The Ultimate AI Glossary

Posted: 12 December 2016 | By Darcie Thompson-Fields

Technology, like any industry, can be filled with jargon that is hard to get your head around. Here at Access Ai, our mission is to deliver AI for all and to increase the understanding and accessibility around the field. To that effect, we have decided to put together an ever expanding AI glossary that we will update as new terms get on our radar. If you’re looking for some clarity on the meaning of neural networks or want to find out if the only difference between data and big data is size, scroll down.

If you come across any terms you think we should add or can provide further insight into our definitions, let us know in the comments.



Definition: A process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, especially by a computer.

Explain: Algorithms are mathematical equations that are used to tell computer programmes exactly what to do step by step. Algorithms that facilitate machine learning are designed to allow computers to learn on their own, rather than following explicitly programmed instructions. An algorithm can be used for a variety of things, from organising your Facebook newsfeed to assisting banks in fraud detection.

Tell me more: https://www.wired.com/insights/2014/09/artificial-intelligence-algorithms-2/

Artificial Intelligence

Definition: The theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.

Explain: The definition of artificial intelligence is a little more complicated than what’s been portrayed in movies or what you can find in a dictionary. Textbooks often split AI into four main categories:

  • machines that think like humans
  • machines that act like humans
  • machines that think rationally
  • machines that act rationally

Whilst Jeopardy-winning software such as IBM’s Watson may have the ability to think ‘rationally’, it still has nothing like the reasoning ability of humans. This has lead many experts in the field to conclude that what we currently call AI is nowhere near achieving its definition. Instead, most technologies being called AI today actually fall under the remit of machine learning.

Tell me more: http://www.livescience.com/55089-artificial-intelligence.html



Augmented reality

Definition: A technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a composite view.

Explain: This technology does what it says on the tin. By integrating digital information with a user’s environment in real time, AR overlays new information on top of your existing world. AR is not to be confused with VR, which creates a totally artificial environment. AR was greatly hyped in 2016 due to the popularity of Pokémon Go.

Tell me more: http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/augmented-reality-AR


Definition: The use or introduction of automatic equipment in a manufacturing or other process or facility.

Explain: Many of the fears around AI stem from the possible job loss caused by the automation in industries such as manufacturing. However, automation is also at the heart of one of the most exciting and tangible AI products, driverless vehicles. An automated system can run without the help of a human but that does not make it artificially intelligent. An AI-powered automated system would not only be able to make decisions without a human but would be able to learn from those decisions and alter their action as a result.

Tell me more: http://www.computerscienceonline.org/cutting-edge/automation-ai/


Autonomous Vehicle

Definition: An autonomous car (driverless car, self-driving car, robotic car) is a vehicle that is capable of sensing its environment and navigating without human input.

Explain: So we’ve already established what makes an autonomous vehicle autonomous (see above) but does that make it a self-driving car? By grouping the two together our dictionary may have made a fundamental error. Many automakers are keen to point out the difference between autonomous vehicles and self-driving cars. Autonomous vehicles are already commonplace on our roads. They are simply regular automobile with the ability to take over certain tasks such as parking assist and emergency breaking. A self-driving car, on the other hand, is a completely driverless vehicle which would require virtually zero input from a human driver.

Tell me more: http://motorburn.com/2015/07/why-the-difference-between-self-driving-and-autonomous-vehicles-really-matters/


Big Data

Definition: Extremely large data sets that may be analysed computationally to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behaviour and interactions.

Explain: So it turns out big data isn’t actually just humungous amounts of data. Rather than being purely about the volume of the data, data velocity and data variety have been identified as essential to understanding how and why information could be captured, analysed, and learned from. So combining large messy datasets (such as millions of photos from different channels) with traditional business analytics to get results = big data.

Tell me more: http://data-informed.com/the-difference-between-big-data-and-a-lot-of-data/



Definition: A computer program designed to simulate a conversation with human users, especially over the Internet.

Explain: A chatbot (short for chat robot) uses AI to simulate human conversation but are typically trained on conversations around a specific function. The most common applications for chatbots are in e-commerce customer service, call centres and internet gaming.

Tell me more: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/apr/06/what-is-chat-bot-kik-bot-shop-messaging-platform

Cloud (The Cloud)

Definition: A network of remote servers hosted on the Internet and used to store, manage, and process data in place of local servers or personal computers.

Explain: Rather than using a single machine to store and process the information you’re using a network of computers. The cloud actually isn’t a ‘giant hard drive in the sky’ but refers to storage that occurs in a very real and physical place. Physical servers (somewhere too far away for you to worry about) owned by the company whose service you are using are storing all that data for you. Blurred lines regarding who owns this data once it’s stored has led to many security and privacy concerns. Upload at will.

Tell me more: http://gizmodo.com/what-is-the-cloud-and-where-is-it-1682276210


Deep learning

Definition: Deep Learning is a subfield of machine learning concerned with algorithms inspired by the structure and function of the brain called artificial neural networks.

Explain: Deep learning is an area of machine learning research with the objective to move the field closer to achieving artificial intelligence. The term refers to artificial neural networks that are composed of many layers. These are used to train AI to help it become more intelligent and to think like a human brain does.

Tell me more: http://machinelearningmastery.com/what-is-deep-learning/



GPU (Graphic processing unit)

Definition: A GPU, or graphics processing unit, is used primarily for 3D applications. It is a single-chip processor that creates lighting effects and transforms objects every time a 3D scene is redrawn.

Explain: GPUs are the hardware that power most AI devices. Intel is looking to create a new chip, Nervana, that will be purpose-built to power AI devices but it may be a while before these come on the market.

Tell me more: https://blogs.nvidia.com/blog/2016/01/12/accelerating-ai-artificial-intelligence-gpus/



Definition: A humanoid robot is a robot with its body shape built to resemble the human body. The design may be for functional purposes, such as interacting with human tools and environments, for experimental purposes, such as the study of bipedal locomotion, or for other purposes.

Explain: Humanoid robots are the most familiar face of AI in fiction and usually pose some threat to humanity. Google’s Atlas is the closest we’ve got and recently mastered walking over rough terrain (without falling) which is more than some flesh and blood humans are capable of.

Tell me more:



Definition: An artificial language, devised for machine translation, that makes explicit the distinctions necessary for successful translation into a target language, even where they are not present in the source language.

Explain: It was revealed in November 2016 that Google’s Neural Machine Translation system created its own language. This language was actually an interlingua that allowed Google’s AI to blindly translate languages that it hasn’t studied before.

Tell me more:


Definition: The interconnection via the Internet of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data.

Explain: The IoT is a giant – and ever increasing – network of connected things. The term refers to anything that can be turned on and connected to the internet, be it a coffee machine, wearable fitness tracker or the jet engine of an aeroplane. The benefits of connecting more devices could be huge both on a personal (who wouldn’t want an alarm clock that can choose when to wake you up based on the traffic situation) and global scale. However, many concerns have been raised over security, the more connected devices we have the more open and vulnerable we are to being attacked.

Tell me more:


Machine Learning

Definition: The capacity of a computer to learn from experience, i.e. to modify its processing on the basis of newly acquired information.

Explain: Machine learning is the science of algorithms that detect patterns in data in order to make accurate predictions for future data. This allows computers to learn to perform tasks without being specifically programmed to do so.

Tell me more: https://techcrunch.com/2016/10/23/wtf-is-machine-learning/

Machine vision

Definition: The capacity of computers, robots, etc., to obtain information about objects, especially their external features such as shape and colour, on the basis of reflected electromagnetic radiation.

Explain: A machine vision system primarily enables a computer to recognise and evaluate images. It is similar to voice recognition technology but uses images.

Tell me more:


Neural Network

Definition: A computer system modelled on the human brain and nervous system.

Explain: Neural networks are algorithms that operate (almost) in the same way as a human brain. This allows computers to learn things, recognise patterns, and make decisions in a humanlike way. The amazing thing about a neural network is that you don’t have to program it to learn explicitly, it learns all by itself.

Tell me more: http://www.explainthatstuff.com/introduction-to-neural-networks.html



Definition: The branch of technology that deals with the design, construction, operation, and application of robots.

Explain: Robots are machines that are used to perform tasks such as manufacturing and dangerous jobs that involve potential risk to humans. The term robotics was introduced by writer Isaac Asimov. In his science fiction book I, Robot, published in 1950, he presented three laws of robotics:

1. A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Tell me more: http://www.electronicsteacher.com/robotics/what-is-robotics.php


Turing Test

Definition: A test for intelligence in a computer, requiring that a human being should be unable to distinguish the machine from another human being by using the replies to questions put to both.

Explain: Alan Turing proposed that if a computer passes his test then the computer must be a passable simulation of a human being and hence, intelligent. The game has been recently modified so that there is only one contestant, and the judge’s job is not to choose between two contestants, but simply to decide whether the single contestant is human or machine.

Tell me more: http://www.psych.utoronto.ca/users/reingold/courses/ai/turing.html


Virtual Reality

Definition: The computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment that can be interacted with in a seemingly real or physical way by a person using special electronic equipment, such as a helmet with a screen inside or gloves fitted with sensors.

Explain: Virtual reality is a computer-generated environment that lets you experience a different reality. A VR headset fits around your head and over your eyes and visually separates you from whatever space you’re in physically. Images are fed to your eyes from two small lenses.

Tell me more: https://www.cnet.com/special-reports/vr101/



Used English not American English dictionary






Related industries

Related functions

Related topics