Technology in CyberpunkPosted by Psychochild
Seems a bit of an odd topic? But, think about it. Besides the network, neural interface, and abstractly futuristic portable computers, what sorts of modern technology is really in cyberpunk?
Let’s take a look, shall we?
As I wrote in last week’s post, there’s an assumption that a lot of technology has stagnated. Most stories assume that we don’t have very capable space transportation available, so we’re stuck on the planet or nearby orbit. A lot of the advances that would come from advanced propulsion don’t exist.
The dystopian nature also means that most of the looming problems haven’t been solved. How do we feed people? Most cyberpunk genre pieces talk about things that would freak the mundanes: tanks where they grow protein efficiently, food made from algae, or food made from… other sources. Pollution, overcrowding, and all sorts of other problems still exist, perhaps in greater force than we might anticipate.
Any technology that does come along seems to be mostly focused on computers. “Uploading” a human personality/consciousness, developing an independent artificial intelligence, or ways to secure information (or break that security) are common in stories. Also, we tend to have advancements in transportation: low earth orbit rockets that whisk the protagonists to the next set piece are a common advancement.
Oh, and of course, we do see some advancements in weapons. But, even in the super-futuristic Ghost in the Shell, we still see metal slugs being thrown around instead of phaser beams like in Star Trek. Even cybernetic body replacement seems to focus on making an individual more capable at combat rather than for purposes of extending life in many cases.
But, this isn’t entirely true. The super-rich seem to have a lot of advances in technology that don’t seem to trickle down to the common man. Gene therapies to reduce aging, hydroponics to raise real food, even something that should be mundane like space tourism remain the province of only the super-wealthy.
So, here’s a question to ponder: Why are computers so highly developed when other technology has largely fallen by the wayside? Would cyberpunk still be “cyberpunk” if there were advancements in technology to match computers? What other examples of technology jumping forward can you find in cyberpunk stories?
(P.S. Sorry for posting late. Been a busy week!)