William Gibson

CyberpunkGood day, Cybernauts. We’ve been enjoying this endearing flick for some time, but are just now getting around to posting about it.

Cyberpunk is a 60-minute documentary from 1990 that serves as a charming bookend to the William Gibson documentary No Maps for These Territories. While Gibson is featured prominently in this doc, it also expands out to illuminate an entire slice of the late ’80s/early ’90s culture that used to be featured in the late, great Mondo 2000 magazine.

Cyberpunk Review offers these insights:

Cyberpunk is a documentary that looks back at the 80s cyberpunk movement, and more specifically, how this has led to a trend in the “real” world where people were starting to refer to themselves as “cyberpunk.” The documentary sees “cyberpunks” as being synonymous with hackers. A number of writers, artists, musicians and scientists are interviewed to provide context to this movement. The guiding meme, as told by Gibson, is that information “wants” to be free. 60s counter-culture drug philosopher, Timothy Leary, provides a prediction that cyberpunks will “decentralize knowledge,” which will serve to remove power from those “in power” and bring it back to the masses. Many different potential technologies are discussed, including “smart drugs,” sentient machines, advanced prosthetics — all of which serve to give context to the idea of post-humanity and its imminent arrival on the world stage.

It’s probably not entirely coincidental that William Gibson chose to pen this op-ed for the New York Times the week before his new book Zero History is released, but nonetheless you have to pay attention when the author of Neuromancer shares his thoughts on the future landscape of computing and artificial intelligence:

Vancouver, British Columbia

“I actually think most people don’t want Google to answer their questions,” said the search giant’s chief executive, Eric Schmidt, in a recent and controversial interview. “They want Google to tell them what they should be doing next.” Do we really desire Google to tell us what we should be doing next? I believe that we do, though with some rather complicated qualifiers.

Science fiction never imagined Google, but it certainly imagined computers that would advise us what to do. HAL 9000, in “2001: A Space Odyssey,” will forever come to mind, his advice, we assume, eminently reliable — before his malfunction. But HAL was a discrete entity, a genie in a bottle, something we imagined owning or being assigned. Google is a distributed entity, a two-way membrane, a game-changing tool on the order of the equally handy flint hand ax, with which we chop our way through the very densest thickets of information. Google is all of those things, and a very large and powerful corporation to boot…