Neuromancer, Blade Runner & Ubik – “ethics inside”

The works of the authors Philip K. Dick and William Gibson connected in a point of time. This is a relevant lesson for the relation between art & technology, but also underlines the importance of technology with “ethics inside“.

“Neuromancer” was William Gibson’s first novel, as before he concentrated on short stories. He needed to overcome initial concerns to invest a larger time for writing this book. He already finished a third of the story, as he saw “Blade Runner”-movie in 1982. So far, he not had been a fan of Philip K. Dick’s works, but this experience was a shock for him. The movie used the same ingredients as his Neuromancer. Even more, he saw the movie not developed to become the expected financial success. He wanted to have his debut different, and for this completely rewrote what he had so far.

Ironically the book was not only influenced by Blade Runner, but Gibson received in 1984 also the Philip K. Dick Award for the best original science fiction paperback published in in the United States. Despite this, Neuromancer had more in common with anther of Dick’s novels: “Ubik”.

Dick wrote already in 1974, a screenplay to transform his novel “Ubik” into a movie. This after the French director Jean-Pierre Gorin visited him to discuss the idea of a movie. Unfortunately, the joined project never realized. Later in 2011, Michel Gondry, another French director communicated his idea to adapt the book for a movie. Three years later he abandoned the project: “The book is brilliant, but it’s good as a literary work. Having tried to adapt it with several screenwriters… at the moment I don’t feel up to doing it. It doesn’t have the dramatic structure that would make it a good film. I received a script that disheartened me a bit, and that was it. It was a dream, but in life you can’t always have what you want.” Gibson’s Neuromancer also already had different candidates to direct the related movies. For example, in 2007 Vicenzo Natali should direct, but after working for five years on the concept, he dropped out.

Nevertheless, both novels had been used as base for computer games. In 1998 the French developer Cryo Interactive designed for Windows and PlayStation the video-game “Ubik”. Ten years earlier, US developer Interplay released Neuromancer for different platforms, like Amiga, Apple, C64 and MS-DOS. Today everybody can play it comfortable inside the browser.

My book “Tomorrow’s Business Ethics: Dick vs. Deming.” relates in different chapters to music, as art inspires technology or even can be a part of it. Composing itself is a creative process (even if already the first AI-compositions are available), nevertheless classic symphonies and even pop-songs are integrated into systems. Music inspired and supported my writing, for this I created a special playlist “Neuromancer” at Spotify. With this, everybody who likes the book, may enjoy this virtual soundtrack. I guess reading the lines while listening to the music fosters the impression of having a cyberpunk business book in front of you. Not only in the age of disruption it is imperative to keep up critical thinking, questioning the status quo, and the benefit for society. Technology supports us, but if ethics are not integrated, it automatically becomes a dangerous path.


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