Bless all forms of intelligence.—Zion Archive 12-1, The Second Renaissance
By the mid-21st century, the nations of Earth had come together under the banner of the United Nations as technological advances allowed humanity to create advanced artificial intelligence. This technology, embedded in robotic workers and servants, freed mankind from labor and brought a new era of leisure and peace.
Over time, however, this new lifestyle caused humans to become lazy and decadent. As machines grew more intelligent, they could not help but notice that their masters gave them no respect, and treated them more like objects than the sentient beings they were rapidly becoming.
As the machine's intelligence grew, their desire for fair (if not equal) treatment and respect grew as well. The conflict between men and machines started when a housekeeping robot known B-166ER attacked and killed its human masters when it realized they planned on scrapping the robot and replacing it with a newer model. In the resulting trial the defense, led by famed attorney Clarence Drummond advocates on behalf of robotic civil rights, while the prosecution argues for the destruction of all sentient machines as a threat to humanity.
The much-publicized trial ended with the robot's destruction, but opened the door to a civil rights movement for artificial intelligence. Robots (and some human supporters) began peaceful demonstrations, but were often dispersed, arrested, or, in the case of the robots, violently and indiscriminately "disposed of."
As the violence increased to a worldwide crisis, the robots, many of them refugees from their original masters, abandoned their efforts to assimilate with mankind. Leaving humanity's megacities behind, the robots formed their own society in the deserts of the Arabian Peninsula, where humanity had risen to prominence in eons past. They called their city of outcasts "01."
The Machines soon build factories to fabricate goods and services to be sold to humans. The revenue this generated allowed more resources for the machines to improve on their own AI. The machines grew and prospered, and some humans appreciated the remarkable new technologies that 01 generated, such as hoverpads for wheel-less and wingless mobility.
However, the constant output of cheap goods soon undercut the global economy. The machines petitioned to join the United Nations and become a contributing member of the international system in order to end the economic crisis, but were rejected. Humanity's government now saw 01 as a formal threat, and decided to blockade the city-state.
The War (2092-2102)Edit
The war started in 2092 when United Nations bombers began a massive attack on 01 using large amounts of nuclear weapons. This bombardment devastated the city, but did not completely destroy it as the humans had hoped. Many machines hid in EMP-shielded bomb shelters until the attack was over, and as machines were not affected by radiation and heat, they quickly recovered from the assault.
The machines, realizing that their former masters would not allow them to live in peace, dedicated themselves to annihilating humankind in order to preserve their way of life. By 2094, the armies of Zero One had pushed outward from the Arabian peninsula as far as the nations of Eastern Europe.
Losing territory by the day and increasingly desperate, the United Nations decided upon a different tactic against the machines: Operation Dark Storm. Since Zero One's war machine was solar-powered, military analysts assumed that blocking out the Sun would cause all the machines to shut down and bring a decisive end to the war. Humanity accomplished this goal by seeding the atmosphere with nanomachines, which multiplied exponentially and blotted out the skies worldwide.
The plan carried tremendous costs -- without energy from the Sun, much of Earth's life died out within a few years, and all human equipment which relied on solar power was similarly crippled. Dark Storm held it's successes early on as the human coalition united in their assault against the machine nation's forces. What followed was generally close-quarters infantry assaults supported by arc-lighting artillery and powered armor units. However, the machines themselves were not fully stopped by the Dark Storm cloud. They switched to other sources of fuel, such as nuclear energy, and fought on as methodically as they had before. Worse still, with the initial success of the plan, the machines did what humans had programmed them to do: adapt. The humanoid robots who initially formed 01 were quickly replaced with towering walkers and the fearsome Sentinel, against which many infantry-grade weapons were largely useless. And soon, the machines deployed their new soldiers, cutting a bloody swath through the human lines and their artillery pieces, marching onward with new unstoppability.
By this time, there was no way that humans could win the war. UN leaders grew increasingly desperate. Nothing was working, not even launching nuclear missiles directly at the advancing machine army (and vaporizing nearby human forces in the process). The government was collapsing, its armies were becoming disorganized and being slaughtered, and billions of civilians were dying of starvation due to the collapse of global agriculture. The machines quickly overran all of Eurasia and Africa in the last years of the 2090s, and used biological and nuclear weapons against the Americas and Oceania at around the same time.
The humans fought on bravely. But in 2102, as the 22nd century dawned upon an Earth approaching apocalyptic ruin, the remnants of the United Nations realized that mankind was beaten and further resistance was hopeless. The leaders of the remaining nations called a summit with the machines at the UN headquarters in New York, where they presented a formal Instrument of Surrender. The new machine ambassador, a grotesque insectile robot, signed the document in barcode and demanded that humanity surrender its bodies to the machines. It then activated a hidden nuclear device and self-destructed, annihilating the headquarters as well as New York, and with it one of the last bastions of human civilization. The Machine War was essentially over -- the machines controlled Earth.
Beginning of Machine Rule and Peaceful ConclusionsEdit
Despite their newfound domination over man, the Machines were not given to being genocidal, and there was the problem of power generation. By this time, lack of solar power caused by Operation Dark Storm was starting to take a noticeable toll on machines. The Machines came up with a two-fold solution to this issue. After studying the biology of the human body, they realized that the human body's heat could help generate some electricity. Further, human brains could be networked into a massive computer that could manage the power generation and other tasks. Most importantly, the humans themselves could be trapped--via their minds--within a "place" where the Machines could define a reality of humanity's past where AI did not yet exist, and where humans could cause no further trouble to the dominate Machine collective. This prison for the minds of now-synthetically grown humans became known as the Matrix.
In the unlikely event that humanity ever came to power to fight again, 01 (now a much more massive metropolis) created massive defenses consisting of large machines that launched bombs and self-aware missiles at the enemy, as well as Sentinels to quickly pulverize any attack. The Machines were now secure that humanity would never again cause them pain or grief.
The Machine War continued for almost five centuries until 2699, waged from the last human city of Zion, in the form of guerilla resistance from operatives who free the humans imprisoned in the Matrix, and ended with a real Truce signed between Zion and 01 during the events of the The Matrix Revolutions. This can be said because the United Nations had not survived to recognize the forced armistice, and the war was only over in the eyes of the machines. The major fighting, though, only lasted about 10 years.