The contraction of artificial intelligence — AI — has been named as Collins’ Word of the Year for 2023, the dictionary publisher announced this week. (But Scrabble enthusiasts will be asking whether AI is really one word or two words.)
“Considered to be the next great technological revolution, AI has seen rapid development and has been much talked about in 2023,” a blog post from the publisher said.
The company arrived at the word after analyzing the Collin Corpus, a database that contains over 20 billion words with written material from websites, newspapers, magazines, published across the world. It also factors in spoken language from television and radio shows.
Managing Director Alex Beecroft said: “We know that AI has been a big focus this year in the way that it has developed and has quickly become as ubiquitous and embedded in our lives as email, streaming or any other once futuristic, now everyday technology.”
‘AI’ featured at the top of the list of the words shortlisted by Collins’ word analyzers. A number of other topical words were also in consideration. As the Collins blog says:
Collins defines artificial intelligence, for which AI is the now-familiar abbreviation, as “the modelling of human mental functions by computer programs”. This rather captures the profound nature of challenge facing us. Can machines really become human-like? And how will that pan out for our species?
Until we find out the answer to that question, though, life carries on. And, as the Collins shortlisted words show, it carries on in often peculiar and fascinating ways. Take digital culture. We’re all familiar with the influencer: a person who leverages their popularity on social media to spark new trends and earn money from endorsements.
The word has its own family of variants: mega-influencer, micro-influencer, even nano-influencer. To which we can now add de-influencing – when one of these oracles uses their power “to warn followers to avoid certain commercial products, lifestyle choices, etc”, as the dictionary definition puts it.
One recent attempt at de-influencing concerns another of the shortlist’s highlights, the deliciously waspish nepo baby, a label applied to someone “whose career is believed to have been advanced by having famous parents”.
The would-be de-influencer in this case was film star Gwyneth Paltrow, who last month judged the phrase an “ugly moniker”. Paltrow’s mum and dad? Actress Blythe Danner and producer Bruce Paltrow.
We can only assume that seeing her parents make their way in the industry was something of a canon event for the young Paltrow – an experience “essential to the formation of an individual’s character or identity”.
Deinfluencing, ultra-processed, debanking, semaglutide and greedflation also featured on the list.
Debanking refers to the act of depriving a person of banking facilities. Meanwhile, semaglutide is a medication used to suppress the appetite and control high blood sugar.
Sources: MercoPress, Collins.