Date of Award
Bachelor of Science
Mathematics & German Studies
Assaiante, Julia G.
"Cyberpunk" is a word that is both familiar and unfamiliar to us. In some ways, it is familiar to us. As a sub-genre of science fiction, Cyberpunk is a popular futuristic theme that greatly influenced pop culture in the 21st century. We are fascinated by the bizarre but realistic fictional world, a dystopian society characteristic of "high tech and low life" for the majority population, it presents. In most works of this genre, an overwhelming technology company monopolies most social resources and dominates society like a "leviathan". The majority population is alienated from the well-being brought by high technology. They are exploited by the social elites and forced to endure the scarcity of resources and terrible living standards.
On the other hand, it is unfamiliar to us. We believe that such a dystopian world can only exist in artworks or literature. Natural rights, social contracts, and "all men are created equal"—these concepts have been deeply embedded in our laws and culture. After the USSR fall, most of us believe that we have reached "the end of history." In this democratic system we proud of, there will be no more oppressors benefiting from exploiting others with their social power. At least, the organization that most likely to become a "leviathan", the government, has been tamed by the democratic system we built.
Naturally, people tend to believe in what they want to believe. A promise of a bright future is always more attractive than disturbing predictions. However, ignorance is always the outset of disaster.
In the 21st century, cyber technology advances at an unprecedented pace. The rocketing up Internet market produces thousands of tech entrepreneurs every year. We once believed that the Internet's development could lead to diversity and transparency and facilitate the free dissemination of information. Nevertheless, tech giants, such as Google and Facebook, are gradually taking over the world of the Internet. They overwhelm, annex the smaller companies and monopolize the dissemination of information.
It is a dangerous sign. Once a group monopolizes information distribution, it can choose what people can know and control the minds. The church in the middle age dominated the era by fabricating information cocoons for the whole population. Being the judge of the truth and knowledge, they took away the people's reason and forced them to follow its words blindly. With the power of faith, it became the "leviathan" of its time.
The Enlightenment freed people's reason from the "leviathan" by breaking the information cocoon. However, today, with the help of AI-algorithm and user experience design, the tech giants who dominate the information are trying to build information cocoons for each of us. Sadly, immersed in the convenience of the services they brought us, this time, we voluntarily give them our reason. These rising "digital leviathans" are once again closing the window of reason for humanity and driving us towards the world of Cyberpunk.
This essay endeavors to demonstrate why our society in the 21st century is on the way to Cyberpunk. With Immanuel Kant and Karl Marx's philosophical ideas, this essay will analyze the consequences that tech giants and their social media have on both individuals and society and why these consequences lead us towards the era of Cyberpunk.
Sun, Yuzhou, "Auf dem Weg zum Cyberpunk (On the Way to Cyberpunk)". Senior Theses, Trinity College, Hartford, CT 2021.
Trinity College Digital Repository, https://digitalrepository.trincoll.edu/theses/888