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CARLSON CURVE- short hand for the rate of growth in our ability to build things biologically
If you want to talk about 21st century technology, you need to know about the Carlson Curve. Improvements in our ability to synthesize base pairs--the process that supports everything from gene therapy to creation of new forms of life--are increasing at a greater than exponential rate. This acceleration is due in part to improved technology and in part to improved technique. Just as "Moore's Law" came to represent accelerating computing power, "Carlson Curve" has come to represent the accelerating power of biotechnology.
DISEASOME- the collection of all diseases and the genes associated with them
Just as the term genome stood for the cutting edge of science and technology in the last decade of the 20th century, the term diseasome has cme(sic) to inspire scientific innovation and open-source collaboration for the 21st century. First introduced as a way of mappingt(sic) diseases by Marc Vidal and Albert-Laszlo Barabasi in 2008, the diseasome is the structure of genetic and proteomic relationships among types of diseases. It is usually rendered as a network diagram. The concept, and the maps it has inspired, allow for a greater understanding of the diversity of diseases in a systemic, rather than anecdotal, way. In the era of ReDS, diseasome has become part of the everyday lexicon.
GEOENGINEERING- massive intervention in the earth's envrionment(sic) to solve very large-scale problems, like global climate change
As we struggle to cope with planetary forces on a large scale, geoengineering as become a term of heroic proportions. Geoengineering encompasses a range of large-scale technologies intended prmarily(sic) to alter the planet's climate--whether through changing its chemical composition (pulling CO2 out); changing its albedo (stratospheric sulfate particles); or changing its ocean systems (pulling cold water to surface to weaken hurricanes and reduce thermal flow to atmosphere). We're just at the beginning of this wave of interventions.
GREAT FILTER- a series of steps that place limits on the evolution of itelligent(sic) life
As we think about the timescale of humans, the Great Filter is one of the terms that we're using to help us understand the timescale of our future as well as our past. The term comes to us from the discourse of physics. The Great Filter is one explanation for the Fermi Paradox. Fermi observed that our galaxy has been around long enough for extraterrestrial civilizations to have emerged and spread, but we see no signs of any other intelligent species. Where are they? The Great Filter argument says that since we don't see a wide range of intelligent life, there must be some filtering process--a series of difficult, improbable, or impossible steps that intelligent life must evolve through. If we map the steps that we believe have led from the first star to the present existence of tool-using humans, we might well conclude that either we (aparently(sic) alone) have made it through the Great Filter, having survived a challenge that no other civilization has been able to survive. In this case, our future looks good. If that's not the case, then the next step in our evolution is likely to be the "impossible" step, through which no other civilizations equivalent to ours has passed. In this case, our future is dim. Once a rather arcane philosophical debate, the GEAS report has given the concept of the Great Filter more public attention.
IMMUNITY- the interlocking systems that protect individuals, organizations, and entire communities from collapse
The term immunity came into the 21st century with many meanings relevant to the superthreats, from Quarantine (physical immunity) to Outlaw Planet (criminal immunity) to Generation Exile (immigration immunity). But the concept of immunity has now taken on a broader meaning, reflecting the capacity of an individual, an organization, or an entire community to resist harm from external threats. As such, it applies to much more than disease. People talk of immunity to cultural changes, political threats, even technologies. Their "immune systems" include large ecologies of relationships, skills, and resources. The extended metaphor surfaces in discussions of social auto-immune disorders, community "t-cells" (the actors or forces promoting immunity), immunological memory, even immunodeficiency. Immunity, immune systems, and immunization are all terms that people use to talk about human problems and their solutions.
MESH-TO-MESH IDENTITY- the many faces we wear as we connect across more and more diverse networks
With the growth of social networks at the turn of the century, individual identities became fragmented across networks. As those networks proliferated, people have begun to talk about mesh-to-mesh identity--or M2M identity. A person's identity tends to vary across his or her differing social networks (or meshes); M2M identity has thus become shorthand for talking about all the ways people present themselves and all the tools and processes that they use to bridge the divergent selves across distinctive networks. It's a catchall phrase for identities that are constantly shifting as people are shaped by changes at the edes(sic) of their networks--edges they may not ever actually interact with directly. People who fully engage with their M2M identities often go for extreme social transparency, an open-access version of the "quantified self" that Kevin Kelly began documenting in 2008.
STIGMERGY- a mechanism for coordinating masses of people by leaving trails in the environment
The term stigmergy came into the general lexicon from studies of swarm intelligence in insects like ants, but has rapidly become a prescription for organizing complex human systems. Stigmergy is the spontaneous, indirect coordination among people (or other social organisms or machines) that results when traces left in the environment by one action stimulate another action by those same people or by others. Two characteristics of stigmergy have made it a particularly important design concept for the 21st century. First, it is a form of self-organization; it produces complex, apparently intelligent structures, without need for any planning, control, or even communication among those who use the structures. Second, it creates this coordination by making small, continuous changes to the environment; effectively turning entire landscapes into tools of collaboration.
SYNC- the use of rhythmic cycles at all scales, from molecules to planetary systems, to bind single actions into larger systems of activity
In 2003, Steven Strogatz opened his book Sync with this assertion: "At the heart of the universe is a steady, insistent beat: the sound of cycles in sync." Along with other authors like William Benzon (Beethoven's Anvil) and Steven Johnson (Emergence) who have sought to explain emergent patterns of collective behavior, Strogatz pushed the term sync to stand for our best understanding of how amazing "feats of synchrony" are accomplished without a conductor or even a playbook. Sync, as it has evolved over the past decade, is a form of emergent cooperation that occurs when humans mirror each other in rhythmic patterns. Sync has come to stand for the complex principles of synchrony that underlie such diverse human experiences as markets, smart mobs, social networks, and traffic patterns. The mathematics of synchrony claim to foretell the conditions under which such bottom-up cooperation is likely to occur. But in the vernacular, sync means collaboration through shared rhythms, and setting sophisticated rhythms in motion is gradually evolving as a powerful method of seeding collective action.
TO THE LEFT/RIGHT OF THE BOOM- a strategic timeline of anticipation and then response to an explosive situation
In the world of bomb disposal, the phrases to the left of the boom and to the right of the boom were a way of talking about the a timeline before or after the detonation of a bomb. Bomb disposal crews usually work to the left of the boom; emergency response crews usually work to the right of the boom--that is, afterwards(sic). Today, however, the expression has come into more general use, meaning the time leading up to and immediately after any disruptive event. Communities and organizations often speak about wanting to work to the left of the boom; but more sophisticated analysts argue that in some situations you want to act to the left, while in others, you're better off to the right. The explosive roots of the expression bespeak the general sense of a population that feels itself almost constantly at risk.
TRANSLOCALISM- a movement that supports the values of localism while recognizing the realities of global mobility In the second half of the 20th century, as the world exploded into a global society, many terms and slogans emerged to capture the experience and advocate appropriate new behavior. In particular, Think Globally, Act Locally became the rallying call for a new localist movement. Now, two decades into the 21st century, translocalism has emerged as a way of addressing limits of both localism and globalism in a world of mass migration--while supporting the values of localism. Sometimes described as "non-geographic localism," translocalism attempts to integrate various localism practices with geographically dispersed communities. Groups with distinct identity attachments to multiple locations (usually a diaspora) are sometimes considered translocal. Some advocates have flipped the earlier slogan, calling for citizens to Think Locally, Act Globally.
VIRAL SOVEREIGNTY- the exclusive right of a nation to control or monetize the use of a native pathogen for research, medical treaments(sic), or weaponry
Viral sovereignty is perhaps a term that could only emerge in the 21st century--and one that stands as a symbol for the challenges we face in a world that is both highly interconnected and engaged in unprecedented manipulation of the building blocks of life. The term emerged as certain nations have asserted that any pathogen found local to a state (whether existing in nature or engineered) is the inherent intellectual property of that state. Under the assertion of viral sovereignty, states seek to control or forbid the outside use of that pathogen--whether for research, for medical treatments, or for weaponry.