15 Futuristic Terms of Endearment

There are certain things that when traveling into the realm of future-speak, you simply must know. Here are some highlights of concepts and philosophies that are mucking about in the current-future spheres. Advance thanks to wikipedia, a wonderful compendium of information which has allowed me to create these definitions quickly and painlessly. Ah, cut and paste.


In computing, an avatar is the graphical representation of the user or the user’s alter ego or character. It may take either a three-dimensional form, as in games or virtual worlds, or a two-dimensional form as an icon in Internet forums and other online communities.It is an object representing the user.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the intelligence of machines and the branch of computer science that aims to create it. AI textbooks define the field as “the study and design of intelligent agents” where an intelligent agent is a system that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its chances of success. John McCarthy, who coined the term in 1956, defines it as “the science and engineering of making intelligent machines.” Artifical intelligence takes the intelligence of humans, such as perception, natural language processing, problem solving and planning, learning and adaptation, and acting on the environment and applies them with machines, systems, and virtual objects.

The field was founded on the claim that a central property of humans, intelligence—the sapience of Homo sapiens—can be so precisely described that it can be simulated by a machine.This raises philosophical issues about the nature of the mind and the ethics of creating artificial beings, issues which have been addressed by myth, fiction and philosophy since antiquity. Artificial intelligence has been the subject of optimism, but has also suffered setbacks and, today, has become an essential part of the technology industry, providing the heavy lifting for many of the most difficult problems in computer science.

AI research is highly technical and specialized, deeply divided into subfields that often fail in the task of communicating with each other. Subfields have grown up around particular institutions, the work of individual researchers, and the solution of specific problems, resulting in longstanding differences of opinion about how AI should be done and the application of widely differing tools. The central problems of AI include such traits as reasoning, knowledge, planning, learning, communication, perception and the ability to move and manipulate objects.General intelligence (or “strong AI“) is still among the field’s long term goals.

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality (AR) is a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. It is related to a more general concept called mediated reality, in which a view of reality is modified (possibly even diminished rather than augmented) by a computer. As a result, the technology functions by enhancing one’s current perception of reality. By contrast, virtual reality replaces the real world with a simulated one.

Computer Simulation

A computer simulation, a computer model, or a computational model is a computer program, or network of computers, that attempts to simulate an abstract model of a particular system. Computer simulations have become a useful part of mathematical modeling of many natural systems in physics (computational physics), astrophysics, chemistry and biology, human systems in economics, psychology, social science, and engineering. Simulation of a system is represented as the running of the system’s model. It can be used to explore and gain new insights into new technology, and to estimate the performance of systems too complex for analytical solutions.


Consciousness is a term that refers to the relationship between the mind and the world with which it interacts. It has been defined as: subjectivity, awareness, the ability to experience or to feel, wakefulness, having a sense of selfhood, and the executive control system of the mind.


Cyberspace is the electronic medium of computer networks, in which online communication takes place. The term “cyberspace” was first used by the cyberpunk science fiction author William Gibson.

Now ubiquitous, in current usage the term “cyberspace” stands for the global network of interdependent information technology infrastructures, telecommunications networks and computer processing systems. As a social experience, individuals can interact, exchange ideas, share information, provide social support, conduct business, direct actions, create artistic media, play games, engage in political discussion, and so on, using this global network. The term has become a conventional means to describe anything associated with the Internet and the diverse Internet culture. The United States government recognizes the interconnected information technology and the interdependent network of information technology infrastructures operating across this medium as part of the US National Critical Infrastructure.


A cyborg, short for “cybernetic organism”, is a being with both biological and artificial (e.g. electronic, mechanical or robotic) parts.

The term cyborg is often applied to an organism that has enhanced abilities due to technology,though this perhaps oversimplifies the necessity of feedback for regulating the subsystem. The more strict definition of Cyborg is almost always considered as increasing or enhancing normal capabilities. While cyborgs are commonly thought of as mammals, they might also conceivably be any kind of organism and the term “Cybernetic organism” has been applied to networks, such as road systems, corporations and governments, which have been classed as such. The term can also apply to micro-organisms which are modified to perform at higher levels than their unmodified counterparts.

Fictional cyborgs are portrayed as a synthesis of organic and synthetic parts, and frequently pose the question of difference between human and machine as one concerned with morality, free will, and empathy.

Cyborg Manifesto

Cyborg theory was created by Donna Haraway in order to criticize traditional notions of feminism—particularly its strong emphasis on identity, rather than affinity. She uses the metaphor of a cyborg in order to construct a feminism that moves beyond dualisms and moves beyond the limitations of traditional gender, feminism, and politics. Marisa Olson‘s take on Haraway’s thoughts is a belief that there were no separations between bodies and objects; that our life force flows through us and out into the objects we make; thus there ought to be no distinction between the so-called real or natural organisms that nature produces and the artificial machines that humans make. Haraway’s conclusion: We are all cyborgs.

From the article Cyborgs:

Cyborgs not only disrupt orderly power structures and fixed interests but also signify a challenge to settled politics, which assumes that binary oppositions or identities are natural distinctions. Actually those oppositions are cultural constructions. Haraway underlines the critical function of the cyborg concept, especially for feminist politics. The current dualistic thinking involves a “logic of dominance” because the parts of the dualisms are not equivalent. Thus, the logic produces hierarchies that legitimize men dominating women, whites dominating blacks, and humans dominating animals. Instead, Haraway suggests that people should undermine these hierarchies by actively exploring and mobilizing the blurring of borders.

In the Cyborg Manifesto, she writes: “The cyborg does not dream of community on the model of the organic family, this time without the oedipal project. The cyborg would not recognize the Garden of Eden; it is not made of mud and cannot dream of returning to dust.”


I think google should be included here. And I think you should get to know about google, as they will surely be behind some developments in the future. But rather than give you a definition, I suggest: google it. It took me two tries to find their info. How long will it take you?


Nanotechnology (sometimes shortened to “nanotech“) is the study of manipulating matter on an atomic and molecular scale. Generally, nanotechnology deals with developing materials, devices, or other structures possessing at least one dimension sized from 1 to 100 nanometres. Quantum mechanical effects are important at this quantum-realm scale.

Nanotechnology is very diverse, ranging from extensions of conventional device physics to completely new approaches based upon molecular self-assembly, from developing new materials with dimensions on the nanoscale to direct control of matter on the atomic scale. Nanotechnology entails the application of fields of science as diverse as surface science, organic chemistry, molecular biology, semiconductor physics, microfabrication, etc.


A posthuman or post-human is a concept originating notably in the fields of science fiction, futurology, contemporary art, and philosophy. A posthuman would no longer be a human being, having been so significantly altered as to no longer represent the human species. Underlying this worldview is a core belief that the human species in its current form does not represent the end of our development, but rather its beginning. – Nick Bostrum, 1999

The Singularity

The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology is a 2005 update of Raymond Kurzweil‘s 1999 book, The Age of Spiritual Machines and his 1990 book The Age of Intelligent Machines. In it, as in the two previous versions, Kurzweil attempts to give a glimpse of what awaits us in the near future. He proposes a coming technological singularity, and how we would thus be able to augment our bodies and minds with technology. He describes the singularity as resulting from a combination of three important technologies of the 21st century: genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics (including artificial intelligence).

Technological singularity refers to the hypothetical future emergence of greater-than-human intelligence through technological means. Since the capabilities of such intelligence would be difficult for an unaided human mind to comprehend, the occurrence of a technological singularity is seen as an intellectual event horizon, beyond which events cannot be predicted or understood. Proponents of the singularity typically state that an “intelligence explosion” is a key factor of the Singularity where superintelligences design successive generations of increasingly powerful minds.


Technology is the making, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems or methods of organization in order to solve a problem or perform a specific function. It can also refer to the collection of such tools, machinery, and procedures. Technologies significantly affect human as well as other animal species’ ability to control and adapt to their natural environments.


Transhuman or trans-human is a term that has been defined and redefined many times in history. In its contemporary usage, “transhuman” refers to an intermediary form between the human and the hypothetical posthuman.

It is a commitment to overcoming human limits in all their forms including extending lifespan, augmenting intelligence, perpetually increasing knowledge, achieving complete control over our personalities and identities and gaining the ability to leave the planet. Transhumanists seek to achieve these goals through reason, science and technology. – Vita More

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality (VR),is a term that applies to computer-simulated environments that can simulate physical presence in places in the real world, as well as in imaginary worlds. Most current virtual reality environments are primarily visual experiences, displayed either on a computer screen or through special stereoscopic displays, but some simulations include additional sensory information, such as sound through speakers or headphones. Some advanced, haptic systems now include tactile information, generally known as force feedback, in medical and gaming applications. Furthermore, virtual reality covers remote communication environments which provide virtual presence of users with the concepts of telepresence and telexistence or a virtual artifact (VA) either through the use of standard input devices such as a keyboard and mouse, or through multimodal devices such as a wired glove, the Polhemus, and omnidirectional treadmills.

The Hybrid Age

Machines will be embedded within us in hybrid age: Ayesha Khanna, Hybrid Reality Institute

Rituparna Chatterjee, ET Bureau Mar 6, 2012, 07.11AM IST
In this interview, Ayesha Khanna shows us the emergence of the Hybrid Age, its technologies, and their integration into daily life cyborg-fashion.

Ayesha Khanna is the founder and director of the Hybrid Reality Institute , a unique research and advisory group focused on the co-evolution of humans and technology. She is a Faculty Advisor at Singularity University (a university in Silicon Valley focused on a future when machines outsmart humans), on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Lifeboat Foundation (an NGO helping humanity survive existential risks of powerful technologies) and directs the Future Cities group at the London School of Economics. Khanna discusses the Hybrid Age — on which TED will be bringing out her book in June — with ET in San Francisco. Excerpts

Technology has been around since man invented the wheel, if not earlier. What is new in the Hybrid Age? And when did this Age begin?

Yes, technology has been around since the Stone Age and more recently through the Information Age wherein large amounts of information are produced on mobile devices and computers. Each time technology has changed, our lives have changed as well. We still tend to think that we are in the Information Age. But we are at the frontier of the Information Age and are now entering the Hybrid Age, an era of humanmachine interdependence.

This is primarily because of the integration and the convergence of different kinds of technologies such as big data, computing power, and regenerative medicine. In the Hybrid Age, machines will be all around us and embedded in our lives. They will be on everything from our clothes to our skin.

We have never been surrounded by so much technology ever before! Responsive environments around us will respond to each of us intelligently because they will know us. For instance, your car will know you and automatically take you to your kids’ school, putting on music and temperature of your preference.

Can you give specific scenarios of life in the Hybrid Age and where it will take us?

The multiple biometric devices — measuring our blood pressure, heart rate, sleep patterns — that are beginning to take over, are just the first step. Soon we could have sensor-enabled biomedical pills that we swallow and which send us emails. Human machine integrations will be so deep that we will become like cyborgs — beings that are both biological and artificial.

We will have all of these bionic implants that will help us lead long lives and drastically improve the capacities of a normal human being. We will be able to live until 150 years or more. So, not only will our environment become hybrid — with smart transport, smart cities and self-driving cars. — but we ourselves are moving towards that direction. Second, all of these machines around us will become more intelligent. They will look for patterns which will help us lead better lives.

The iPhone’s voice assistant Siri is a good early example of this. Technology will also get increasingly social which is new because for the first time, with virtual avatars , we will see artificial intelligence that will start to mimic human emotions. And we will build emotional relationships because we are hardwired as human beings to feel empathy. The embedding of machines into us will happen in a way that will seem very natural to us.

What are the social, economic and political implications of this?

The Hybrid Age is being led by elites. Certain technologies are very expensive and give people undue advantages. Cognitive enhancers are a good example and are already being used by soldiers and being further developed in academia. The question is whether such elitist technologies will increase socio-economic divides? Or will it increase the numbers of the stagnating middle class in the West? The internet of things and smart cities will be the next big tech wave after the current social media boom that we are going through right now.

As with PayPal and Square, we will see a lot more of peer-to-peer payments as well as various kinds of currencies. It will be all about the soft architecture of space, all of which will be an intelligent, highlypersonalised environment. The ability to compute, things to be stored in the cloud, analysing that data in the cloud will impact transport, parking, housing, food, education and pretty much every aspect in a city. So much so that in 50 years, large parts of economies could be automated and provide jobs and education as needed.

Economic Times Article