Tech Buzzwords: A Resource

Definitions of tech "hot-topics" and buzzwords

January 29, 2020
February 10, 2020

I write this in response to a recent LinkedIn post bemoaning the lack of publicly available definitions of “buzzwords” in tech. There is, it seems, a perceived tendency that companies and investors throw around terminology without knowing, or at least without adequately describing, what exactly it means.

These terms do mean different things however and, when used correctly, describe modern processes that underpin cutting edge technology and innovation. However, the public’s appetite for soundbites mean that often these complex areas get distilled into buzzwords and hashtags. This is where, I think, the disconnect begins between what people mean and what is actually communicated, leading to misunderstanding.

In this digital age, it’s so easy to connect with each other, that communication has become fairly care-free (or careless, if you’re more cynical than I). Whilst texts ushered in the death of the phonecall, whatsapp and instant messaging led to the demise of the long-form text. As day-to-day methods of conversation get shorter and snappier, it’s no surprise that the way we communicate in other areas of our lives do too. Shorter headlines, tweet length news stories, elevator pitches…. minimising the time and space to describe a new product or technology means that people invariably reach for high-level, *shiny* words to convey what would otherwise require more minutes, sentences and characters.

Whilst the meaning of these words can get lost in translation, a quick brush-up on what they mean can go a long way to ensure that people are a) using them correctly and b) ensuring they are appropriate for their audience. In the field of tech, where these words are used more and more frequently, there is a duty (who’s, I can’t be sure) to ensure that the meanings don’t get diluted.

This is my attempt to create a public “table” (it’s a list) of definitions of these hot topics. It’ll undoubtedly be a resource that grows as people suggest and request more. I hope that you find it useful and that it stimulates good discussion surrounding how we use these terms carefully and, crucially, correctly.

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) - The broad concept of machines being able to carry out tasks in a way that we would consider “smart”.
  • Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI) - A type of AI. Machines can perform specific tasks very well (most progress in AI is in ANIs)
  • Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) - A type of AI. Machines can intelligently solve problems, like humans can (this is still very far away)
  • Machine Learning (ML) - A subset, or application, of AI. Giving machines access to data in order to train (learn by themselves) and make accurate predictions.
  • Deep Learning (DL) = Neural Networks - A subset of ML, loosely inspired by information processing pathways in the brain. Trains on large datasets and very effectively classifies information.
  • Algorithms - Algorithms are a set of (coded) rules that solve problems. Each step in an algorithm does something new to the data until you get the desired output.
  • Internet of Things (IoT) - The concept of extending internet connectivity to everyday objects (e.g. smart bulbs, smart kettles…)
  • Big Data - The study and analysis of very large data sets, too large to be processed through conventional means.
  • Blockchain - A time-stamped series of immutable data records (blocks). Each block details a transaction (A to B), verified by the many users distributed across the network, and thus is inherently secure.
  • Cryptocurrency -A currency that logs and verifies its immutable transactions in a blockchain

Please do comment with suggestions of new “buzzwords” that you’d like to be included or whether you have any thoughts or insights on the definitions I’ve gone with here. Conversation around, and including, these words should be encouraged. I hope this proves a good starting point….

  • Written and Edited by Belle Taylor, Strategic Communications and Partnerships Manager at

Resources consulted:

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