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Future Shock?

This won't be easy. But, it may be the future, at least according to a number of science-fiction writers collectively known as the "cyberpunks." More disturbingly, there seems to be a number of scientists and researchers who agree. Hang on.

The first part of the word cyberpunks comes from cybernetics, a term coined by Norbert Wiener in 1948. Essentially, cybernetics deals with informational feedback, which is of some importance to the age in which we find ourselves. Even though the electromechanical devices of today have an apparent dominance, it's superficial. Consider, for example, your VCR. An electromechanical device, right? Yes, but useless without the information—audio and visual—coded on the tape. You can hold up a piece of conventional film to light and see images; do that with a videotape and you'll see nothing. Another example is the CD. And while personal computers proved to be a bust in the home market, even the smallest businesses are equipped with PC's.

Important to note about PC's and other computers is that the "hardware," the nuts and bolts, is of lesser importance than the software, or the instructions, that make it work. Software, of course, is information.

The last half of the term cyberpunk is easy. It refers to a tendency to be hardedged and street-smart in the alleys and stainless steel sewers that few others dare to tread. This...

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