This past week our class went to the DiVE (Duke’s Interactive Virtual Environment), a cube with projected walls creating a 3-D interactive atmosphere, and we tested various different simulations within this environment. Looking back at this experience, after having read Neuromancer by William Gibson, I am fascinated and at the same time scared by how quickly technology can, and is, evolving human life. In my mind, the perspective of the DiVE and the perspective of Neuromancer on the subject of technology’s future uses were opposites.
The DiVE team has many developing projects focused on training simulations that can prepare someone for a real life situation, removing the real risk of a dangerous situation, while still mentally and tactically schooling an individual. One example the DiVE crew gave us was the cave military training that can be implemented to mentally prepare soldiers before they would actually have to perform the mission. These potential projects demonstrated the usefulness and positive outlook that technology can have to enhance our real (non-virtual) lives.
In contrast, the Neuromancer reading takes an approach where a dystopian futuristic society rises through the evolution of technology. To me, Case was an example of how technology had, in a sense, overpowered and belittled a life without the matrix. In a setting where there are holograms and where characters all had some level of technological or physical modification, technology was intertwined to the point of blurring the distinction between technology and the natural. Case explains the view of the sky as, “the color of television, tuned to a dead channel” (Gibson 1) due to this technology-driven culture. Furthermore, Case represents the dependency that continues to grow for technology, after the “adrenaline high… jacked into a custom cyberspace deck that projected his disembodied consciousness into the con sensual hallucination that was the matrix” (Gibson 8), he prefers the virtual life of a hacker in the matrix than the real in his life. His disregard for the real in his life is perfectly depicted by his sense of confinement within his own body, a “relaxed contempt for the flesh. The body was meat. Case fell into the prison of his own flesh” (Gibson 8).
This perspective on a technology-dependent future is a scary thought, and it is dangerous to think about how just as technology can prove to be so beneficial to society, society can also become an “unsupervised playground for technology itself” (Gibson 11). Technology is already creating dependencies in our lives, but looking as to how fast technological advancements are occurring, I wonder how is it that we can “supervise” ourselves from reaching a point such as this Neuromancer society.
Gibson, William. Neuromancer. New York: Ace, 1984. Print.