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AI's Lexicon Takeover: Words of the Year Get a Tech Twist

December 7, 2023

AI Dominance in 2023

2023, a year where the tech world was utterly dominated by artificial intelligence (AI), saw an interesting twist in the world of words. Dictionaries, those venerable guardians of language, have updated their "word of the year" lists, turning to AI-related terms. These aren't new words, mind you, but old words reborn with techy meanings, like a phoenix rising from silicon ashes!

Cambridge's Choice: "Hallucinate"

Cambridge University, that esteemed institution, chose "hallucinate" for its word of the year. It perfectly captures the quirky behavior of generative AI models like ChatGPT. These systems, when faced with uncertainty, would rather invent facts and figures than admit ignorance​​. It's an AI's way of saying, "I don't know, so here's something made-up but plausible." However, there's a serious side to this. These AI-generated 'hallucinations' are sometimes so believable that people accept them without question​​.

AI's Creative Hallucinations

But not all hallucinations are bad. In fact, they can be quite artistic. Generative AI can create stunning imagery and audio, mixing bits and pieces of its training data into something new but not exactly original​​. Cambridge's AI ethicist, Henry Shevlin, pointed out that embracing "hallucinate" shows our readiness to attribute human-like qualities to AI. As we progress through this decade, our language might evolve further to describe the bizarre abilities of these new digital minds​​.

Merriam-Webster's Take: "Authentic"

On the other hand, Merriam-Webster went a different route, choosing "authentic" as their word. In the age of AI, where deepfakes and virtual realities blur the line between real and fake, this choice seems almost ironic​​. Authenticity, that unattainable jewel in the crown of consumerism, is more valuable than ever. But now, it's not just about whether a trend is genuinely cool or a product truly organic. We're questioning the very reality of things - is that designer jacket on the celebrity real, or just another AI-generated illusion?​​

"Deepfake" Gets a Mention

Interestingly, "deepfake" also made Merriam-Webster's longlist. Once a dark corner of the internet for unsavory uses, it's now a mainstream term encompassing a wide range of AI applications​​.

Oxford's Selection: "Prompt"

Oxford University Press, meanwhile, nearly went AI with their word of the year but ultimately chose "prompt." This term, once a humble part of speech, now embodies the interaction between humans and generative AI systems. It's all about how we, the users, direct these AIs to generate content based on our inputs​​. Oxford's actual word of the year? It's "rizz" - shorthand for charisma. Something that AI, and perhaps Tom Holland, lack entirely. A playful choice, reminding us that not all words need to be serious!

The Evolution of "Prompt"

The word "prompt" itself has seen a fascinating evolution. From a simple request for information to a verb that embodies the act of instructing an AI, it's a linguistic reflection of our changing relationship with technology. Who's prompting whom in this digital age?​​

AI's Growing Influence on Language

The infiltration of AI terms into our daily vocabulary was inevitable. While I'm a tad disappointed that cooler terms like "latent space" haven't made the cut yet, it's exciting to see how rapidly our language is adapting to technological advancements. What next, I wonder? Will "vectors" and "embeddings" be the next big words in the dictionary world? Only time will tell​​.

In conclusion, the selection of words of the year by prestigious dictionaries like Cambridge, Merriam-Webster, and Oxford reflects the deep impact of AI on our language and perceptions. As we continue to explore and expand the capabilities of AI, our vocabulary will undoubtedly evolve to capture the essence of these technological marvels.

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