A Cheat Sheet to AI Terminology - A useful glossary of key terms

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a fascinating and often mystifying field of study, teetering on the edge of human capabilities and beyond. While it might be a complex field that is often misunderstood, it holds the promise of transforming our world.  

Black and white robotic dog
Image by u_3c6o9vmgcq from Pixabay

This year’s CHRISTMAS LECTURES from the Royal Institution will delve into the past, present and future of the growing field of AI. The CHRISTMAS LECTURES will be presented by Professor Michael Wooldridge, Professor of Computer Science at the University of Oxford and Director of Foundational AI at the Alan Turing Institute. To help you navigate what’s sure to be an amazing series, we provide here a useful glossary of key terms. From machine learning to neural networks, here is what you need to know before tuning in: 

  1. AGI - Artificial General Intelligence – For some, this is the ultimate goal for AI: to become as smart as your average human but without the need for coffee breaks or afternoon naps. AGI is like having an all-knowing, all-seeing robot assistant by your side. 
  2. Autonomous machines - These are machines that can perform tasks without human intervention, like self-driving cars or vacuum robots. Just don't ask them to cook your Christmas dinner (yet). 

  3. Deep Learning - Imagine an AI with layers deeper than the Mariana Trench. Deep learning involves neural networks with numerous layers, allowing AI to understand complex patterns and data, just like how humans can distinguish between a green apple and a pear. 

  4. Generative AI - The Beethoven of AI. Generative AI creates original content, whether it's music, art, or text. It's like having Hans Zimmer at your disposal. 

  5. Large Language Models - These AI models are like Shakespearean playwrights who can craft poetry, or just write a witty tweet. They can generate human-like text and are often used in chatbots, translators, and content creation. 

  6. Machine Learning - This is the OG of AI, where machines learn from data and improve themselves over time. It's like giving a pet robot a treat every time it does a task right. Except the pet is a computer, and the treat is more data! 

  1. Multi-Agent Systems - The avengers of AI. Imagine all the cool kids on the tech playground, working together to solve problems and chat. A super group where even the most timid algorithm lets loose to help tackle tasks. From chatbots to robots, it’s all about teamwork! All we want to know is, what’s the dress-code? Get it? Dress code?  

  1. Natural Language Processing - The art of teaching computers to understand and speak human languages. NLP helps chatbots converse without sounding like they've swallowed a thesaurus. 

  1. Neural Networks - A network of algorithms inspired by the human brain's neural structure. They are the building blocks for most AI systems, working tirelessly behind the scenes to make sense of the data we throw at them. 

  2. Reinforcement learning - AI learns by trial and error, similar to how we learn to ride a bike – we fall, get up, and try again. It's all about rewards and punishments, but with algorithms instead of scraped knees. 

  3. Supervised learning - Think of this as AI's training wheels for machine learning. It's when an AI is taught with labelled data, so it can make predictions or decisions based on the patterns it has learned.  

  4. Unsupervised learning - Here, Machine Learning is left to its own devices, trying to find patterns in data without any labels. It's like how babies learn languages or how they learn crying is a powerful tool that can unlock food and sometimes toys! 

  5. Vision AI (Image Recognition) - This is AI's version of 'Where's Waldo?' but on steroids. Vision AI can spot and recognise objects, faces, and cats on the internet faster than you can say 'cheese' in a selfie. 

These are just some of the key terms you will encounter during this year's Christmas lectures, presented by AI expert, Prof. Mike Wooldridge. As AI continues to weave itself into our everyday lives, understanding the jargon becomes increasingly essential. AI promises to transform our world, and knowing the lingo makes it a lot more fun and fascinating. So, get ready to learn more about AI from this year’s Christmas Lectures and dazzle your friends with your newfound knowledge! 

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