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E-Pao! Essays - November 2003 - for the people to remember

The Matrix

By: Lenin Yangambam*



What is the Matrix?

Even as the final film of the trilogy ‘Matrix Revolution’ hits the theatres worldwide, many people are intrigued by the term “Matrix”. This article attempts to shed some light on the term-its origin and the philosophy behind it.

Matrix here should not be confused for the mathematical concept by the same name. Matrix is a futuristic system in which every individual is a computer programmer who has his/her own assigned task. In matrix, human thoughts can manipulate the physical world, where every thing is possible and anything can happen.

The story of Matrix is set in the middle of 21st century, when machines and robots become far more developed in intelligence and ability than their human creators that they begin to revolt for their rights. This leads to some robots even slaughtering their human lords, igniting a war between mankind and machines for dominance, and later survival.

However, Matrix does not exist in reality. It is neither our past nor our present but it is a fictitious concept meant to serve as a warning to human race which has become blind to the dark side of technology. The miraculous technology that we have developed for our own convenience can one day be our master and a cause for our own destruction.

Chronology of events in the Matrix

In the year of 2010-60 humans create humanoid drone robots with artificial intelligence (AI) for the first time to fill jobs as construction labourers and servants. After few years of the creation of AI hovercraft, the Nebuchadnezzar in United States which is later to be captained by Morpheus, human enjoy the pleasure of their skilful concoct, that is their creation of AI program. But their pride and complacency do not last for long. As AI programs evolve, it becomes less useful to man and become more dangerous.

Around 2075, even some robots with AI programs began to resent their human overlords. In early 2077, an incident breaks out (which is the key point of the whole story) which will ultimately lead to war and riot between machines and humans. It is when the butler robot B166ER slaughters two humans, in the first case of a machine rising up against its owners that lead to eradication of B166ER and a backlash against robot and artificial intelligence. This is the beginning of the riot between machines and humans.

The constant rioting and violence against machines prompts robots to flee major cities and establish their own community -known as Zero One- in a remote part of the Middle East in 2080-85. Within ten years of establishment of Zero One, the city of machines thrives, creating superior vehicles, computers and weaponry, decimating the economies of many human nations, which now lack the machine-base labours that make them strong.

But the development and civilization of the city of machines is not accepted by the United Nations. So, United Nations’ officials refuse to accept the robot civilization of Zero One as a sovereign nation. Therefore, they blockade the trading of robot goods. This action of the UN leads to war between humans and machines again.

When the war breaks out, human uses nuclear weapons against machines to destroy the city of machines. But Zero One survives the nuclear attack. As a consequence of the attack, its inhabitants have come to acquire immunity to the radioactive heat and radiation of U235. But causalities are quickly replaced. And soon after their replacement of the destructed parts they launched counterstrikes against humans. Many major cities fall beneath the might of mechanized forces.

Now the machines have become much powerful and intelligent that it becomes impossible for the humans to defeat them. So humans now begin exploring ways to counter the might of robot’s civilization. And the only way was to empower them or to minimize their power, and that could only be possible when the main source of energy is blocked to Zero One (the city of machines). Therefore, powerful and desperate military leaders attempt to block the main source of energy, the Sun, for the robot city. Their plan is to destroy the atmosphere and fill the sky with choking black smoke.

They are even successful in their plan (in 2098) but it doesn’t stop the machines. On the contrary, machines forces overtake human armies and capture survivors and civilians in early 2099.

Their main source of energy being blocked by the humans, the machines which have by now become far more intelligent begin to search for subsidiary material that can replace the sun to give them energy. So, after many experiments, they determine that humans’ bio-electricity can be harnessed to replace the sun’s energy. Towards this end, machines start a massive campaign to capture as many human beings as they can and use them as batteries.

Machines created the matrix in around 2100, a dream-like world set in 1999, to extend the lives of the comatose human batteries. In 2105 for the first time a man learns about matrix. He is known as The One. He can manipulate the world through thought and manages to break free from the bondage of the matrix, a sort of cage for the mankind. The freed humans from the matrix then set out in search of a new and safe place to live. So they seek sanctuary in the underground human stronghold of Zion.

After the establishment of Zion, humans’ resistance movement started, and many more wars erupted between machines and humans. Later humans have to face a great loss. They loss The One under unexplained circumstances.

From 2161 the story has a twist. It is in this year one hero is born in the matrix womb. He is Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne). Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) one of the main characters of the matrix trilogy is also born 6 year after the birth of Morpheus. They are both grown up and trained in Zion. When they are mature enough they become a part of human armies or programmer in matrix.

The Oracle, one of the key characters in the matrix, prophesizes that Morpheus will soon discover the second coming of The One. The prophesy turns out to be true as Trinity and Morpheus discover Neo (Keanu Reeves), a hacker in the Matrix. They free him and do battle with Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving), a program designed to rid the matrix of humans who detect its flaws.

The above is the background to the Matrix trilogy which has become the box-office blockbuster. The trilogy is a reminder to the human race about the dangers of taking the pace of technology too far. Arms race and the quest for scientific superiority by rival nations-as that happened during the Cold War-have led to development of AI (artificial intelligence) which makes the Matrix like situation a reality. Science and technology should serve the mankind, and not vice versa.




Lenin Yangambam is a 1st Year, English Honours student.
He contributes for the 1st time to e-pao.net.
He can be reached at lenin_yangam@rediffmail.com

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