In William Gibson’s text entitled Neuromancer, technology acts as a fundamental force of change within society. The increasingly sophisticated nature of technology provides an avenue of enhancing the society one lives in. Case, the protagonist, essentially ponders whether or not the implications of technology will create an even more advanced society. In the text, technology can be described as a catalyst because it is a force that represents several actions such as escape, transcendence and enhancement.
Although technology assumes such a powerful role in Neuromancer, it surprisingly makes the conditions of society worse. Case recollects on the natural world, specifically in the final portion of the text when he is given an ultimatum consisting of two options. He is to choose to stay in a dream world in which he is comfortably on a beach or he is to return to the real world and facel his challenges. One challenge in particular being the situation that he has with an enemy who is out to kill him because he owes him money. Thus, Case arguably uses the computer to escape from reality. Another situation that occurs that seems to represent an element of escape in the text is the following,
“Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts…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…” (Gibson).
This quote addresses the idea of cyberspace as an escape because it describes human experience with cyberspace being equated to an hallucination or an experience involving the apparent perception of something not present. The imagery presented in this quotation adds an element of escape while it also depicts the way in which it transcends reality. Although technology makes society worse in this context, it also enhances society’s intellectual capacity as it smartens society. This is apparent when Case transplants his mind to see from the perspective of the girl with the glass eye . This situation elaborates upon the fact that technology is an important component of society in Neuromancer while it also elaborates upon the idea of perception in the text.
Another interesting focus of the text is the relationship between humans and technology. As indicated by various examples within the text, humanity is dependent upon individual technology and kinesthetic enhancements. Interestingly, every human character in the text remains static, as fate seems to ultimately determine one’s destiny. As stated in Stephan Conway’s essay entitled “Transcedence and Technology in William Gibson’s Neuromancer,
“Human characters seem unaware or incapable of forming or reforming an individual, provisional, less than absolute notion of self. Wintermute, an Artificial Intelligence, a computer, however, acknowledges and attempts to transcend itself. The boundaries between humanity and the machines it produces are blurred. Old paradigms of self, of identity seem obsolete. The character who possesses the greatest capacity for change in the novel is a machine. This is neither an indictment of humanity nor an endorsement of technology. Instead, the novel remains steadfastly ambivalent toward what Gibson himself calls “the very mixed blessings of technology” (Gibson)
In this quote Gibson elaborates upon the relationship between humans and technology, as it specifically relates to humans to the machine, Wintermute. The argument that the machine undergoes the greatest amount of change during the duration of the text is proposed. This is very interesting to the end that machines are not typically dynamic characters nor are they given human characteristics. Thus, one can argue that technology controls human nature. One particular example in the text is the Russian bartender with the rubbery arm who was at war and was able to regain his life circumstance through an avenue of technology. Another example is the centennial man who go Case went to for advice and lived to be very old because of technology. In both instances technology serves to preserves life, especially in the old man’s situation in which he keeps upgrading his body parts in order to maintain his health.
In conclusion, the novel asks us to consider the idea of individual identity in parallel with human existence within a technological framework. What does individual identity tell us about human existence? What does human existence tell us about individual identity? These questions have continued to remain unanswered. Thus, it is difficult to answer the question would new technologies fundamentally alter what it means to be human. However, one can definitely that this could indeed alter the state of humanity, as technology has a significant affect on the way that humans function in society. If a technological product has the capabilities of a human, then it will possibly supersede and eventually replace of the role of the human in society. Although the core of humanity has deeper implications in society, the role of technology in the text is indicative of the dynamism in ability that technology bears.