CALCUTTA SYNDROME: The condition
in which the ratio of available mass to population falls below the minimum
level necessary to support a given quality of life (M/P < mC). [David
Krieger, November 1991]
CALM TECHNOLOGY: Technology that
recedes into the background of our lives. [Likely Mark Weiser and John
Seely Brown at Xerox PARC. See The
coming age of calm technology]
CALORIE RESTRICTION: A reduction
in caloric-intake for the purposes of slowing one's rate of aging as
well as preventing disease or the morbidity/mortality associated with
disease. So far this is the most promising (if somewhat cumbersome)
life extension method; animal experiments have shown definite positive
results with a low-calorie diet. See also the Calorie
CASIMIR EFFECT: A small attractive
force which acts between two close parallel uncharged conducting plates.
It is due to quantum vacuum fluctuations of the electromagnetic field
which creates a lower energy density of the vacuum between the plates
than outside them. The effect was predicted by Hendrick Casimir in 1948
and verified in 1996 by Steven Lamoreaux. See Physics
CEREBROSTHESIS: (from cerebral and
prosthesis) n. An electronic device interfaced with the brain to overcome
a neurological deficiency, such as normal human intelligence. (Cf. neuroprosthesis
- see Extropy #7). [Mark Plus; August 1991]
CHINESE ROOM: A thought experiment
due to John Searle attacking the strong
AI postulate. A person in a locked room carries on a dialogue with
us by way of Chinese written on paper passed back and forth under the
door. The person in the room responds according to instructions stored
in a vast library of rule-books, and does not understand Chinese. Since
the person doesn't understand the language and the rule-books obviously
lack understanding, Searle claims that there is no real language knowledge
involved. Searle likens dialogue with a computer to this situation,
and hopes that it makes it clear why he says that computers are not
aware. The scenario has been widely debated, but proponents of strong
AI point out that the system room + person could be said to possess
knowledge of Chinese, in just the same way as the neurons in a human
brain (which themselves lack knowledge about Chinese) can form a system
that can know the language.
CHRONONAUTS: Those who travel through
time, either by biostasis (cryonaut)
or through possible loopholes in physical laws as currently understood.
CHURCH-TURING THESIS: The
proposition that there is no way to compute the answer to any question
that is beyond the powers of a universal
COBOTS: Collaborative robots designed to
work alongside human operators. Prototype cobots are being used on automobile
assembly lines to help guide heavy components like seats and dashboards
into cars so they don't damage auto body parts as workers install them.
[Wired 5.07 Jargon Watch]
COMPUFORM: To turn matter into computronium.
[Charlie Stross Dec 1999].
COMPUTRONIUM: Matter supporting computation,
especially artificial substances suitable for high efficiency computation.
An intelligent entity (esp. a Jupiter-Brain)
which is spatially concentrated into a single volume, as dense as possible,
to reduce communications lag. This arrangement is not as flexible as
a distributed intelligence,
but probably more efficient.
CONSILIENCE: n. From William Whewell,
who in his 1840 synthesis The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences
spoke of consilience as a "jumping together" of knowledge by linking
facts and theory across disciplines to create a common groundwork of
CONNECTIONISM: n. The approach to
cognitive science that gives a fundamental explanatory role to neuron-like
interconnections rather than to formal or explicit rules of thought.
CONTELLIGENCE: (Consciousness + intelligence)
The combination of awareness and computational power required in an
Artificially Intelligent network before we could, without loss of anything
essential, upload ourselves into them. [Timothy
CONTINUITY IDENTITY THEORY:
The theory that "I" am the same person as various future and
past selves with whom I am physically and temporally continuous. (Cf
pattern identity theory).
COSMYTHOLOGY: Non-scientific usage
of loosely understood scientific ideas (often filled with catch-phrases
and buzzwords like "quantum", "chaos" and "emergent")
to explain or "prove" pseudoscience or mysticism. Typical
examples are claims that quantum mechanics proves that consciousness
has an essential role in physics or that the "butterfly effect"
shows that magic is possible. [1995, Vic
Stenger, The Unconscious Quantum]
CRYOBIOLOGY: The study of the effect
of low temperatures (below the freezing point of water) on biological
systems. A primary goal of this field is the preservation and long term
storage of organ systems such as hearts, kidneys, etc. for use in transplantation.
This goal has not yet been reached and currently only individual cells
and organisms consisting of only a very few cells (such as embryos)
can be successfully treated, stored, and revived.
CRYOCRASTINATE: v. To put off making
arrangements for cryonic suspension.
[Mark Plus; August 1991]
CRYOGENICS: The study of materials at
very low temperatures (near absolute zero). Cryogenics is a branch of
CRYONAUT: A cryonically
CRYONICS: A branch of science that aims
to develop reversible suspended
animation. Until suspended animation is achieved, most cryonicists
favor the use of cryonic suspension
as a last ditch effort for people whose medical options have run out.
See my Cryonics Page for more information.
CRYONIC SUSPENSION: A (currently
non-standard) medical technique for attempting to prevent the permanent
cessation of life in individuals on the brink of death. It involves
the use of low temperatures to halt metabolic decay. A person who is
cryonically suspended can not be revived by current medical technology.
The freezing process does too much damage. What is accomplished is that
once frozen the person's biological state does not change. The reason
for performing a cryonic suspension is the belief that science, technology,
and society will advance to the point where revival of the person is
both possible and desirable.
CRYP: Cryptographic currency, digital cash.
Payment by electronic means where the seller is guaranteed payment,
but the buyer can remain anonymous. [Eli Brandt, 11/11/92, on the Extropians
CRYPTO ANARCHY: The economic and
political system after the deployment of encryption, untraceable e-mail,
digital pseudonyms, cryptographic
voting, and digital cash. A pun on "crypto,"
meaning "hidden," and as when Gore Vidal called William F.
Buckley a "crypto fascist."
CRYPTOCOSMOLOGY: The study of possible
reasons we haven't found any evidence for other intelligent life in
the universe (the Fermi paradox),
especially looking at reasons why advanced intelligence would blend
in with their environment. An adaption of the word cryptozoology, the
search for unknown or imaginary animals.
COMPUTRONIUM: A highly (or optimally)
efficient matrix for computation, such as dense lattices of nanocomputers
or quantum dot cellular automata. [Eugene Leitl]
CYBERCIDE: The killing of a person's
projected virtual persona in cyberspace. This may be part of a VR game,
or may be an act of vandalism. [Max More; August 1991]
CYBERFICTION: Science fiction embodying
the technological ideas of cyberpunk, without necessarily embodying
cyberpunk's amoralism or nihilism. [Max More, May 1991]
CYBERGNOSTICISM: The belief that
the physical world is impure or inefficient, and that existence in the
form of "pure information" is better and should be pursued.
CYBERIAN: A person belonging to the Timothy
Leary/Mondo2000 psychedelic side of the transhumanist
CYBERNATE/CYBERNIZE: To automate
a process using computers and robots.
The informational and computational space existing in and between computers.
CYBRARIAN: Computer Net-oriented information
specialist. [Jean Armour Polly, 1992]
CYPHERPUNK: One interested in the uses
of encryption using electronic cyphers for enhancing personal privacy
and guarding against tyranny by centralized, authoritarian power structures,
especially government. See Crypto Anarchy
and the Cyphernomicon
by Tim May.