Babylon... mothers many demon, I an' I know. Multitude horde! -William Gibson, Neuromancer
One of the major biotechnological concepts William Gibson introduces in his 1984 novel Neuromancer surrounds the fate of McCoy Pauley-also known as Dixie Flatline. The flatline is also referred to as "a ROM personality firmware construct with sequential realtime memory." Yet, Gibson does not explain the 'scientific' process of how a 'cowboy' who actually existed in meat space and who later suffered brain death and flatlined could actually still exist as a virtual construct.
Gibson's idea of a personality construct is actually theoretically possible in the not-so-distant future. Other labels for what Gibson describes McCoy Pauley are: infomorph, virtual clone and even artificial intelligence, though Gibson makes a distinction between a ROM construct and an A.I. (Wintermute). Scientists involved in A.I. research consider one method of arriving at an A.I. is to reverse engineer the human brain, so essentially, a virtual clone or infomorph is a reverse A.I.
According to science correspondent and science fiction writer Charles Platt, (who coined the term infomorph in his 199? novel The Silicon Man) the first step toward arriving at an infomorph is completion of the transcription and decoding of the human genome. This, of course, has already occurred. Platt claims that "...the entire molecular sequence of human DNA [can be] reduced to a string of bits that would occupy about 750 megabytes on your hard drive. " (Platt, Evolution 1)
The next step in the development of a close simulation of what William Gibson envisioned is that it must become affordable for a consumer to have his or her genome scanned and stored on a CD-ROM disc, the storage capacity of which at present is 750 megabytes. This sequencing "might become affordable to some individuals within the next ten or fifteen years." (Platt, Evolution 9) After sequencing is complete, the DNA, which is "...more that just data, its a program...," (Platt, Evolution 9) that can be uploaded to a computer and activated.
The implications are staggering: if we have enough computing power to track all the cell reactions, we should be able to grow a virtual person, information entity--called an infomorph--inside a computer. With just a simple DNA sample, infomorphs of Albert Einstein or Marilyn Monroe or any other person could be nurtured and educated virtually "mimicking the maturation process of a real human being." (Platt, Evolution 10)
The final obstacle to the realization of the infomorphs is computer processing power. According to Platt, the human brain processes between one and 100 trillion operations per second. We currently have "massively parallel computer equipment that is capable of almost one trillion floating point operations per second." According to Moore's Law, computing power continues doubling every eighteen months; therefore, hardware should catch up to brain power sometime around the year 2020. At that point, infomorphs become theoretically possible. (Platt, Evolution 10)
Having stated the above, the Pentagon is at least twenty years ahead of the consumer market technologically in terms of prototypes, has spent millions on black budget exotic and 'non-lethal' information and other similar weapon systems and quite possibly has a separate division for R&D (not including DARPA) in this area.
Alpert, Mark. "Long Distance Robots." Scientific American . December 2001
Chislenko, Alexander. "Technology As Extension Of Human Functional Architecture."
10pp. Online. Internet. Available: www.extropy.org/eo/articles/techuman.htm
Gibson, William. Neuromancer. New York: Ace Books, 1984.
Josefsson, Dan. "I Don't Even Have A Modem: Willam Gibson Interview." 4pp
Online. Internet. Available: www.josefson.net/gibson/gibson3.html
Lovink, Geert. "Building A Progressive, Pragmatic Futurism." 1-10pp. Online. Internet.Available: www.telefonica.es/fat/dery.html
Platt, Charles. "Clear The Line, I'm Sending Myself Right Now." 1-13pp. Online
Internet. Available: www.wired.com/wired/archive/8.01/teleport.html
Platt, Charles. "Evolution Revolution." 1-12pp. Online. Internet. Available:
Zebington, Gary. "Limbo" [Stelarc] 5pp. Online. Internet. Available: