Re: Matrix Shmatrix

Robin Hanson (
Mon, 12 Apr 1999 10:00:45 -0700

Jeff Taylor wrote:
>That is why it is called fiction. ...
>The problem I've noticed with SCIFI is
>that it is easy, particularly given our understanding of the universe, to
>pick apart. Why can't you just enjoy the movie as FICTION? Does fiction
>only become 'good' when it is believable? Read any good Physics books?

Doug Bailey wrote:
>The key to this movie is that is makes people think. It expands
>horizons. It enhances the elasticity of people's idea of existence and
>enlarges the realm of whats possible.

Michael Butler wrote:
>It's worthy of note that the Brothers W made it explicit that they
>were trying to create a new "live action anime" genre. ...
>SO yes indeed, it is/was a cartoon--by design. And quite a
>conversation starter, for all its flaws.

Scott Badger
>I had a great time at this film. Besides being great eye-candy, there were
>some exciting ideas in it . ...
>I also didn't particularly care for the mystical component to what should
>have remained a hard sci-fi yarn.

Mike Lorrey writes:
>I just saw the movie tonite, just got back in fact. This movie is
>powerful stuff, memetically. I left the movie with the most intense
>sense about the unreality of reality that I've ever had. ... wrote:
> The dumb science problems you mention in your spoilers are, in my
> opinion, not too important to the film. They're mentioned in detail
> for all of about 30 seconds. The 'serious' thrust of the movie, such
> as was there, was about the nature of reality. Everything else was a
> set-up.

Paul Hughes wrote:
>Within the medium of film, the Matrix does a fabulous job of conveying
>fantastically many of the ideas that we've discussed on these lists for years.
>Frankly, its the only film to fully convey the disturbing and exhilarating
>feeling of having *reality turned inside out*. ... Are we in fact
>archived versions of our older less evolved selves, being re-run for amusement
>by our far-future selves? The Matrix is the only film to address the issue as
>radically as it does and with such tremendous visual and emotional impact.
>When Neo awoke in the vat of fluid, I was just blown away and left completely
>speechless! In 32 years, I have never felt as impacted as from that scene.

Obviously, a lot of people liked the movie a lot more than I did. I have no objection to a little escapist fantasy. I was reacting instead to the idea suggested that we should talk about this movie, as a way of helping us to understand the transhuman/extropian topics we commonly discuss.

I still see nothing useful to talk about among ourselves, nor do I see how referring to the movie would help me in talking to others. The movie might be a nice backdrop to "brain in a vat" discussions in intro philosophy courses. But I don't consider the possible "unreality of reality" a very interesting or important concept, esp. re transhumans.

So I'm still mystified by what the exciting ideas in Matrix are. Maybe I've assimilated those ideas too deeply to notice them.

Robin Hanson   
RWJF Health Policy Scholar             FAX: 510-643-8614 
140 Warren Hall, UC Berkeley, CA 94720-7360 510-643-1884 after 8/99: Assist. Prof. Economics, George Mason Univ.