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What or who were the Oracle and the Architect? Were they just computer programs in the Matrix, were they machines or were they themselves humans that were entrusted by the machines to carry out their work?

As some have said the movies do explain what or who they are. So I will add to the question of:

  • how they came to be,
  • why were they created,
  • and (more towards the Architect) why is does he look human? It's not as if he sees anyone. And who controls him as at the end of the third movie? He does not seem to think the peace will last; if he is a simple program then he is not meant to think he is meant to do as he is told.

Also what is with the gold glow around the Oracle, and was the Oracle rebooted as she was killed by virus Smith was she not?

  • Initially, I was about to down-vote this question as having been explained in the movie itself. But then, I remembered that the Oracle's code appeared golden while Agents were the regular Matrix green. There's definitely something unique about the Oracle, and perhaps also the Architect and some others. – Iszi Mar 5 '12 at 14:24
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    It was explained in the movies, in detail. The two of them created the matrix. – user4963 Mar 5 '12 at 14:32
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    @user13095 that doesn't make it a bad question. – Doug T. Mar 5 '12 at 14:49
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    @Doug I'm just responding according to the vote button, 'shows research effort', the question was answered in detail in the movies. – user4963 Mar 5 '12 at 14:59
  • Also you've asked about 8 questions here. I appreciate that they're all related but I'm guessing the answers to some will be more interesting (to you) than others. Try to stay focused – Valorum Mar 15 '14 at 13:23
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They are both old programs, which have been in the Matrix since the beginning (or shortly after). The Oracle tries to help humans, while the architect is more aligned with the machines. In the 3rd movie, the Oracle says her purpose is to bring imbalance to the Matrix, while the Architect tries to do the opposite.

The Oracle is a program designed to investigate the human psyche, making it easier for people to accept the Matrix. The Architect created two versions of the Matrix, a Paradise, and a Nightmare, both of which were rejected by humans. Along with the Oracle, he created the 3rd version, which was accepted by most.

The Oracle helps the One, and anyone following him, to disconnect from the Matrix, which makes the system more stable. The Architect tries to destroy Zion and unite the One with the Source, to also introduce stability for another cycle.

When in the last 2 films, the Oracle helps Neo and Smith rise to power (and unbalances the Matrix), she helps forge a newer, more stable relationship between humans and the machines, and creates a more stable Matrix. The conversation between her and the Architect hints at this, as he tells her she "played a very dangerous game", and she responds that "change always is."

  • The think is if these two are just computer programs then they can not think or play of against each other they can only conflict each other which in turn would create a computer compilation error resulting in the matrix shouting down. All in all they are the issue. – Popeye Mar 5 '12 at 16:54
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    @mattInman: they are independent sentient beings, so of course they can think and play against each other. – Evpok Mar 6 '12 at 0:22
  • @Popeye: Your analogy is focusing on compile time, but the Architect and Oracle operate at runtime (the Matrix and most of the computer world is a production server). Given that you know what compilation errors are, I would assume that I don't need to elaborate how these are different. – Flater Sep 20 '17 at 14:22
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The Oracle

The Oracle is a program from the machine world. This is explicitly confirmed by both her and the Architect in The Matrix Reloaded. The relevant confirmation by the Oracle is:

Oracle: So. Let's get the obvious stuff out of the way.

Neo: You're not human, are you?

Oracle: Well it's tough to get any more obvious than that.

Neo: If I had to guess, I'd say you're a program from the machine world. So is he [Seraph].

Oracle: So far, so good.

The relevant quote by the Architect also explains why she was created:

Architect: I have since come to understand that the answer eluded me because it required a lesser mind, or perhaps a mind less bound by the parameters of perfection. Thus the answer was stumbled upon by another - an intuitive program, initially created to investigate certain aspects of the human psyche. If I am the father of the Matrix, she would undoubtedly be its mother.

Neo: The Oracle.

The Architect

The Architect explains in The Matrix Reloaded why he was created:

I am the Architect. I created the Matrix.

Thus he is allied with the Machines.

The Architect is definitely a machine; in The Matrix Revolutions he rhetorically asks the Oracle if she thinks he is a human:

The Oracle: I have your word?

The Architect: What do you think I am? Human?

This is the most explicit confirmation by him that he is not human.

It is not as clear whether or not he is simply a program within the Matrix or if he is a machine from the real world jacked into the Matrix. Since the Architect calls himself and the Oracle the father and mother of the Matrix, and the Oracle is a program, by symmetry the Architect may only be a program. On the other hand, he must have existed before the Matrix (since he created it) and for that reason may need to be a machine from the real world.

The Architect has a human appearance because as part of the Machines' system he has to explain the choice required of The One -- so he does interact with a human as an important and necessary part of his role. Similarly, the Oracle requires a human appearance to converse with The One.

8

Oracle and Architect are both machines who built the Matrix in the first place. Unlike the agents, they existed before the Matrix was built. So they aren't "just" simple programs but they have an influence in the real world, too.

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    Just because they existed before the Matrix doesn't necessarily mean they still have a machine "body". Programs can enter and leave the Matrix through "programmer backdoors", and through "hacks" like the Train Man's tunnel. The Architect is probably so old, and so integrated with monitoring the Matrix, that he left behind whatever robotic shell he may have had centuries ago. Also remember that machines have purposes; the Architect may well have been created for the express purpose of designing the Matrix, and so may have just lived in a supercomputer his entire existence. – KeithS Mar 5 '12 at 18:47
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    My main point still stands: Agents don't have influence in the real world while these two programs do. Whether they still have real bodies or not doesn't make them special - only their ability to somehow "see" outside and their wider knowledge of what is going on. – Aaron Digulla Mar 6 '12 at 8:02
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Perhaps the greatest theme of the Matrix trilogy is Control vs. Choice.

The Architect represents Control. After the machines defeated humanity, it was the Architect who designed the Matrix to keep humanity under control. He designed the Matrix, but was unable to prevent most of humanity from rejecting the Matrix and waking up. "Entire crops were lost." Losses were unacceptable, so he kept trying and revised his design. It still didn't work.

The Oracle represents Choice. She was created by the Machines to be an opposite "partner" of the Architect (male/white + female/black) to help figure out an efficient system of control over humanity. Her conclusion was that the only way to keep humans under control was to give them a choice of whether to accept the Matrix or not. This meant that there would always be at least a small percentage of humans who would reject the Matrix, so they created Zion as another level of control for those "awake" humans. Both Neo and Smith are the result of her methods. In a way she is the true hero of the story, because it was all part of her plan that A) Smith would eventually become so powerful that he becomes a threat to the entire Machine race, B) the Machines would accept Neo's terms for peace in exchange for defeating Smith, and C) that Neo and Smith would eventually merge and cancel each other out.

1

In my mind, The Oracle represents the feminine aspect of God (Source) and The Architect represents the masculine aspect. Neither of them is good or evil, they leave the good and evil axis up to their creation so that they can watch the tug-o-war without (much) bias. I suppose it's implied that they each had different ideas about good and evil and may be biased towards whether chaos is good and order is evil or the other way around. That's sort of irrelevant though.

It's a beautiful expression of the divine comedy, an infinite amount of games and possibilities inside of an infinite universe. Another movie that has a similar dynamic is "The Book of Life".

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Architect and Oracle are references to system architecture (circuitry) and UNIX (the oldest operating system). The two had to originally work together way back when computer advancements were being imagined and developed to assist humanity, only to lead to human enslavement. Oracle was built for human interaction and while human interaction evolved, she evolved with it. Oracle might have sought out Neo as a suitable architect upgrade (flash BIOS).

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    This doesn't seem to improve upon the two-year-old+ accepted answer, and adds opinions as opposed to verifiable facts which can be cited. You'll get the hang of it. – Meat Trademark Mar 15 '14 at 13:04
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I don't understand why one would call the Oracle and the Architect machines. Machines are mechanical devices, robots, essentially. The machines in question are controlled by programs. These programs are the sentience of the machine world and have been since the beginning. This is a story of a machine/program life form and an organic/human life form, the fundamental difference between them, and their attempt at coexistence.

The architect represents the quintessence of machine life. Perfection. Perfect order. A harmony of mathematical precision, if you will. In trying to create an artificial world for humans the Architect was doomed to failure since human beings require choice/freewill, which cannot exist in a perfectly ordered system

As the Oracle states, the Architect exists to balance the equation and the Oracle serves to unbalance it, resulting in a Matrix acceptable to human life. The problem is choice. Freewill cannot exist in a perfectly ordered world. To me, the Architect/Oracle (Alpha and Omega) scenes are what elevate The Matrix to the top of the sci-fi list. Sheer brilliance.

To wax political for a moment, this is part of the reason why leftism, socialism and communism are failed systems and why leftist ideology has resulted in tyranny and death for millions. Leftism is based on creating Utopia - a perfect society - which of course, cannot exist. Humans require freedom, liberty, free choice - even when that choice results in less than perfect, and occasionally negative or even "evil" outcomes. But I digress.

Getting back to Architect and Oracle... This is not to say that the Architect (perfect order) is God and the Oracle (element of chaos) is the Devil, but one can see a relation. (By the way, I am an atheist and I am not trying to insert religion.) If mankind was perfect like "God" there would be no humanity, no freewill. We would all be identical making no free choices, always behaving in the best, perfect way - following programming. Only with the existence of the opposite end of the continuum, evil, Devil, chaos, as you will, can humans be humans. The Oracle is not evil, not a devil. I am only trying to draw a parallel by saying that mankind must have the free choice that only exists between order and chaos.

I will also add that the perfect machine/program life form has been corrupted by humanity. Programs have learned to embrace emotion and have developed freewill. The exiles...the Merovingian, et al. The only thing I really hated about The Matrix was the ridiculous "battery" explanation of why the machines needed humans. Far better would have been to say that the machines, having developed sentience, required (desired) human interaction for novelty - for our ability to provide "illogic" to their system. We would make a nice "playground" in which the machine life could explore, develop and grow. How boring to only interact with other machines/programs.

I will stop here, because I am not capturing what I truly mean to say and I don't have time to refine these thoughts. Wish I could have put my thoughts down better, but perhaps someone will have something to add.

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