Dictionary.com names ‘hallucinate’ its 2023 Word of the Year

by NEW YORK DIGITAL NEWS


Dictionary.com has announced their Word of the Year for 2023 and, in a move that should surprise few, it is related to the boom in artificial intelligence.

The Word of the Year is “hallucinate.” At first blush that might not seem AI-related. You might’ve guessed words like, you know, “artificial” or “AI” itself. But “hallucinate,” as Dictionary.com explains, is a major word in the AI world and one the site chose with a purpose.

As Dictionary.com defines it, in AI terms, hallucinate means “to produce false information contrary to the intent of the user and present it as if true and factual.”

In a year that AI went mainstream, hallucinate stood out as a particularly important word. Dictionary.com noted it saw a 46 percent increase in lookups in 2023 and an 85 percent uptick in media usage.

“Hallucinate is particularly notable among the terms that AI has popularized because it refers not to an aspect of how AI functions but to one of the ways it can malfunction,” Dictionary.com wrote in a statement announcing the Word of the Year. “In this way, it’s akin to other cautionary tech terms, like spam and virus, that are now entrenched in our language.

This is just one of the reasons that our lexicographers expect the word to stay relevant—at least into the near future.”

For better or worse, we’re all going to be learning and using AI-related terms for the foreseeable future. Mashable’s Cecily Mauran, in fact, wrote a comprehensive glossary of all the AI terms you need to know. Among the words in the glossary: hallucination. As Mauran notes, some folks might think AI is all-knowing and super-capable, but the fact that this term exists proves otherwise.

Wrote Mauran: “[Hallucination] happens because generative AI models work by predicting words based on probabilistic relation to the previous word. It isn’t capable of understanding what it’s generating. Let that be a reminder that ChatGPT might act sentient, but it’s not.”





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