We all know that sinking feeling when someone tries to explain something to you, but with so many acronyms you’ve lost count.
Technology is a part of all our lives, but how many of us are experts? Do you mix up your AI with APIs, and nod along silently when blockchain is debated at dinner parties? Our handy jargon buster demystifies the biggest trends in tech...
There really are "diamonds in the sky" for those who've figured out how to make money out of space. And it's not just aerospace companies like Elon Musk's SpaceX or Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin; several earthling start-ups use high-quality images from satellites to provide innovative services. Scottish start-up Astrosat harvests space data to offer insights on coastal erosion, or even to help clients plan disaster-relief operations. The company says: "Earth observation can be a highly useful tool for smart decision-making."
Ancient Egyptians used clay tablets and papyrus to record financial information on ledgers – nowadays we have the blockchain. A digital ledger that verifies transactions like money transfers by crosschecking a network of thousands of computers – a structure that is said to make the blockchain tamper-proof – it's the scaffolding for alternative web currency Bitcoin. However, its applications go beyond exchanging virtual money. London-based Everledger uses blockchain to keep track of the ownership of over one million diamonds. This allows gem traders to know straight away whether a stone's provenance is legitimate, thus weeding out blood diamonds.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
No, this doesn't mean aliens (that's ET) – although it could remind you of the ship computer HAL from the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. An AI is a computer that has been trained to recognise patterns (somebody's face shape, or words that usually appear in spam emails), and make related predictions. This is typically done by feeding the computer masses of information – cat pics, emails, medical data – using a technique called machine learning.
Workspace customer Digital MR at Vox Studios uses artificial intelligence for market research and customer insights. It works with brands and organisations to understand what's being said about them on social media as part of its data-crunching services. Recent advances in machine learning, together with the increased availability of internet-generated data, have the potential to revolutionise a broad array of sectors from social media to science. But leading brains like Stephen Hawkings, Bill Gates and Elon Musk warn that AI could take over the human race. That's right, Skynet from The Terminator could be a reality. Tech company Satalia use AI in some interesting ways. Be sure to watch founder Daniel Hulme talk about it in an interview here.
Internet of Things
Can you guess what this one means? Imagine if your possessions – e.g. your car, mobile phone and home alarm system – could talk to one another over the Internet. By pairing sensors and network connectivity, inanimate objects, from machinery to buildings, and even moving vehicles, can share information with each other and respond accordingly. IoT technology is at the core of Autodrive, a UK government-backed effort to create a fleet of driverless and connected vehicles. Its cars can talk to each other in order to avoid collisions, or get information from roadside beacons flagging up speed limits.
Progress in AI is behind another – more down-to-earth – trend: chatbots. If you shop online, you've probably seen them, the little chat box that pops up in the corner of your screen offering instant help. Although most of them aren't great conversationlists, they're smart enough to answer basic requests for information. From helping a customer find the right pair of shoes to playing doctor – computer systems chatting with humans are on the rise. UK start-up Your.MD has trained a chatbot with NHS information, so that it can talk to people and give advice to help them self-diagnose health conditions. Alas, if you're seriously ill it won't be able to cure you: it'll just advise you to call the doctor.
It’s not just text speak that can be baffling in business, we also know it can be tricky to understand investor speak when all you want is to secure funding for your business. Read our guide to understanding investors and funding here.
And if you’re looking for a space to run your business that’s as creative as it is innovative, be sure to check out what Workspace has to offer — We have over 60 locations in London, so there’s bound to be the perfect place for you.