Technology and Metaphors: from Cyberspace to Ambient Intelligence


  • Norberto Nuno Gomes de Andrade European University Institute, Law Department - Florence, Italy



Information and Communication Technologies, Internet, Cyberspace, Ambient Intelligence


This article analyses the metaphorical imaginative discourse created around the various inventions and technical breakthroughs in the field of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), focussing namely in the Internet. By examining such technologies in their physical and metaphorical components, the article explains how the former has been perceived, understood and even shaped by the images and representations of the latter. The paper, by emphasizing the intrinsic cognitive, prospective and creative characteristics of metaphors, aims at demonstrating how the powerful, imaginative and self-enforcing metaphorical terminology (composed by visions and imagined concepts such as “giant brains”, “information highways”, “metaverse”, “cyberspace” and “ambient intelligence”) has been not only accompanying but also driving the incessant pace of technology, contributing to its social acceptance and implementation. In this way, the metaphorical terminology enterprise keeps re-inventing itself, providing continuously additional terms and notions to express the new realities that the emerging technological machinery is fabricating. Within the historical and the future evolution of the Internet (as well as of its metaphorical counterpart cyberspace) proposed by this article, the latter introduces the next technological scenario in the pipe-line – the so-called Ambient Intelligence (AmI) space – and announces the emergence of a new “wave” of metaphors and images that are being created to capture the prospective realities promised by the novel generation of ICTs.

Author Biography

Norberto Nuno Gomes de Andrade, European University Institute, Law Department - Florence, Italy

PhD Student, Legal Researcher European University Institute Law Department Florence - Italy




How to Cite

de Andrade, N. N. G. (2010). Technology and Metaphors: from Cyberspace to Ambient Intelligence. Observatorio (OBS*), 4(1).