The Maximally Cynical Glossary of Technology Terms

My attempt to write the most cynical glossary I could manage to help you understand and feel terrible about the latest key technology concepts and terms. REALLY not to be taken seriously, obviously this is mostly satire.  🙂


Android phones: the closest a company can get to making an iPhone while risking at most a dozen lawsuits (see entry on “iPhones”)

Artificial Intelligence: the best name for Machine Learning if you’re trying to make it sound cool to people that don’t know much about it

Augmented reality: usually referred to as “Pokémon GO”


Big Data: the phrase you invoke when you have no idea what to do with the huge amount of data your company has been pointlessly stock piling, and you’re trying to convince management to bring in a data scientist who might have a clue

Bio-engineered viruses: something we should be way more worried about

Bitcoin: a bunch of special numbers you can buy and sell whose prices are made up daily, invented by an unknown pseudonymous genius, which is stolen in large quantity with shocking frequency

Blockchain: a slow, energy inefficient, functionality limited database that you can only append to and that you don’t control, but which is genuinely really useful when agreement can’t be reached on even a single person or organization to trust


Cognitive computing: see entry on “Artificial Intelligence” and append the phrase “…and you are IBM”

Cold fusion: probably still fake, but let’s all desperately hope it isn’t

CSS: the simple way to style your web app precisely the way you want it in only 50 hours (assuming, of course, that you never need to vertically align blocks, adhere to the DRY principle, have elastic containers stretch to the width of their content, put a border image around a box, or have your web app look the same on old browsers)

Chatbots: perhaps the most frustrating way to interact with a dumb algorithm


Dark matter: god messing with us

Dark Web: simultaneously both the laziest and the nerdiest way to buy drugs

Dank Web: not actually a thing, just sounds like it

Data scientist: a word sometimes reserved for a sort of programmer who sort of knows statistics that dabbles with numpy and scikit-learn who manages to use data to beat the crap out of the impulse driven ways we humans normally make decisions

Deep learning: a technique from the late 1960’s that people just figured out how to make work like woah, by using massively more data, much greater processing power, and stupider seeming activation functions

Deep web: what Google hasn’t yet figured out how to crawl with its bots

Dinosaur: a large, traditional corporation which, despite it’s tenuous grasp on technology, still easily trampled the dozens of now dead startups that attempted to nip at its heels

Drones: a fun new trend in wedding photography

D-Wave: a company that makes quantum computers that don’t do almost any of the things that make quantum computing worth caring about


Echo: Amazon’s attempt to wage war against people named Alexa everywhere, also, the most impressive way yet to turn lights on and off (especially if you have the special LED ones with “over 16 million colors to choose from”)

Email: the socially enforced todo list that others created without your consent, which you somehow became addicted to checking


Face recognition: DARPA funded technology for the government to track the whereabouts of every citizen via closed caption video, which has now been rendered obsolete by smartphone GPS and Facebook

Flying cars: what we’ll never get to ride in, but at least we have Candy Crush Soda Saga


Gene drive: hypothetical weapon of mass extinction aimed at human’s greatest enemy after ourselves, the mosquito

Geoengineering: the scientific name for those risky plans of desperation that we’ll inevitably need to use once we’ve completely destroyed the environment

Go: a programming language by Google engineers who hate C++, also a store designed by Amazon to take everyone’s jobs

GPUs: proof that the only things we care about making run faster any more are games and machine learning algorithms


Hadoop: an extremely helpful solution for working with datasets far bigger than any you’ll ever have, and one of the most painful ways you can think of to work with your actual data

Home robots: still just the Roomba 

Hoverboard: a terrible disappointment for Back to the Future fans, but fortunately they are being renamed Catchonfireboards

HTML: cutting edge 1989 technology that every website will be forced to use forever


Internet explorer: what Bill Gates has been atoning for by saving millions of lives

Internet of things: how your smart toilet paper roll will alert the Amazon delivery drone fleet that you’re out of TP

iPhones: the most expensive Android phone in the world (also, see entry on “Android phones”)

Iterated embryo selection: future source of the first super human army


JavaScript: just the sort of programming language you get when you trick a genius into joining your company by promising him he’ll get to work on Scheme, but instead make him build a product to compete with a rival company and give him only 10 days to do it (because really, that’s plenty of time to design a PROGRAMMING LANGUAGE)



Lab grown meat: a vegan conspiracy to finally get you to stop causing the death of sentient beings all the time, since prior vegan conspiracies like seitan, tempeh and Gardein Seven Grain Crispy Tenders have failed


Machine learning: perhaps the most simultaneously over and under hyped technology ever, which, depending on your perspective, will (a) enable us to see what we would look like as cats, (b) predict that we want pizza before we’ve realized it ourselves, (c) diagnose cancer more effectively than a doctor, (d) enable one group to take over the world, or (e) bring about the end of human life on earth

Moore’s law: a self fulfilling prophesy used for some time by chip manufacturers to set targets for transistor density, based on the assumption that their competitors would be setting their targets using Moore’s law

Microbiome: further proof (as if we needed it) of how little we understand about human nutrition


Nanotechnology: still only the 7th most likely thing to end the human race so not worth explaining

Neural lace: a last-ditch attempt to make humans less dumb so that we’re not outcompeted by machines, with side effects that may include brain hemorrhaging and seizures


Open AI: an attempt to make the world safer from AI by maximally accelerating its development in an epic arms race that would make fantastic television

Open Office: definitive proof that the open source movement can easily make software that’s every bit not quite as good as Microsoft’s


Petcube: impressive technology to spy on and shoot lasers at your and other people’s cats


Quantum computers: by far the most expensive and complicated way humans have ever invented to divide the number 512 into its prime factors



Segway: still occasionally spotted in NYC, only capable of carrying tourists and police officers

Self driving cars: the replacement for what, say, 5% of people used to call their profession

Social media: what you’re checking right now instead of talking to that friend who you’re out at dinner with, but it’s okay, he doesn’t notice because he just got some new likes, and plus, this glossary about 2017 technology is on par with having an awkward conversation

Soylent: a moderately higher fat, higher protein, lower carb version of Ensure, mainly consumed by programmers and techies rather than grandparents (also, the worst possible name ever conceived for a food – if it turns out to contain people we REALLY should have seen that coming)

String theory: either the ultimate theory of the universe or the biggest waste of physics talent in history, just stay tuned for a testable prediction in 2040 to find out


Technology startup: an explosively growing company that invents disruptive new ways to get you permanently addicted to your phone, typically involving animated gifs

Theranos: why someone needs to invent a way to easily short startups

Tor: a US government project to make you feel anonymous while browsing the web as government agencies closely spy on your behavior attempting (with limited success???) to piece together who you are

3D printing: still the cheapest way to make a realistic model of your own head



Video conferencing: a great way to have conversations when you are not overly invested in seeing or hearing the other party

Virtual reality: what we’ll all be living in 25 years from now once we get over our irrational attachments to meat space, including: our love of having to move to get between two points, our preference for not being able to easily choose to look like an alligator, and our desire to be able to collide with the walls we can see (but not with the walls we can’t see)

VPN: how you use the internet in China



Xanadu: an aptly named 1960’s project that the internet still hasn’t quite caught up with, also, the record holder for longest running vaporware


Yahoo: I can’t remember, did this used to be a search engine???


Zombie networks: where email spam comes from, which thanks to Gmail is finally less annoying again than food spam, which comes from Austin, Minnesota

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