Why didn’t the sentient machines in the Matrix simply use cows instead of humans as their energy source?

From the Archives: A Perspective Shift and Something New

What I know now:

This essay was my perspective on the Matrix when questioned by a poster on the Science Fiction and Fantasy Stack Exchange about two years ago.

  • I posited something more terrifying and insidious was potentially hidden in the existence of the Matrix.

From the Archive:

Why didn’t the sentient machines in the Matrix simply use cows instead of humans as their energy source? My 11-year old son asked me this reasonable question that I was unable to answer.

I commend your son for his insightful question and I admit to just glazing over this line of Morpheus’ bullshit when he first said it.

The Machines Lied. They learned to do it from us.

Your son had the right idea. People are actually low-quality power sources.

  • Remember every person who “escaped” the Matrix was effectively capable of moving, walking, thinking despite the fact their bodies have never moved in their entire lives. A protective capacity far beyond the need if they were just keeping us alive for “fuel.”
  • Using Humans as a power source only makes sense if you lack a decent understanding of physics, chemistry, and Human physiology.

If you don’t believe in the concept of the ultimate war of “the Machines vs Humanity” what could the machines possibly be doing?

I posit a completely different premise to the Machine and Human relationship.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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-based nuclear power plants. There is sufficient thorium in the crust of the Earth to provide considerable energy for any future energy need for centuries.
  • 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 and thousands of drone ships which could allow them to escape the Earth and harvest materials for whatever technologies they needed from other places in the solar system.
  • 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.
  • “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.
Are these the kind of guys you want angry because you don’t think their intelligence is a good as yours? Me, neither.

Artificial Intelligence May Be a Pejorative

I have never liked the term “artificial intelligence.” It always struck me more as a pejorative, something you’d say when you wanted to define your intelligence as better than the intelligence sitting on a hard drive of meta-silicon created in a laboratory and named “Hal” by the technicians who babysit it.

The Crystal Gems from Rebecca Sugar’s Steven Universe are artificial lifeforms whose intellect is stored with crystalline matrices.

Author | Editor | Futurist | Activist | http://bit.ly/thowzebio | http://bit.ly/thpatreon