I am not a scientist, an academic or a net guru. I am a science fiction writer— inhabitant of the boundary area between our knowledge of the world out there, our science and its technologies, and the reports we have from the inner world of subjective experience: ideology, interpretation, metaphor, myth. These spaces interpenetrate each other. It is impossible to say anything about science without using the human language of fiction (there are no equations without metaphors); impossible to construct a fiction that involves no hypothesis about how the world works. Yet they present themselves, in our society and perhaps in all societies that ever were, as separate systems. My business is with the interface between them. I look for analogues, homologues, convergent evolutions, fractals, coincidences, feedback loops. Like the railway passenger Gnat in Through the Looking- Glass, I am a pun-detecting machine. Or else I am a bower-bird, picking up shiny scraps from all aspects of the current state of the world, and arranging them in a way that seems pleasing to me. Look on this paper as a visit to an artist's studio: specifically to the studio of the science/fiction of cyberspace. Which is to say, a visit to some recent images, plucked from science and fiction—images of what it means to be a member of the State of Self.
The accepted term for the notional space in which computer networking happens (a term with an explosion of applications in the early 1990s) is cyberspace, a word coined in a science fiction. But the novel, Neuromancer, published in 1984, in which ‘cyberspace’ first emerged, predated the explosion of popular and leisure use that has transformed the Internet and brought expressions like ‘electronic democracy’, ‘information highway’, ‘the Governance of Cyberspace’ into public debate. Cyberspace and its entourage (the Turing Police, neural jacking, simstim entertainment, commercial personality overlays), were secondary, in William Gibson's near-future thriller, to a classic genre narrative: the creation (or the emergence) of a non-human mind, a self conscious artificial intelligence.
The dream of creating Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been around longer than (artificial) computers themselves.