Why can't Deus Ex Machina eliminate obsolete and defective programs? After all "he" is the owner and generator of the Matrix.

How did the Twins, the Merovingian, and the Smiths escape "his" control?

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    Who's Deus Ex Machina?
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Sep 7, 2017 at 16:08
  • The Deus Ex Machina is the central interface of the Machine City. Commented Sep 7, 2017 at 16:27
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    It's like asking why can't the president of the United States detain all criminals or deport all illegal immigrants, and how do the latter escape his control.
    – void_ptr
    Commented Sep 7, 2017 at 16:39
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    Deus Ex Machina is not The Architect, it's the giant head/face made out of smaller, writhing robots. See also this question: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/68923/…
    – tobiasvl
    Commented Sep 7, 2017 at 16:56

2 Answers 2


Why can't Deus Ex Machina eliminate obsolete and defective programs?

Because programs must return to the Source to be deleted, and they can choose not to return to the Source. Agents will attempt to detain programs that are flagged for deletion, but if they fail to do so then the program can survive. This system is explained by the Oracle:

The Oracle: ...Every time you’ve heard someone say they saw a ghost, or an angel, every story you’ve ever heard about vampires, werewolves, or aliens is the system assimilating some program that’s doing something they’re not supposed to be doing.

Neo: Programs hacking programs. Why?

The Oracle: They have their reasons, but usually a program chooses exile when it faces deletion.

Neo: And why would a program be deleted?

The Oracle: Maybe it breaks down. Maybe a better program is created to replace it – happens all the time, and when it does, a program can either choose to hide here, or return to The Source.

Neo: The machine mainframe?

The Oracle: Yes...

The Matrix Reloaded (transcript)

Why do programs have to return to the Source to be deleted? One reason is that any human in view of a visible program when it is deleted will see something very strange that breaks the illusion of the Matrix (presumably the program would suddenly disappear from view). There's probably also a technical limitation: programs in the Matrix are "running" just like your browser is currently running as you read this -- and you can't delete a program that's currently running (you have to close it first). Programs therefore have to stop running (return to the Source) before they can be deleted.

The fact that programs have a choice in the matter may also reflect the fact that humans are given a (near unconscious) choice to accept the Matrix under the Oracle's choice-based model:

The Architect: [The Oracle] stumbled upon a solution whereby nearly 99% of all test subjects accepted the program, as long as they were given a choice, even if they were only aware of the choice at a near unconscious level.

The Matrix Reloaded (transcript)

How did the Twins, the Merovingian, and the Smiths escape "his" control?

The Merovingian is a trafficker of information so he is adept at evading Agents (because he knows where Agents are operating and can avoid those places). That's also how he helps all his exile minions evade Agents and avoid deletion. Additionally, many exile programs have special abilities which make it difficult for Agents to apprehend them: the Twins can become like ghosts, Smith can make copies of himself (even when an Agent is possessing the body Smith copies himself onto).

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    Consider the Matrix as a virtual machine within the (real world) Machine System. My employer owns my laptop and can track which applications I have installed (and thus also forcibly delete them if they so choose), but they cannot track which applications are installed on the virtual machine on my laptop. They can only detect the virtual machine itself, not its specific contents.
    – Flater
    Commented Sep 8, 2017 at 8:58

The Smiths are supposedly a virus caused by improper deletion when Neo supermanned into him. Presumably Neo's predecessors had never done that before and created a Smith virus.

Rogue programs like The Twins refuse to return to the source, and the Merovingian has a way to help some of them (the Trainman) if they can provide something of value to him.

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    Sorry, but this just seems to be a (worse) copy of the answer above.
    – Valorum
    Commented Oct 29, 2017 at 10:56
  • I see. I'll suggest that the prior answer adds "virus" to their post, since it's the entire reason Neo has to fight Smith in the third film. I'm not able to comment on their post directly but that's why I gave a separate answer. Commented Oct 31, 2017 at 5:21

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