen to the ones who want out of the Matrix, to which The Architect replies that 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 regressive notion of humans and their tendency to perpetuate fallacies and break promises, whereas he adhere to it.
Loss of power
For decades, the Architect kept his word: humans who wanted out of the Matrix were allowed to leave. However, this resulted in an eventual shortage of power sources as too many humans left the Matrix. The outcome of this was the Machine Civil War and the destruction of Zion in direct violation of the Truce. The Analyst used this conflict to usurp control of the Matrix from the Architect, though the Architect's exact fate is not known.
Sixty years after the Truce was first enacted, the Analyst told Neo that The Architect's version of the Matrix was "all fussy facts and equations" because he loved precision and hated the human mind. As a result, The Architect never realized that humans don't care about facts, but rather about fiction and that the only world that matters is the one inside of their own mind.
The Matrix Online
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, which is ironic considering his distaste for emotions such as love. 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 viewed humanity more as pieces of the Matrix program then as individuals and worked to ensure they integrated into the Matrix.
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?", showing that for all his roboticism, he isn't immune to sarcasm.
- 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, Norbert Wiener a mathematician who is considered as the founder of cybernetics, the science of communication and control theory, Andrew Carnegie, an 1800s steelworker and eventually the richest man in the world, and Ray Blanchard, a former sexologist who is known for his disputed research into gender identity disorders.
- Sean Connery was known to have turned down the role of The Architect for The Matrix, thus possibly causing the role to be moved from that film to the sequels instead.
- 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 she 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.