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March 13, 2006

Steven Den Beste Explains "The Matrix," In Engineering Terms

His best effort to make sense of the silliness.

This is what turned me off of the first movie. It was simply too stupid. It ruined everything for me:

What we hear in the first movie about using humans as a power source is nonsense; humans consume energy, they don't produce it. The reality is that the captive humans in the Matrix exist so that the Machines have something to do. That was their solution to the apparent paradox of needing humans to serve but also needing to not be enslaved by humans. The humans were enslaved by the Machines, and Machines assumed full control over deciding what kind of service they would provide to those humans.

Here's the alternative explanation I provided in my own head. Morpheus is an idiot. The humans don't produce energy; as den Beste notes, that's just fucking retarded.

No. The Machines' true supercomputer is a cyborg system. All those humans have been put into comas in order to use their brains -- their natural, organic computers -- as a massively-parallel organic/cybernetic computer system.

Why did they invent the Matrix, the dreamworld for the humans' brains to work in? For two reasons: In the guise of "living out their lives" and doing mundane tasks at work, they're really doing the computations and work the giant cyborg computer requires. When Neo is coding at work, he's really doing task the giant computer requires for one purpose of another. He's doing actual work by dreaming of doing work.

(What about janitors? Well, either they're "metaphorically" doing work -- their brains are being used to do computer work by imagining they're doing certain physical tasks -- or else there really aren't any true human janitors in the Matrix. Perhaps janitors and those whose work isn't directly applicable to computer processing don't really exist; they're fake comptuer-created characters in the Matrix, for the purpose of versimilitude.)

Also, it's necessary to give the comatose-but-still-sentient beings a world to "interact with," or else they'll simply go insane from being prisoners in a machine and thus will not be able to contribute to the supercyborgcomputer's processing power.

I kind of like that explanation. I'm not sure what den Beste would say about it-- maybe it's as daffy as the "humans provide energy" explanation -- but it sounds good to me.

That said, even with that user-provided edit, the movies (especially the sequels, but even the superior original) are still pretty sucky and dumb.

And irresponsible. Murdering all those innocent security guards and cops, who are, in fact, real human beings who can be killed by dreamworld violence? There are some messages that I think are just blantantly irresponsible and borderline evil to send, especially packaged in a nice little teen-friendly action movie.

Thanks to John S. for the tip.

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posted by Ace at 03:26 PM

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