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In the Matrix, I’ve noticed that most people who are trapped in the human cells have multiple tubes connected to them, as seen below in this scene:

But, later in the movie, we see Neo connecting entirely into the Matrix again, without most of these tubes. I believe it can’t be for food, as the trapped humans also have a tube in their mouths as well. So, what could these tubes possibly be used for?

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    To extract all that electricity that the Matrix needs??? – Peter M Jun 12 at 1:08
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    Maintaining body function and extracting energy. After Neo is released and later reconnects, he is at that point a transient visitor so would need to disconnect at a later time to gather nutrients and sustain himself. Those who are continually connected would require blood cleansing, nutrients, (potentially) medication etc to sustain the stasis they are in. Also energy would be taken from them in one form or another (whether electrical or chemical) so conduits for this would also be required. – Tragamor Jun 12 at 1:24
  • While we're at it, why is his head shaved? I'm almost sure the extensive matrix lore explores the cables in some way. Also, the way they pop off... They look pressurised? – AncientSwordRage Jun 12 at 1:26
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    If you are sending your star player into an e-sports tournament, you give them all the support you can... rather than some dodgy wi-fi connection, you go fully cabled with maximum ping and the reconnection in the third movie could be similar. When reconnecting to smack down on Smith the architect is fully aware of his importance so he is not a run-of-the-mill battery at this point. Who is to say the feeds reintroduced at this time were the same as those attached to the generic populace. – Tragamor Jun 12 at 1:45
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    "His body spasms, fighting against the thick gelatin. Metal tubes, surreal versions of hospital tubes, obscure his face. Other lines like IVs are connected to limbs and cover his genitals." - From the 1996 version of the original script – Valorum Jun 12 at 11:17
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For the general populace that serve as an energy source for the matrix, life support is required in order to keep them functioning in an optimum state.

While it is evident the brain only requires a single connection to the matrix to be able to enter it (as seen by the single connection into the back of the neck of Zion residents on their ships), in order for the matrix to use the populace as an energy source, the populace must be kept in good health so nutrients, medications (if required) and blood cleansing of intoxicants, carcinogens and other harmful chemicals would be required. It is likely chemicals would be required in order to keep the populace in continual stasis as well.

Energy can also be collected via these tubes either in electrical form or via chemical form for use to power the matrix and dependent systems.

It is worth noting that when Neo was reconnected with the help of the Deus ex Machina in the third movie, he was potentially supplied with more than the single connection used by Zion to access the Matrix. In this scenario, the additional connections could potentially also supply performance enhancing chemicals or other improvements for his connection to the Matrix to give him every edge when combatting Smith for the future of the system. It is likely the System at this time would give every advantage available to get a favourable result.

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    Noe was not reconnected with the help of 'The Architect', he was speaking with 'The Deus Ex Machina', which may or may not be the 'singular consciousness' referred to in the Animatrix but is, at the very least, referred to as a different character. – Valorum Jun 12 at 7:50
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    Also, as per my objection above, Unless I'm very much mistaken, the additional 'tubes' at the end of the third film are merely creating a couch for him to lie in, not providing additional connections; youtube.com/watch?v=2lrRmgmCtak – Valorum Jun 12 at 7:51
  • Worth noting that humans would make horrible batteries. Sure you could get a little power out of them, but you'd be better off with just a giant vat of algae. Way more power per pound of organic material and there's no need to pacify algae with a virtual world to keep them from rebelling, it's just algae. – Darrel Hoffman Jun 12 at 15:47

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