Oh my goodness I've just learned a thing about The Matrix that causes it to make a lot more sense: In the original script the humans were used as neural network compute clusters by the Machines and as a crucial component of The Matrix itself.
Which is why humans who were aware of the simulation could control aspects of The Matrix - their minds were part of its foundation.
Unfortunately the test audiences had trouble understanding this concept so the studio changed the human role to "batteries".
@SinaCutie I'm just going to pretend that when Morpheus refers to humans as batteries it's an allegory for how the humans "power the matrix" as computing platforms
That's some pretty solid headcanon. Though you'd think if folks are willing to erase the rat from the Departed (https://web.archive.org/web/20190219195836/https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/adamsacks/digitally-erase-the-rat-from-the-end-of-the-depart ) maybe they could ADR in some slightly different dialogue.
@polychrome Oh, yeah, also do you know how the line about "residual self-image" was supposed to be more significant?
Hyperion novel spoilers
Weird coincidence. In Dan Simmons' Hyperion, the Technocore uses the human brain to power their computing network. Except instead of keeping humans in pods, they use telecasters to teleport humans, steal computing time from them, and later teleport them to their destination.
Further spoiler: And later, they use cruciforms.
@polychrome The change always bugged me because humans make terrible power sources, but I have to admit, I _do_ kinda get a kick out of the idea that humans actually make great power sources in reality and that the laws of thermodynamics are simply the Matrix lying to us about how physics works.
Ugh, I hate that. I hate when studio execs complain that a concept is "too cerebral".
It's okay to have a TV show or movie where the audience has to think.
For people who absolutely refuse to use their brain well there's an Adam Sandler movie every few years for them so they aren't left out.
@Tau_Leonis some adam sandler movies have given me much food for thought, so the exec meddlers who want to destroy human intellect are failing anyway
@polychrome that makes so much more sense and works with the whole allegory of the thing so much better.
@polychrome Nooooo, test audience ! You had one job!!! 😂
Thanks for sharing this, it really makes a lot more sense like this!
@polychrome I always suspected that - or at least, I always thought it would have made more sense that way. Good to have confirmation.
@polychrome oh fuck. That detail would have made it a way better movie.
And it could also explain how Neo could be "The One" without it just being magical savior powers; he's just the random human who holds a very unique position in the neural network, that makes him able to influence (almost?) everything in the execution.
Wow, that just fits so much better in practically every way.
And is oddly parallel to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy too...
Morpheus: What is the Matrix? Control. The Matrix is a computer-generated dream world built to turn a human being into this:
@polychrome I always argued this must be the case! I am very excited to hear I might be right. Do you have a link to the evidence?
@andybalaam you can hear the Wachowskis discussing this in the DVD commentary for one of the Director's Cuts.
@polychrome couple this with the idea that we never see reality, only two layers of the matrix, and it all makes sense
@polychrome "The agents are based on rules, and that's why you can be stronger than them"
what if one of the rules is that an agent can kill you anywhere anytime by thinking about you?
@CharredStencil fortunately for the plot, the agents all ran within the simulation and had no access privileges outside of it
@polychrome This always annoyed me. In my headcanon this set up a sequel with a 3-way war between humans who want to be free, original-AI who need the humans to exist, and new-AI who don't and want to jettison the "old ways" (and the now superfluous (to them) meatbags).
@ersatzmaus personally I figured the machines were initially fighting for survival rather than out of hate, and then shoved humanity into a fake paradise where they can always be happy while leaving the machines be (and serving a useful function while at it). But humanity could not accept a paradise as real so they settled on just about the right amount of boring misery (the 90's) to keep human "happy".
Meanwhile, there are those like Smith who'd rather humanity just get wiped already.
@polychrome Right. So you've got your overlord AIs who need humans - agents like Smith who (have to?) work for the overlords, but don't need the humans... It all fits.