Like most people, I discovered Cyberpunk with the Matrix in 1999. Jacking into virtual worlds and working in simulated environments became such an obsession that I ended up writing two dissertations on it. One of which helped me get an internship with a ‘virtual worlds’ company, which in turn helped me get a job at another Virtual Worlds startup. Today neither one of those companies exist, at least not in any recognisable way.
So when I decided to start my own little start-up, I went straight to the Cyberpunk source material. BlueAnt Digital is named after the agency of the same name in William Gibson’s ‘Blue Ant Triology’. Gibson of course is the grandest daddy of Cyberpunk, along with Bruce Sterling. And I have had the privilege of watching both these men interact in the flesh. Yes, I am bragging a little here.
Yet, while I looked at the virtual, reality changed. Today when I walk around Delhi, I see hyperconnected people, addicted to their phones, running their entire lives on apps from the palm of their hands. All the while, the city reels under excessive air pollution, worsening access to water, crumbling infrastructure and an ever increasing population density. High technology and low life, mixing together like an oil sheen on water seeping from a drain, reflecting the harsh Delhi sun in candy colors, the very essence of Cyberpunk.
So before I jump into how our lives are run by algorithms or how the steady drumbeat of approaching automation will affect humanity or even how AR + VR will change everything, I present to you how we see the future of a city that we love and hate.
This is Cyberpunk Delhi, an ongoing series that we’re working on at BlueAnt Digital.