Welcome to the Future, Welcome to Now

Cyberpunk is no longer futuristic

I have a hypothesis, but I think there’s plenty of evidence to support it. I believe that the reason William Gibson stopped writing cyberpunk novels is because they’re no longer futuristic. If you’ve read any of his later novels, starting with Pattern Recognition, they’re set in the future, but only just a little. Pattern Recognition was published in 2003 and, for the most part, everything in it could happen today. One of the biggest reasons I write about and work within the cyberpunk philosophy is because I don’t see cyberpunk as being the future.

It’s now. Right now.

Look around you. The United States Armed Forces are working on a self-aiming assault rifle guided by computers and GPS. Even more interesting is that these rifles run on Linux, a free and open source operating system for the masses and those masses include the Federal Government. Soldiers coming back from the wars with missing limbs can look into prosthetic limbs that are, quite frankly, the first generation of cybernetic replacements. One looks at these things and wonder how long it will be before they’re so good, people voluntarily have limbs replaced with them.

Russian smugglers were recently caught using homemade drones to smuggle cigarettes. Think about that, and you’ll quickly realize that if the Russians are doing it so are the Central and South American Cartels. After all, a drone doesn’t have to be stealthy, it just has to fly below the radar. Like a drone operator here in America, the pilot can be miles away and in very little danger of getting caught. Meanwhile, DARPA is looking at the military and intelligence implications of the Oculus Rift and what it might be used for in what will no doubt be the next generation of cyber-warfare.

And me, I’m sitting here writing this screed on a laptop that weighs just over a kilogramme. It’s made of aluminum and connects to a global information network without any wires or cables. I take it with me everywhere and use it for everything. When I want to listen to music, my phone brings it to me over that information network. I can listen to radio all over the world and learn anything I want… all I need is a connection and some time.

Welcome to the cyberpunk future starting in 4… 3… 2…

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