William Gibson And The Internet Essay, Research Paper
William Gibson and The Internet
The words “Internet” and “world wide web” are becoming everyday use these
days, it has exploded into the mass market of information and advertising. There
are bad points about the “net” as well as good points, this relatively new
medium is growing at such a rate that the media have to take it seriously.
This new form of communication was mainly populated by small groups of
communities, but now that it is getting much easier to access the web these
groups are growing.
The word Cyberpunk is nothing new in the world of the “net” and to science
fiction readers , and it is this term which names most of the online
communities . Within the Cyberpunk cultures there are sub cultures such as
hackers, phreaks ,ravers etc.. all have a connection with new technologies. The
term Cyberpunk was originated in Science Fiction Literature, writers such as
William Gibson tell stories of future worlds, cultures and the Internet.
it is William Gibson and the cyberpunks who have carried out some of the
most important mappings of our present moment and its future trends during the
past decade. The present, in these mappings, is thus viewed from the persceptive
of a future that is visible from within the experiences and trends of the
current moment, from this perpscetive, cyberpunk can be read as a sort of social
The Internet is a network of computer networks, the most important of
which was called ARPANET(Advanced Research Projects Agency NETwork), a wide area
experimental network connecting hosts and terminal servers together. Rules were
set up to supervise the allocation of addresses and to create voluntary
standards for the network. The ARPANET was built between October and December
1969 by a US company called Bolt, Beranak and Newman (BBN), which is still big
in the Internet world. It had won a contract from the US Government’s Department
of Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency , or ARPA, to build a network that
would survive a nuclear attack. Only four government mainframe computers were
originally linked up, Unfortunately, ARPANET was also dependent on the
involvement of hundreds of US computer scientists. Because the ARPANET was a
military project, it was managed in true military style – the project manager
appointed by ARPA gave the orders and they were carried out. It was therefore
easy to tell who “ran” the network. By 1972 it had grown to 37 mainframe
computers. At the same time, the way in which the network was being used was
changing. As well as using the system to exchange important, but boring,
military information, ARPANET users started sending e-mail – to each other by
means of private mail boxes.
By 1983 ARPANET had grown to such an extent that it was felt that the
military research component should be moved to a separate network, called MILNET.
In 1987 the system was opened up to any educational facility, academic
researcher or international research organisation who wanted to use it. As local
area networks became more pervasive, many hosts became gateways to local
networks. A network layer, to allow the inter operation of these networks was
developed and called IPA (Internet Protocol). Over time other groups created
long haul IP based networks (NASA, NSF, states…). These nets too, inter-
operate because of IP. The collection of all of these inter operating networks
is the Internet.
Up until 1990 the Internet was only a complicated and uninteresting text
format of communication and most of the people using the net were either
Computer programmers, students, Hackers, Societies, Governments officials and a
few artists interested the digital media.
Everything changed in 92 when a British programmer came up with “Mosaic”,
a text and graphic based window (web browser) into the net, this programme was
simple to use. The basic structure was in simple page form, Just click on a
button, word or picture and you could cross half the world in seconds, it was
also simple to construct a page. Over the last couple of years, anyone who had
a computer and Internet account has created their own “Web page”.
The growth of the Internet, those machines connected to the NSFNET
backbone has been extraordinary. In 1989, the number of networks attached to the
NSFNET/Internet increased from 346 to 997, data traffic increased five-fold. The
latest estimate, is that 200,000 to 400,000 main computers are directly
connected to NSFNET, with perhaps a total of eleven million individuals able to
exchange information freely. The Internet is still growing and companies are
developing new tools and programmes to speed up the communications so that
immense amounts of data can be transferred in seconds.
“The future of the 20th century, of the 21st century, will be the net.
Its awesome. But on the net, you still have to have someone on the
other side. The poor nerd who sits in front of the computer just
talking to themselves – that’s kind of sad. It’s the contact that’s important,
interpersonal, interactive communication.” [T.Leery (observer
Over the years since the Internet first began, many clubs, organisations,
cultures and societies have grown and congregated on the net. This is probably
because to many users it is a cheap form (even free) of world wide communication,
the new technology has link with their ideas and also because of the freedom of
expression the Internet gives. No single government body or organisation owns
the net and because of its size, no one can fully govern and censor the
So called “hackers” also part of the “Cyberpunk” group, were one of the
first groups of individuals known on the Internet, these were mostly male
students studying computer science, trying to break into government computers or
anywhere they were not supposed to be. Most hackers live by this set of rules,
First, access to computers should be unlimited and total: “Always yield to the
Hands-On Imperative!”. Second, all information should be free. Third, mistrust
authority and promote decentralisation. Fourth, hackers should be judged by
their prowess as hackers rather than by formal organisational or other
irrelevant criteria. Fifth, one can create art and beauty on a computer. Finally,
computers can change lives for the better.
One group i came across in an article call themselves the “Extropians”,
they want to be immortal and travel through space and time. They are also
libertarians who want to privets the oceans and air. One member Jay Prime
Positive wants to upload his consciousness to a computer “I’d probably want to
spend most of my time in data space……i imagine having multiple bodies and
multiple copies of myself. I have problems with gender identification, so I’d
definitely have a female body in there somewhere”.
The group have many idea’s of the future. You perhaps never considered
the idea of setting loose molecule-sized robots in your body to clean out your
A floating free state banged together out of old oil tankers (similar to
the sprawl described in Gibson’s “Mona Lisa overdrive”, a place where freedom
and unrestrained intellect could reign and you could finally get the government
and tax man off your back. the Extropians want to go beyond the limits of
nature and biology and move on up to the stars, they believe that computers have
kick started the human evolution.
The term “Cyberspace” was first coined by the sci-fi writer William
Gibson in his 1984 novel “Neuromancer”. Gibson first identified the emergence
of Cyberspace as the most recent moment in the development of electromechanical
communications, telematics and virtual reality. Cyberspace, as Gibson saw it,
is the simultaneous experience of time, space, and the flow of multi-dimensional,
pan-sensory data: All the data in the world stacked up like one big neon city,
so you could cruise around and have a kind of grip on it, visually anyway,
because if you didn’t, it was too complicated, trying to find your way to the
particular piece of data you needed.
Cyberspace. “A con sensual hallucination experienced daily by billions
legitimate operators, in every nation… A graphical representation of
data abstracted from the banks of every computer in the human system.
Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the non space of the
mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights,
– William Gibson, Neuromancer.
At the core of Cyberspace is the Internet.
The psychologist/guru Timothy Leery interviewed by David Gale in 1991, is
very clear about Cyberspace :
“What were talking about is electronic real estate, a whole electronic
reality. The problem we have is to organise the great continents of
data that will soon become available. All the movies , all the TV ,
all the libraries, all recordable knowledge… These are the vast natural
crude oil reserves waiting to be tapped, In the 15th century we explored the
planet, now we must prepare once more to chart, colonise and open up a
whole new world of data. Software becomes the maps and guides into
The interesting thing about Cyberspace is the way it creates the idea of a
community. Every subculture needs an image of an outsider’s community to cling
to, to run to. For the Cyberpunk, this community doesn’t actually have a place.
It can be accessed everywhere by modem, but its the nearest thing on earth.
Cyberpunk subculture is the first subculture which doesn’t have a particular
place of congregation . There are now hundreds of bulletin boards around the
world which have a Cyberpunk style, where young cyberpunks discuss the latest
hardware and software. It is familiar to most people as the “place” in which a
long-distance telephone conversation takes place. But it is also the treasure
trove for all digital or electronically transferred information, and, as such,
it is the place for most of what is now commerce, industry, and human
Cyberpunk literature, in general, deals with unimportant people in
technologically-enhanced cultural “systems”. In Cyberpunk stories’ settings,
there is usually a “system” which dominates the lives of most “ordinary” people,
be it an oppressive government, a group of large, corporations, or a
fundamentalist religion. These systems are enhanced by certain technologies ,
particularly “information technology” (computers, the mass media), making the
system better at keeping those within it inside it. Often this technological
system extends into its human “components” as well, via brain implants,
prosthetic limbs, cloned or genetically engineered organs, etc. Humans
themselves become part of “the Machine”. This is the “cyber” aspect of Cyberpunk.
“Cyberpunk hit the front page of the New York Times when some young
computer kids were arrested for cracking a government computer file.
The Times called the kids “cyberpunks” From there, the
performers involved in the high-tech-oriented radical art movement
generally known as “Industrial” ” [ R.U Sirius (Mondo 2000) 64 ]
In the mid-’80s Cyberpunk emerged as a new way of doing science fiction in
both literature and film. The first book “Neuromancer”; the most important film,
“what’s most important to me is that Neuromancer is about the present.
its not really about an imagined future…..” [William Gibson (MONDO
William Gibson is widely considered to be the father of “Cyberpunk”, dark
novels about hi-tech computer bohemians and underground renegades. His first
novel, “Neuromancer”, bears the distinction of winning the Hugo, Nebula, and
Philip K. Dick awards. The first to win all three.
William Gibson parlayed off the success of his first SF ‘Cyberpunk’
blockbuster Neuromancer to write a more complex, engaging novel in which these
two worlds are rapidly colliding. In his novel Count Zero, we encounter teenage
hacker Bobby Newmark, who goes by the handle “Count Zero.” Bobby on one of his
treks into Cyberspace runs into something unlike any other AI(artificial
intelligence) he’s ever encountered – a strange woman, surrounded by wind and
stars, who saves him from ‘flatlining.’ He does not know what it was he
encountered on the net, or why it saved him from certain death.
Later we meet Angie Mitchell, the mysterious girl whose head has been
‘rewired’ with a neural network which enables her to ‘channel’ entities from
Cyberspace without a ‘deck’ – in essence, to be ‘possessed’. Bobby eventually
meets Beauvoir, a member of a Voudoun/cyber sect, who tells him that in
Cyberspace the entity he actually met was Erzulie, and that he is now a
favourite of Legba, the lord of communication… Beauvoir explains that Voudoun
is the perfect religion for this era, because it is pragmatic – “It isn’t about
salvation or transcendence. What it’s about is getting things done .”
Eventually, we come to realise that after the fracturing of the AI
Wintermute, who tried to unite the Matrix, the unified being split into several
entities which took on the character of the various Haitian loa, for reasons
that are never made clear.
Now other writers like Bruce Sterling and Pat Cadigan have emerged. There
is even a ‘overground’ Cyberpunk magazine called Mondo 2000, as well as a host
of tiny desktop published fanzines.
A fundamental theme running through most Cyberpunk literature is that (in
the near future Earth)commodities are unimportant. Since anything can be
manufactured, very cheaply, manufactured goods (and the commodities that are
needed to create them) are no longer central to economic life. The only real
commodity is information. The bleak, ‘no future’ landscape of punk rock and
post-apocalyptic movies like Blade runner and Mad Max, and imagined a way to
escape from the street-level violence these films referred to.
Along with Neuromancer, Blade Runner together set the boundary conditions
for emerging Cyberpunk: a hard-boiled combination of high tech and low life.
As the William Gibson phrase puts it, “The street has its own uses for
technology.” So compelling were these two narratives that many people then and
now refuse to regard as Cyberpunk anything stylistically and thematically
different from them.
Literary Cyberpunk had become more than Gibson, and Cyberpunk itself had
become more than literature and film. In fact, the label has been applied
variously, promiscuously, often cheaply or stupidly. Kids with modems and the
urge to commit computer crime became known as “cyberpunks or Hackers”, however,
so did urban hipsters who wore black, read Mondo 2000, listened to “industrial”
pop, and generally subscribed to techno-fetishism. Gibson had become more han
just another sf writer; he was a cultural icon of sorts.
[Gareth Branwyn] posted the following description of the Cyberpunk world
view to the MONDO 2000 conference of the WELL (see glossary):
A) The future has imploded onto the present. there was no nuclear
Armageddon. There’s too much real estate to lose . The new battle
field is people’s mind’s.
B) The megacorp’s are the new governments.
C) The U.S is a big bully with lackluster economic power.
D) The world is splintering into a trillion subcultures and designer
cults with their own languages, codes, and lifestyles.
E) Computer-generated info-domains are the next frontiers.
F) there is better living through chemistry.
G)Small groups or individual “console cowboys” can wield tremendous
power over governments. corporations, etc.
H) The coalescence of a computer “culture” is expressed in self-aware
computer music , art, virtual communities, and a hacker/street tech
subculture. The computer nerd image is passe’, and people are not
ashamed anymore about the role the computer has in this subculture. The
computer is a cool tool, a friend , important, human augmentation.
I) We’re becoming cyborg’s. Our tech is getting smaller, closer to us
and it will soon merge with us.
J) [Some attitudes that seem to be related]
*Information wants to be free.
*Access to computers and anything which may teach you something about
how the world works should be unlimited and total.
*Always yield to the hands-on imperative.
*Do it yourself.
*Fight the power.
*Feed the noise back into the system.
*Surf the edges.
[(MONDO 2000)65-66 ]
Science fiction deals with issues as diverse as the clash between religious
fundamentalism and the consumer society, abortion and the church, life support
for the terminally ill. or the freedom of the individual in the age of on-line
William Gibson, whose brave new world is seen as in a state of impermanent
decay compared to “Cyberspace”,The “virtual world” already in embryonic
existence in the Internet global computer network. In Gibson’s latest novel,
Virtual Light, a pair of designer sunglasses holds all the data on plans for
property scam involving the rebuilding of post-quake San Francisco. Gibson’s
“heroes” are a handful of neo-punks and derelicts. His Future world is a grim
approximation of today’s social and technological trends, a graphic debunking
of the progress principle.
In the 20th century, the Net is only accessible via a computer terminal,
using a device called a modem to send and receive information. But in 2013,
the Net can be entered directly using your own brain, neural plugs and complex
interface programs that turn computer data into perceptual events” . In several
places, reference is made to the military origin of the
Cyberspace interfaces: “You’re a console cowboy. The prototypes of the
programs you use to crack industrial banks were developed for [a military
operation]. For the assault on the Kirensk computer nexus. Basic module was a
Nightwing microlight, a pilot, a matrix deck, a jockey. We were running a
virus called Mole. The Mole series was the first generation of real intrusion
“The matrix has its roots in primitive arcade games… early graphics
programs and military experimentation with cranial jack” [Neuromancer].
Gibson also assumes that in addition to being able to “jack in” to the
matrix, you can go through the matrix to jack in to another person using a
“simstim” deck. Using the simstim deck, you experience everything that the
person you are connected to experiences: “Case hit the simstim switch. And
flipped in to the agony of a broken bone. Molly was braced against the blank
grey wall of a long corridor, her breath coming ragged and uneven. Case was
back in the matrix instantly, a white-hot line of pain fading in his left
The matrix can be a very dangerous place. As your brain is connected in,
should your interface program be altered, you will suffer. If your program is
deleted, you would die. One of the characters in Neuromancer is called the
Dixie Flatline, so named because he has survived deletion in the matrix. He is
revered as a hero of the cyber jockeys: ‘Well, if we can get the Flatline, we’re
home free. He was the best. You know he died brain death three times.’ She
nodded. ‘Flatlined on his EEG. Showed me the tapes.’” [Neuromancer].
Incidentally, the Flatline doesn’t exist as a person any more: his mind
has been stored in a RAM chip which can be connected to the matrix:
Cyberpunk is fascinated by the media technologies which were hitting the
mass market in the 80s. Desktop publishing, computer music and now desktop video
are technologies taken up with enthusiasm by Cyberpunks..
The rapid evolution from video-games to virtual reality has been helped
along by the hard core of enthusiasts eager to try out each generation of
simulated experience. The multimedia convergence of the publishing industry,
the computer industry, the broadcasting industry and the recording industry has
a spot right at its centre called Cyberpunk, where these new product
experiments find a critical but playful market.
Cyberpunk is a product of the huge batch of technical and scientific
universities created in the US to service the military industrial complex. Your
typical Cyberpunk is white, middle class, and technically skilled. They are a
new generation of white collar worker, resisting the yoke of work and suburban
life for a while. They don’t drop out, they jack in. They are a example of how
each generation, growing up with a given level of media technology, has to
discover the limits and potentials of that technology by experimenting with
everyday life itself.
In the case of Cyberpunk, the networked world of Cyberspace, the
interactive world of multimedia and the new sensoria of virtual reality will all
owe a little to their willingness to be the test pigs for these emergent
There is also a tension in Cyberpunk between the military that produces
technology and the sensibility of the technically skilled individual trained
for the high tech machine. Like all subcultures, Cyberpunk expresses a conflict.
On the one side is the libertarian idea that technology can be a way of
wresting a little domain of freedom for people from the necessity to work and
live under the constraints of today. On the other is the fact that the
technologies of virtual reality, multimedia, Cyberspace would never have existed
in the first place had the Pentagon not funded them as tools of war.
On the one hand it is a drop out culture dedicated to pursing the dream of
freedom through appropriate technology. On the other it is a ready market for
new gadgets and a training ground for hip new entrepreneurs with hi-tech toys to
Cyberpunk’s fast crawl to the surface has included not only pop music
(industrial, post industrial, techno pop, etc.), but also television (MTV,
Saturday morning cartoons, the late “Max Headroom” series, etc.) and movies
(”Total Recall,” “Lawnmower Man,” the Japanese “Tetsuo” series, etc.). A bi-
monthly magazine called Wired, aimed in part at the Cyberpunk set and financed
in part by MIT Media Lab director Nicholas Negroponte. And the principals of
Mondo 2000 .
“The micro technology that, in Cyberpunk, connects the streets to the
multinational structures of information in Cyberspace
also connects the middle-class structures of information in
Cyberspace also connects the middle-class country to the middle-class city”.
[S.R Delany (Flame Wars) 198]
Cyberpunk tends to fill some of us with uneasiness and even fear.The X
Generation is made up of Slackers, Hackers (a.k.a. Phreakers, Cyberpunks, and
Neuronauts). They are Ravers and techno- heads. According to most demographers,
we are more street smart and pop-culture literate, and less versed in the
classics, ethics, and formal education (especially in areas like geography,
civics, and history: areas where we appear to be, in short, an academic
disgrace.) We are said to have less ambition, less idealism, less morals,
smaller attention spans, and less discipline than any previous generation of
this century. We are the most aborted, most incarcerated, most suicidal, and
most uncontrollable, unwanted, and unpredictable generation in history. (Or so
claim the authors of 13th Generation. ).
“The work of cyberpunks is paralleled throughout eighties pop culture :
in rock video ; in the hacker underground; in the
jarring street tech of hip-hop and scratch music….”
[Bruce Sterling (MONDO 2000) 68]
Cyberpunk and Technology
In Gibson’s world, Cyberspace is a con sensual hallucination created within
the dense matrix of computer networks. Gibson imagines a world where people can
directly jack their nervous systems into the net, vastly increasing the intimacy
of the connection between mind and matrix. Cyberspace is the world created by
the intersection of every jacked-in consciousness, every database and
installation, every form of interconnected information circuit, in short, human
Cyberspace is no longer merely an interesting item in an inventory of ideas
in Gibson’s fiction. In Cyberspace: First Steps, a collection of papers from
The First Conference on Cyberspace, held at the University of Texas, Austin, in
May, 1990, Michael Benedikt defines Cyberspace as “a globally networked,
computer-sustained, computer-accessed, and computer-generated, multidimensional,
artificial, or ‘virtual’ reality.” He admits “this fully developed kind of
Cyberspace does not exist outside of science fiction and the imagination of a
few thousand people;” however he points out that “with the multiple efforts the
computer industry is making toward developing and accessing three-
dimensionalized data, effecting real-time animation, implementing ISDN and
enhancing other electronic information networks, providing scientific
visualisations of dynamic systems, developing multimedia software, devising
virtual reality interface systems, and linking to digital interactive television
. . . from all of these efforts one might cogently argue that Cyberspace is ‘now
Cyberpunk in TV and Cinema
One Film “WAR GAMES” was based on a college student who hacked into the Us
defence computer and started a simulation program of a nuclear attack on Russia,
which looked like the real thing to the Russians. In the near future a British
film call “Hackers” is to be released, directed by Iain Softley (BackBeat). Also
soon to be released is “The Net” starring Sandra Bullock (Speed) and a Gibson
Cyberpunk thriller called “Johnny Mnemonic” a $26 million science fiction movie
based on his short story, and starring Keanu Reeves as the main character.
Directed by Robert Longo. The film also stars Ice-T, Dolph Lundgren, Takeshi
Kitano (of the cult “Sonatine”), Udo Kier, Henry Rollins and Dina Meyer.
William Gibson also wrote the screenplay of his original story which was
published in the anthology “Burning Chrome”. “Johnny Mnemonic” goes into wide
release in Dec 1995.
The film Blade Runner, loosely based on Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream Of
Electric Sheep, is set in early 21st century Los Angeles. Among the enormous
human cultural diversity evident, five , synthetically designed organic robots -
replicants – have escaped their slave status on an off-world colony. These
replicants are the property of the Tyrell Corporation, and have extremely high
levels of physically and mental development. The Tyrell Corporation, ensuring
that the replicants do not develop the emotional capacity of their human masters
genetically engineer a four- year life span. Tyrell Corporation, on the basis of
this slavery, uses the market slogan ‘More Human Than Human’. And like those who
settled earth’s New World in the seventeenth century, they expect slave labour.”
Whilst this commentary is certainly true, a further elaboration can be made on
the technological nature of the replicants; they were, for all intents and
purposes, a new life-form.
“Max Headroom was the most amazingly Cyberpunk thing that’s ever been on
network TV. Max started out as an animated VJ for a British
music-video channel. In order to introduce him, a
short film was made…..Entertainment with all the corners filled in . I think
that’s what a lot of Cyberpunk writing is …….Television is
the greatest Cyberpunk invention of all time” . [Steve Roberts
(MONDO 2000) 76]
One man who has his own theory about the net is Kevin Kelly (exective
editor of Wired), he combines ideas from chaos theory, cybernetics, current
thinking on evolution and research into computerised artificial life with his
own experience of on-line culture. His main argument is that we’re ‘the Neo-
Biological Era’. The line between the made and the born is being blurred;
machines are becoming biological and the biological is being engineered.
The reason is that we have reached the limits of industrial thinking.
Linear cause and effect logic is no good for figuring out the hugely complex
systems (phone networks, global economies, the Internet) that we have created,
so we’ve begun to look instead at natural systems. After years of tapping mother
nature for food and raw materials, we’re now mining her for ideas.
One scenario of the Internet he is playing with is that the net might
die. “You can imagine a situation in which there’s 200 million people on the
Internet trying to send E-mail messages and the whole thing just grinds to a
halt. Its own success just kills it. In the meantime, a telephone companies
steps in and offers E-mail for $5 a month, no traffic jams and its reliable. i
hope it doesn’t happen but it’s a scenario one has to consider”. eorge Gilder of
the Hudson institute stated “there is about to be a revolution, born of nothing
less than sand, glass and air, and yet it was one which would have an incalcuble
effect upon us all.
From sand will come microchips offering super computing power on slices
of silicon smaller than a thumbnail and cheaper than a book.
From glass will be fashioned fibre-optic cables that will flash
information of any size at lighting speed.
In the air, frequency bandwidths of practically limitless size and
available at virtually no cost will permit the wireless transmission of any kind
of digital data from anywhere to anywhere, instantly.
Timothy leary the man who coined the phrase “turn on, tune in and drop
out” in the 60’s thinks that the future of the 20th and 21st century, will be
the net.”Its awesome. But on the net. you still have someone on the other side .
The poor nerd who sits in front of the computer just talking to themselves -
that’s kind of sad. It’s the contact that’s important, interpersonal,
interactive communication. We’re hard wiring global consciousness, we’re moving
towards a global mind. a global village. Soon we’ll develop a global language.
People will communicate with pictures not words”.
Jean Baudrillard described the emergence of a new postmodern society
organsied around simulation, in which models, codes, communication, information,
and the media were the demiruges of a radical break with modern societies.
Baudrillard’s postmodern universe was also one of hyperreality, in which models
and codes determined thought and behavior, and in which media of entertainment,
information, and communication provided experience more intense and involving
han the scenes of banal everything life. In this postmodern world, individuals
abondoned the ‘desert of the real’ for the ecstasies of hyperreality and a new
realm of computer, media, and technological experience.
Visions of the Future
Gibson’s vision is of a multi-dimensional space inhabited by vast “data
structures”, where glowing and pulsing representations of data flow within the
ubiquitous computer/ telecommunications networks of military and corporate
memory banks.(see Johnny Mnemonic)
During the 80’s, the Cyberspace vision was being fleshed out in the work
shops and laboratories of silicon space , of seeing it, being in it, touching
and feeling it, flying through it and hearing it were being developed. The
inter-relationship between the vision and the practical, working “virtual
reality” machines (such as W industries ‘ Virtuality and VPL’s Reality built for
two) were on sale in both the us and Britain by 1990. By 1994 cheap headsets and
programmes were available to mostly anyone.
The Cyberpunk future includes the likes of a computer-generated artificial
environment known as virtual reality. (Not so futuristic, perhaps: VR arcade
games are already here.) It includes dreams of virtual sex. (Not so futuristic,
either: text based “sex” already exists on computer networks. Call it Phone
Sex: The Next Generation.) It includes further developments in robotics,
artificial intelligence, even artificial life. More to the point of punk, it
includes “smart drugs,” legal substances that allegedly increase mental
“someday be possible for mental functions to be surgically extracted from
the human brain and transferred to computer software in a process he
calls “transmigration”. the useless body with its brain tissue would then
be discarded, while consciousness would remain stored in computer
terminals, or for the occasional outing, in mobile robots”.
[Hans Moravec, mind children : the future of robot and human
intelligence(Cambridge, MA, 1988),108]
Cyberpunk fiction characters are hard wired (see JohnnyMnemonic), jack into