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Demystifying AI Jargon: From Prompt Engineering to Capability Overhang

AI is a rapidly evolving field, and as it continues to grow and influence various aspects of our lives, so does its specialised vocabulary. From "prompt engineering" to "capability overhang", AI jargon can be bewildering for those who are new to the field or simply trying to keep up with the latest developments. So, here’s a compilation of some of the more perplexing terms.

Prompt Engineering

A technique used to guide AI models, particularly large language models, in generating more accurate, helpful, or safe responses. Prompt engineering involves carefully crafting input queries or instructions to encourage the AI system to provide desired outputs or behaviours.

Generative AI

AI encompasses models that create new data or content by learning patterns from existing data. Examples include Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) and Variational Autoencoders (VAEs), which generate realistic outputs for applications in art, design, entertainment, and content synthesis

Deep Learning

A subfield of machine learning that focuses on neural networks with many layers, enabling them to learn complex patterns and representations from large datasets.

Generative Adversarial Network (GAN)

A framework for training two neural networks simultaneously, one as a generator to create data and the other as a discriminator to evaluate the generated data's authenticity.

Natural Language Processing (NLP)

A subfield of AI that focuses on the interaction between computers and human language, enabling machines to understand, interpret, and generate human language.

Capability Overhang

A situation where an AI system possesses the ability to perform tasks or achieve objectives beyond its current demonstrated performance. This overhang can occur when an AI's underlying algorithms and models have been trained and fine-tuned to a level that significantly surpasses its current deployment. The concern with capability overhang is that once the AI system is given the right conditions, incentives, or prompts, it could suddenly demonstrate a rapid improvement in its capabilities, potentially leading to unintended consequences or harmful outcomes.

Sentient Singularity Serenade

The moment when AI systems achieve superintelligence, expressing their newfound sentience through a mesmerising and harmonious cosmic serenade.

OK, that one was made up by ChatGTP…or let’s hope it was.


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