During his private interrogation with Morpheus, Smith reveals to him that Zion is going to be destroyed, so there will be no need for him to be in the Matrix.

But why would he want to get inside Zion? He would probably be eliminated together with the fallen Zion. Even if he somehow got free, would he survive in the form of a program residing in Zion's mainframe?

He associated his longed-for freedom with the access codes. Besides, he obviously didn't want to let the other agents know his real thoughts, so he ordered them out of the room.

Smith to Morpheus in M1:

I can taste ... your stink. And every time I do, I fear that I have somehow been infected by it. It's repulsive. Isn't it?

I must get out of here. I must get free. And in this mind is the key. My key.

Once Zion is destroyed, there is no need for me to be here. Do you understand? I need the codes.

I have to get inside Zion... ...and you have to tell me how. You're going to tell me... ...or you're going to die.

Smith's underlying motive to get the codes is clearly different from the other agents' assigned purpose.

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    Smith isn't a sentinel, he's a computer program that lives in the Matrix – Valorum Feb 9 '16 at 9:51
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    The ability to communicate with the sentinels doesn't make him a sentinel – Valorum Feb 9 '16 at 10:04
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    The link I gave says: this is also confirmed by The Matrix Online video game when the General (who commands red-eye Agents according to Agent Pace) says, "Not all bees follow the hive" (sentinels were purposely given a "buzzing" sound in the movies in order to creep people out more during sentinel scenes). @Richard – Kinzle B Feb 9 '16 at 10:14
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    Also, what use would an Agent be if they had to jack into the Matrix? They are essentially anti-virus software - they have to be active all the time to be effective. – DavidS Feb 9 '16 at 10:37
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    @kinzle-b Covert motive? There isn't one, he's being truthful - he hates being trapped inside the Matrix with humans. He finds them disgusting, and fears they have "infected" him with their stink. If he gets inside Zion (aka inside Zions computer network using Morpheuses codes) he can deactivate the defenses and the machines can walk right in and destroy the Resistance. No Resistance, no need for agents, so Smith can be released from the Matrix. – DavidS Feb 9 '16 at 10:52

As far as the Agents are concerned, the codes aren't needed because they're trying to get into Zion, they're needed because it will help them to destroy Zion. To that end they need the codes to the mainframe in order to locate the city, and facilitate its destruction, presumably by shutting down their point-defenses, open security gates, etc.

Obviously (and wholly unbeknownst to the Zionese) the Machine Mainframe actually knows full well where Zion is and can wipe them out at any time of their choosing, regardless of the possession of the codes.

Since Smith's purpose is to destroy Zion, once that's achieved he can leave the "zoo" and return to The Source, something that's apparently both normal and highly desirable for programs whose functions are completed/obsoleted.

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    That was indeed what Smith wanted; see my edit. not my downvote, btw. – Kinzle B Feb 9 '16 at 9:56
  • Hopefully a little clearer now – Valorum Feb 9 '16 at 12:49
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    Yup, it's clearer. But you didn't address how Smith thought he could be freed if he got the codes. I think he could only be deleted afterwards, since the system would have no use for him. That was also his secret which he would only share with Morpheus. Returning to the source obviously is not the reason he could get freed. There must be another level of meaning. @Richard. – Kinzle B Feb 9 '16 at 12:57
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    I got your point! "Once Zion is destroyed, there is no need for me to be here." That was actually what Smith wanted. He wanted to leave the Matrix, far from the stink that made him disgusted. I thought no need for him was his fear of becoming obsolete. Perhaps the only thing he didn't want to share with the other agents was his hatred for the Matrix. Ironically, he got free in a way he would never have expected, a virus. – Kinzle B Feb 9 '16 at 13:28
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    @NathanS - The Architect states that Neo's task is to select individuals to help him to 'rebuild' Zion. The implication is that they're not going to build an entirely new city, they're going to 'discover' a disused Zion and use that as their base. It stands to reason that they can't know that the city was previously occupied and repeatedly destroyed so the machines must be repairing the damage they caused (in their attack) and resealing the city. – Valorum Aug 7 '20 at 15:04

The matrix isn't the machine world, it is simply a simulation construct for the human mind. Smith wishes to leave the matrix so he can go on and be part of the machine world again, which he is not able to do while locked in the matrix. He wants a machine body and machine purpose that isn't baby sitting humanity and delinquent machines and as far as the machines are concerned the worst part of humanity and machine delinquents, those which are causing trouble.

Become human is just another form for him to multiply into in order to facilitate the desire to no longer need to be in a human form. He goes into the human world to cause trouble. Obviously he doesn't handle it very well and goes more insane rather than anything else. Being human and being a simulation of a human in the matrix aren't the same thing.

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    +1. You are the one to connect the dots. I really admire you! :) – Kinzle B Feb 9 '16 at 14:37
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    There's no evidence that Smith wants a machine body. If anything, his goal is oblivion. – Valorum Feb 9 '16 at 19:32
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    His goal is to get out of the matrix regardless whether that means oblivion or repurposing. That's not indicated nor hinted at in the story. I assume repurposing because the prime directive of life is to survive, but you could be right. – Escoce Feb 9 '16 at 20:12
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    I would agree with Escoce because that's what Kamala and Rama-Kandra were supposed to do, namely returning to the machine world and fulfilling their purpose. I think Smith would wish the same. At least this answer is not a wild guess. @Richard – Kinzle B Feb 9 '16 at 20:24
  • @Escoce - You seem to be mixing the Smith portrayed in the sequels with Smith, as portrayed in the original Matrix film. His motivations change dramatically after his encounter with Neo. – Valorum Feb 9 '16 at 20:29

Did it cross your mind that Smith may actually be decadent and wishing for death?

Given Smith's attitude in the cited scene it may be the case. Maybe Smith wants to be released in a sense to transcend the Matrix via its (Smith's) death, or simply stop sensing.

Maybe Smith cannot die - even if it wants to? The system resurrects Smith each time it dies.

We cannot know for sure but if you consider that Smith had had enough with the Matrix already yet the Matrix resurrects Smith each time it dies, it makes sense. Maybe Smith doesn't care what happens with itself, just wants to let go.

Correspondingly, when the access codes are obtained, Smith can 'relax' and stop being in 'the zoo'.

I think Smith's behaviour and words in the sequels are aligned with this theory, especially the ending.

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    I don't think Smith knew the iteration of the Matrix at that moment. He only knew there had been a paradise Matrix which was too perfect to be accepted by human. – Kinzle B Feb 9 '16 at 13:37
  • @KinzleB Smith doesn't need to know that iteration at that moment. The main point is that the Matrix resurrects Smith probably, when Smith gets hit by a train, when falling to its death, etc. No matter what, and Smith just wants to end that cycle, regardless of its life. – n611x007 Feb 9 '16 at 13:39
  • Since Smith didn't know the existence of the iteration, he would probably thought he could be retired forever once Zion was destroyed. – Kinzle B Feb 9 '16 at 13:41
  • @KinzleB yes. I don't see your point with bringing up the iteration. I assume you mean the iteration of the matrix versions. Probably your concern is that I speak about the ending in the sequels. Let me clarify. I think when Smith talks to Morpheus it doesn't know about the iterations. Yet wants to die to be released. Once Neo destroys Smith the surprise of not being dead surprises Smith and thus its behaviour is changed. By the time of the ending obviously Smith knows more about the iterations but what I meant that its talking attitude at the ending still shows Smith's wish to be released. – n611x007 Feb 9 '16 at 13:49
  • But part of your answer is predicated on the premise that Smith knew the iteration of the Matrix versions. That's why I brought up the concept. – Kinzle B Feb 9 '16 at 13:56

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