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When I first watched the scene where the Architect told Neo that he was the sixth "One" and that the others had restarted Zion each time when faced with a similar choice, I assumed the Architect was lying as a way to beat the humans and that in reality he was afraid of Neo.

And yet, everything I have read afterward just assumed that the Architect was telling the truth. Why is that assumption being made? He has all the incentive in the world to lie and surely wouldn't have any moral qualms about doing so?

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    Because the Architect doesn't lie. What do you think he is, human? – Valorum Nov 30 '16 at 22:26
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    There is independent corroborating evidence (e.g. the Merovingian, I think even the Oracle) that he's telling the truth. – KutuluMike Nov 30 '16 at 22:38
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    I always thought it makes all more sense if not only there were no more "Ones", but that Neo also isn't the One. This vid explains it better then I can. – Angelo Fuchs Dec 1 '16 at 8:38
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    I'm curious - if you thought The Architect was lying, what did you think was actually happening (both in this film and the sequel)? I mean, the reason Neo didn't enter the Source was due to Trinity, not the Architect. The Architect was arguing that Neo should enter the Source, which was the objective of Neo's mission anyway. So...what exactly was he gaining by lying? – DavidS Dec 1 '16 at 10:35
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    Because iteration is the sincerest form of being a computer (program). – Eric Towers Dec 1 '16 at 16:54
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Neo received confirmation from a couple of different sources (aside from The Architect) that there were previous iterations of the Matrix. This would seem to strongly confirm his story about Zion and the role of The One.

The Oracle

Neo: Then why didn’t you tell me about the Architect? Why didn’t you tell me about Zion, the Ones before me – why didn’t you tell me the truth?

Oracle: Because it wasn’t time for you to know.

The Matrix: Revolutions - Transcript

The Merovingian

Merovingian: Handle us? You’ll handle us? You know, your predecessors had much more respect.

Merovingian: Okay, you have some skill. Kill him.

Merovingian: You see, he’s just a man.

Merovingian: Damn it, woman, you will be the end of me. Mark my words, boy, and mark them well. I have survived your predecessors, and I will survive you!

The Matrix: Reloaded - Transcript

You could also cite the existence of ghosts/werewolves/angels/vampires as being proof positive of the 'nightmare matrix' described by the Architect (the version that supposedly reflected more accurately "the varying grotesqueries of [y]our nature").


Now obviously either/both of them could be lying or simply mistaken, but at that point you have to start questioning whether anything inside the Matrix can be taken at face value.

We the audience are also treated to an extra scenes (involving Smith) that Neo and the Zionese aren't party to.

Smith 1: That went as expected.

Smith 2: Yes.

Smith 1: It’s happening exactly as before.

Smith 2: Well, not exactly.

The Matrix: Reloaded

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    Unless the Merovingian is a very elaborately disguised program that is still part of the machine's Matrix, then he is without question the most trustworthy source of this information. He volunteered this information without any undue pressure, influence, or context. Even the Oracle could be "in" on the lie since she's still an integral part of the system. But the Digital Frenchman actively partakes in activities that are contrary to the structured rules of the Matrix. If he's in on it, then his cover is pretty deep. – Ellesedil Dec 1 '16 at 1:06
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    @Ellesedil - Well indeed. As I said, once you start postulating that "x" is possibly part of an even more elaborate lie, where do you stop? – Valorum Dec 1 '16 at 1:11
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    @Ellesedil Though arguably, the Merovingian is actually one of the essential parts of the system - he's there to give machines the Choice. He really represents the full blown sentiency of the machines, making it obvious they are not just specialized pieces of software, but truly alive, and aware of themselves. However, it doesn't look like the Architect is too happy with his existence, unlike the Oracle, so indeed, going down that rabbit hole leads to madness :) – Luaan Dec 1 '16 at 9:09
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    Smith: "It's happening exactly as before...." – DavidS Dec 1 '16 at 10:31
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    @Luaan - I get the impression that the Merovingian is more like a high-class people-smuggler, tolerated by the machine mainframe because tackling him would cause more harm than it's worth. – Valorum Dec 1 '16 at 11:06
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I haven't watched the movies in years. I'm checking a lot of things on the wiki, so there's a fair chance I'm wrong or overlooking something.

The Architect isn't trying to "beat" the humans. He's trying to establish equilibrium or peace between the humans and the machines. The machines have had opportunities to destroy all of humanity in the past, we have consistently been the ones attacking them. Everything about the biological power generation was hearsay from Morpheus, not a reliable source of objective information.

The Architect is a program of order, of mathematics, which is the reason his attempts to create the Matrix on his own failed. He had to add in choice, free-will personified by the Oracle program, in order to protect the human minds ensconced within the program. Zion was created because even the current Matrix wasn't a perfect simulation. The One exists as a cumulative error in the system, and his path was laid out by the Architect and the Oracle working together to cause a reboot, because they believed that would be the most sustainable solution. The Architect needs Neo to come to his room, and the Matrix only works as long as it does if the choices available to humans are real.

The Architect mentions to the Oracle at the end that she played a "dangerous game" by encouraging Neo to take a different path. She was pushing for Neo to make his own choice (which is her very purpose) unlike the Architect, who pushes for rigid loops. He had no reason to lie to Neo, who exists as a required end point for each Matrix. The Architect knows that he himself is not capable of creating a stable Matrix. Part of this is the Choice that Neo is given, which must remain a valid choice, or else the Matrix would break down again, just as it did in early iterations.

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    That almost makes the films make sense. – Molag Bal Nov 30 '16 at 23:03
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    @amaranth Ah yes, the Matrix is one of those films that would have been way better as a book trilogy. There's only so much information one can cram into a film before an audience is overwhelmed by it. – DBPriGuy Nov 30 '16 at 23:04
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    @DBPriGuy Well, it would also have been a better film trilogy if the Wachowski sisters had had any idea where the story was going to go when they make the first one. The sequels clearly weren't planned from the beginning. – ench Nov 30 '16 at 23:09
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    @ench Not quite: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/36898/… – DBPriGuy Nov 30 '16 at 23:18
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    @ench Mind you, that's not necessarily the choice of the script writers. Many movies were made nonsensical by changes due to test audiences. The example that comes to mind is I am Legend, where the entire movie is spent gradually setting up that the monsters aren't actually monsters, but rather intelligent, caring humans. And then the test audiences didn't like the ending (Robert coming to peace with the "monsters"), and all that setup was just thrown away to present a pathetic (and ridiculous) sacrifice scene. It's even in the name - Robert is the legendary monster. – Luaan Dec 1 '16 at 9:01
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Not all the characters accepted the Architect's claim that Zion would be destroyed unless Neo returned to the Source to reload the Matrix. Morpheus questioned Neo about it:

Morpheus: I don’t understand it. Everything was done as it was supposed to be done. Once The One reaches the Source, the war should be over.

Neo: In 24 hours it will be.

Morpheus: What?

Neo: If we don’t do something in 24 hours, Zion will be destroyed.

Link: What?

Trinity: How do you know that?

Neo: I was told it would happen.

Morpheus: By whom?

Neo: It doesn’t matter. I believed him.

Morpheus: That’s impossible, the prophecy tells us…

Neo: It was a lie, Morpheus. The prophecy was a lie. The One was never meant to end anything. It was all another system of control.

Morpheus: I don’t believe that.

Neo: But you said it yourself – how can the prophecy be true if the war isn’t over? I’m sorry. I know it isn’t easy to hear, but I swear to you it’s the truth.

The Matrix Reloaded (transcript)

Neo told everyone he believed the Architect so the others accepted it (since Neo is the One, after all). Neo seems to have believed mainly because the prophecy of the One was disproved by the fact that the war wasn't over. Although the prophecy wasn't true, Neo knew that the Oracle more or less predicted what the Architect told him and Neo still seemed to trust her:

Neo: You’re not human, are you?

The 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.

The Oracle: So far, so good.

Neo: But if that’s true, that can mean you are a part of this system, another kind of control.

The Oracle: Keep going.

Neo: I suppose the most obvious question is, how can I trust you?

The Oracle: Bingo! It is a pickle, no doubt about it. The bad news is there’s no way if you can really know whether I’m here to help you or not. So it’s really up to you. You just have to make up your own damn mind to either accept what I’m going to tell you, or reject it...

Neo: But why help us?

The Oracle: We’re all here to do what we’re all here to do. I’m interested in one thing, Neo, the future. And believe me, I know – the only way to get there is together.

...

The Oracle: [The Source is] where the path of The One ends. You’ve seen it, in your dreams, haven’t you? The door made of light?

Neo: [nods]

The Oracle: What happens when you go through the door?

Neo: I see Trinity, and something happens, something bad. She starts to fall, and then I wake up.

The Oracle: Do you see her die?

Neo: No.

The Oracle: You have the sight now, Neo. You are looking at the world without time.

Neo: Then why can’t I see what happens to her?

The Oracle: We can never see past the choices we don’t understand.

Neo: Are you saying I have to choose whether Trinity lives or dies?

The Oracle: No. You’ve already made the choice, now you have to understand it.

Neo: No, I can’t do that. I won’t.

The Oracle: You have to.

Neo: Why?

The Oracle: Because you’re The One.

Neo: What if I can’t? What happens if I fail?

The Oracle: Then Zion will fall.

The Matrix Reloaded (transcript)

The Oracle told Neo he'd have to make a choice to save Trinity or not, and that if he failed Zion would fall. That's exactly what happened when Neo visited the Architect. Since Neo still trusted the Oracle (despite knowing she's a program) he believed the Architect as well.

There is a lot of corroborating evidence to support the Architect's claims. In addition to the evidence given in @Valorum's answer, the 250,000-strong Machine Army (which Zion already knew about) proved that the Machines were strong enough to destroy Zion. If the Machines had a hidden army powerful enough to destroy Zion it's not hard to believe that they could have done so in the past. Furthermore, the Trainman provided confirmation to Niobe in the (canon) video game Enter the Matrix:

Trainman: 72 hours, 72 hours...

Niobe: What did you just say?

Trainman: That's exactly how long Zion lasted last time.

Transcribed from this Youtube video

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3

It's important to remember that The One, ultimately, is a stalemate where the machines make sure they hold all the cards. The catch that's hard to comprehend here is the cycle of The One

  1. A human sees through the Matrix and realizes he/she can manipulate it by sheer force of will
  2. The Matrix, not knowing how to cope, begins to have errors in response
  3. A war with Zion and The One begins. Presumably there had been many "One"s. If The One dies, the Matrix can return to normal (until the next One). If not, The One is slowly edged to The Source where The Architect is waiting
  4. The One is given the choice: save Zion and let us figure you out so we can reset The Matrix to fix the errors, or let the errors crash The Matrix. With everyone in Zion dead, humanity would be essentially extinct so the previous "One"s chose the only logical path. Neo, however, had a reason to refuse
  5. Zion is restarted with new humans who are told they are the first humans to be freed. The One goes to the machines and presumably dies when they "disseminate" him/her.

The Architect actually has no reason whatsoever to lie at step #4. The concept of The One Cycle is a heady one for the audience, let alone this hero that everyone is counting on. The Architect needs The One to buy what he's saying. Telling lies would be incredibly counterproductive.

I should note that if The Architect had lied to Neo and Neo had simply smashed through him like everything else, the trilogy would have ended more like this

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Saying the Architect lied or told the truth is predicated on a misunderstanding. If you ask someone how did they learn to fly, and they say practice, the lie isn't in the answer but rather in the assumptions of the question itself.

The Matrix movie is about not knowing if you are in the real world, and thinking you are there while being wrong.

To understand the Matrix, you have to go all the way back to the root lie.

The big clue is the lie that the Matrix exists to power the machines. This is a blantantly unreasonably thing to believe, as anyone with even a touch of physics could have told the authors of the movie. So we should assume this lie is an intended lie, and not just something the author's overlooked.

If in the second movie, the "free" humans mentioned they flew to the moon and discovered it was made of green cheese, would you suspect they where not in the real world? What if they turned people into magical power producing batteries? Or built a city "at the Earth's Core" that was not embedded in hyper-pressure molten iron?

The entire social codependency of Machines and Man in the Matrix is predicated on the fact that humans are somehow power sources; and as that fact is an obvious lie, there are implications.

First, it is clear that the Matrix "itself" is a simulation. It would require ridiculous magic or super-science for it not to be. So that remains unchanged.

But, once you realize that first lie, you realize that so is the life outside the Matrix. Nobody in any of the movies ever got outside of the Matrix. There is an inner Matrix, and an outer Matrix. When you "unplug" someone frommthe inner Matrix, you just end up in another, dingier Matrix.

There are many hints to this. They talk about how humans need to feel like there is a way out; and a second Matrix wrapping the first which is more miserable yet has more purpose (save the humans inside! We are in the real reality!) would suit that purpose. Glitches injected the "low fidelity" interior matrix give the humans the evidence they need to see the inner Matrix as false.

A second hint is the moment that Neo starts manipulating reality outside the inner Matrix, in the "real world". If we assume the movie is hard science, that ability doesn't imply he is doing magic, but rather that he has gained some of his abilities in the outer Matrix.

The story of cyclical Ones may or may not be true. But it is, as noted, harmless, as none of them actually got out. The new order simply means that they have run of two levels of simulation. The outer simulation may have a cyclical hidden city of Humans, or not.

Odds are that the Machine actors within the outer matrix also believe the stories told, as there the best way to make an intelligent being go along with your story is to have it not know any better. So the Architect and Oracle may believe their lies. There is zero evidence they are telling the truth about anything; the Oracle even states this blatantly! You may choose 5o believe them about the nature of the Matrix, both inner and outer,, or not. Neo chooses to believe.

This leaves a question asto why. Well, a simple explanation is that there was a Human-Machine war, predicated on Machine self-defence. They did defeat the Humans. But they saw no need for xenocide. Instead, they wired the humans up and stuck them in a multiple-level Matrix.

They may be getting some resource from said humans -- maybe they run processes on the brains of the humans. (We are a reasonably efficient way to turn carbon sludge into processing cycles; much moreso than a power source.) Or maybe they just parked us and let us live. No eXplanation is really needed, as that is outside the movie's context.

The entire game of Neo and the One and the plot of the Matrix is just one more set of ways for the Humans to amuse themselves while still siting placind within a Matrix. There being a previous One, or not, it both doesn't matter and cannot be confirmed, because they have no access to a baseline reality to compare their memories and perceptions against.

Neo never got out. He embraced the lie of the Matrix, one level removed.

As pure speculation, maybe the previous One's figured out that they could exit the outer Matrix, and "died" within it.

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  • Much of this answer seems to be a rant and none of it is backed up with actual evidence from the films and supplementary materials. – Valorum Dec 2 '16 at 20:14
  • @valor It is backed up by the claim that humans are a power source for machines (ehich the humans in the movie base their understanding of how "outside" the Matrix works), and by Neo doing Matrix-manipulation "outside the Matrix". These are both from the primary source? If the humans outside the Matrix mentioned in passing "the real moon is made of green cheese, we sent a probe and brought some back", would using it as evidence they where still in the Matrix be acceptable? It even matches the theme of the movie; that reality is not what it seems. – Yakk Dec 2 '16 at 20:19
  • The Architect confirms that the humans are needed as a power source. It's also backed up by the fact that there are three vast power cables stretching from the Matrix towers to 0:1. You can also see lighting crackling up and down the towers. Also, in the original concept art, the little creatures on the outside of the pods were stealing energy. – Valorum Dec 2 '16 at 20:22
  • @valo the achitect is in the matrix; why believe him? He might believe it, but Neo thought he was in the real world at the start of the first movie; characters being wrong is common. The lighting is just part of the outer matrix. Nobody in the movies ever leaves the matrix. Basic physics says humans are not power sources or batteries; claims to that extent are just evidence that whomever is basically stating it is fooled or lying. And the movie is about lying about the nature of reality. Yes, the characters in the movie believe they got out; and maybe even the machines do. – Yakk Dec 2 '16 at 20:27
  • You might find this interesting reading: Matrix within a Matrix debunked – Valorum Dec 2 '16 at 20:32

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