What just happened? In what should come as little surprise to anyone, Collins Dictionary has announced its word of the year is "AI," even though it is technically an initialism. The technology has gone from something most people only associated with sci-fi media, to dominating conversations and the business world in 2023.
The UK-based dictionary publisher Collins defines AI as an abbreviation that means "the modeling of human mental functions by computer programs." The tech's rapid development and the fact it's one of the most talked-about subjects over the last 12 months helped the term beat others to become the word of the year.
AI beat several other tech-related terms to come out on top, including "deinfluencing," which refers to the use of social media to warn followers to avoid certain commercial products, lifestyle choices, etc.
"Greedflation" could certainly be applied to some companies within the tech industry. It describes the use of inflation as an excuse to raise prices to artificially high levels in order to increase profits. There was also "debanking," which describes depriving someone of their banking facilities.
You might have heard the word "Nepo baby," before. The first part is an abbreviation of nepotism, hence its use to describe someone whose career is believed to have advanced thanks to their famous parent or parents.
Collins says that the annual word of the year is selected by lexicographers who monitor different sources, including social media, where the term AI can be found in abundance – and usually within a negative context.
The Guardian notes that previous words of the year also reflect the most talked-about topics of the time. In 2020, for example, it was "lockdown." It might be hard to remember now, given how much they've fallen from the public eye recently, but "NFT" was 2021's word of the year as everyone was talking about them. In 2022, the year Russia invaded Ukraine, Collins chose the sadly apt "permacrisis."
Generative AI remains a controversial subject, of course. Fears of mass job losses as a result of the technology aren't as prevalent as they once were, with many studies noting it will augment a lot more jobs than it replaces. But advanced chatbots and the like are still killing off some positions, while LLMs being trained on copyrighted data remains a contentious area. One thing is for certain, though, AI isn't going away.
Earlier this month, the Biden administration said it is attempting to address the difficult issue of regulating artificial intelligence development with an executive order signed by the president that promises to manage the technology's risks. The order is designed to establish AI standards and safety while introducing a number of protections and best practices.