Friday, July 10, 2015

Cyberpunk vs Ribofunk

Cyberpunk is a world of silicon chip implants, stainless steel, firtual reality, and grim computer hackers. It's fun to read about, but who wants to live that way?
Mark and Carla grab onto Paul Di Filippo's notion of Ribofunk, as coined for his collection of stories with the same name. As he said,
It's a neologism of my own inventing that I hope spreads like a memetic virus throughout the intellectual community. Ribo comes from the word ribosome, which I use as a shorthand for all biology, and funk indicates a stylistic component derived mostly from funk music... a hot, skittery style in contrast to the more laid back, cerebral style that you might find in some cyberpunk...
So what is ribofunk? Carla and Mark compared it to Cyberpunk as follows:

silicon carbon
computer hacking biohacking
designer drugs designer genes
control chaos
cyborg mutant
implants parasites
Neuromancer Blood Music
logic libido
Kraftwerk George Clinton
robotics artificial life
Chess Twister
How does this all look in reflection? Actually, quite contemporary. Biohacking is still a fringe topic, designer genes are far from main-stream and continue to evoke heated debates about the ethics and societal fairness of "designer babies." That debate has moved from theoretical potential of such actions and closer to reality as whole genome sequencing has significantly advanced in the past twenty years. In 1995, genome sequencing was just starting to pick up steam. Now the target is to cut the price to $1,000 USD for a complete human genome, which again comes with a range of technical, ethical and legal issues.

Artificial life and Blood Music are still future-tech, in terms of full-fledged realization, while George Clinton is still funky, and Twister is still kitschy.

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