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Comparing God and AI in Neuromancer Essay

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Parallels between God and AI in Neuromancer

 

The world of "meat" provides the base for much of what happens throughout William Gibson's novel Neuromancer. The lives of characters are shaped by their flesh and blood experiences. The realm of artificial intelligence (AI) is the base for all of the events that are central to the life of a character. All events and lives are under control of the AI, and all things serve the AI's purpose. The matrix serves to mash the two realms together, in times and places where AI cannot physically control the meat. The relationship between these realms is a direct parallel to God's relationship with man.

 

It is hard to disseminate exactly what Gibson wanted to portray in Neuromancer without obscuring it with doctrinal differences. However, it can safely be assumed that the AI is intended to "be God." This is no laughable assertion, since the behavior of the AI character, Wintermute, certainly acts in a god-like manner. When Case is first contacted by Wintermute, it is a very strange, supernatural encounter. Imagine how Case must have felt, to have been "chased" by ringing telephones (p.98), when behind each ring he knows that a very powerful force is waiting to impart information to him that will change his life. According to Christian tradition, God constantly tries to open a line of communication with humans, but an earthly obstacle prevents humans from "picking up the phone" and answering God's call. It could be said that it is fear of the unknown and fear of the inevitable or obvious that causes this separation, which would fall perfectly in place with Case's reasons for avoiding Wintermute. It could be said that Case's experience in the world of meat has caused him to be cr...


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...'s mission. Case is contacted by the AI and told of his success. He is later informed that the toxin sacs imbedded in his body have been treated. What is seen here is the gift of a second life to Case by the AI. This second life is akin to what Christians expect in the afterlife- salvation from all evils such as drugs, lives lived in sin, and unrest in conscience. It is interesting to note, also, that Case uses his brain extensively, whether he is tickling receptors with amphetamines, searching for rhyme and reason in all that he knows about Wintermute, or sprawling his neurons out in the matrix. The apparent "boss" AI is named Neuromancer, and his name is a description of his character- one who deals with things of the mind. The AI gods, then, are interested in thoughts, beliefs, and decisions leading up to the earthly enactment of their will. Just like God.

 


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