A Study of the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence in William Gibson's Neuromancer

By: Jae Uk Choo  

In his novel, Neuromancer, William Gibson predicts the future world full of so-called posthumans and transhumans like artificial Intelligences, cyborgs, robots, etc., which have to interact with each other as a full member of society to achieve their destined goals. Among them, the two artificial intelligences, Wintermute and Neuromancer, play decisive roles in constructing the future world in the novel. Wintermute is “hive mind, decision maker, effecting change in the world outside.” On the other hand, Neuromancer is “personality” and “immortality." It is stated that “Marie-France must have built something into Wintermute, the compulsion that had driven the thing to free itself, to unite with Neuromancer.” And then, why did Marie-France put such a compulsion into the Wintermute? It seems that Marie-France emphasizes a “symbiotic relationship with the AI's, our corporate decisions made for us.” However, to maximize the economic profits, Tessier-Ashpool corporate chose the separation between the Wintermute to pursue only the targeted goal and the Neuromancer to make the community warm-hearted. What should be noted here is the problems caused by the loss of balance and combination between Yin and Yang that Marie-France is to desire in the future world because resolutions of the problems surely depend on what ethical attitudes the corporate owners take. In that sense, this paper will focus on what kinds of ethics should be pursed in the era of AIs of the hi-tech future, highlighting the way the relationship among the different posthuman and transhuman members is being built up in the novel.

Neuromancer, AI, Ethics
Literary Humanities
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Jae Uk Choo

Professor, English Department, Chung-Ang University, South Korea
Seoul, South Korea

Jae-uk Choo is teaching at English department of Chung-Ang University in Seoul Korea. His major areas are science fiction, contemporary American fiction, Victorain novel, and creative writing. For the past three years, he has  worked as a chief editor of the Journal of American Studies in Korea.