12 words that didn’t exist when your parents were at school

STEM talk
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Being fluent in STEM is all about nailing abbreviations, owning slang and memorising 342 job titles that ends in ‘ologist’. Here are 12 commonly used terms in today’s tech-verse that would have sounded seriously sci-fi in your mum and dad’s day.

1. AI (Artificial intelligence)

While this term was technically coined in 1950s, it has only come into common usage in recent years. AI refers to a computer or computer-controlled robot, programmed to perform tasks otherwise reserved for intelligent beings – like us! AI often boasts ‘human’ characteristics such as the ability to learn from past experiences, reason and self-correct. Oh, and they may/may not take over the world.

2. App developer

App developers are involved in all phases of application programming – from helping devise initial concepts to creating in-app mechanics and capabilities. Most have bachelor’s degrees in computer science and spend approximately 7.5 hours a day working – and playing – on their phones.

3. Blog

An informal – and often personal – DIY-style website consisting of a series of chronological text entries. Images and copy are usually accompanied by links, comments and embedded videos. WordPress, Tumblr and blogger are among the most popular services used.

RELATED: 5 STEM social media careers you’ll want to share

4. Cryptocurrency

Electronic cash that can be digitally traded between users without the need for a central bank or administrator – Bitcoin is the most famous example. Cryptocurrency can be exchanged for other currencies, products and services too. Transactions are heavily encrypted and can be anonymous.

5. Cybersecurity

The specialised safety techniques and systems used to protect internet-connected networks, devices, programs and data from unauthorised access (aka hacks).

6. Data science

The act of manually mining data – or information – has been a thing since forever, but this new method of farming it digitally wasn’t around when your parents were applying for jobs. Data scientists provide companies with the information needed to make smarter business decisions, by hunting down stats to uncover new insights, predict trends and understand complex consumer behaviours.

7. Debugging

If you’re a computer engineer you’d be all over the act of finding, fixing and removing errors from a program’s source code before a user experiences them. Monitor. Test. Analyse. Repeat. Oh, and coffee. A lot of coffee.

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8. Google

Apart from being a multinational technology company and the most-used search engine on the internet, google has become a go-to verb in our vocabulary. We talk about googling cats, needing to google that song and not googling medical symptoms. Yep, in 2019 Google is kind of a big deal.


Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) is the digital language used to communicate how online content is to be displayed and formatted on web pages. Among a host of other uses, it groups, hyperlinks, italicises, bolds and formats text. Commands like , and are super common.

10. Machine learning

Robots might not have taken over the world yet, but they have made a game-changing impact on the world of digital data. Machine learning refers to the AI that gives digital programs the ability to learn from new data without being manually programmed to do so. Think: when Facebook personalises your news feed based on what you’ve clicked on.

11. Reach

So your parents probably used this word, but not in one of its more popular contexts today. In the tech world, ‘reach’ refers to a social media account’s potential audience size and is one of the fundamental metrics used in digital marketing to determine the potential engagement rate – or popularity – of a post. The bigger the reach, the higher the chance of likes, comments and re-posts.

12. Voice recognition

The concept of translating human speech to computer talk is a huge tech development that is quite possibly still blowing your parents’ minds. Voice recognition software allows us to speak with electronic devices (“Hey Siri!”), ask them about things (“What’s the weather like in Iceland?”) and command them to do stuff (“Call mum!”). Machine learning at its finest.

Want more lists? For the A-Z of STEM careers head here.

Cassie Steel

Author: Cassie Steel

As Refraction’s digital editor, Cassie Steel spends her days researching robots and stalking famous scientists on Twitter.


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