The discipline goes by different names, depending on the cultural context. Such names include future studies, Foresight (future studies)|foresight, futurism, futurology, prospective or vaticination (in France), and perspectiva (in Latin America). Futures studies has become the common term in the English-speaking world.
Futurologists exercised and applied Strategic Foresight for forecasting alternative futures. While forecasting -- i.e., attempts to predict future states from current trends -- is the most common way for the lay person to think about the future, professional scenarios often rely on "backcasting" -- i.e., asking what changes in the present would be required to arrive at alternative future states. Practitioners of futures studies classify themselves as futurists or foresight practitioners.
Glossary on the Web
There are A LOT of keywords to know, to discover or to learn before becoming a real futurist. Here are some glossaries availabe on the web for free:
- SL4 Glossary About The Singularity
- Transhumanism Terminology
- Nanotechnology Glossary About Nanotechnology and Molecular Manufacturing
- Nanomedical Glossary
- Orion's Arm Glossary by M.Alan Kazlev, et al
- Lextropicon Neologisms of Extropy
- Terminology From The Omega Point Theory List
- Church of Virus Lexicon Meme related
So if you want to get a good point of view of today scenario about the future, if you want to learn a new techno-culture, these glossaries are a good place to start to read.