With myriad sources of inspiration, tech companies are pouring millions of dollars to transform their visions into reality. Here is all you need to know about tech buzzwords of 2021:
The metaverse broadly refers to shared, immersive digital environments which people can move between and may access via virtual reality or augmented reality headsets or computer screens.
Some tech CEOs are betting it will be the successor to the mobile internet. The term was coined in the dystopian novel "Snow Crash" three decades ago. This year CEOs of tech companies from Microsoft to Match Group have discussed their roles in building the metaverse. In October, Facebook renamed itself Meta to reflect its new metaverse focus.
Web3 is used to describe a potential next phase of the internet: a decentralized internet run on the record-keeping technology blockchain.
This model, where users would have ownership stakes in platforms and applications, would differ from today's internet, known as Web2, where a few major tech giants like Facebook and Alphabet's Google control the platforms.
Non-fungible tokens, which exploded in popularity this year, are a type of digital asset that exists on a blockchain, a record of transactions kept on networked computers.
In March, a work by American artist Beeple sold for nearly $70 million at Christie's, the first ever sale by a major auction house of art that does not exist in physical form.
Decentralising, or the transfer of power and operations from central authorities like companies or governments to the hands of users, emerged as a key theme in the tech industry.
Such shifts could affect everything from how industries and markets are organised to functions like content moderation of platforms. Twitter, for example, is investing in a project to build a decentralized common standard for social networks, dubbed Bluesky.
A decentralised autonomous organisation (DAO) is generally an internet community owned by its members and run on blockchain technology.
DAOs use smart contracts, pieces of code that establish the group's rules and automatically execute decisions.
In recent months, crowd-funded crypto-group ConstitutionDAO tried and failed to buy a rare copy of the US Constitution in an auction held by Sotheby's.
This deliberate misspelling of "stocks," which originated with an internet meme, made headlines as online traders congregating in forums like Reddit's WallStreetBets drove up stocks including GameStop and AMC.
The lingo of these traders, calling themselves "apes" or praising the "diamond hands" who held positions during big market swings, became mainstream.
Tesla released a test version of its upgraded Full Self-Driving (FSD) software, a system of driving-assistance features, like automatically changing lanes and make turns, to the wider public this year.
The name of the much-scrutinized software has itself been contentious, with regulators and users saying it misrepresents its capabilities as it still requires driver attention.
A term, popularised this year thanks to the COP26 UN climate talks in Glasgow, for saying a country, company, or product does not contribute to global greenhouse gas emissions.
That's usually accomplished by cutting emissions, such as the use of fossil fuels, and balancing any remaining emissions with efforts to soak up carbon, like planting trees. Critics say any emissions are unacceptable.