Inspiration: Neuromancer

“The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.”

From the opening line, William Gibson’s 1984 novel is cinematic. 

The story is both amusingly dated at times (everyone uses landlines and telephone boxes), and eerily prophetic, referencing The Matrix, and Cyberspace alongside familiar 80’s tech, like Nikon, Fuji, and Mitsubishi to describe a universe where people interact with the world through screens.

Gibson’s fantastic story-telling, visual imagery coupled with poetry (“the scent of German steel”), and vivid descriptions of human augmentation and direct-brain interfaces captivated me from the start.

The plot revolves around Case, a destitute hacker, who is hired for a final job: hacking through the security around an AI named Neuromancer. As the story unfolds, Case discovers that he was employed by another AI named Wintermute, who plans to merge with Neuromancer to become a Super-AI. This revelation leads Case to evade the Turing Registry Agents (I know right!), whose purpose is to prevent AIs from becoming existential threats.

One of the things that caught my attention was how Case accesses Cyberspace, connecting directly to the Matrix, by “jacking in”, directly to his brain. 

He then experiences, “a graphic representation of data abstracted from banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding…”

Without the “city” visualisation, “cyberspace would be a complex sea of information that humans would never be able to understand”.

Wow! The idea of conceptualising data in a 3D space deeply resonated with me, as it aligns with my own search for new ways of communicating and navigating complex information, potentially translating data into a tangible whole-body 3D AR/VR experience. It evoked memories of my previous experiences with CAVE VR and experimenting with data represented as music.

Gibson skilfully portrays the dissociation between the virtual and real worlds during “jacking,” the alienating influence of technology and the merging of humans and machines. An idea that both fascinates and troubles me.

I can’t believe I’ve only just discovered this book! This enthralling tale of AI intrigue explores themes like trans-humanism and post-humanism that are still relevant and thought-provoking. 

I await your book recommendations with anticipation!

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