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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 Restriction FAQ.

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 FAQ.

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 Turing machine.

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. [Eugene Leitl].

CONCENTRATED INTELLIGENCE: 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 explanation.

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 Leary]

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 physics.

CRYONAUT: A cryonically suspended person.

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 E-mail List]

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 movement.

CYBERNATE/CYBERNIZE: To automate a process using computers and robots.

CYBERSPACE/CYBERMATRIX: 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.



Anders Sandberg /