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As Agent Smith said in The Matrix:

Did you know that the first Matrix... was designed to be a perfect human world where none suffered... where everyone would be happy. It was a disaster. No one would accept the program. Entire crops were lost.

I take it to mean that in the first Matrix everybody rejected it and died, but the human race survived. That's why the machines could still have humans for use in the following versions of Matrix.

I just don't understand why the Architect told Neo that if he chose the left the human race would face extermination.

I think that version of Matrix would fail the same way as the Paradise Matrix did, but it would not lead to human extinction.

The Architect couldn't reboot the Matrix because of Neo's irrational choice, but that doesn't mean he cannot rebuild one so that the cycle could continue as before, like from 4.0 to 4.1 to 4.2... If another Neo chooses the left door in 4.X, the Architect could rebuild the Matrix from 5.0 to 5.1...

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    Just as a topic for discussion, "Entire crops were lost" can be interpreted in several ways. It could mean all the humans died, or it could mean they all rejected the Matrix and broke free. Or the phrasing could mean that a significant chunk (but not all) died. Or that a significant chunk (but not all) broke free. – DavidS Feb 10 '16 at 12:49
  • The Architect didn't think it would lead to Zion's destruction, rather he threatened that it would lead to Zion's destruction. The choice was given by The Architect himself, and as a machine, he'd have to carry out his threat as a matter of fact. – Möoz Feb 10 '16 at 22:38
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If Neo chose the door on the left, it wouldn't stop the impending attack on Zion, and his confidence in zion's destruction means they're gone (in his calculations).

The architect states that the 'anomaly' is a growing issue that can only be cured by the dissemination of the One's code into the mainframe. We know that entire crops were lost previously, it's logical to conclude the same or worse would happen if the anomaly were to grow here. He even mentions a system crash that would kill all people connected to the Matrix if the One's code is not absorbed. At a certain point of loss, the human race can no longer sustain it's own existence due to lack of genetic diversity, and would therefore die out.

He's not talking with knowledge, but with calculated certainty. He doesn't have the ability, as a computer program, to factor in the 'human element'. He can't calculate in the possibility of a mother exhibiting great acts of strength to save her child, or a lover going kamikaze to save their own true love's life.

The door on the left is that human element, so to the architect, it is simply the losing option.

  • Makes sense. You cannot avoid mistakes but correct them. Thx! – Kinzle B Feb 10 '16 at 12:54
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    > He can't calculate in the possibility of a mother exhibiting great acts of strength to save her child, or a lover going kamikaze to save their own true love's life. But why not? Surely they are observing human behavior? How could an AI fail to factor in human behavior they'd certainly have witnessed countless times? – Cubic Feb 14 '16 at 22:27
  • simply because it is an outlier. Can every mother lift a car off their child? Maybe. But how do you figure out who? the fun question is... is that really a 'human element' thing or a glitch in the matrix? – WizardKnight Feb 16 '16 at 19:28
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    Zion has well over the minimum required amount of people needed to sustain a civilisation (with regards to genetic diversity). – Parrotmaster Dec 2 '16 at 9:46
  • There's also the possibility that the Architect lies in order to coerce. Neo explicitly tells him that ("You won't do it. you need humans"). The Architect refutes that notion (speaking of "acceptable losses"). However, Neo never engages the Architect on that topic again, and he makes his own decision. It's likely that Neo considered the Architect to be lying (he has no reason to confirm to Neo that he's indeed bluffing), and therefore ignored what the Architect had to say, since he can't trust the correctness of the statements. – Flater Aug 3 '17 at 10:32
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The Architect's conversation with Neo is at times difficult to follow, but the Architect is fairly clear about his threat to the human race:

The Architect: You are here because Zion is about to be destroyed - its every living inhabitant terminated, its entire existence eradicated.

Neo: Bull--.

The Architect: Denial is the most predictable of all human responses, but rest assured, this will be the sixth time we have destroyed it, and we have become exceedingly efficient at it. 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 23 individuals - 16 female, 7 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.

transcript of The Matrix Reloaded

The difference between this threat and the failed Paradise Matrix is that the Machines weren't about to destroy Zion (i.e. kill all the humans outside of the Matrix) when the Paradise Matrix failed. With the Paradise Matrix, any humans not in the Matrix (we don't know if there were any) would have survived. Furthermore, Agent Smith's quote does not suggest that every human in the Paradise Matrix died. If Agent Smith meant to say that every human died, he would have more likely said that "every crop was lost" or "all the crops were lost". Since humanity did not go extinct with the failure of the Paradise Matrix it must be the case that some humans survived, either inside or outside of the Paradise Matrix when it crashed.

The important thing about the Architect's threat is that the Architect is blackmailing Neo with the extinction of humanity so that Neo would choose to return to the Source and restart the cycle. He might be exaggerating when he says that a system crash of the Matrix would kill everyone. Even Neo initially doubted that the Architect's threat was true:

Neo: You won't let it happen. You can't. You need human beings to survive.

The Architect: There are levels of survival we are prepared to accept. However, the relevant issue is whether or not you are ready to accept the responsibility of the death of every human being on this world.

transcript of The Matrix Reloaded

Since the Architect was blackmailing Neo, he might not have actually believed that all the humans in the Matrix would die (although the Machines might kill any survivors to make good on their threat to cause the extinction of humanity). The Architect's threat just had to be convincing enough that Neo would believe him, and the Architect thought that was the case since (a) it would be irrational to ignore the threat and take a chance on all of humanity, and (b) all the previous Ones had believed the threat and returned to the Source.

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Well, Smith says

No one would accept the program. Entire crops were lost.

while the Architect says

will result in a cataclysmic system crash, killing everyone connected

The original version didn't let people choose, they wanted out, and died. But it doesn't say it crashed.

The later versions would let people out but this way the program could crash.

I think it's the crash what would kill the connected people.

The Kid saved himself when he exited the Matrix on his own but didn't die. Dan Davis in Word Record woke up but didn't die.

I think people don't die when they exit. The 'crops were lost' because people left. Also they maybe couldn't survive without Zion yet.

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Although there are other answers that accurately describe the Architect's intentions, I believe he is, in fact, lying when he says the human race will become extinct. This is because there is a third, rather sizable, population of humans that are neither connected to the Matrix nor living in Zion and is rather easy to forget about: the babies.

Morpheus explains in "The Matrix" that there are endless fields where human beings are no longer born - they are grown. The movie shows us these fields and we can see that the babies are first gestated in pods on "trees" before being "picked" and placed within a tub where they are plugged into the Matrix. So even if Zion is destroyed and everyone in the Matrix killed, the babies still on the trees would survive and could be used to populate the next iteration of the Matrix. It seems likely that this is what happened when the first two Matrices failed (Smith only talks about the one but the Architect mentions a second failed Matrix).

So when Agent Smith says entire crops are lost, I believe he's referring to the harvested people that were connected to the Matrix at the time but not to the ones that were still growing on the trees.

That said, the destruction of both the Matrix and Zion would mean that there would be a period of time where no humans were being harvested for energy and the machines would indeed have to accept a new level of survival but that would only be temporary. Once the next wave of babies matured enough, energy production would be right back up to normal.

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Zion will be destroyed, period. Neo just has a chance to save like, twenty people. He decides to not save twenty people and instead risk everything.

Think of it this way. The Matrix is a computer and the humans are the power source. Neo and Smith are both viruses who are capable of permanently destroying the Matrix (effectively killing all the humans inside of it). If Neo does not 'reboot' himself, he will become too strong and inadvertently destroy EVERYTHING. So either he can pick twenty humans to survive Zion while the Matrix reboots, or he can destroy the Matrix aaanndddd everyone dies. He doesn't like either option and tries to invent a third outcome where everyone in Zion survives, mostly.

It is important to note that the Architect does not know about Smith at this point, so everything he's telling Neo is pointless. Smith is just as powerful as Neo and is already halfway finished destroying the Matrix (uh oh).

In Revolution, Neo realizes that Smith is basically an evil version of himself and that he should probably do something about it. He strikes a deal with the machines; spare humanity if he can kill Smith. And we know how that turned out...

So the Architect got to reboot the Matrix and Zion got to survive. Everyone is happy, at least until someone starts beef with the machines again. Remember that the Matrix is not totally evil; at this point it's the only thing most humans alive. Neo and the Chancellor discuss this on the engineering level, how humans and machines have become dependent on each other.

Another Neo might show up in about twenty years, because that's what happens when the Matrix isn't a perfect little heaven. But I doubt anyone is going to make THAT movie.

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    Welcome to SFF! This seems to be a nicely reasoned first answer! It would be improved if you could edit in some sources/evidence though! – TheLethalCarrot Jun 25 '18 at 8:08

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