• World
  • Nov 20

Cambridge Dictionary picks ‘hallucinate’ as word of the year

• The Cambridge Dictionary chose ‘hallucinate’ as its Word of the Year 2023 as it recognised that the new meaning gets to the heart of why people are talking about artificial intelligence (AI).

• In the past, the subject of the verb ‘hallucinate’ was typically a human being. When someone hallucinates, “they seem to hear, feel, or smell something that does not exist, usually because of a health condition or because you have taken a drug”.

• The Cambridge Dictionary has added a new definition which says “when an AI hallucinates, it produces false information”.

• AI hallucinations sometimes appear nonsensical. But they can also seem entirely plausible – even while being factually inaccurate or ultimately illogical.

• Throughout 2023, the Cambridge Dictionary lexicographers have added new AI-related definitions to the dictionary, including large language model (or LLM), generative AI (or GenAI), and Generative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT). 

• Generative AI is a powerful tool but one we are all still learning how to interact with safely and effectively.

• The potential of generative artificial intelligence continues to be a lively topic of discussion. The surge of interest this year has been prompted by an abundance of tools being released for public use, such as ChatGPT, Bard, DALL-E, and BingAI, all of which depend on large language models. With this new technology comes a new language. 

• Although generative AI has gained a lot of traction this year in particular, people around the world have actually been using AI for decades. Products and services that offer personalisation, whether it be recommending a TV show to watch or a music playlist that a person will enjoy, are all made possible by AI. 

• Digital assistants and smart home devices, such as Apple products that use Siri or Amazon Alexa devices, use natural language processing technology to deliver the desired outcomes.

• The everyday use of AI tools may be familiar to all, but the explosion in the use of generative AI tools is a new phenomenon. In 2023 it became clear that this newly available technology is far from perfect as it’s capable of producing false information – hallucinations – and presenting this information as fact.

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