This story was originally published in Omni Magazine, April, 1986; and in Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology,1986.
"They want this simple thing, man, perphs, peripherals. You and me, we're just parts for the machine. Aleph, which is the Al in residence, has got all these inputs--video, audio. radiation detectors, temperature sensors, satellite receivers--but they're dumb. What Aleph wants, Aleph gets--I've learned that much. He wants to use us, and that's all there is to it. Think of it as pure research."
"He? You mean Innis?"
"No, who gives a damn about lnnis? I'm talking about Aleph. Oh yeah, people will tell you Aleph's a machine, an AI, all that bullshit. Uh-uh. Aleph's a person--a weird kind of person, sure, but a definite person. Hell, Aleph's maybe a whole bunch of people."
"I'll take your word for it. Look, there's one thing I'd like to try. What do I have to do to get outside ... go for a spacewalk?"
"Easy enough. You have to get a license--that takes a three-week course in safety and operations. I can take you through it. I'm qualified as an ESA, extra-station activity instruc