After 500 pages, the chaotic events of The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson have finally come to an end.
Once again, the idea that society always connects to the essence of humanity, even in a technological age, was a prominent focus of the final 100 pages. Fiona told her father:
“‘So I think you’re more than an engineer. It’s just that you need a magic book to bring it out.'” (409)
The reason that the primer had an effect on Fiona was because she believed she could connect with her father through it. Fiona also would have probably grown up in a healthier way had her father stayed at home and simply read a book to her every night. She suffered greatly because of her father’s absence, and she needed that deep, human connection with her parent to be happy. In the end, Fiona did find her calling in a way because of her father, but Hackworth’s family would have probably been much happier had he stayed with Fiona.
Nell’s story in the primer also emphasized the importance of humanity:
“…a Turing machine, no matter how complex, was not human. It had no soul. It could not do what a human did.” (442)
In the end, we wouldn’t have technology if we didn’t have humans who created them, and more importantly, considered the implications of technology. Machines also cannot truly replace humans. As Nell’s primer said, machines don’t have souls, and that is the fundamental difference.
It was also neat to see Nell and Hackworth finally interacting through Nell’s primer, and Hackworth even encourages Nell to find Miranda. Hackworth is an interesting character for sure; he’s extremely skilled with technology, yet he also understands the importance of a meaningful human relationship. Finding the balance between those two thought processes is truly the challenge as technology continues to advance in society.
Dr. X summed up this novel pretty well in one sentence:
“‘But the only proper way to raise a child is within a family.'” (455)
Nell’s primer undoubtedly changed her life, but her narrator is what enabled her to become successful. Miranda dedicated herself to helping Nell, and without her mother-like presence, Nell wouldn’t have had the same experience with the primer. Stories are more meaningful when you have someone to share them with.
In essence, this story is about the importance of human relationships and how stories bring people closer together. Even when there are rebellions going on with violence and destruction, with society at the brink of collapse, Nell’s relationship with Miranda is what ultimately saves the world. The two were brought together because of a book, and the interaction that took place from storytelling and reading together created an essential bond between them.
Human beings naturally crave creating connections with others, and those bonds will always overpower the dominance of technology.
Source: Stephenson (Finish)