When faced with the incredibly realistic but ultimately false reality of The Matrix which cognitive functions would prove most useful in detecting the machines’ simulation? Certainly not all functions were created equal in this regard. Certain types have to prove more difficult to subdue. Who bucks the simulation of this logical world?
To recognize the Matrix I would want the ability to think imaginatively, to see beyond what my senses tell me. The machines own my senses now. I need alternative means of perception.
It would also help if I had values and abilities that the machines themselves can’t emulate. If they can’t feel what I feel, then that makes me far more difficult to predict. They have more difficulty cutting my perceptions off before I can realize them. They will always have a superior logic. They possess flawless objective processes. But as a mammal, I will always have more capacity for unique emotion. I must fight them on the battlefield where I have the advantage.
With this rubric in mind, I outlined the eight cognitive functions from most potentially helpful to least:
Introverted Feeling (Fi) – No matter how long they study, the machines will never truly understand the depths of a man’s heart. They will never find a way to emulate the connection the Fi type feels with their fellow man. Of all the types, the Fi types possess the strongest sense of empathy. Through the observation of so many cues of body language and speech, they begin to feel what someone else feels. No matter how accurate the Matrix becomes, the simulation always puts a thin film, a slight barrier, between the full interaction of two human beings. The Matrix places a wisp of haze in front of the feeler’s empathy. With such a perfectly crafted world, these slight, constant inconsistencies mean all the difference. The Fi type never feels as fully connected to humanity as they should. Maybe that explains why so many great Fi artists – Kurt Cobain, Heath Ledger, Jimi Hendrix – come to tragic ends. They just finally escaped the Matrix.
Extraverted Intuition (Ne) – No cognitive function possesses a higher capacity for imagination. The Ne types constantly scan their environment – on an almost subconscious level – for any and all connections between all things. This form of intuition loves to follow each and every rabbit trail that springs to life in the mind’s eye. This gives the user two advantages in fighting the Matrix. First, the Ne types, more than any other, notice the inconsistencies in their reality. They stands apart as the great satirists and revolutionaries like Machiavelli, Mark Twain, and Stephen Colbert. This constant examination of their reality could potentially lead them to notice the machines pulling the puppet strings behind their reality.
The Ne type also has the imagination to create a world different from their own, a world where these puppet masters don’t exist or don’t hold any power over their human slaves. Ne types don’t just imagine a better world, they seek to engineer one. No matter how well the machines prepare, they can never fully plan for every permutation of an idea that can occur to these scatter brained geniuses.
Introverted Intuition (Ni) – Like their Ne brethren, Ni types possess a strong imagination. They have an ability to plan for the future that borders on precognition. They see all of the possible outcomes in a situation and can plan for the most likely ones. They could entertain the idea of a world dominated by machines and a false reality. However, because they direct their perception inward, it leaves them rather divorced from their external world. As such, why should they care whether they live in a “real” world or one dominated by the simulation of an artificial intelligence. As long as they remain free to read their books or organize that reality in a sensible manner, they could care less about their supposed slavery. The Ni might see the Matrix, but will they do anything about it?
Introverted Thinking (Ti) – Introverted thinking helps the user solve puzzles. It provides a logical framework from which they can experiment with their external world. In solving most problems – such as defeating your robot overlord – this kind of sharp, focused mind comes in handy. Unfortunately for the Ti type in this universe, their enemy will always have a superior logic. Like pitting the school chess champion against a grand master, the human simply has no chance. The Ti type could potentially notice a logical inconsistency in the Matrix but the machines will probably always stay one step ahead.
Introverted Sensing (Si) – The machines have co-opted humanity’s five senses to an alarmingly accurate degree. Thus, the Si type only notices the Matrix if they witness the machines change something. They have such a sharp memory that they would pick up on any alterations made by the Agents or the Matrix’s over-arching program long before anyone else would. However, the Si type probably goes their entire life without ever encountering such a change. They still have long odds of noticing an event that has long odds of occurring in the first place. The Si type lacks any agency in noticing the simulation.
Extraverted Thinking (Te) – Like the Ti type, the Te type uses a strong logic in an attempt to order their world. I’ve already shown how hard a thinking mammal has it against a purely logical machine. And like the Si type, the chances of a Te type noticing the Matrix rely purely on circumstances. Te will only see proof of the Matrix when they try to order their external world and that world doesn’t react in a logical manner. In other words, for an extraverted thinker to see the Matrix, they have to find a bug in an expertly crafted game. The machines just don’t make those kinds of mistakes very often.
Extraverted Feeling (Fe) – The Fe type seeks the harmony and growth of all people in their tight-knit community. They have no incentive to seek out the Matrix because the extraverted feeler can accomplish these aims within the confines of the simulation. In fact, the Matrix actively uses community harmony to keep their subjects in line. Morpheus tells us that you can feel the Matrix “when you go to work… when you go to church… when you pay your taxes.” The Fe type may even aid the machines in working against those searching for proof of the Matrix. They believe that such “terrorists” pose a threat to the harmony of society with their dangerous ideas.
Extraverted Sensing (Se) – Above all else, the Matrix seeks to corrupt our senses. We see what they want us to see, hear what they want us to hear, etc. Se type leans heavily and completely on those very senses. Above all others, they find it the most difficult to extract themselves from the Matrix’s sticky web. They think they see more than all others, but they are clearly the most blind.
I won’t bore you with the details, but I assigned a point total to each function and then weighted the impact of that function depending on where if falls in the stack of a given personality type. I came to the following ranking for the most likely type to escape the Matrix.
|1.||INFP||Fi, Ne, Si, Te|
|2.||ENFP||Ne, Fi, Te, Si|
|3.||ISFP||Fi, Se, Ni, Te|
|4.||ENTP||Ne, Ti, Fe, Si|
|5.||INTJ||Ni, Te, Fi, Se|
|6.||INTP||Ti, Ne, Si, Fe|
|7.||INFJ||Ni, Fe, Ti, Se|
|8.||ENTJ||Te, Ni, Se, Fi|
|9.||ESFP||Se, Fi, Te, Ni|
|10.||ISTJ||Si, Te, Fi, Ne|
|11.||ESTJ||Te, Si, Ne, Fi|
|12.||ENFJ||Fe, Ni, Se, Ti|
|13.||ISTP||Ti, Se, Ni, Fe|
|14.||ESFJ||Fe, Si, Ne, Ti|
|15.||ISFJ||Si, Fe, Ti, Ne|
|16.||ESTP||Se, Ti, Fe, Ni|