Tuesday, 4 April 2017

The Man-Machine Interface

Organisms interact with environments. Hands and brains manipulate environments. Technologies are artificial extensions of hands and brains. When we drive, it is as if we become the car. In Poul Anderson's The Avatar, a human brain interacts with a computer, thus making it an AI. In Anderson's Harvest of Stars Tetralogy and Genesis, AIs include human memories and personalities downloaded into artificial inorganic self-replicating cerebral systems. Can this mind-machine fusion be approached in contemporary fiction?

"Salander worked in a trance-like state. The account - click - email - click - balance sheets - click. She noted down the latest transfers. She tracked a small transaction in Japan to Singapore and on via Luxembourg to the Cayman Islands. She understood how it worked. It was as if she were part of the impulses in cyberspace. Small changes. The latest email. One brief message of somewhat peripheral interest was sent at 10.00 p.m. The P.G.P. encryption programme (rattle, rattle), was a joke for anyone who was already inside the computer and could read the message in plain text..."
-Stieg Larsson, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (London, 2008), Chapter 29, pp. 500-501.

Salander is neither a cyberspatial impulse nor literally inside a computer but her attention is focused there and not in her external environment. She is "...in a trance-like state."

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I think what we see here is how Stieg Larsson may have been influenced by the SF he had read helping to shape his own book. Here Salander only needed to go one step further to become like Joelle in THE AVATAR.