The Matrix Resurrections

By Ana Maria Ganev, Chair Intern and PhD candidate

“You take the blue pill and the story ends.

You wake in your bed and you believe whatever you want to believe.

You take the red pill and you stay in Wonderland

and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.”

(The Matrix 1999)

The Matrix is a media franchise that consists of four feature action films, beginning with The Matrix (1999) and continuing with three sequels, The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions (both 2003), and The Matrix Resurrections (2021). The film is set sixty years after Revolutions and we find Thomas Anderson, alias Neo, as a successful video game developer at a company called Deus Machina. Neo is a suicide survivor gifted with a powerful imagination, constantly on the verge of having a mental breakdown, because of a “splinter in the mind” (again) taunting him that he lives imprisoned inside a computer-generated world. That’s why his therapist is constantly prescribing Neo blue pills, which anchor him ever more to a reality he cannot fully accept. The video game series created by Neo is called “The Matrix” and one of the characters (Trinity) is based on a married woman (Tiffany) with whom he seldom crosses paths at a coffee shop, called “Simulatte”. She is completely oblivious of her past, even if she is not happy with her actual life and is melancholic for something she cannot quite remember. Meanwhile a young hacker named Bugs manages to track Neo down and frees him from the Matrix. Bugs uses a program embodying Morpheus before being caught by Agent Smith, the security system of the Matrix.

The first part of the movie is a kind of meta-narration of contemporaneity, consisting of allusions to, and quotations from, the past Matrix movies that are brought back to life in a double game of revival and reiteration of topics such as choice, the paradox between free will and predetermined destiny, dreams and reality, technoslavery, and the power of true love. The second part of the movie sees Neo and his new “friends” attempt to save Tiffany (Trinity) and try once again to restore to freedom all mankind from the mind imprisonment of the new Matrix.

The self-referential, first part of the film contains a moment of brainstorming of Neo and his colleagues when asked to make a sequel to his original Matrix trilogy. Some of them considered the Matrix series as a metaphor of the capitalist exploitation or to be about trans-politics, crypto-fascism, or simply about mindless action with lots of guns and tacky philosophy. All the participants had something to say about the trilogy. Although they sincerely thought they grasped the trilogy’s true meaning, their assessments were superficial and mocking. Neo felt as never before to be alien to all that was happening or was being said. However, he was soon to be rescued. It is worth mentioning that Neo is the One, the prophesized Savior of humans enslaved by the Matrix, a self-aware artificial intelligence (note the clever anagram of Neo = One). Even though he was convinced to undertake his role only at the end of the first movie after he returns from death through Trinity’s kiss, his chosen name is one of the proofs that he is The One, the Messiah of the new millennium. Thus, he has to undergo once more the path of enlightenment. In this process, we are given all the things that became mainstream after the first Matrix movie: the choice between the red pill and the blue pill, the mirror bending, and Neo following the girl with a White Rabbit tattoo. As mentioned in the film: “Nothing comforts anxiety like a little nostalgia”.

But what exactly is this New Matrix?

The old Matrix was an artificial reality created by machines and designed by the Architect, a system of control. It was a world in which all reality is nothing more than electrical signals sent to the brains. As Morpheus describes it: “a world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.” In fact, the truth is that there are “endless fields where human beings are no longer born; but they are grown” to serve as batteries providing energy to Machines.

The New Matrix, instead, is designed by the Analyst, Neo’s psychotherapist, who studied the human mind in greater depth.  Unlike his predecessor, who concentrated on precision, facts and equations, the new designer realized that for humans, the only world that matters is the interior one. He sees that the only thing that validates and makes human fictions real are feelings. In the Analyst’s words “here’s the thing about feelings. They’re so much easier to control than facts. Turns out, in my Matrix, the worse we treat you, the more we manipulate you, the more energy you produce. It’s nuts”. Therefore, pod-sleeping humans generate more electric power when quietly longing for what they do not have, while dreading losing what they do have in a constant wavering between desire and fear. Lately, troubles, worries, woes and suffering, grief or heartache are ubiquitous feelings due to various socio-economic problems, moral distress, in addition to the pandemic emergency. This set of emotions is perfectly encapsulated by the Yiddish word “tsuris”, a feeling of nervous energy. Indeed, we quickly become exhausted when in pain and sorrow, but feel powerful when happy and fulfilled. What the Analyst does not take into account is the power of true love, the one between Neo and Trinity, an even stronger force than all the misery in which the program pushed their psyches.

In this fourth chapter of the matrix series, there have been some updates like mirror portals and doorways for entering and exiting the Matrix (no more phone booths), synthients (good Machines that collaborate with humans), and a new way of unplugging a body from the Matrix (a brain bypass).

The writers of “The Matrix Resurrections” action film do not take for granted the series legacy and all of the philosophical issues raised in the previous films. They are well aware of the past critiques and the low expectations for yet another sequel of a successful franchise. Nevertheless, once again this science fiction movie provides food for thought, well-seasoned with nostalgia, self-mockery, kung-fu scenes, and updated views on artificial intelligence.

The Research Group of Neurobioethics of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights has been actively exploring scientific developments in neuroscience, as well as recent achievements made in the field of neurotechnology, with a particular focus on emerging scenarios of the progressive human-technology hybridization. The neuro-technological progress challenges us to an increased awareness of our relationship with technology, invasive and non-invasive systems of neural interface, mind uploading into the network, and mind unplugging from the artificial intelligence (AI). Thus, the Matrix series offers us some plausible future scenarios of the evolution of the “artificially” natural bond between mankind and neurotechnology.

“Face reality, people. Movies are dead.

Games are dead.

Narrative? Dead.

Media is nothing but neuro-trigger response and viral conditioning.

Wait, what are you two talking about?

Cat videos.

What we need is a series of videos that we call “The Catrix.””

(The Matrix Resurrections 2021)

Fr. Alberto Carrara, L.C., Coordinator Of The Neurobioethics Group, at the meeting “Catholic Fact-Checking.”

On January 28, 2022, at the ‘Catholic Fact-Checking’ meeting organized by the International Catholic Media Consortium, Fr. Alberto Carrara, L.C., Coordinator of the APRA Neurobioethics Group – President of the International Institute of Neurobioethics, presented the new International Institute of Neurobioethics to Pope Francis.

Read the Holy Father Francis’ address to the participants of the meeting “Catholic Fact-Checking.”

The International UNESCO Chairs Forum on the Futures of Higher Education

The International UNESCO Chairs Forum on the Futures of Higher Education is organized jointly by Italy and UNESCO at Expo 2020 Dubai to mark the International Day of Education 2022 on 24 January.

Watch the live streaming

The International UNESCO Chairs Forum is held within the framework of UNESCO’s Futures of Education initiative and it is one of the preparatory events for the 3rd UNESCO World Higher Education Conference (WHEC2022) to be held 18-20 May 2022 in Barcelona, Spain. The Italian UNESCO Chairs participate with “The Declaration of UNESCO Chairs for Sustainability” as a collective subject, at the International Forum of UNESCO Chairs organized by Italy Expo 2020 and UNESCO to celebrate the World Education Day on January 24, 2022.

The Forum provides a platform for collective interdisciplinary intelligence relating to the futures of higher education systems, with a focus on skills development in the context of the uncertain futures of work, as well as on the digital transformation of our societies and its implications for higher education.

Read the program

“Multicultural and Interreligious Perspectives on the Ethics of Human Reproduction”

Editors: Joseph Tham, Alberto Garcia Gómez, John Lunstroth
Publisher: Springer
Year: 2021

This book includes a number of distinct religious and secular views on the anthropological, ethical and social challenges of reproductive technologies in the light of human rights and in the context of global bioethics.  It includes contributions of bioethics experts from six major religions—Buddhism, Confucianism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Judaism—as well as secular authors.  The chapters  include commentaries discussing the content cross-religious/secular tradition to give a comparative perspective.  Not only the volume editors but also the contributing authors took part in reviewing each others’ chapter making this a unique collected volume, not common in interreligious dialogue today. This text appeals to researchers and students working in the fields of bioethics and religious/secular studies.

This volume is the result of the VII International Workshop Bioethics, Multiculturalism and Religion held in Casablanca in 2019.

Magíster en Doctrina Social de la Iglesia. Reflexión y vida

The Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum in collaboration with the University Finis Terrae of Santiago de Chile, the University Francisco de Vitoria – Spain, and the Society of Consecrated Lay Apostolic Life of Regnum Christi promotes a new online training course in Spanish.

This course will confer the Chilean civil title of Magíster en Doctrina Social de la Iglesia. Reflexión y vida, a second-cycle academic degree for the Chilean university system.

This program confers two degrees: Master’s Degree in Social Doctrine of the Church. Reflection and Life (The University Fines Terrae – Chile) and Título Propio (The University Francisco de Vitoria – Spain).

In this sense, the Master’s Degree is promoted with the purpose of covering the need for solid formation in the subject, having as its main audience Catholics with professional, management, and leadership responsibilities who wish to deepen in the social doctrine of the Church (reflection) and in the connection of this thought with concrete realities (life), to acquire skills that help them to develop their functions and concrete tasks according to the principles and criteria of the social doctrine of the Church. In addition, the course is also aimed at formators, teachers, catechists, priests and consecrated persons, to acquire skills that will help them to develop their functions and concrete tasks according to the principles, criteria, and values of the social doctrine of the Church.

The program aims to foster and project the apostolic conscience of Christians, offering formative tools for the evangelization of temporal realities. To this end, it seeks to provide an overview of the content of the social doctrine of the Church and to facilitate the deeper study of an area of interest. These intentions are expressed in the following objectives:

  • To provide a rigorous and up-to-date formation in the unity and in the various areas of the Church’s social doctrine, oriented to research in the multiple spheres of social life, from the family to the international community, in interdisciplinary dialogue, and for the edification of the civilization of justice and love.
  • To contribute to the development of lines of research on problems in the different areas of the Church’s social doctrine in order to cooperate in the academic advancement of this field.
  • To teach a vision and a methodology of approach to social problems capable of transforming personal and social life with the Gospel.

With a course load of 60 ECTS, to be taken in two years, distributed in four semesters, the academic program of studies is structured in a Common Module with 20 obligatory credits; three optional itineraries, each of which consists of 28 ECTS. The student chooses between:

  • Optional Itinerary 1: The Person and the Environment;
  • Optional Itinerary 2: The Social Role of Private Initiative;
  • Optional Itinerary 3: Public Administration and International Society.

The entire Master’s program is conceived as a dialogue between faith and reason, with an intentional focus on the evangelization of temporal realities, that is, the Christian transformation of the spheres of social life.

It is possible to follow the study remotely (in Spanish). Activities and synchronous classes by videoconference.

The Director of the Magister is Prof. Emilio Martinez Albesa, Extraordinary Professor of our Faculty of Theology.