What is The Matrix?

Lester D. Stone II, English 65, The Cyborg Self, Brown University (Fall 2006)

Gibson presents a world that grows closer to our own. When Case first enters cyberspace he sees his house, the military systems and banks. People today can see their house if they use special navigation programs. Hackers can also get into secret files from authoritative places like the NSA and FBI. Right now there are many cases of identity theft from online transfers of bank accounts. Gibson presents a true cold reality in his explanation of the Matrix. If you trace the history of virtual reality, the medium has descended from arcade games and mathematically generated children. We can also see graphical data represented today on the internet in the form of statistics, research papers, and videos.

Within Neuromancer hackers methodically brake into advanced systems and artificial intelligence has become almost human. Dixie’s conversation with Case points this out when Case asks Dixie if he is sentient or not. Dixie feels human but knows that he is not.

Cyberspace deals with an almost sensual and heavenly experience that only one who has jacked in can appreciate.

"THE MATRIX HAS ITS ROOTS IN PRIMITIVE ARCADE games," said the voice-over, "in early graphics programs and military experimentation with cranial jacks." On the Sony, a two-dimensional space war faded behind a forest of mathematically generated ferns, demonstrating the special possibilities of logarithmic spirals; cold blue military footage burned through, lab animals wired into test systems, helmets feeding into fire control circuits of tanks and war planes." Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts . . . A graphic representation of data abstracted from the banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding." [p. 51]


1. Do you think that our lives are a kind of Matrix?

2. Will the internet reach a depth in complexity in which reality and the virtual world becomes blurred to an unfathomed degree?

3. Cyberspace since Gibson is viewed in countless other media including The Matrix Trilogy and animated shows such as Futurama. In both of these, cyberspace and reality have been viewed as two distinct worlds. It has also been shown that artificial intelligence can live in both worlds. Do humans live in tone world or two separate worlds? Can artificial intelligence r occupy both worlds?

4. Is cyberspace a type of heaven for humans?


Gibson, William Neuromancer. New York: Ace Books, 1984.

Cyberspace OV Cyborg  Mona Lisa Overdrive

Last modified 17 September 2006