#301: Vocabulary for English Conversation on Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Jan 24, 2024 | Advanced Vocabulary, English Conversation

Have you also noticed Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a hot topic of conversation — everywhere?

I’ll be honest: I first heard about AI years ago. I have a student in Boston who works in this area.

Since then, more of my friends and loved ones talk about it. Constantly.

But I didn’t think it was important in my life. And I didn’t really know how to talk about it. I felt unsure. I lacked the vocabulary.

Sound familiar? 🙋‍♀️

If yes, then this lesson is for you.

Now, I am not an expert in the AI industry. But what I can share with you is the vocabulary words and phrases English speakers are using to discuss this topic — in conversations, in newspaper articles, on podcasts, and so on. 

I want you to have the English vocabulary you need to participate in these conversations. And confidently contribute your thoughts as AI impacts your world.

In this Confident English lesson, you’ll learn vocabulary to help you talk about the:

  • The Age and Novelty of AI
  • Pros and cons of AI
  • Benefits and fears of AI
  • Role of AI in the present and future

Like me, you might be surprised by how much AI is in your life right now.


Vocabulary for English Conversation on Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Have you also noticed the hype, excitement, and panic on the topic of artificial intelligence – or AI – in the past year?

It’s everywhere. 

In fact, recently AI scientist Fei-Fei Li said, “I would call this an inflection moment.

An inflection moment is a moment when a significant change occurs. It’s a turning point. It describes a time of sudden, noticeable, or important change in an industry, for example.

Of course, AI isn’t new. The term artificial intelligence was first used in the 1950s, and most of us use AI every day.

For example, if you use facial recognition to open your smart phone.

If you use an app to check your spelling and grammar before clicking send on an email.

If you sometimes say, “Hey Siri” or “Alexa” followed by a voice prompt.

Or click on a Netflix recommendation based on your previous viewing.

These are all examples of AI.

But what is new is how much we – society – are talking about it now. It’s even a hot topic of conversation inside my Confident Women Community.

What is AI?

Artificial Intelligence is a technology developed to simulate or imitate human intelligence through computer systems. 

The technology refers to a machine’s ability to perform cognitive functions (i.e., reason, problem solve, learn new tasks or functions, and even communicate using natural language).

Why This Lesson Right Now?

Without a doubt, the advancement and conversation around AI continue to evolve rapidly. There is constant progress with every new update, change, policy, and so on.  

Staying informed can help you adapt to changes, make informed decisions, and actively participate in discussions about AI. 

Knowing about AI is crucial for grasping the expanding vocabulary in the English language and understanding the shifts in English-language cultures as AI continues to influence the present and future.

I want you to have the vocabulary you need now to speak to this issue. And as the industry evolves, I will add new future lessons accordingly.

As we continue through this lesson, I’ll share the vocabulary English speakers are using to discuss these key points: 

  • The age and novelty of AI, along with specific examples of AI
  • The pros of AI and associated benefits
  • The cons of AI and associated fears
  • AI’s role in the present and future

Point #1: AI isn’t new. 

With all the buzz around AI, it may seem this technology is new. However, as I briefly mentioned, it isn’t at all new.

AI was first discussed in the 1950s, but progress in the field was slow until scientists greenlit a new idea neural networks. This gave way to systems like Alexa, Siri, and a more powerful Google Translate. 

  • To greenlight something: to give permission to go ahead with something, usually a project
  • Neural networks: a mathematical system that learns skills by finding statistical patterns in data. They’re inspired by the connections between neurons in the human brain.

The next big shift came when tech companies began building large language models. These were neural networks that were trained on large amounts of internet texts and databases, like Wikipedia or blogs. 

  • Next big shift: a considerable change in one’s thinking process, ability, or way of viewing things; new vision or purpose
  • Language model: a neural network trained to learn skills by analyzing texts from across the internet. (i.e., predicting the next word in a pattern, writing computer codes, having conversations, and generating prose)

Eventually, newer generations of artificial intelligence gobbled up information and learned to do more sophisticated tasks. 

  • To gobble up: to use or eat a lot of something quickly

These next-generation models are what we now call generative AI.

  • Generative AI: Technology that creates new content by using trained neural networks to analyze data and generate content with similar characteristics (i.e., text, images, video, audio, and computer code)

Examples of generative AI include Siri and Google Assistant, ChatGPT, and Google Bard.

These technologies spit out responses to requests or prompts for information. For example, you might ask ChatGPT for details on anything from the details of a government policy to book summaries to the best way to grow your house plant.

  • To spit out a response: to quickly produce a response/answer

Other generative AI systems are developed to specialize in immersive Augmented Reality (AR) experiences, database analysis and summarization, mental health support, health diagnoses, etc.  

  • Augmented Reality: a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world.

Point #2: Pros of AI

Now, if you’re a big fan of AI or love talking about the benefits of AI, here are the likely pros you might share and the vocabulary to use in English. 

AI now plays a pivotal role in how we work, learn, create, think, interact, search, process, and more. 

  • Pivotal role: critical or vitally important position

Whether at home, work, or school, the use of AI fosters creativity by freeing up your mind space or mental capacity. By making your work more efficient and accurate, you may have more time to focus on high-level creative thinking and strategic thinking.

  • To foster: to encourage or promote the development of sth/sb 

For example, AI can help to provide a more accurate diagnosis in healthcare, spark creative ideas in meetings and schools, create tailored education plans for students, quickly analyze vast amounts of user or client feedback, enhance safety and efficiency on roads, personalize marketing, minimize human errors, and more.

  • To spark: to cause the start of something; to stimulate
  • Human error: a mistake made by a person rather than a machine

The meteoric rise in popularity of generative AI and its widespread acceptance speak to society’s desire for a modern tool that helps us achieve balance, efficiency, and innovation.

  • Meteoric: the quality of developing fast and attracting a lot of attention
  • Widespread acceptance: general agreement, to a great extent, that something is right or should be included

Point #3: Cons of AI

While we’re not sure whether AI will overtake humanity, there are certainly some cons of AI and common fears. 

  • Overtake humanity: to become the most dominant form of intelligence on Earth and make humans redundant

At its extreme, AI threatens to replace humans in the workforce.  

  • To threaten: endanger; to make vulnerable or at risk

While some tasks could be delegated to AI, it’s most likely (at least for now) that employers will opt for candidates who possess up-to-date AI skills as the normalization of AI continues.

Unfortunately, this could force out those who struggle to adapt to the changing environment. 

In addition, AI isn’t foolproof and occasionally produces hallucinations. Which can be dangerous if the information isn’t fact-checked.

  • Hallucinations: incorrect information generated by AI and presented as a fact

When an AI entity is trained on old, low-quality, or limited data it generates what it considers an accurate answer. But that may not be the case.

  • AI entity: a computer, robot, or other programmed mechanical device having artificial intelligence

Moreover, when an entered prompt is unclear, uses slang or idioms, or isn’t concise, this can cause further confusion.

These hallucinations could perpetuate significant harm through the spread of disinformation by those who believe the responses to be true.

  • To perpetuate: make an undesirable situation or unfounded belief continue

The potential for harm is especially heightened by the ability to impersonate people or create a fake identity when instructed to do so.  

  • To impersonate: pretend to be (another person) as entertainment or in order to deceive someone

This can lead to greater chances of identity theft and misuse, blurring the lines between real and fake, right and wrong, moral and immoral.

In other words, it can erode the confidence and credibility of something or someone. 

  • Blur the lines: to make the difference between two things less clear or hard to see the truth
  • To erode: gradually destroy

One more concern is the specific data AI is fed and where it comes from. This raises concerns of copyright infringement due to the high potential for AI to generate unoriginal and copied responses that someone else uses without properly citing the source.

For example, if you were to ask a chatbot to write a report for you or to write a speech for you, it is possible that some of the content may copied from someone else. Using that content as your own violates copyright law.

  • Copyright infringement: when content protected by copyright in a way that violates rights granted

Finally, as a society, we’re still at odds with the regulations and policies that need to be implemented. 

  • To be at odds with something: in conflict; at a variance

As AI continues to evolve at lightning speed, governments question whether regulation efforts such as the EU’s most current AI Act are effective in balancing innovation and safeguarding the public from harm, now and in the future.

  • To safeguard: to protect from harm or damage through an appropriate measure


Currently, the conversation of AI continues to evolve with new ethical concerns, socio-economic interests, and the need for innovation while simultaneously ringing an alarm for the implementation of effective safeguards. 

  • Ethical concerns: circumstances in which moral conflicts arise

In the span of a year, we’ve witnessed the rise of new tech empires and leaders in all fields racing to embrace the technology. 

  • The rise of something: a company’s looming growth in control and power in the field of technology
  • To embrace: to accept and support a belief, theory, or change with enthusiasm

In fact, the introduction of ChatGPT to the mainstream produced new schools of thought and continues to reshape society as we speak. 

  • Mainstream: ideas, attitudes, or activities that are regarded as normal or conventional
  • To reshape society: to give a new form to society

While we may not know how much AI will influence our lives in the near and far future, we can harness its potential to improve our quality of life in more ways than one. 

Especially if we think of AI as an extension of our abilities rather than a replacement.

  • To harness: to bring into control for the purpose of gaining and using the power of sth/sb

Practice What You Learned

After you watch, I want to hear from you.

Using 3-4 words or phrases from today’s lesson, tell me what you think of AI. 

In your opinion, is AI good or bad? Why?

Share your thoughts and questions with me below.

~ Annemarie

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