This essay will argue that virtual worlds are becoming very realistic in nature. The virtual worlds represented in The Matrix, Snow Crash, and “Trouble and Her Friends” are realistic in nature and show that the stereotypes of the real world are developing in virtual worlds.
In “A Real Girl” by Shariann Lewitt, a virtual woman is depicted in the form of an AI, or artificial intelligence. This woman is presented as a supercomputer with no real body. Instead, she is “four pounds of neural computing circuitry in a box” (507). This idea that a computer program can be a human girl is very strange, because a human is generally thought of as a body. However, this virtual woman is attempting to become a real girl, and be placed into a body. The AI claims to be a woman, created with “real XX DNA” and, when people call her an ‘it’, she says “I hate it when you call me that” (507). She is claiming to be a real human being, yet she is only a computer program. What is seemingly ironic is the fact that the AI claims to be a woman. This seems contradictory because women are not generally thought of as technologically savvy. The fact that she is a computer program claiming to be a woman shows Lewitt’s stance on the identities of gender and technology. Lewitt shows that different genders do not have different experiences with technology, and that, online, there is no true gender, there is only technology.
1. The essay topic that interested me the most is number 6, the one about the differing representations of Reality and the Metaverse in Snow Crash. I would like to write about this topic because there are a lot of interesting differences and similarities between the two. I am interested in how the characters interact in both worlds and how they are represented.
2. This essay will argue that Neal Stephenson portrays technology as the ideal representation of reality. The Metaverse is a technological utopia based on reality where people can escape the impurities of reality.
3. The main topics of my essay will be how reality and the Metaverse are represented through interactions between people and ways of life in both worlds. I will also focus on the different living spaces in reality, the raft, and the Black Sun.
One of the major themes in Neal Stephenson’s novel, Snow Crash, is the nature of humanity. In the novel, there exists two different societies, one real and one virtual. In the Metaverse, the virtual world, the human controls an avatar. The human can do pretty much whatever they want to do in this virtual world, which means that they do not have to follow the accepted rules of society. Humanity, as a result, is falling apart because people adapt their lives in the Metaverse into their real lives. One of the major examples of the strange nature of humanity presented in the novel is with Ng. Ng is a security contractor who, in 1974, was caught in a terrible helicopter accident. He was burned and lost both of his arms and both of his legs. Ng has the “coolest house in the Metaverse” (222) according to Y.T., yet, in the real world, he lives in a neoprene sack that is filled with “electrocontractive gel” (226). In the real world, he cannot do anything himself, he is plugged in to his van that he turned into a large wheelchair. However, in the Metaverse, he can do anything, which he uses to communicate with his clients. Since all of his communications are done in the Metaverse, nobody really knows that he is basically a cyborg. Everyone assumes he is a perfectly functioning human being, which shows that the nature of humanity is starting to fall apart because of these virtual realities.
In Sherry Turkle’s latest Ted Talk, she describes how technology is taking place of true, meaningful human interactions. She mentions how she participated in a Ted Talk a few years ago, and her daughter gave her a hug for good luck. Before her show this time, however, her daughter sent her a good luck text instead. She tells the audience that people have become so involved in technology, including herself, that we feel like texts are heartfelt conversations. Every day, you can see people reading emails, checking Facebook, posting to twitter, texting, and just generally surfing the web during business meetings, class, or even at the dinner table. She mentions a concept that she has come up with, called the Goldilocks Effect, which means that we as humans cannot be too close nor too far from each other. Technology has helped us achieve this concept because it allows us to text someone who could be thousands of miles away and talk to them like they are right in front of us. In this sense, we have developed an intimate relationship with technology that has caused us to be afraid to actual, real-life conversations.
We now live in a world where people would much rather text someone than have a meaningful conversation. Turkle showed a picture of her daughter and her friends hanging out. In the picture, they are all sitting around together but not looking at each other. Instead, they are all on their phones texting or surfing the web. This is what our world has come to nowadays. We are so enveloped by technology that we forget where we are and who we are with and we just sit there on our phones or computers. Turkle is distraught about how involved we are with technology that she tells the audience that she wants them to re-create some ‘sacred’ areas, such as the dining room, or the kitchen table. She wants families to go back to the old days where we had actual conversations over dinner instead of surfing the web.
I agree with Turkle because I see people every day texting or surfing the web during class or meetings. I think that she is right in wanting families to connect with each other with meaningful conversations. Both Sherry Turkle and Deborah Lupton make allusions to the fact that we are so involved with technology that our phones, computers, and other devices are metaphorically “extensions of the body image sensation” (Lupton 423). Turkle describes the text she received from her daughter before the show as being symbolically the same as the hug she received for a different Ted Talk. We ‘feel’ technology and it makes us happy when we receive a text or an email.