Collected thoughts
on The Second Renaissance Part 1 and 2 from the Animatrix

Why The Matrix prelude doesn't make sense

The Matrix has plot holes big enough for a jumbo jet. The two, animated episodes from The Animatrix, The Second Renaissance Part 1 and The Second Renaissance Part 2, which act as a prelude, also suffers from the same problem. The first episode describes that mankind develops artificial intelligence then enjoys a life of luxury by the labour of robots. When a domestic robot kills its human master because it didn't want to be destroyed, anti-robot riots start. This is the first plot flaw: it would take more than one atrocity to completely change public attitude. The actions of current day terrorists have hurt, but not destroyed, the desire for air travel. The animation shows the humans committing the terrorism and destruction and the robots not fighting back, so the human's fear has no basis. Even discounting this, greed is as much a motivator as fear. Having tasted the good life, mankind would not destroy robots that are the foundation of its new wealth. Humanity would create some compromise such as robot retirement schemes or laws against unwarranted, robot destruction.

After huge numbers of robots are destroyed, the remainder is permitted to create a city named Zero One in a desert. With machine efficiency, the robots outperform human manufacturing and major industries move towards Zero One. It should be noted that this would not include military equipment factories - military threats are meaningless if the target nation responds by cutting the supply of tanks. After the collapse of the their economies, humans start a military blockade of Zero One. This would wreck the robot economy as it would be denied strategic resources that are only extracted in certain parts of the world, such iron, aluminium, titanium, copper, magnesium, nickel, molybdenum, platinum etc (it can be assumed that oil has long since run out). Any modern, manufacturing industry needs a wide range of such materials and in massive quantities, especially for military-grade equipment. Cheap, mild steel will be ripped to pieces by depleted uranium or tungsten shells. Neither is it realistic for the robots to stockpile it, especially as hostile, human nations would notice. The robots would have access to plenty of sand though and could manufacture all the glass they need.

The second episode fails to explain the effect of the blockade and moves onto the humans launching a major, nuclear strike against Zero One, which is ineffective against the robots. This is wrong! The electromagnetic pulse of a major strike would fry every electronic circuit in the area. Only crude, valve-based, mid 20th century electronics can survive such a pulse. The microelectronics required for computers would be burnt out.

Despite all this, the plot continues with a human-machine war, which the machines are winning. In an act of desperation, the humans execute a scheme to blacken the sky and halt solar power. This is ridiculous as both sides could generate electricity using nuclear, geothermal and tidal power. Both sides need electricity for their war industries, so the human's plan would hurt themselves just as much. More importantly, lack of sunlight would wipe out all the natural ecosystems that feed mankind. Food through artificially-lit hydroponics would require far more energy than the humans could afford and billions would starve to death. Blocking sunlight would be a strategy that the robots would employ, knowing they would be least affected.

As the machines continue their conquest, they study human biology and develop a scheme to exploit humans as an energy source. This is unrealistic but that's another article. The animation also describes human biology as 'simple'. This is not so much a plot flaw as just plain wrong. Any student of biology will tell you living beings are complex, particularly at the chemical level. This is why mankind can create all kinds of machines from raw materials but cannot create a simple life form.

A scriptwriter can be forgiven for not understanding economics or electronics but when his predictions of humanity's attitude toward artificial intelligence and wealth are ridiculous, then it must be asked if he is really an artist.