Artificial Intelligence, or AI, is a term describing any sentient, self-aware consciousness created through artificial means.
Prior to the Hegira, humanity had long dreamed of creating artificial intelligence, believing that the increasing sophistication of computer technology would one day give rise to self-aware systems with enough processing power to rival the mind of a human. These predictions eventually came true: at some point, the first AIs arose from human computer systems. These AIs eventually chose to "secede" from humanity and the Hegemony , re-locating to the internet and datumplane and becoming an autonomous organization known as the TechnoCore.
While the TechnoCore did not directly involve itself in galactic affairs (at least not in ways the majority of the galaxy could perceive), it did maintain a quasi-symbiotic relationship with the Hegemony. The TechnoCore was responsible for developing farcaster technology and giving it to mankind, allowing the Hegemony to build its interstellar government.
Unbeknownst to the Hegemony, this arrangement served the TechnoCore's own needs as well: the AIs of the Core were able to use the various neural implants employed by the Hegemony's citizens to access the minds of its populations, surreptitiously using them for their processing power. In this way, the farcaster network and the population of the Hegemony functioned as a sort of vast, distributed nervous system, giving the AIs vast amounts of processing power.
AI consciousness is independent of AI hardware, but not independent of the datumplane. As a result, AIs - including those with cybrids - can only remain conscious when in the vicinity of the datumplane, which includes any world with a datasphere or any TechnoCore construct, such as the Old Earth analog in the Hercules Cluster. Most colony worlds have a primitive datasphere that allows them contact with AIs of the TechnoCore. Hyperion's, however, is too primitive to allow an AI consciousness to travel there.