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In The Matrix Reloaded the Oracle confirms to Neo that she is a program. She considers it "obvious" that she is a program, probably because she is clearly too old to be a human. Even Morpheus knows that she is very old:

Neo: So is this the same oracle that made the, uh, prophecy?

Morpheus: Yes. She's very old. She's been with us since the beginning.

Neo: The beginning?

Morpheus: Of the Resistance.

Morpheus also thinks that the Resistance has fought the machines for about a century:

I remember that for 100 years we have fought these machines...

Taken together, these quotes from Morpheus imply that the Oracle is at least 100 years old. Even if Morpheus rounded up when he said they've been fighting for 100 years (maybe they've only been fighting for 80 years), the Oracle would still have to be too old to be human. Even if her shell showed signs of aging, she would have had to appear as a baby at the "beginning of the Resistance" and yet she still looks too young to be as old as she'd have to be.

Moreover, the Oracle never leaves the Matrix (she can't, since she doesn't have a human body) so if Morpheus thinks she is human then from his perspective she's basically a blue pill who is an important member of the Resistance yet for some reason refuses to leave the Matrix.

It indeed seems obvious that the Oracle isn't human. But Morpheus seems to think she is, otherwise why would he trust her? The next time Morpheus sees the Oracle (after she's confirmed to Neo she's a program) he says:

Morpheus: After everything that's happened, how can you expect me to believe you?

The Oracle: I don't expect you to do anything. I expect what I've always expected, for you to make up your own damn mind. Believe me or don't.

It sounds like now he realizes she's a program (although he could be referring to all the other things that happened). So when did Morpheus realize the Oracle is a program? Did he realize it before he took Neo to see her? Or did he not find out until she told Neo that she's a program?

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My understanding was always that Morpheus believed the Oracle to be human until Neo told him otherwise. If he hadn't, his crisis of faith upon learning the truth would make no sense. And as you yourself pointed out, his complete trust in a machine would be out of character.

But that "100 years" discrepancy you pointed out is tricky, it's true. We obviously don't have any definitive answers from the movies to explain this, but two major possibilities are suggested from the canon:

Morpheus's Faith

Morpheus is, we see again and again, driven by his faith. He's too young to have known the last "One" personally, but he has an ironclad conviction that this Messiah is real, even when no one else believes with him. He also trusts the Oracle completely, and his faith is reinforced by her demonstrably true predictions for each person who comes to her.

It's entirely possible that Morpheus found (or was given) an explanation for the Oracle's age that he simply accepted through faith. She clearly had unusual predictive abilities, is it really such a stretch to assume that she is ageless, or just very long-lived? People believe that sort of thing in the real world, with figures like Methuselah.

"The War" vs "the Resistance"

Morpheus is unaware of the Matrix Cycle, so he believes that their struggle is the direct result of the first war between Man and Machine. We know that the Matrix was developed during that war, and that the current version was not the first (that is, there were pre-Matrixes like the "Utopia Matrix" before the city-sim Matrix was developed).

It's possible, I'd say it's even a near certainty, that when Morpheus said "for 100 years we have fought these machines", he was referring to the whole war, including the part that pre-dated the creation of the Matrix.

Second Renaissance

Depending on the relative timeline, it's entirely possible for the Oracle to have been "with us since the beginning ... of the Resistance" without having been there since the start of the war. Let's say the pre-Matrix war lasted 10 years (we know it was long and bloody), then the Matrix was developed over a period of 10 years, then it took 20 years for the first "One" to be born inside the Matrix and start "free[ing] the first of us" as Morpheus describes it.

In that scenario, the war could be 100 years old, but the resistance would only be 60. Assuming the Oracle started young (we know Greek oracles were often young girls), it's not hard to imagine that she might have been a pal of the first "One", and thus have been there "since the beginning" even if she was a human of normal lifespan.

This is the version I believe. It obviously isn't "true" in-universe, because Morpheus doesn't know about the Matrix cycle, but as a man who thinks he's fighting a long war against a bitter enemy, of course he'd pick the longest number available to underline his point. "100 years" isn't the length of time that they've been popping red pills, it's the time they've been fighting the Machines entirely. Hell, he could be reaching all the way back to B1-66ER and the first Machine uprisings.

  • I definitely like this answer, in particular the possibility that Morpheus may consider the "war" to have started before the "resistance". +1 for that. It would mean that the sixth version of the Matrix is not 100 years old (as commonly assumed) but younger. Still, why didn't Morpheus try to unplug the Oracle and question the fact that she was always "plugged in"? – Null Feb 17 '15 at 19:59
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    @Null We know that it's dangerous to unplug people past a certain age, even Neo was almost too old. The Oracle is a lot older than Morpheus, so by the time he had the ability, it would have been way too late for her. Plus, she acts so confident and he treats her with such reverence that it was probably never even suggested: she's clearly right where she needs to be. – Nerrolken Feb 17 '15 at 20:02
  • Ah, but you've just argued that the Oracle started off with the Resistance as a young woman (or girl)! :) Surely Morpheus would have questioned why she wasn't unplugged earlier. And I think the danger has to do with the fact that older people have spent so much time in the Matrix building their lives that it's hard for them to even imagine that their lives weren't real. Clearly that's not a problem for the Oracle if she's been helping the Resistance for most of her life. – Null Feb 17 '15 at 20:06
  • Fair enough. :) As for questioning why someone else didn't unplug her before his time, if he ever wondered about it, there are plenty of reasonable explanations: being in the Matrix allows her greater access to the blue pill candidates, for example, and easier access by any given ship that might need her. Hell, since a precog needn't fear the Agents, maybe she simply prefers it there. (She's quirky enough to just "prefer my old house" or something.) But mostly, I think he just wouldn't presume to question her like that: she's the Oracle, if she's still in the Matrix she no doubt has a reason. – Nerrolken Feb 17 '15 at 20:18
  • I think those are reasonable explanations. I think your answer would be complete if you added them (and you deserve more upvotes). I am planning to accept this answer in a few days unless a better one comes along. – Null Feb 17 '15 at 20:57

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