I’ve seen the terms posthuman and transhuman used in fairly generic ways. But given a setting with several types of beings, what consistent naming convention could be used? I suppose the vulgar terms might be less neat and careful than the official and legal names. I’m interested in both.


Human brains that have been scanned and ported to man-made computer architecture.

They might be gradually improved and extended: return to the nimble mind of youth; increase short-term memory; perfect recall when desired; but still very much human.


There is a spectrum of improvements both in type and in degree. More advanced “beyond old limits” would be full meta-manipulation. Audit the neural network for inconsistencies; edit for better optimal representations; build or prune links with intent. I think the big difference is not in how much incremental general improvement has been made, but in going meta.


Changes are made that cause a shift away from being a human mind and make it more alien. This might not be major, but has profound effects. E.g. the “Vulcan” faction prevents all inconsistencies among the neural net, even reworking what was in the mind before.


General capacity and capability are upgraded beyond human levels by substantial amounts. But he’s careful to remain human.


Forget backward compatibility with #4. Upgrade capacity and capability and eventually realize you’ve outgrown the human mind and transcend to a higher level of mind.

I suppose that all beings that came from human minds are of a class and might be called post-human. If the transcendent label is reserved for #5, what should we call the others?

  • $\begingroup$ Conor Kostick's "Epic" series called them "EI", "electronic intelligence". $\endgroup$
    – EMBLEM
    Aug 8, 2016 at 0:49

4 Answers 4


The GURPS Transhuman Space tabletop RPG setting uses "infomorph" as a general term for all kinds of minds that run on computers instead of wetware. It also has "Ghosts" as uploaded human minds. The setting lacks the technology to upgrade its ghosts, so has no terminology for that.

  • $\begingroup$ A good start though. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Aug 7, 2016 at 19:30
  • $\begingroup$ not to mention existing terminology that has become standard: ghost in the machine, or ghost in the shell. I'd say any software intelligence would be known as a ghost, at least informally. $\endgroup$
    – gbjbaanb
    Aug 8, 2016 at 0:34

The prefix extra- is generally used for things that are outside of normality - for example, extraterrestrial for being outside Earth-normal, or extracurricular for education outside of the normal curriculum.

Let's apply this to humans. If you're sort-of human, but not the original design, you could be known as extrahuman.

From here, you can take a major point from each of the levels of extrahumanity that you intend to create (5 of them, in your case), and prepend that to the general class name to come up with a specific name.

Your #1 could be digital extrahumans. Your #2 has a theme of meta-existence, so perhaps they're meta extrahuman. Your #3 doesn't have an obvious theme, but if there's something specific you're using, like a Vulcan faction - try Vulcan extrahumans on for size.

At #4 you're really moving out of the realm of humanity, so perhaps you need to change the base name entirely. What about superhumans, to take a cliché'd term literally? And #5 you've already decided on, but try adding the previous name to form transcendent superhumans.

  • $\begingroup$ Very nice! Has a good ring of officialdom about it. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Aug 7, 2016 at 20:08

One very important question is "Who is doing the name calling?"

If all of humanity is moving forward more or less in lockstep, they will call each other "human" at all stages. They might have other names for the previous stages, typically "pre-something humans".

However, knowing humanity, we will not move forward in lockstep. There will be conservatives, lagging behind, and there will be progressives, surging ahead.

These groups will have names for each other that will not be complimentary. "cave people" and "inhumans" is probably some of the kinder terms. On the other hand, they will have very complimentary terms for themselves, like "true humans" and "future humans".

Note that these names are all relative. One generations progressive "future human" can be the next generations conservative "true human".

Looking at history we find that group names can be very random, this will no doubt continue into the future. The founders of the group have some concept they think is very important and defines their philosophy. Later that concept falls by the wayside, but the name remains.

In summary, you can call these groups whatever you want, as long as it makes sense to the characters using the terms.


Human would be the correct broadbased word to use for all groups based on the simple logic of how evolution works...

Your groupings seem wrong...

  • Group 1 - Humans that reject any modification may seem like they'd be called "human", but as time goes on more people will continue to move away from this and this group will eventually die one way or another. They're more than likely going to be called an insulting name, such as, "Trogs" while they might call themselves "Pure Humans"

  • Group 2 - Humans that have had some modification, either through Cybernetics or DNA manipulations will likely be called "Humans" for the majority of their existence, but they might also be called "Mods", "Cybers", "Cyborgs", "Splicers", or "Mutants'. And this term will likely apply to anyone who hasn't digitized their brain in some way. That means that any modification beneath that point, including using brain linked cybernetics, will fit in this group.

  • Group 3 - This group gets a bit harder to describe, but I call them "DigiHumans" and basically they are individuals who are sentient who are not permantly linked to a physical body.
    Sub-group 1 - Humans who have digitized their brain in some way.
    1a. Those who spend most of their time as some physical construct in the real world, such as they are made of nanites in human form, or are in a synthetically created body with the data for their brain encapsulated in this synthetic body.
    1b. Same as 1a, but generally not in human form.
    1c. This groups spend their time in virtual space and worlds and are more prone to not reside or consider that whatever the physical form in the real world is as their real form. They might be in a satellite in space all alone or they might be in a supercomputer on earth just one among millions of other sentients.
    Sub-Group 2 - Synthetic Intelligences that are recognized as sentient. They are broken into the same sub-sub-groups as sub-group 1, but their origin is in software, rather than the "real world". This Sub-Group will become the majority of humans at some point in the future as Digihumans "reproduce" by creating new sentients and/or the Virtual worlds they create's inhabitants are allowed to see past their programming which allows them to become more and more like their creator and eventually maybe become their equal and surpass them. (This is subject to debate as to what to call these levels of progression of these intelligences, but this final level will exist if Digihumans exist).

By the time the 3rd group becomes the majority or only group of humans remaining a name will have been applied to them. I predict something like "Digis" because Digital Human is too long, Digihuman is too close to "Digimon". "Trans" has already been taken. "Posts" just will never catch on. So they'll likely be called Digis or something like that.

As far as Nomenclature for Digis beyond that... That's not going to happen. The difference between these groups are software or hardware. If you change the software they're not themselves any more and presumably you're trying to remain sentient so that's not going to happen. The differentiation there will be is in the difference of sub-subgroups, which is those who still associates with a given physical form and those who don't. What physical form or where they reside won't be some sort of weird categorization where somehow they've evolved into a different form. The distinction will only be in terms of personal Philosophy and wealth to get upgraded hardware, but they're not going to be looked at as some new species or different thing.

In other words, because you have a 2 Zhz Processor you're not a different thing than someone with 4 Yhz processor and one might distinguish based on wealth, but not in terms of "that's something else."

  • $\begingroup$ You’re describing a different story/world than what I’m asking about. You seem to reject my story's premise about intelligence changing to be less human-like, and insist that they're not different in this way. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Aug 7, 2016 at 21:33
  • $\begingroup$ @JDługosz It's all covered under Digis. Your group 1, 2, and somewhat of 3 would be associated as this group. The expansion would be just a natural result of digitizing and not a different "group" same with the increased reason and manually linking thing. 4 is jsut a matter of money to buy more/better hardware and wouldn't create a new term. 5 is nonsense. Again, improvements are just a matter of more or better processing. The wealthy who can afford lots of CPU power might be pretentious but with the cognitive abilities possible i doubt it. You're looking a class name, not a species name. $\endgroup$
    – Durakken
    Aug 7, 2016 at 21:50
  • $\begingroup$ @JDługosz and by class name I mean they'd consider themselves humans/Digis, but might form a group and call themselves 'The council of Order" and individuals might take on the term "Orderers", but they wouldn't call themselves something other than Human/Digis. $\endgroup$
    – Durakken
    Aug 7, 2016 at 21:52
  • $\begingroup$ Exploring the progression to 5 and how he leaves humanness behind is the plot of the story. Rejecting that doesn’t help me one iota. A proper answer is within the postulates of the question; that is properly a comment on the OP not an answer. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Aug 7, 2016 at 21:54
  • $\begingroup$ @JDługosz Well, you might rephrase the question, not as what would they call themselves, but what would they call the phase. Because certainly they'd recognize a pattern of people going through these phases as they explore once they've digitized, but again, it wouldn't be a matter of this is a human and that isn't. Just like a Baby, infant, child, teen, adult, and elder are different phases, but noone would say any one of those phases aren't a human. $\endgroup$
    – Durakken
    Aug 7, 2016 at 21:59

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