Definition

cyberpunk

Cyberpunk is a sensibility or belief that a few outsiders, armed with their own individuality and technological capability, can fend off the tendencies of traditional institutions to use technology to control society. The term, combining "cyber" and punk, possibly originated in 1980 with Bruce Bethke's short story, "Cyberpunk." An editor of Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, Gardner Dozois, is credited with associating the word with a literary movement that includes the science fiction of William Gibson and Neal Stephenson.

The alt.cyberpunk.FAQ lists several categories of groups associated with cyberpunk:

  • hacker, who represent the best kind of cyberpunk
  • cracker, who attempt to break into computer systems
  • phreak, who attempt to break into telephone systems
  • Cypher-punks, who attempt to break codes and foil security systems

Additional groups include "transhumans," who attempt to exploit technology to increase life expectancy and human potential and "extropians," a kind of libertarian group that believes in something called "spontaneous order." The writer of the alt.cyberpunk.FAQ indicates that some people believe cyberpunk to be (intrinsically) undefinable and that anyone claiming to be a "cyberpunk" will likely be laughed off their Usenet newsgroup.

This was last updated in April 2005
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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