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Who is the highest machine authority in terms of their organizational structure and/or power?

  • Is it the thing Neo talks to in the Machine City in the third movie (the Deus Ex Machina)?

  • Is it the Architect or the Oracle?

  • Or is it Agent Smith after he transformed? (I know he's not a higher authority by any definition, but in the last movie the machine world seems to be somewhat scared of him, so I am assuming he must be at least as powerful as the machine authorities)

Or is their power structure decentralized so that there is no one highest authority?

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    The collective intelligence.. AKA Hive! – Captain Cold Oct 3 '14 at 8:04
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To my knowledge there is no canonical source which firmly specifies either that (a) a single machine has the highest authority over all other Machines, (b) a "council" of multiple Machines wields overall authority, or (c) the Machines' authority is entirely decentralized and every Machine fulfills its purpose but has no other authority.

Purpose is very important to the Machines -- Smith, Ramachandra, the Keymaker, and the Oracle all demonstrate that their purpose is of utmost importance to themselves and other programs. Consequently, I suspect either one Machine's specific purpose is to wield the highest authority or every Machine's authority is dictated solely by its purpose. This would correspond to possibility (a) or (c).

In the event the truth is possibility (a), we can rule out all but one of your suggestions as the highest authority. The supreme Machine authority cannot be merely a program because a program only exists within the Matrix -- the highest Machine authority would have to exist in the Real World as well.

  • The Oracle cannot be the supreme Machine authority because she is a program. Evidence for this is that (a) the Architect calls her an "intuitive program" and (b) she has the green code of a program rather than the gold code of a Machine avatar(1) when Smith assimilates her:

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  • The Architect may be more than a mere program since he designed the Matrix (although he could be a computer program initially written to run directly on the Machine mainframe to create the simulation that is the Matrix). Nonetheless, he regards himself somewhat equal in authority to the Oracle -- he says that he is the "father" of the Matrix and she is the "mother". And since the Oracle is not the supreme Machine authority then neither is he.

  • The Smith virus was originally an Agent of the Matrix and under the overall direction of the Architect and the Oracle (who designed the Path of the One). By the end he may have become as powerful as all the rest of the Machines (at least within the Matrix) but that does not mean he had authority over any other Machines.

That leaves the Deus Ex Machina Neo talked to at 01 as the most likely candidate. Deus Ex Machina is the machine with the authority to make a deal with The One and allows a human to jack into the Matrix. Moreover, his name is Latin for "God out of the Machine" which is strongly indicative that he holds supreme power like a deity.

Another possibility you did not mention is the Source itself, if that is in fact an artificially intelligent Machine. But the Source may simply be a massive computer with no artificial intelligence, in which case it is not the highest authority.

Again, it is also possible that there is no highest authority.

(1) In The Matrix Revolutions green code is seen in the Matrix itself (indicating a program in the Matrix) while gold code is seen in the Real World (indicating Real hardware).

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    Interesting answer but I disagree with this statement "The supreme Machine authority cannot be merely a program because a program only exists within the Matrix" Surely the mind of the Deus Ex Machina is a machine, it's just running on processors inside it's robot body not the matrix? What's to stop the architect uploading himself into a robot body? – Liath Oct 3 '14 at 7:30
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    @Liath A program that only exists in the Matrix could not have existed prior to the Matrix and would have no purpose (i.e. authority) outside of the Matrix. Theoretically it would be physically possible for the Architect to upload himself onto a Machine body in the Real World, but that would be contrary to his purpose to keep the Matrix stable. – Null Oct 3 '14 at 13:52
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    @MarchHo Sure, within the operating system you could consider the scheduler the top authority, but that scheduler isn't the top authority over, say, my car. The machine world exists in the real world the Matrix, so an entity bound to the Matrix could not have authority over the machines on the outside. The Oracle, the Architect, or the two together may be the highest authority of the Matrix, but not of all the machines. – KSmarts Jan 30 '15 at 19:18
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    But Deus Ex Machina isn't a single machine, but a swarm of thousands of machines acting almost as tiny pixels to compose the shape of a head. Could this suggest an answer closer to (b) in the form of a collective, almost like the Borg? – user11521 Feb 6 '15 at 1:37
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    @Michael It seems to be a single machine to me. Perhaps it ordered the smaller machines to create a face for it for talking to Neo (after all, it wouldn't normally communicate verbally to a human). The singular form of the name also suggests it is a single machine. But you could be right -- it could be a bunch of machines acting as a collective. – Null Feb 6 '15 at 3:31
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The Deus is considered to be the diety of the Matrix, making it the highest authority. The Dues Ex Machina (Latin for "God out of the machine") is the interface of the Matrix that directly speaks with Neo in the form of a giant robotic head. The name for this is derived from the credits of the movie, as Henry Blasingame was the voice of the machine face and is titled, "Dues Ex Machina".

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The Matrix is a virtual reality created to provide a stable baseline for humans. Within this VR the highest authority (as shown in the films) would be Agent Smith.

The Agents have the power to rewrite Matrix code and overtake plugged in humans.

The Architect is not explicitly seen within the Matrix (one could argue) but outside of it, in another environment perhaps, which has access into and out of the Matrix.

The Deus could be considered the highest authority encountered within in the movie but undoubtedly would not be the highest within the Earth.

The highest authority would have to have been the machine/program which authorised the cloning/farming of the humans as alternative power source.

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    where is the source for this answer ? – Rocket Jan 30 '15 at 16:09
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Interesting takes but I think the conclusion is clear. The Deus - is the ultimate deity and authority in the Matrix. He controls all and gives the machines its purpose. As for the matrix, the matrix solely exist as part of an energy source FOR the machines. To govern this part of their existence he (Deus) assigned programs to govern over the matrix. The Architect and Oracle are part of the program. The oracle explained how the program works to Neo when she was explaining ghosts sightings and angels.

The Deus is not the Architect. The Architect gave neo instructions on what to do in order to save Zion. He knew that Zion desired to be free and was in pursuit of peace. And so he gave Neo choice in those respects.

The Deus- had no concern or knowledge of those details. He simply asked Neo what he wanted (peace) and then agreed to it. Two different mindsets. The Architect was more interested in Neo's psychological responses whereas the Deus had no concern with any of that. His only objective was resetting the matrix. He seemed less concern or intrigued with human psychology, time or space. They were simply a means to an end for the Deus.

The "Matrix" itself is a small part of a much larger world. But of course we could see the matrix because that is what the movie is about. Apparently there are other parts of the machine world that we have no knowledge of. The matrix itself is just part of the power grid. The question is, how big is the machine world and does its purpose extend outside of the earth itself. Maybe seeking other life on other planets,...conquering the galaxy etc. Certainly they were advanced enough to where they could find seek and conquer life in other worlds.

But thats another story.

  • The Deus could just as easily be nothing more than a mouthpiece for the "Machine Mainframe" – Valorum Apr 17 '18 at 22:39

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