Neuromancer poses several pointing questions regarding the meaning of ‘humanity’, the effects of eugenics and genetic/physical augmentation on society, as well as the dangers of computing. At the end of it, the answers to those questions are still very ambiguous to me (as I suppose was intended). Certainly, I question what it means to ‘human.’ I’m personally inclined to ignore the biological definitions in favor of the thought based ones. By my definition, a human being is an entity that can make free willed decisions. Armitage is a curious case as a result – I don’t believe that he is human. He lacks free thought and in the end is Wintermute’s tool. As for the merits of eugenics and genetic modification, I imagine there are multiple paths to take. I personally think that genetic modification will in the long run benefit humanity. Being able to repair pieces of our bodies (or even replace them) is well within the rights of a person. The morally gray areas for me are clones, or bodies harvested to hold data. To raise a human for parts or as a clone seems inhuman to me. Depriving them of human freedoms makes it seem to me as though they are simply bodies with no minds. Clones unsettle me as well, but I can’t quite put my finger on why. I believe it’s because the existence of a clone removes the uniqueness of both the original and the copy. Clones are simply renamed as something like ‘3Jane’, to represent the 3rd iteration. Their identity is the exact same but they are different in body in mind.
As far as digital humanities goes, the novel certainly relates to our work. It poses many questions about the interactions and integration of technology in society and possible future implications. While it seems to show many of the negative sides in its dystopia setting, it was interesting as a computer scientist to read the negatives. It definitely made me think about the applications of computers and technology and ‘cyberspace’ differently. If I were to write a project on this novel, I would delve deeper into the concepts of AI and humanity. There’s a well known computer science concept called the Turing test. An AI that passes the Turing test is indistinguishable from a human, and there are several directions I could go to think about what that means.