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[system-less] The line between cyberpunk and transhuman science fiction.

Coyote's Own

Former ACME QA Tester.
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Higher-end transhumanist tech probably doesn't mesh well with cyberpunk ideas. Because when minds are readily read-writable data, the oppressive all-controlling organizations are simply going to reformat the population to their taste and then any surviving people retaining the capacity to be cyberpunk protagonists will be completely expelled from the society rather than left on the fringes for future exploitation. And once there's no dissent in the hive, the punk is gone.
As mention Takeshi Kovacs novels (Altered Carbon, Broken Angels, Woken Furies) are cyberpunk books set in furture where mind uploads (and things that go with them like resevling, forking, or putting minds in reality simulations) are common place.
The thing is society still need Cyberpunk PC-like character to do it's dirty deeds. Kovack himself is an ex-Envoy, an elite spec-ops military formation, created to preferom opperation raging from assasination to political manipulations, in fairly PC like manner. The idea is the Envoy are trained and condition to be the operative there can be, and one or small group is send to deal with problems on planetary scale.
 

MoonHunter

Game Guru-Thread Shepherd
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if I remember correctly someone once said: "transhumanism is all about how technology will make humanity better and change civilization, cyberpunk is about how it won't."

I was just about to do that quote. It is my reflex answer. It is a good thing your post is right in the begining where I accidently saw it while starting my post.
 

RobertEdwards

Registered User
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One other thing: In a Transhuman story technology works flawlessly. There's no pain from all your genetic modifications, bionic implants, re-sleeving or whatever.

In Cyberpunk, Technology hurts.
 

Knarf

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From my observations, which are decidedly imperfect, in cyberpunk, upgrading yourself involves removing your humanity. The more technology you pile into yourself, the less human you are until you cross the undefined divide between man and machine. In transhumanism, upgrading yourself simply changes your humanity. There may come a point where you stop being human, but by then, you've become something else entirely that is still not less than human.
 

TheDrunkenMonk

Unfocused third eye
Thinking back as I recall AIs (Artificial Intelligences) were some of the big boogeymen in many Cyberpunk settings, technodragons in their caverns brooding atop hoards of priceless data. Mixing that in with Transhumanist Cyberpunk and what do we have, demon lords and godlings silently duking it out across the net while the mostly unaware populace only sees echoes and ripples of the conflict? Alliances made and broken, wars fought in nanoseconds, corporate presidents forcibly resleeved by differing factions many times, cyberpunk teams acting as pawns or rogue agents in the mesmerising kaleidoscope of conflict - ascension can be a perilous game...
 

Wakshaani

Cheesey Goodness
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if I remember correctly someone once said: "transhumanism is all about how technology will make humanity better and change civilization, cyberpunk is about how it won't."

so technically a work can be both, if made right, showing both what changes and what doesn't.
This is pretty much it.

In Cyberpunk, cutting off an arm to get a cybernetic replacement is a sacrifice... you give up some of your humanity for an edge, and you slowly become less 'real' as the metal 'takes over.' For some people, it's worth it, but most find the price too high.

In Transhumanism, shedding the limits of teh physiclal form is an awakening. Life is just *better* with less meat.
 

David J Prokopetz

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Transhumanism is what's happening in the ivory towers of cyberpunk's streets.
Transhuman stuff is eutopic and technologically optimistic. It is about how technology changes us and the world, with such changes generally being a good thing. Its' very progressive, "New is better!". Hopeful.
IIRC Stephenls had a good quote about:
(Paraphrasing) "Transumanism is about how technlogy will solve all of humanities problem, cyberpunk is about how it wont".
In Transhumanism, shedding the limits of teh physiclal form is an awakening. Life is just *better* with less meat.
I kind of suspect that folks who break it down like this have never actually read any transhuman-themed fiction, and are just going on stuff they've heard about it. Yes, some transhuman-themed fiction is shiny and optimistic and full of ivory-tower twaddle - but other examples of the genre are dark in ways that cyberpunk fiction can't even imagine. Go read Starfish or Blindsight and tell me that fiction with transhuman themes is definitionally optimistic. :p

For my part, if I had to boil down the fundamental distinction, I'd state it like this:

In cyberpunk fiction, there exists an immutable human nature. Insofar as this nature is problematic, technology will not and cannot address or influence these problems; the function of technology is simply to more clearly articulate and express that nature. Cyberpunk fiction also tends to assume that human nature sucks, but that's actually secondary to the assertion that human nature exists (and you'll see why in a second).

Transhuman fiction, conversely, asserst that not only is human nature not immutable, but that it's actually nonexistent. There's simply no such animal. Nature versus nurture is a false dichotomy. We are entirely the product of our environments, be they physical, social - or biological. When technologies like robust genetic engineering, mind-state editing and full-body cybernetic conversion exist, even genetics and neurology can be conceived of as merely another kind of environmental influence.

In a nutshell, give cyberpunk fiction a technology, and you'll get an answer to the question: "How will this technology allow humans to more clearly articulate their inherent and immutable nature?" Give transhuman fiction the same technology and the question that will be answered is: "How will this technology change what we think of as human nature?"
 
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Jack

Wave Man
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I kind of suspect that folks who break it down like this have never actually read any transhuman-themed fiction, and are just going on stuff they've heard about it. Yes, some transhuman-themed fiction is shiny and optimistic and full of ivory-tower twaddle - but other examples of the genre are dark in ways that cyberpunk fiction can't even imagine. Go read Starfish or Blindsight and tell me that fiction with transhuman themes is definitionally optimistic. :p
So...people who don't reference the types of stories you mention haven't read any transhuman fiction because...they're referencing the other types of stories you mention that are part of transhuman fiction? Yeah, that makes total sense.
 
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David J Prokopetz

Social Justice Henchman
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So...people who don't reference the types of stories you mention haven't read any transhuman fiction because...they're referencing the other types of stories you mention? Yeah, that makes total sense.
It does, rather - being aware of only one relatively small subset of a genre is usually a sign that you're going mostly on stuff you've heard about it. Thinking that transhuman fiction is all fluffy utopian twaddle is roughly analogous to thinking that Japanese animation is all Pokémon and Dragon Ball Z; if you do actually consume the stuff, you'd have to be incredibly selective in your reading to be literally unaware of the greater body of the genre.
 
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Jack

Wave Man
Validated User
It does, rather - being aware of only one relatively small subset of a genre is usually a sign that you're going mostly on stuff you've heard about it. Thinking that transhuman fiction is all fluffy utopian twaddle is roughly analogous to thinking that Japanese animation is all Pokémon and Dragon Ball Z; if you do actually consume the stuff, you'd have to be incredibly selective in your reading to be literally unaware of the greater body of the genre.
Ah, so we've transcended the need for any actual evidence to dismiss multiple people as ignorant on a topic and are reading signs and portents. That's far too evolved for me.
 
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