Future_Imperfect: how cyberpunk stories can shape and inform the technological imaginary
Gruijl, J.A. de
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Technological imaginaries can shape how consumers view technologies, what technologies are researched, and what technologies eventually get produced. While technological imaginaries can encompass both utopian and dystopian visions of the future, generally these imaginaries tend to lean towards utopian visions – which can lead to blind spots for possible dangers. Cyberpunk-genre stories, with their highly detailed, highly critical and exclusively dystopian visions of the future, can serve to sobering and informative tool for technological imaginaries, helping us to envision what moral and ethical problems future technological developments have in store for us so that we can pre-emptively start formulating answers to those problems. To illustrate an example of how cyberpunk can influence technological imaginaries in a meaningfully informative and possibly educational way, two quintessential cyberpunk-genre videogames were analyzed for key themes in their narratives, after which these disseminated themes were formulated into the technological imaginaries the games propose. The result is that cyberpunk-genre stories in particular offer a compelling counter-balance to utopian technological imaginaries, introducing a degree of skepticism and critique into our technological imaginaries related to human augmentation technologies in particular.