If your technology is described as “black” in China, don’t be offended. Instead, consider it one of the highest compliments you can attain in the tech world. Unlike black magic, it has nothing to do with voodooism or malicious enchantment, but rather a term reserved for only the most mind-boggling, futuristic and out-of-this-world scientific feats.

Think the stuff of sci-fi films: teleportation, humanoid bots, splicing. As for things that are already here – HoloLens, Magic Leap and Tesla’s self-driving cars and cloning of beef cows and pets.

The phrase has roots in the Japanese Anime Full Metal Panic, where “Black Technology” originally referred to scientific accomplishments developed by a species of “whisperers”, stealthily kept from civilians,  and so advanced it’s beyond the bounds of human understanding.

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April Ma

Based in Beijing, April Ma writes on tech trends and covers startups that may (or may not) be the next BATs. Reach her at April.ma@technode.com or Mafangjing (Wechat).