This single still is from the widescreen version of ?The Second Renaissance?, one of the Animatrix animated shorts. It has been considerably scaled back from the original material.
Here we see the end of the first machine war, in the Matrix universe. The humans have lost, badly. They were quite simply crushed under the indefatigable strength and power of the army of machines. Yet, instead of wiping their enemy out, instead we see a use very similar to the premise of the computer game Strife, or the Borg from Star Trek. It is also of course, not too dissimilar from the path we are currently on, although preferably without the war.
Surviving humans were experimented upon, not out of malicious intent, but in order to further understand how they functioned. A straight parallel can be drawn there, to current day attempts to understand and unravel both the brain and the central nervous system. Once unravelled, computer parts ? neural jacks ? were implanted at key points, along with diagnostic cables and maintenance hubs. The whole effort was designed to take the persona, the life force, spirit if you will, essentially out of the body, and place it somewhere else, in a virtual environment. The human body, basically just a life support apparatus, could then be used as a power source.
This direction is not too dissimilar again, from a path we may well tread in the future of VR. Not forced as in the Matrix world, but for those who so choose VR over say, a malfunctioning or malformed human body.
Link: The Second Renaissance: Part 1
Link: The Second Renaissance: Part 2