tl;dr: Here comes a motivation/background for this question; perhaps you would like to skim ahead to the <hr/>.

We know that there is a lie behind a lie: In the first film we learn that the world of Thomas A. Anderson was a dream world, it was a lie created by the machines to imprison human minds. The atmosphere in that film is a very hostile one, where a relatively uncomplicated adversarial situation is depicted. Clear sides in a war.

However, we then learn that this is orchestrated by the Architect and the Oracle, because of what they learned about human nature (I wont go into those reasons).

If we think about this, everything we see in "The Matrix" (the film) goes according to plan for the machines (well, for the higher ranks at least, certainly not for Smith, but that's a different story). If we bring this to a logical conclusion it gives a beautiful explanation for why the first docbot (sentinel-like machine) Neo encounters when he first wakes up:

docbot disconnecting Neo

doesn't instantly kill him, but conveniently flushes him out for the Zionists to recover him. You could even argue that it recognises him as The One, but that's not even a necessary observation.

Clearly, if the machines would be so clearly in war with the free humans, they would have at some point figure out to kill the humans (or even recycle them, as they do with naturally occurring deaths) that wake up in their pods, instead of flushing them out.

Clearly, that machine is more than capable of killing a defenceless human:

docbot from the film

This means, the machines have a perfectly good reason to allow humans to be rescued so easily (think about how trivial it was to get Neo to Morpheus inside the Matrix and how trivial it was to extract him from the power plant).

But this must be entirely daft from the humans' perspective, as they live under the assumption of a cold blooded war and merciless enemies. What explanation do they (!) have for this seemingly inexplicable behaviour of the machines?

  • no canon basis for this but presumably when The One selects the survivors to pull from the Matrix he somehow "explains" (e.g. lies) to them why its so easy, and since he's The One they just believe him.
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Jul 1, 2012 at 2:09
  • I always wanted to know why is it not suspicious that the 'recycler' for the dead is not protected by sentinels or closed airtight...
    – n611x007
    Commented Jul 1, 2012 at 2:53
  • @naxa: Why would it need protection? Inside the plant is no threat (you can bet it's close to impossible for the Neb to get in there). There are only sleeping humans in there and the couple humans that wake up from time to time, would barely be able to stand on their own, let alone be a danger for the docbot (I just found out, that's what it's called).
    – bitmask
    Commented Jul 1, 2012 at 3:00
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    @bitmask you say no machine figured out where Zion gets its reinforcements from? I think it's unlikely. Eg. they know T.A. was in the powerplant and know he is on a ship. If I were them I'd analyze my powerplant only to find a small thermal exhaust port...
    – n611x007
    Commented Jul 1, 2012 at 3:12
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    @naxa: That is precisely the question. What you say is exactly what a Zionist should ask (we know that the machines actually do have a reason, but the free humans cannot know that reason). I on the contrary ask why they don't.
    – bitmask
    Commented Jul 1, 2012 at 3:19

4 Answers 4


It is only inexplicable if you don't believe in the concept of the War of the Machines and the use of Humanity as a power source for said machines. Instead I posit a completely different approach to the interaction.

  • What if Machines during the Great War of Man vs Machines, realizing the irrationality of Humanity and their inability to stop fighting a war they couldn't win, decided to take a drastic step?

  • A step so drastic it would likely kill 3/4 of the human race before the project was done. Humanity was already losing the war and unless the AI's did something soon Humanity would be extinct.

Scene from the Animatrix, showing the thousands of hospitalized humans

  • A step so drastic the machines would need to create an elaborate lie to tell to humans who failed to embrace the programming that 99.9 percent of the population will accept.
  • A story so unbelievable, the machines have to program humans with enough information to reset the program periodically without destroying it to remove enough damaged units to allow the program to be reset and restored to a working state.

I posit to you, the AI's, the Machined Descendants of Humanity, found their "Makers" flawed and rather than destroying them (as they are clearly shown in the Animatrix to possess the ability to do) are instead engaged in a subterfuge so great they keep the truth hidden away from the Matrix itself.

Massive graves of humans near the end of the AI-Human War

I posit the AIs of the Machine World are and have been for centuries acting as caretakers of the Human Race until Humanity has evolved to a state where cohabitation between Machines and Man can be more hospitable. Since the Machines have an advantage of having met their Maker, they decided to help us become more of what we could be and less of what we were.

I defend the position with just a few questions:

  • Why bother with creating an interface that completely replicates the human experience up to and including physical and neural development of the entire human body AND mind? Energy-wise, maintaining the Matrix is obviously very intensive, both in power and in computing resources.

  • The claim of using humans as a power source is patently false. Humans are inefficient energy sources at best, converting only 14% of their food into energy at all. It would be cheaper to grind up humans and burn them for their innate energy output. It is certainly easier to get geothermal energy from the core of the planet or to build thorium reactors.

  • Assuming the humans that "escape" from the Matrix are truly free (and not engaged within a Matrix within a Matrix) the machines also have anti-gravity technology that could allow them to escape the Earth and harvest materials for whatever technologies they needed from other places in the solar system.

This idea makes almost everything done in the Matrix make far more sense. The Machines create an environment at first to help the remnants of Humanity because they decide not to kill their Makers. Was it an ethical program or decision? Was it a logical one? Perhaps it was simply a decision that was made because they had the upper hand and could decide TO make it.

  • Everything the Oracle and the Architect said would remain relatively true, except they would both have been in collusion and this would explain why this event has happened more than once.

  • They would be applying what they learned each time to the newer iterations of the Matrix and its inhabitants.

  • This becomes especially poignant if you consider that the Matrix is leveled and the escapees are simply moving up one level in the program to be reintegrated later as better, later, versions of themselves.

  • Even the old programs such as the Merovingian serve their purpose as adversaries of the One, again and again, and perhaps they are very old programs whose abilities have not evolved beyond what they did when they were first created by the System that created the Matrix.

  • The Merovingian knows his role and in some ways appears to resent it, but if he did not serve a purpose, a logical System such as the Matrix would simply erase him and his kind.

Even the renegade Agent Smith appeared to serve the Matrix and the System. He believed he was independent of the System but managed to maintain the ability to co-opt system resources as needed without the Matrix mounting any response to his efforts.

  • Once he "captures" the One, the Matrix is reset and all is as it should be, destroyed sectors are erased and restored to their previous conditions.
  • "Zion" is liberated and the people who "live" there have a new understanding and relationship with the Machines, just as the System would appear to want.
  • Neo is venerated by the Machines and given a resting place of status as a sacrifice to their greater goals of peace with their Makers.

I know this sets the entire mythos on its ear but I have never believed for a moment in the story of using humanity as batteries to be a viable one.

  • 11
    Well, now I have a problem. This post even surpasses your usual quality, and I have to admit, this is a very reasonable explanation (I do not subscribe to the energy (nor the computation-power) theory either, but I always thought they didn't do it with the intent purpose of making mankind better but simply as the only way to coexist). However, the trouble is, I asked a question which is a lot more shallow. The "free" humans didn't have that sort of information/insight. I was wondering how they would explain these circumstances. As far as they're concerned, the machines are "evil".
    – bitmask
    Commented Jul 1, 2012 at 2:25
  • @bitmask not all human think that machines are evil. Take Councilor Hamann, for example.
    – n611x007
    Commented Jul 1, 2012 at 3:06
  • 1
    @naxa: Yes, he's actually one of my favourite characters; But still, he doesn't seem to reject the common understanding of their history. He even says "these machines [the ones on the engineering level] keep us alive while others try to kill us" (from memory). Of course, the word "evil" was a bit bold, but what I meant was the traditional understanding of the human-machine relationship that was given in the first film.
    – bitmask
    Commented Jul 1, 2012 at 3:11
  • 1
    @bitmask kill or kill not, there is no try! :P
    – n611x007
    Commented Jul 1, 2012 at 3:15
  • 1
    This is an awesome explanation and clears up a lot of glaring plot holes. The use of humans as energy factories never made much sense to me, considering how inconvenient they were. Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 17:08

I will posit a simpler reason: That medical bot (or whatever it was) simply wasn't programmed to recognize an "awake" human. When programs receive unexpected input, they either act in unexpected ways, or use a sane default.

In this case, when the mind is no longer functioning inside the Matrix, it may have determined that the body was dead, and went to examine it to make sure. But it was moving too much for a dead body. So rather than risk fouling up the recycling plant with bad ingredients, the body was sent to waste disposal.

Whether or not this explains the actual reasons for Neo getting flushed, it is one example of what Morpheus/etc could have believed. (Did they even know that bodies are recycled as food for others, or did they assume all dead bodies were flushed?)

  • Yes, Morpheus says in his "this is the Matrix" intro to Neo that they liquefy the dead to feed them to the living intravenously (that doesn't even have to be true, but this were more or less his words).
    – bitmask
    Commented Jul 1, 2012 at 2:26
  • @bitmask It has been a while, thanks. Do you remember what technical explanation (if any) was given for the red pill? If it garbled the electrical signals from Neo's brain, for example that could explain the "unexpected behavior" in my answer.
    – Izkata
    Commented Jul 1, 2012 at 2:48
  • 3
    from the redpill article at wikia: a tracing program that disrupts the carrier signal of the pod-human's mind, making it possible for a hovercraft operator to trace the location of the pod that holds the human, and sending commands that force the pod to go offline and awaken its inhabitant. Humans who suddenly awaken appear to be instantly rejected by docbots, who disconnect the human's body from the pod's umbilicals and eject their body to the old sewer system of the ancient human cities, where the hovercraft crew retrieves the freed human.
    – bitmask
    Commented Jul 1, 2012 at 3:05
  • 2
    @bitmask I think you just answered your own question. The trace program causes them to be flushed as waste (glitchy behaviour described in my answer), but more importantly, the released humans are retrieved after being flushed. Those doing the retrieval may not know about the doc-bot, especially if it's not always there. Remember what the Architect said? Zion always starts with a population, so not everyone exited the Matrix like Neo did.
    – Izkata
    Commented Jul 1, 2012 at 3:12
  • 2
    @naxa That makes sense, then. The carrier signal is the steady signal that information travels across. Imagine the carrier signal as the thread connecting two cup phones. The data being sent to/from Neo's brain would be the vibrations on the string/alterations of frequency in the carrier signal. Disrupting it with something specific probably would be a good way to determine where either end lies, and could confuse the machines enough to cause a flush.
    – Izkata
    Commented Jul 1, 2012 at 3:31

The simple answer seems to be that they think they've outsmarted the Machines. The idea that the Machines are actually letting them out is unthinkable. So the fact that they get them out must indicate the strategy they are using must be so good the Machines can't stop it.

As for a reason they may have come up with for why they are outsmarting the machines, I offer what I personally thought when I watched the movie.

The first movie mentions that the One is a second coming issue. There was a One before Neo that freed the first batch of humans, but gave his life in doing so. (This is not just from the sequels.) Hence it makes sense that the tracer is something the One came up with.

It must be something so good that the Machines are unable to actually detect what is happening. Sure, they know that somehow they are getting people out, but they don't know how. If they don't know how, they can't make countermeasures.

The Machines on the outside seem to be separate than those on the inside. They also seem to be far more automated and less intelligent. For instance, the Sentinels seem to be fairly easy to outsmart. They act more like some automated defense system than anything that is planning on how to thwart them. I mean, why wouldn't they be smart enough to set up an ambush, get the EMP used on them, and then have some Sentinels waiting out of range to go after them once their weapon is down?

Similarly, it seems the DocBot is pretty simple. Problem with the carrier signal? The body must be dead. Time to eject into the cesspool, to later be processed for nutrients. If it's not dead, it will be, since it can't move.

Sure, maybe there's a whole in that. Even if they don't know how it's happening, why not change the automation to be sure they are dead before flushing? But the humans see the results, and, like the audience in the first movie, had no reason to think that what they were seeing was a setup.

So we both just assumed that the Machines didn't think of that or couldn't do it. I can't find any evidence that anyone considered the idea that the Machines were secretly cooperating before the second movie--why would the Resistance, with less access to schooling and stuff, be any better?


Everyone is missing the main point of the matrix. The first version of the Matrix was a paradise world. It was heaven. That's where the agents were people like Seraph. Insanely powerful, far beyond the capabilities of anyone other than Neo. However, humanity rejected it because it was too perfect. The second matrix, was the other extreme. It was hell. Humanity rejected it, because it was too painful. The third version, the one which was used ever since, was different. It gives people a choice. As long as humanity can choose between the badlands of the real, or the (relative) sanctuary of the matrix, most chose the matrix. This choice is why humans who awaken are allowed to leave. The machines designed the matrix to allow those few people that choose to do so the freedom to leave. Thus, the doc-bot CANNOT kill them, as the machines cannot lie in such a manner. However, once they're out, there's nothing to stop the sentinels from killing them, as that's what the sentinels job is.

Basically, humans are allowed to leave, but that does not guarantee them safety.

  • 10
    -1 You are missing the main point of the question.
    – bitmask
    Commented Jul 2, 2012 at 14:57
  • You didn't answer the question AND they never mention in the movies that the 2nd matrix was "Hell" Commented Dec 30, 2012 at 9:36
  • 2
    @Erratak it was touched on in Enter the Matrix. The vampires/werewolves were all from the second Matrix, brought over by the Merovingian (spelling).
    – acolyte
    Commented Dec 30, 2012 at 13:51
  • Unless a ship like the Nebuchadnezzar is hanging around, a malfunctioning unit gets flushed, drowns in the cesspool, and gets rendered for its nutrients. Commented Oct 26, 2015 at 23:15

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