glossary

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3D printing - a process for making a physical object from a three-dimensional digital model, typically by laying down many successive thin layers of a material. See /r/3Dprinting.

4th industrial revolution - (or Industry 4.0) is a collective term embracing a number of contemporary automation, data exchange and manufacturing technologies.

A

Abolitionism - an ethical ideology based upon a perceived obligation to use technology to eliminate involuntary suffering in all sentient life.

Accelerating change - a perceived increase in the rate of technological (and sometimes social and cultural) progress throughout history, which may suggest faster and more profound change in the future.

Anthropocene - relating to or denoting the current geological age, viewed as the period during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment.

Arcology - a portmanteau of "architecture" and "ecology", is a field of creating architectural design principles for very densely populated, ecologically low-impact human habitats.

Artificial general intelligence (AGI) - the intelligence of a (hypothetical) machine that could successfully perform any intellectual task that a human being can. It is a primary goal of artificial intelligence research and an important topic for science fiction writers and futurists. See /r/agi

Artificial intelligence (AI) - the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages. See /r/artificial

Artificial life - the production or action of computer programs or computerized systems that simulate the behavior, population dynamics, or other characteristics of living organisms.

Artificial womb - (or artificial uterus) is a device that would allow for extracorporeal pregnancy or extrauterine fetal incubation (EUFI) by growing an embryo or fetus outside of the body of an organism that would normally internally carry the embryo or fetus to term.

Algorithm - a process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, especially by a computer. See /r/algorithms

Android - a robot with a human appearance.

Astronomy - the branch of science that deals with celestial objects, space, and the physical universe as a whole. See /r/astronomy

Astrophysics - the branch of astronomy concerned with the physical nature of stars and other celestial bodies, and the application of the laws and theories of physics to the interpretation of astronomical observations. See /r/astrophysics.

Augmented reality - a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. See /r/augmentedreality

Automation - the technique, method, or system of operating or controlling a process by highly automatic means, as by electronic devices, reducing human intervention to a minimum. See /r/Automate.

Autonomous vehicle - a motor vehicle that uses artificial intelligence, sensors and global positioning system coordinates to drive itself without the active intervention of a human operator. See /r/SelfDrivingCars

B

Basic Income/UBI - a proposed system of social security in which all citizens or residents of a country regularly receive an unconditional sum of money, either from a government or some other public institution, in addition to any income received from elsewhere. See /r/basicincome.

Behavioral science - the scientific study of human and animal behavior.

Big data - a blanket term for any collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using on-hand database management tools or traditional data processing applications. See /r/bigdata

Biohacking - the activity of exploiting genetic material experimentally without regard to accepted ethical standards, or for criminal purposes. See /r/Biohackers

Bioinformatics - the science of collecting and analyzing complex biochemical and biological data using mathematics and computer science, as in the study of genomes. See /r/bioinformatics.

Bioprinting - the three-dimensional printing of biological tissue and organs through the layering of living cells.

Biotechnology - the exploitation of biological processes for industrial and other purposes, especially the genetic manipulation of microorganisms for the production of antibiotics, hormones, etc. See /r/Biotech

Blockchain - a decentralized, free-to-access, distributed public database that maintains a continuously growing list of data records that are unchangeable even by operators of the data store's nodes.

Brain–computer interface (BCI) - also known as mind-machine interface (MMI), direct neural interface (DNI), or brain–machine interface (BMI), is a system that allows signals from the brain to direct some external computer or other electronic device. See /r/BCI

C

Carbon nanotube - large molecules of pure carbon that are long and thin and shaped like tubes, about 1-3 nanometers (1 nm = 1 billionth of a meter) in diameter, and hundreds to thousands of nanometers long.

Chatbot - a computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users, especially over the Internet.

Claytronics - an abstract concept that combines nanoscale robotics and computer science to create individual nanometer-scale computers called claytronic atoms, or catoms, which can interact with each other to form tangible 3D objects that a user can interact with.

Cloud computing - the practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server or a personal computer. See /r/CloudComputing

Cognitive computing - the simulation of human thought processes in a computerized model. Cognitive computing involves self-learning systems that use data mining, pattern recognition and natural language processing to mimic the way the human brain works.

Cognitive liberty - (or the “right to mental self-determination”) is the freedom of an individual to control his or her own mental processes, cognition and consciousness.

Cognitive science - the study of thought, learning, and mental organization, which draws on aspects of psychology, linguistics, philosophy, and computer modeling. See /r/cogsci

Computational biology - the development and application of data-analytical and theoretical methods, mathematical modeling and computational simulation techniques to the study of biological, behavioral, and social systems.

Computer vision - a field that includes methods for acquiring, processing, analyzing, and understanding images and, in general, high-dimensional data from the real world in order to produce numerical or symbolic information. See /r/computervision

Connectome - a comprehensive map of neural connections in the brain, and may be thought of as its "wiring diagram". More broadly, a connectome would include the mapping of all neural connections within an organism's nervous system.

Cosmology - the science of the origin and development of the universe. Modern astronomy is dominated by the Big Bang theory, which brings together observational astronomy and particle physics. See /r/cosmology.

CRISPR - an RNA-guided gene-editing platform that makes use of a bacterially derived protein (Cas9) and a synthetic guide RNA to introduce a double strand break at a specific location within the genome.

Crowdsourcing - the process of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, and especially from an online community, rather than from traditional employees or suppliers. See /r/Crowdsourcing

Cryonics - the low-temperature preservation of humans who cannot be sustained by contemporary medicine, with the hope that healing and resuscitation may be possible in the future.

Cryptocurrency - a digital currency in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds, operating independently of a central bank. See /r/cryptocurrency

Cybernetics - the science of communication and control theory that is concerned especially with the comparative study of automatic control systems (as the nervous system and brain and mechanical-electrical communication systems). See /r/cybernetics

Cyborg - a person whose physical abilities are extended beyond normal human limitations by mechanical elements built into the body. See /r/Cyborgs

D

Data science - the extraction of knowledge from large volumes of data that are structured or unstructured, which is a continuation of the field data mining and predictive analytics, also known as knowledge discovery and data mining. See /r/datascience

Deep learning - a set of algorithms in machine learning that attempt to model high-level abstractions in data by using architectures composed of multiple non-linear transformations.

Digital currency - an internet based form of currency or medium of exchange (i.e., distinct from physical, such as banknotes and coins) that exhibits properties similar to physical currencies, however, allows for instantaneous transactions and borderless transfer-of-ownership.

Digital health - the use of digital technologies such as wireless sensors, smartphones, social networks, etc. combined with personal health and genetic information to improve the efficiency of healthcare, and make medicine more personalized and precise.

Digital immortality - (or "virtual immortality", or "immortality in silico") is storing a person's personality in a more durable media, i.e., a computer, and allowing it to communicate with people in the future. See /r/Digital_Immortality

Digital native - a person born or brought up during the age of digital technology and therefore familiar with computers and the Internet from an early age.

Disruptive technology - any enhanced or completely new technology that helps create a new market and value network that eventually disrupts the traditional business methods and practices, rendering it obsolete.

Dyson sphere - a hypothetical megastructure that completely encompasses a star and captures most or all of its power output.

E

Emerging technologies - technologies that are perceived as capable of changing the status quo. These include a variety of technologies such as educational technology, information technology, nanotechnology, biotechnology, cognitive science, robotics, and artificial intelligence.

Electronic sports (esports) - organized multiplayer video game competitions. The most common video game genres associated with electronic sports are real-time strategy, fighting, first-person shooter, and multiplayer online battle arena. See /r/esports

Existential risk - a hypothetical future event with the potential to inflict serious damage to human well-being on a global scale.

Exoplanet - a planet that orbits a star outside the solar system. See /r/exoplanets

Exponential growth - growth whose rate becomes ever more rapid in proportion to the growing total number or size.

Extropianism - an evolving framework of values and standards for continuously improving the human condition. Extropians believe that advances in science and technology will some day let people live indefinitely.

F

Fermi(s) paradox - the apparent contradiction between high estimates of the probability of the existence of extraterrestrial civilization and humanity's lack of contact with, or evidence for, such civilizations.

Friendly artificial intelligence (friendly AI) - a hypothetical artificial general intelligence (AGI) that would have a positive rather than negative effect on humanity.

Fusion - (also called nuclear fusion) a thermonuclear reaction in which atomic nuclei of low atomic number fuse to form a heavier nucleus with the release of energy.

Future shock - physical and psychological distress or disorientation caused by a person's inability to cope with very rapid social and technological change.

Futurology - the study of postulating possible, probable, and preferable future(s), especially from present trends or developments in science, technology, political or social structure, etc.

G

Gene therapy - the transplantation of usually genetically altered genes into cells especially to replace defective genes in the treatment of genetic disorders or to provide a specialized disease-fighting function.

Genetic engineering - the manipulation of DNA to produce new types of organisms, usually by inserting or deleting genes. See /r/geneticengineering

Genetically modified organism (GMO) - any organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. GMOs are the source of genetically modified foods and are also widely used in scientific research and to produce goods other than food.

Genomics - the branch of molecular biology concerned with the structure, function, evolution, and mapping of genomes. See /r/genomics.

Genome - the complete set of genes or genetic material present in a cell or organism.

Genome Sequencing - a laboratory process that determines the complete DNA sequence of an organism's genome at a single time.

Geoengineering - the deliberate large-scale manipulation of an environmental process that affects the earth's climate, in an attempt to counteract the effects of global warming. See /r/Geoengineering

Gerontology - the study of the social, psychological and biological aspects of aging.

Gig economy - an environment in which temporary positions are common and organizations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements.

Global brain - a conceptualization of the worldwide network formed by all the people on this planet together with the information and communication technologies that connect them into an intelligent, self-organizing system.

Graphene - an allotrope of carbon in the form of a two-dimensional, atomic-scale, hexagonal lattice in which one atom forms each vertex. See /r/graphene

Grey goo - a hypothetical end-of-the-world scenario involving molecular nanotechnology in which out-of-control self-replicating robots consume all matter on Earth while building more of themselves, a scenario that has been called ecophagy ("eating the environment").

H

Heat death - (of the universe) a state of uniform distribution of energy within a physical system toward a state of maximum entropy, especially viewed as a possible fate of the universe. It is a corollary of the second law of thermodynamics.

Human augmentation - the application of technology to overcome physical or mental limitations of the body, resulting in the temporary or permanent augmentation of a person's abilities and features.

Hyperconnected - the increasing digital interconnection of people (and things) characterized by the widespread or habitual use of devices that have Internet connectivity.

I

Information Age - (also known as the Computer Age, Digital Age, or New Media Age) a period in human history characterized by the shift from traditional industry that the industrial revolution brought through industrialization, to an economy based on information computerization.

Information technology (IT) - the application of computers and telecommunications equipment to store, retrieve, transmit and manipulate data.

Intelligence amplification (IA) - (also referred to as cognitive augmentation and machine augmented intelligence) refers to the effective use of information technology in augmenting human intelligence.

Internet of things (IoT) - a proposed development of the Internet in which everyday objects have network connectivity, allowing them to send and receive data.

In Vitro - (of a process) performed or taking place in a test tube, culture dish, or elsewhere outside a living organism.

K

Kardashev scale - a method of measuring a civilization's level of technological advancement, based on the amount of energy a civilization is able to utilize. The scale has three designated categories called Type I, II, and III.

L

Law of Accelerating Returns - the “returns” of an evolutionary process (such as the speed, cost-effectiveness, or overall “power” of a process) that increase exponentially over time — both for biology and technology.

Life extension science - the study of slowing down or reversing the processes of aging to extend both the maximum and average lifespan.

Li-Fi - a bidirectional, high speed and fully networked wireless communication technology that uses light-emitting diodes (LEDs) for data transmission.

M

Machine learning - a subfield of computer science which focuses on the development of algorithms that can learn from and make predictions on data without being explicitly programmed. See /r/machinelearning

Massive open online course (MOOC) - a free Web-based distance learning program that is designed for the participation of large numbers of geographically dispersed students. See /r/OnlineEducation

Materials science - an interdisciplinary field which deals with the study of matter and their properties; as well as the discovery and design of new materials. See /r/materials

Memristor - a type of resistor in which the flow of electrical current in an electronic circuit is determined by the amount of charge that has previously flowed through it.

Metamaterial - a synthetic composite material with a structure such that it exhibits properties not usually found in natural materials, especially a negative refractive index.

Metaverse - a collective virtual shared space, created by the convergence of virtually enhanced physical reality and physically persistent virtual space, including the sum of all virtual worlds, augmented reality, and the internet.

Mixed reality - the merging of real world and virtual worlds to produce a new environment where physical and digital objects can coexist and interact.

Molecular biology - the branch of biology that deals with the molecular basis of biological activity. It chiefly concerns itself with understanding the interactions between the various systems of a cell, including the interactions between the different types of DNA, RNA and protein biosynthesis as well as learning how these interactions are regulated.

Molecular manufacturing - a branch of nanotechnology that involves the use of nanoscale (extremely small) tools and non-biological processes to build structures, devices, and systems at the molecular level.

Moore's Law - the observation that, over the history of computing hardware, the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years. This has also been used to suggest exponential increases in "total computing power", "calculations per second" or "calculations per watt of power".

Morphological freedom - a proposed civil right of a person to either maintain or modify their own body, on their own terms, through informed, consensual recourse to, or refusal of, available therapeutic or enabling medical technology.

N

Nanofactory - a proposed compact molecular manufacturing system, possibly small enough to sit on a desktop, that could build a diverse selection of large-scale atomically precise diamondoid products.

Nanotechnology - the manipulation of matter on an atomic, molecular, and supramolecular scale. See /r/nanotech

Neural lace - an electronic mesh sensor that integrates with cerebral matter and enables the interaction of neurons with computers. See /r/neurallace

Neural network - a computer system modeled on the human brain and nervous system.

Neural prosthesis - any electronic and/or mechanical device that connects with the nervous system and supplements or replaces functions lost by disease or injury.

Neuroscience - any or all of the sciences, such as neurochemistry and experimental psychology, which deal with the structure or function of the nervous system and brain. See /r/neuro

Noosphere - a postulated sphere or stage of evolutionary development dominated by consciousness, the mind, and interpersonal relationships.

Nootropics - also referred to as smart drugs, memory enhancers, neuroenhancers, cognitive enhancers, and intelligence enhancers, are drugs, supplements, nutraceuticals, and functional foods that purportedly improve mental functions such as cognition, memory, intelligence, motivation, attention, and concentration. See /r/Nootropics

O

Open data - data that can be freely used, re-used and redistributed by anyone without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control. See /r/opendata

Open-source - denoting software for which the original source code is made freely available and may be redistributed and modified. See /r/OpenSource

Optical computer - a device that uses the photons in visible light or infrared beams, rather than electric current, to perform digital computations.

Optogenetics - the combination of genetics and optics to control well-defined events within specific cells of living tissue.

P

Particle physics - the branch of physics that studies the nature of the particles that constitute matter (particles with mass) and radiation (massless particles). See /r/ParticlePhysics

Personalized medicine - a medical model that proposes the customization of healthcare using molecular analysis - with medical decisions, practices, and/or products being tailored to the individual patient.

Post-human - a concept originating in the fields of science fiction, futurology, contemporary art, and philosophy that literally means a person or entity that exists in a state beyond being human.

Post-scarcity - an alternative form of economics or social engineering in which goods, services and information are universally accessible. See /r/postscarcity

Powered exoskeleton - (also known as powered armor, exoframe, or exosuit) is a mobile machine consisting primarily of an outer framework worn by a person, and powered by a system of motors or hydraulics that delivers at least part of the energy for limb movement.

Programmable matter - matter which has the ability to change its physical properties (shape, density, moduli, conductivity, optical properties, etc.) in a programmable fashion, based upon user input or autonomous sensing.

Q

Quantified Self - a movement to incorporate technology into data acquisition on aspects of a person's daily life in terms of inputs (e.g. food consumed, quality of surrounding air), states (e.g. mood, arousal, blood oxygen levels), and performance (mental and physical). See /r/QuantifiedSelf

Quantum computer - a type of computer that exploits the quantum mechanical properties of subatomic particles to allow a single operation to perform many different computations simultaneously on a large amount of data. See /r/QuantumComputing

Quantum mechanics - the branch of mechanics that deals with the mathematical description of the motion and interaction of subatomic particles, incorporating the concepts of quantization of energy, wave-particle duality, the uncertainty principle, and the correspondence principle. See /r/quantum

R

Regenerative medicine - deals with the "process of replacing, engineering or regenerating human cells, tissues or organs to restore or establish normal function".

Robotics - the branch of technology that deals with the design, construction, operation, and application of robots, as well as computer systems for their control, sensory feedback, and information processing. See /r/robotics.

Roko's basilisk - a proposition that says an all-powerful artificial intelligence from the future may retroactively punish those who did not assist in bringing about its existence.

S

Seasteading - the concept of creating permanent dwellings at sea, called seasteads, outside the territory claimed by the government of any standing nation. See /r/seasteading.

Semantic Web - an extension of the existing World Wide Web. It provides a standardized way of expressing the relationships between web pages, to allow machines to understand the meaning of hyperlinked information. See /r/semanticweb

Senescence - (or biological aging) the process or condition of deterioration with age.

Sharing economy - also known as collaborative consumption, is an economic model in which individuals are able to borrow or rent assets owned by someone else. See /r/sharingeconomy

Simulated reality - the hypothesis that reality could be simulated—for example by computer simulation—to a degree indistinguishable from "true" reality. It could contain conscious minds which may or may not be fully aware that they are living inside a simulation. See /r/simulate

Singularitarianism - a social movement defined by the belief that a technological singularity—the creation of superintelligence—will likely happen in the medium future, and that deliberate action ought to be taken to ensure that the Singularity benefits humans. See /r/Singularitarianism

Singularity - also known as technological singularity, is a hypothetical moment in time when artificial intelligence will have progressed to the point of a greater-than-human intelligence, radically changing civilization, and perhaps human nature. See /r/Singularity

Smart dust - a collection of microelectromechanical systems forming a simple computer in a container light enough to remain suspended in air, used mainly for information gathering in environments that are hostile to life.

Sousveillance - the recording of an activity by a participant in the activity, typically by way of small wearable or portable personal technologies.

Space elevator - a proposed type of space transportation system conceived as a cable fixed to the equator and reaching into space. A counterweight at the upper end keeps the center of mass well above geostationary orbit level.

Stem cell - an undifferentiated cell of a multicellular organism that is capable of giving rise to indefinitely more cells of the same type, and from which certain other kinds of cell arise by differentiation. See /r/stemcells

String theory - a theoretical framework in which the point-like particles of particle physics are replaced by one-dimensional objects called strings. See /r/strings

Supercomputer - a particularly powerful data processing (mainframe) computer.

Swarm intelligence (SI) - the collective behavior of decentralized, self-organized systems, natural or artificial.

Synthetic biology - the design and construction of biological devices and systems for useful purposes. It is an area of biological research and technology that combines biology and engineering, thus often overlapping with bioengineering and biomedical engineering. It encompasses a variety of different approaches, methodologies, and disciplines with a focus on engineering biology and biotechnology. See /r/Synthetic_Biology

T

Technocracy - a term used to describe an organizational structure or system of governance where decision-makers are selected on the basis of technological knowledge. See /r/Technocracy

Technogaianism - (a portmanteau word combining "techno-" for technology and "gaian" for Gaia philosophy) is an environmentalist stance of active support for the research, development and use of emerging and future technologies to help restore Earth's environment.

Technological unemployment - unemployment primarily caused by technological change. Given that technological change generally increases productivity, it is a tenet held in economics since the 19th century that technological change, although it disrupts the careers of individuals and the health of particular firms, produces opportunities for the creation of new, unrelated jobs.

Telemedicine - the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients by means of telecommunications technology.

Telepresence - the use of virtual reality technology, especially for remote control of machinery or for apparent participation in distant events.

Telomere - a compound structure at the end of a chromosome composed of a usually repetitive DNA sequence specialized in the replication and stability of DNA molecules. Thus, the processes of cell aging and cell death are regulated in part by telomeres.

Terraforming - (especially in science fiction) transform (a planet) so as to resemble the earth, especially so that it can support human life.

Three Laws of Robotics - 1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm 2. A robot must obey the orders given by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law 3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

Transhumanism - (abbreviated as H+ or h+) is an international cultural and intellectual movement with an eventual goal of fundamentally transforming the human condition by developing and making widely available technologies to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities. See /r/Transhuman

Turing test - a test for intelligence in a computer, requiring that a human being should be unable to distinguish the machine from another human being by using the replies to questions put to both.

U

Uncanny valley - used in reference to the phenomenon whereby a computer-generated figure or humanoid robot bearing a near-identical resemblance to a human being arouses a sense of unease or revulsion in the person viewing it.

V

Vertical farming - cultivating plant or animal life within a skyscraper greenhouse or on vertically inclined surfaces. The modern idea of vertical farming uses techniques similar to glass houses, where natural sunlight can be augmented with artificial lighting.

Virtual reality (VR) - sometimes referred to as immersive multimedia, is a computer-simulated environment that can simulate physical presence in places in the real world or imagined worlds. Virtual reality could recreate sensory experiences, including virtual taste, sight, smell, sound, touch, etc. See /r/virtualreality

W

Wearable technology - a category of technology devices that can be worn by a consumer and often include tracking information related to health and fitness. See /r/wearables

Wetware - human brain cells or thought processes regarded as analogous to, or in contrast with, computer systems.

Whole Brain Emulation - the hypothetical process of copying mental content (including long-term memory and "self") from a particular brain substrate and copying it to another computational device, such as a digital, analog, quantum-based or software based artificial neural network.

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revision by mind_bomber— view source