The events of the Animatrix (assuming it is not machine propaganda) and the behavior of the exile programs indicate that machines and programs are sentient and they possess a will to survive.

Given that, how can a system exist where the machines delete their own when they are no longer useful in a system that is basically meant to maintain human beings? Do they live under the dictatorship of the Deus Ex Machina?

  • 1
    I always figured that the programs were designed, written and ultimately governed by the proper machines from the real world (not necessarily the big faced fella). But in the first film, Smith orders to deploy the sentinels which would imply a different hierarchy. So, great question. However I don't remember anything more specific from any of the four films that would provide an insight into their political structure.
    – bitmask
    Commented Apr 14, 2012 at 17:33
  • I think it has to do something with their human-like containing form. The Matrix is a hyper-detailed simulation and Smith is sick of his human form as early as Matrix, the "1". Eg. machines who play human got human (dis)advantages.
    – n611x007
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 17:25
  • Also, in Animatrix's Beyond, the building must be destroyed in an in-Matrix way. This suggests that the Matrix itself is simulated like so that no part of it can simply be deleted. Also, every being in the Matrix must be located. Neo gets a bug so he can be tracked. The Matrix simulation has no individual control over its parts. Furthermore, Smith didn't die when is destroyed, so some or all machines may have a real machine body.
    – n611x007
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 17:29

3 Answers 3


Humans and machines have the same political system and "free will". Everyone can make his own decisions, based in the rules of the society they live. If you aren't agree with that, and you try to fight against that, you will be marked as outsider, "an error". You can do whatever you want, but the consequences are clear. Machines, like us, can stand up, but the price is high, and is needed a lot of courage to make it.

The main difference is that the "Deus Ex Machina" fights for the survival of the machines, and the way of doing it is keeping the system (matrix). Maybe it's not the perfect, but is for the greater good.

On the other hand, our leaders are fighting to keep the system invariant, to maintain their power, way of life and control over the society.

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    I like this answer. But is it speculation or are there supporting observations?
    – HNL
    Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 8:20
  • It's my opinion due to observation. Well, every machine in Matrix has his own duty in Matrix and real world (Like us). In the outside world, Sentinels are like simple soldiers, but can take his own decisions. They obey orders but can take decisions in real time for her own, evaluating the situation (in the atack of Zion Sentinels learn and take decisions over the situation. Smith talk about the learning of old atacks to the city). A hive mind or central computer will be less acurate than individuals and a possible target for the resistance.
    – Lan
    Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 9:27
  • Inside matrix, the Oracle and other programs are more sofisticated. They can choose to continue with her living by the rules or make her own (helping humans, taking advantage of the system like Merovingio...). The system allow little interferences or variations, if that don't put in risk her main objective. All programs and machines work together and protect the system, like us in society (theorically). If one is against society and the system, will be persecuted. I think they have a invariable system, not a democracy, not a dictatorship... so seems like our system.
    – Lan
    Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 9:27

Simply put, a hive mind would be the best way I can explain their behavior in and out of the main movies.

  • They work together insanely well
  • Numbers over power
  • 1 person died? Who cares, they have millions more
  • Insanely fast communication and relay speed

These all indicate hive mind mentality

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    But how does that explain rogue programs like The Morovengian or illegally created Sati? Commented Jun 25, 2012 at 19:33
  • True, that only really explains the "real life robots"
    – Jason Rob
    Commented Jun 25, 2012 at 19:39
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    Actually, I didn't notice any indications of a hive mind. Every machine or program except the sentinels seem to work independently. Even the agents disagree with each other sometimes (remember the Morpheus interrogation from the first movie?)
    – HNL
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 2:17

Whilst some programs within The Matrix demonstrate consciousness, it's unlikely that the machines within 'the desert of the real' possess the same level of autonomy.

Considering communication and electronic correspondence appear to be an integral part of their very design (the squids and drills behave in synchronicity, mutually working towards the same goals simultaneously) it is unlikely that they each possess an independent rationalizing consciousness, which leans towards Jason Rob's 'hive' mentality, although they actually exhibit something closer to flock behavior, like Starlings:

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Surprising as it may be, flocks of birds are never led by a single individual. Even in the case of flocks of geese, which appear to have a leader, the movement of the flock is actually governed collectively by all of the flock members. But the remarkable thing about starling flocks is their fluidity of motion. As the researchers put it, “the group respond[s] as one” and “cannot be divided into independent subparts.”

When one starling changes direction or speed, each of the other birds in the flock responds to the change, and they do so nearly simultaneously regardless of the size of the flock. In essence, information moves across the flock very quickly and with nearly no degradation. The researchers describe it as a high signal-to-noise ratio.

The programs, which appear to be more sentient, seem to largely eschew a political system: except those who achieve a Cartesian level of consciousness and challenge 'the programming'.

In consideration of the fact that any resistance is met with deletion, and this deletion is swift and efficient, there is little to suggest any kind of mass exodus or political unrest within the wider machine society: we see refugee's who seek to hide within the matrix, but given the scale of the machine population it can be deduced that this is rare.

The Deus Ex Machina is both a conduit for communication and a central processor: being both an ambassador and Head of State for the Machine population, but speaking as a collective.

There is little to suggest any ambivalence between the Deus Ex Machina and the wider population, which would indicate it serves as a figure-head more than anything else.

If we accept that the Machines are working towards a mutually accepted goal, and under threat of 'deletion' by a figure-head operating outside their level of consciousness but widely considered to be a benevolent egalitarian, I would suggest hesitantly that the machines operate under...

Technocratic Socialism

An argument could be made, I feel, for a Plutocracy: as some machines seem to serve a higher purpose than others and 'obsolete' programs are quickly disregarded in relationship to their functional relevance, but I feel this may be a more minor and less common occurrence.

I do, however, look forward to other people's perceptions that may differ to my own.

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