Sunday, April 15, 2007

Semi-Autonomous Guard Units

In chapter twelve we meet Ng Securtiy Semi-Autonomous Guard Unit #A-367. Though I'm not finished with the novel, I've seen a few instances involving these "Rat Things." I like how there are whole little sections devoted to their thoughts. But isn't this interesting. At first I wondered how this could be because they seemed to be built machines for the purpose of security. Then as Y.T. tries to save one from having a melt down, she realizes it bleeds and has "biological components," as Hiro informed her. So these Rat Things are cybernetic animals that can feel and comprehend (at an animal level), but are technologically advanced to perform "inanimal," like inhuman, feats.
Then we meet Ng, to tell us all about the Rat Things, around chapter twenty nine. But he's a weird specimen as well. He has an entire body device, with connection to that crazy van, that he simply calls an "extension of my body." But if you read the chapter...you know how elaborate of an "extension" this is! But isn't this how we discussed what a cyborg is, having a technological extension of the human (or animal I guess) body? What seems important, that makes humans and animals most special, are their brains and it's ability to control the surrounding technology it is engulfed in. Also interesting to note is when Ng reveals the Rat Things are of "dog parts," he tells the disturbed Y.T. that "your mistake is that you think that all mechanically assisted organisms-like me-are pathetic cripples. In fact, we are better than we were before." The whole concept that Ng brings up with the Rat Things and himself seem important to look at when we discuss cyborgs and what it means to be human (again, or animal...can't leave them out:).
And wasn't the story with Fido (or Number B-782) and the following section describing how he remembers Y.T., or the "nice girl," great? I especially like when B-782 thinks "in order to protect the nice girl, they are hurting some of the bad men...which is as it should be." All in all, what can these sections of the novel involving the Rat Things and their thoughts tell us? I'm still thinking about it, and I just really liked how Stephenson incorporated these creatures in the story...whatever they may be.

1 comment:

Anthony said...

The bits with Ng were interesting in that Stephenson doesn’t try to sway the reader in one direction, but simply presents the concept of a fully integrated cyborg (by fully integrated I mean there is an obvious difference between someone with a pace maker and someone like Ng) and that they can still exist normally albeit, differently. The rat-things still feel everything a normal dog would, they simply happen to perform their guard dog duties slightly differently, furthermore, a normal dog would not be able to tap into the virtual reality of unending bliss the rat-things can. Moreover, Ng is perfectly content to exist in his virtual representation of paradise while maintaining his body simply for formalities. Now there are obvious dangers when a typical person would shirk their normal lives to exist solely in the metaverse, but for Ng it is simply an extension of himself, not better or worse, simply different. Ng still experiences everything he needs to from the real world by means of his monitors, but is able to move about freely and successfully manage his business from within the metaverse. It’s a rather stark contrast for Y.T. as she represents the manifestation of a human unbound from technology for the most part existing primarily in the real world, but the example of Ng is simply intended to make the reader consider such an existence and the implications of such objectively.