SYNTHETIC PLEASURES | Glossary


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Below is a glossary of terms used in SYNTHETIC PLEASURES.

artificial intelligence (ai): a field of science that has attempted to improve computers by trying to incorporate characteristics of human intelligence, such as the ability to understand natural language and to perform reasoning under certain conditions of uncertainty.

artificial life (al or Alife): new discipline that studies "natural" life by attempting to recreate biological phenomena from scratch within computers and other "artificial" media. alife complements the traditional analytic approach of traditional biology with a synthetic approach in which, rather than studying biological phenomena by taking apart living organisms to see how they work, one attempts to put together systems that behave like living organisms.

biotechnology: application which involves the deliberate manipulation of the dna molecules, the substance within cells that carries the "recipe" for the organism and is inherited by offspring from parents.

black hole: a place where the gravity is so strong that light can't even escape from it. how would you know where to look for it? it can also be interpreted as gateways to an alternative universe.

controlled environments: man-made closed systems, environments that are constant and predictable.

cryonics: a branch of science that aims to develop reversible suspended animation.

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.

cyborgization: the merge of machines and humans.

cybersex: every time there is a machine between you and your orgasm.

cyberspace: encompasses the realm of large electronic networks, it is the national `information-space.' occasionally, the metaphoric location of the mind of a person in hack mode.

ecstasy: drug used for opening up and having fun; slimming/keeping fit; dancing; problem solving; improving relationships; as an alternative to psychotherapy; in rituals; in place of a quick holiday; for pain relief; for depression. . . While dosed, you should drink LOTS of water to stay hydrated, especially if dancing hard.

extropy: forces opposing entropy. it represents boundless expansion, self-transformation, dynamic optimism, intelligent technology, and spontaneous order.

geek: someone who spends time being "social" on a computer. someone who just uses their computer for work but doesn't spend their free time "on line" is not a geek.

genetic engineering: the process of transferring dna from one organism into another that results in a genetic modification; the production of a transgenic organism.

nanotechnology: (from nanometer: a billionth of a meter) it is the manipulation of matter at the atomic level. this new technology will handle individual atoms and molecules with control and precision. It will change our world in more ways than we can imagine.

nerd: a person with no social skills, usually obsessed with science or technology (geek is more computer specific). nerds are known for their pocket protectors, taped glasses, and plaid shirts. many nerds are also geeks, using the net as a safe screen to hide behind while practicing their social skills.

omega point: a possible future state when intelligence controls the universe totally, and the amount of information processed and stored goes asymptotically towards infinity.

orbital space settlements/space colonization: in the long term, the purposes of nasa's human exploration and development of space enterprise are to enable the eventual establishment of permanent, self-sufficient settlements in space.

plastic beauty: your synthetic look after plastic surgery.

posthuman: self-programming, self-constituting, potentially immortal, unlimited individuals of unprecedented physical, intellectual, and psychological powers.

rave: usually refers to a party, usually all night long, where loud "techno" music is mostly played and many people partake in a number of different chemicals, though the latter is far from necessary. At a rave, the DJ is a shaman, a priest, a channeller of energy - they control the psychic voyages of the dancers through his choice in hard-to-find music and their skill in manipulating that music, sometimes working with just a set of beats and samples, into a tapestry of mindbending music. A large part of the concept of raves is built upon sensory overload - a barrage of audio and very often visual stimuli are brought together to elevate people into an altered state of physical or psychological existence. (Courtesy of Brian Behlendorf, visit http://hyperreal.com/raves/altraveFAQ.html#whatis)

robotics: is the engineering field that builds machine with the cognitive abilities necessary to interact with the real, physical world. current roboticists are producing machines whose cognitive performance is somewhere above the level of the simplest insects and somewhere below the cognitive performance of the simplest mammals.

smart drinks: drinks made with nutrients that supply needed precursors and cofactors that your body uses to manufacture neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers that carry impulses in the brain. These neurotransmitters can frequently be depleted by heavy exercise, stress, stimulant drugs, or lack of sleep, and many people report that amino acid/vitamin combo "smart drinks" seem to help.

smart drugs: a new breed of drugs termed *nootropic*. nootropic comes from the greek word meaning "acting on the mind". it works on the brain and/or blood/brain barrier and they have fairly low toxicity levels. Smart Drugs can do things like: 1) Improve mental functioning and even increase IQ (lots of arguments on the IQ increasing - but research is proving it true) 2) Increase lifespan (30% or higher) 3) Decrease some of the bad degenerative effects of aging 4) Increase mental clarity

techno/ ambient music: techno is denoted by its slavish devotion to the beat, the use of rhythm as a hypnotic tool. It is also distinguished by being primarily, and in most cases entirely, created by electronic means. It is also noted for its lack of vocals in most cases. Techno also usually falls in the realm of 115-160BPM. ambient music is designed to lull your mind through more soothing rhythms and samples.

terminal identity: begins when the citizen becomes a blip circulating within the feedback loop of the imploded society.

transcend: to become vastly superhuman and incomprehensible for unaugmented beings.

transhumanism: philosophies of life (such as extropian perspectives) that seek the continuation and acceleration of intelligent life beyond its currently human form and human limitations by means of science and technology, guided by life- promoting principles and values.

ubiquitous computer: also known as "embodied virtuality". computers that are an integral, invisible part of people's lives. in some ways the opposite of virtual reality, in which the user is absorbed into the computational world.

upload the mind: the transfer of consciousness and mental structure of a person from a biological matrix to an electronic or informational matrix.

virtual community: a community of persons not located in close physical proximity but forming a cultural community across computer networks.

virtual reality or artificial reality: the ultimate form of interaction between human and machine. In VR, everything you perceive is generated by a computer that responds to your movements with sights and sounds designed to make you think you are in another world. the user gets immersed in a computer generated simulation or enhanced environment so realistic as to cause the suspension of disbelief.