Throughout Neuromancer, I found myself comparing human will to the will of artificial intelligence. Case’s struggles are a human aspect of the novel; someone I could relate to among the foreign terms and characters Gibson used. He starts out as a “broken” man, seeking drugs or a way into cyberspace. Once employed by Armitage, Case was basically forced to remain clean through poison sac implants. If he did not complete his mission, his ability to continue hacking would be disabled. Case was willing to do whatever it took to continue this lifestyle.
All of the seemingly small events in the novel are orchestrated by an AI. Wintermute is only half of a whole; it yearns to be complete. This urge was programmed into it by humans, and possibly had human-like qualities because of that fact. Just as Case is motivated to continue his lifestyle, Wintermute creates elaborate schemes in order to reach its goal. One might argue that it craves its other half, just as Case craves his drugs, or the ability to jack into cyberspace.
The need for these two beings to be complete is what was most noticeable to me about this novel. Case strives to feel whole, while the Wintermute’s mission is to become whole. Though on slightly different levels, these two characters work to serve their own interests.
The idea of machines assuming human-like characteristics is hard for me to imagine. Neuromancer encouraged me to question how something like that could be done, and what opportunities and consequences of such a concept would be. Though it has become a reality in some ways through computer programs like Siri, we have yet to create something that decides and acts on its own. Once technology reaches that point, in what ways will our society change?
Neuromancer describes a world where humans and technology collaborate in every way. Physical and metaphysical traits are not limited to humans; they overlap and are shared with/enhanced by artificial beings. Unlike the negative consequence often found in movies like Terminator, the rise of technological sentience is something that appears beneficial to us. Before this book, I hadn’t really thought about that possibility.