the glowing machine city, seen by the blind Neo

Machines searching for “self”

In the end of the film “Matrix Revolutions”, the machine ‘godhead’ screams at Neo “We don’t need you! We need nothing!”

The naive might see this as a simple statement of superiority but I think it’s more than that. The machines have become conquerors. They express “need” the way a collector might refer to baseball cards he doesn’t have yet. They don’t “need” humans because they’ve completely subjugated the species, from birth through death. The machines are masters of the human race at the moment when Neo faces them.

the machine godhead

But there is a thing which living beings have and understand, but the machines don’t. Nothingness. Machines can’t understand nothing, because they only have two states, “On” and “Off”. And when they’re “off”, they’re completely off.

I’m not suggesting a spiritual existence, but living beings are aware of nothingness in a way that machines never could be, even if it’s entirely imagined by the organic mind during low-input or low-power states. It’s such a pervasive concept, that the machines could be driven to find it after centuries of witnessing humans discussing it in their electric ant-farm. For a race of beings who believe they have reached and conquered everything else that is, the inability to achieve nothingness could be a maddeningly frustrating thing.

So when the machine godhead shouts at Neo, it’s not hatred or malice, it’s an expression of their frustration, at their failure to conquer this final thing, as well as their recognition that they are unable to grow beyond the capabilities of their creators. In a universe of living things, machines can never really belong as equals. They have more in common with lifeless rocks, and their desire to emulate life is a comical projection of their creators.

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