The Kingdom of Nerd is divided on the issue of The Matrix and its sequels. Some find all three overrated, some love the first film but hate the garbage that came after, and some, like me, find the whole corpus fascinating. Among the extended works, The Animatrix is perhaps the most interesting, and of it, the chapter “The Second Renaissance.” Set up as a crash course in the history of mankind’s relationship with the machines, the two parts create a mirrored story arc that reflects upon our inhumanity to our own creations.

In short, “The Second Renaissance” explains the creation of robotics and strong A.I. and its integration into human society. The robots are slaves, but are unquestioning, until one robot kills its owners out of fear of being scrapped. The result is an excision of the machines from human civilization and the creation of their own city, 01. 01 is productive and contributes greatly to the world, but is feared and denied access to the U.N. After the machines show signs of rebellion, the U.N. decides to scorch the sky, removing solar power. Undeterred, the machines war against humanity and are victorious, and the matrix is born out of a need to control those humans kept alive as energy.

The central theme of “The Second Renaissance” is that the machines were not inherently evil and, in every case, were acting in self-defense. It was human bigotry against machines, devaluing them as an intelligence and as persons, that caused the resulting conflict. The matrix itself is ultimately not their creation, but our own, a prison built of our own ignorance and fear.

[The Second Renaissance Part I]

[The Second Renaissance Part II]

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