Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Technology and the Body

I think the interplay between technology and disease is very interesting in Neuromancer. Case's ability to act as a cyber-cowboy is fundamentally related to technology, as the neural implants are what allow humans to interact with the cybernetworks in the story. However, once Case is caught, his ability to hack the computers is taken away with a mycotoxin that damages his central nervous system. The company he works for infects him with this mycotoxin, and this is what takes away his ability to use the neural implants. It is interesting that even though the dystopian world of the story is so incredibly dependent on and entrenched in technology, a naturally occurring toxin must be employed to inflict this damage. With the use of neural implants, it becomes clear that technology in this future has become literally internalized by the population in the world of the story. However, even with all of the incredibly advanced technology, the ability to inhibit and then later allow again, Case to use the technology and assume the role of a cyber-cowboy, must be done with something related to nature (the toxin). This struck me as interesting, because with most advanced, Artificial Intelligence stories with computer networks that become self aware, the evil is inflicted by the corporations in the form of technology--technology getting out of hand and over-taking its initial aims and goals of the company. Nonetheless, it is still the tech that creates the problem. This story is particular interesting as Case is the protagonist, and one of the weapons against him on the part the corporation is not technology, but the removal of his ability to access and use the tech. This struck me as an interesting reversal of the traditional way this kind of story plays out. Further, the idea that it is a naturally occurring toxin that inhibits Case's ability to utilize the technology, only seems to support this interesting reversal in the text. The 'evil' company has to use natural means to protect their advanced technology, and this seemed curious to me. Did anyone else notice this/ have a reaction to this idea? This post may be a bit underdeveloped, as I have not quite finished the book, and I have not yet read the articles. It has been a bit of a busy week, but I look forward to a more full discussion of the texts in class tomorrow, once I have finished all of the readings.


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