#4IR – #AI – #IoT? Acronyms and Glossary

A handy reference to Acronyms and Definitions, following on from #TheAntPress article introducing the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and related concepts, such as AI, blockchain, big data and the Internet of Things.

We will continue to update this list – Please feel free to keep contributing to both acronyms and definitions!


4IR – The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Term popularised by the WEF for the current and developing environment in which disruptive technologies and trends are changing the way we live, work and relate to one another. 4IR builds on the Third IR and widespread availability of digital technologies but is considered a distinct era for several reasons including the complexity and sheer speed of technological breakthroughs, the pervasiveness of scope, the tremendous systems impact of changes, the role of ‘big data’, and because it sees the dawn of “cyber-physical systems” and the convergence of digital, biological, and physical innovations enabling entirely new capabilities for people and machines. These new technologies will impact all disciplines, economies and industries, and even challenge our ideas about what it means to be human. (bernardmarr.com; forbes.com; iafrica.com; weforum.org/centre-for-the-fourth-industrial-revolution)

4IRSA – 4IR South Africa initiative: An initiative between several universities (Wits, UJ, Fort Hare), government and major private-sector players (DTPS, Telkom, Deloitte, Huawei, Vodacom). “4IRSA is a platform to bring together key stakeholders, decision makers, and pioneers to define the principles, visions and outcomes of industry 4.0 and its future effects on South Africa and to engage in constructive discussions, explore best practices, and propose solutions to address the challenges.” (4IRSA.org) The inaugural Digital Economy Summit of 4IRSA was convened in July 2019, with the theme: “Positioning SA to be Globally Competitive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

5G – Fifth Generation networks are the next generation of mobile internet connectivity, offering connections that are more reliable and multitudes faster than current connections, with average download speeds of around 1GBps expected to soon be the norm. The networks, expected to launch worldwide by 2020, work alongside existing 3G and 4G technology and will help power a rise in Internet of Things technology, providing the infrastructure needed to carry huge amounts of data. (techradar.com)

AI – Artificial Intelligence is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, especially computer systems, which include learning (the acquisition of information and rules for using the information), reasoning (using rules to reach approximate or definite conclusions) and self-correction. Also termed Augmented Intelligence to emphasise that cognitive technology is designed to enhance and/or reinforce human intelligence rather than replace it. Real-world applications of AI include expert systems (e.g. aviation flight management and autopilot; AI legal research and counsel, such as ROSS), navigation and self-driving vehicles which use a combination of computer vision, image recognition and deep learning to build automated skill at piloting a vehicle and avoiding unexpected obstructions. (searchenterpriseai.techtarget.com)

AML – Anti-Money Laundering

AR – Augmented Reality combines real and virtual worlds, real-time interaction, and accurate 3D registration of virtual and real objects, in an interactive experience that sometimes combines sensory modalities, including visual, auditory, haptic, somatosensory and olfactory. (en.wikipedia.org)

Automation – Programming a system or process to function automatically, such as Robotic process automation (RPA) using software with AI and machine learning capabilities to handle high-volume, repeatable tasks that previously required humans to perform. RPA software robots (bots) can mimic a human worker in tasks such as queries, calculations and maintenance of records and transactions. Currently three broad RPA technologies are identified: Probots (process data); Knowbots (source and store information); and Chatbots or virtual agents (respond to user enquiries in real-time). (searchenterpriseai.techtarget.com; internetofthingsagenda.techtarget.com)

Blockchain – Blockchain is the record-keeping technology behind Bitcoin. At its most basic level, blockchain is literally just a chain of blocks, albeit in a non-traditional sense, where a “block” refers to stored digital records or pieces of information and the “chain” refers to a public database which links the blocks using cryptography. The potential for blockchain technology is not limited to Bitcoin and it has gained a lot of attention in a variety of industries, including non-profits, the arts, and e-commerce. (investopedia.com)

Cloud computing – The use of various services, such as software development platforms, servers, storage and software, over the internet, often referred to as the “cloud.” Generally, there are three cloud computing characteristics that are common to all cloud-computing vendors: The back-end of the application (especially hardware) is completely managed by a cloud vendor; A user only pays for services used (memory, processing time and bandwidth, etc.); and Services are scaleable. (techopedia.com)

Cobotics – A portmanteau of ‘collaborative’ and ‘robotics’, cobotics is the practice of using robotics to increase human ability rather than replace it and is meant to highlight collaboration between a person and a robot, where cobots (collaborative robots) enhance and coexist with human production. Cobots typically carry out difficult, repetitive, manual or unsafe tasks which may be too large, too small, or too dangerous for handling while the human workforce performs higher-value manual tasks up- or downstream. Human operators typically work in tandem with the cobots, overseeing the machines. (tradegecko.com)

CPPS – Cyber-Physical Production System combines AI with man-machine-man methods of collaboration and denotes a system where mechatronic components are coupled to a smart logical entity that enables these factory units to interact in an adaptive way. Implementation is based on a set of new manufacturing technologies (e.g. IoT, Cobotics, Augmented/Virtual Reality, Additive Manufacturing, Cloud Manufacturing), data collection, storage and analysis, and digital twin (Digital Factory, Simulation and Decision Tools). CPPS tend to be complex due to the composition and combination of the system’s components -digital, software, and physical elements – where the physical parts are connected to a network, which is controlled by software components or, sometimes, manually. CPPS examples can be found in manufactories, avionics, automotive systems, nuclear power plants, etc. (wikicfp.com)

CPS – Cyber-Physical System – a term coined in 2006 by Helen Gill at the US National Science Foundation – is an integration of computation with physical processes whose behaviour is defined by both cyber and physical parts of the system. Embedded computers and networks monitor and control the physical processes, usually with feedback loops where physical processes affect computations and vice versa. (quora.com)

CRISPR – Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats

Deep learning (deep neural network) is a subset of ML that is concerned with emulating the learning approach that human beings use to gain certain types of knowledge. In very simple terms, can be thought of as the automation of predictive analytics, or “an application of AI that helps create these ‘thinking machines’ by providing systems the ability to automatically learn and improve from experience without being explicitly programmed.” While traditional machine learning algorithms are linear, deep learning algorithms are stacked in a hierarchy of increasing complexity and abstraction. (medium.com; searchenterpriseai.techtarget.com)

Deepfake is an AI-based technology used to produce or alter video content so that it presents something that didn’t, in fact, occur. The term, which originated around the end of 2017 from a Reddit user named “deepfakes” and is a portmanteau of ‘deep learning’ and ‘fake’, applies to both the technologies and the videos/outputs created with it. (whatis.techtarget.com)

Digital Dexterity is the ability and ambition to build a tech-friendly business culture and to use technology for better business outcomes. Digital dexterity is not a technical, but cultural concept, relating to mindsets, beliefs and behaviours – being willing to fully engage with new technology, adapt work style to include it, and quickly learn how it fits into the overall mission of an organisation. (techrepublic.com)

Digital Twin is a digital representation or virtual replica of a physical object or system which can be used to run simulations before and during the build of actual devices before deployment; Essentially it is a computer programme that takes real-world data about a physical object or system (inputs) and produces predications or simulations (outputs) of performance and potential problems based on those inputs The concept arose at NASA in developing mockups and then fully digital simulations of early space capsules to mirror and diagnose problems in orbit. The technology has moved beyond manufacturing and into the merging worlds of AI, IOT and data analytics and has expanded to include large items such as buildings, factories and even cities, and some have said people and processes can have digital twins, expanding the concept even further. (networkworld.com)

DTPS – Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services

EQ – Emotional Quotient / Intelligence is “the level of your ability to understand other people, what motivates them and how to work cooperatively with them” (Howard Gardner) and five major categories of emotional intelligence skills are recognised by researchers in this area, as follows: Self-awareness; Self-regulation; Motivation; Empathy; and Social / ‘Soft Skills’.

FOBI – Fear of Being Irrelevant

FI – Future Internet is a general term for research activities on new architectures for the Internet. (wikipedia.org)

GAN – Generative Adversarial Network is a machine learning model in which two neural networks – a convolutional (the generator) and deconvolutional (discriminator) – compete with each other to become more accurate in their predictions. GANs typically run unsupervised and use a cooperative zero-sum game framework to learn, where the generator artificially manufactures outputs that could be mistaken for real data (e.g. video clips) and the discriminator identifies which outputs are artificially created; Each time the discriminator accurately identifies a fake, it gives the generator a clue about what not to do in creating the next output. Essentially, GANs create their own training data. As the feedback loop between the adversarial networks continues, the generator will begin to produce higher-quality output and the discriminator will become better at flagging data that has been artificially created. (searchenterpriseai.techtarget.com)

Genome/Gene-Editing – A group of technologies that give scientists the ability to change an organism’s DNA, allowing genetic material to be added, removed, or altered at particular locations in the genome. Several approaches have been developed, such as the CRISPR-Cas9 (CRISPR with associated protein 9) system which has generated a lot of excitement in the scientific community because it is faster, cheaper, more accurate, and more efficient than other existing genome editing methods. CRISPR holds promise for the treatment and prevention of a range of disorders and diseases, however genome editing is currently illegal in many countries based on concerns about ethics and safety. (ghr.nlm.nih.gov)

Gig economy – A free market system in which temporary positions are common and organisations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements, where “gig” is slang for “a job for a specified period of time” that was typically used in referring to musicians. Gig ’employees’ include freelancers, independent contractors, project-based workers and temporary or part-time hires. The digital age enables a gig economy, where the workforce is increasingly mobile and where job and location are decoupled. (whatis.techtarget.com)

Globalisation 4.0 – Term to designate the new era of globalisation associated with 4IR emerging from the new wave of technological progress, where globalisation will deepen, based on the connectivity of national digital and virtual systems and the related flow of ideas and services. (iafrica.com)

GPS – Global Positioning System

GPU – Graphics Processing Unit

HUD – Heads-Up Display

ICT – Information and Communications Technology

IFTF – Institute for the Future

Industry 4.0 – or Industrie 4.0, which was publicly introduced in 2011 under an initiative to enhance German manufacturing competitiveness in the manufacturing industry – is another term for the 4IR but is typically focused on manufacturing and chain production and is notably associated with the new generation of manufacturing systems – CPPS. The idea behind Industry 4.0 is to create a social network where machines can communicate with each other (IoT) and with people (IoP). Industry 4.0 also responds to the introduction – or re-introduction – of mass customisation, coupled with mass production. (cleverism.com)

In-The-Moment Learning is on-the-job, or ‘on-the-gig’, learning enabled through collaboration with machines, such as AR technologies, to undertake unfamiliar and complex tasks under real-time direction. (IFTF-Dell, 2017)

IoP – Internet of People connects people to the internet and centres on collection, through sensors and mobile devices, of personal information – IoP encompasses internet-enabled personal electronics, which are can worn, embedded in textiles and in products. (cleverism.com) Users’ devices are both consumers and producers of data and, in the converged cyber-physical environment, become proxies of their users in the cyber world – communicating, exchanging and managing data on behalf of their users. (ec.europa.eu)

IoT – The Internet of Things is a sensor network of billions of web-enabled smart devices that connect people, systems and other applications to collect and share data acquired from their environments, using unique identifiers (UIDs), embedded processors, communication hardware and software applications. The devices do most of the work without human intervention, although people can interact with them to, for instance, set the devices up, give them instructions or access the data. Real-world examples include Smart Homes, Buildings and Agriculture, as well as wearable devices, where sensors and associated software allow for monitoring and automated response and/or remote control. (internetofthingsagenda.techtarget.com)

IR – Industrial Revolution: The Industrial Revolution – now termed the First IR – dates from mid-18th century Britain and saw new manufacturing processes, enabled by steam and water power, develop across Europe and the United States, resulting in a shift from agrarian and manual production to mechanised production as well as in rapid population growth, urbanisation and reliance on fossil fuels rather than animals, human effort and biomass as primary energy sources.
The Technological / Technical or Second IR dates from late 19th century America, with the adoption of the production line and subsequent development of the moving assembly line and mass production, enabled by electricity and division of labour. This “Age of Synergy” or Science saw major breakthroughs in power generation and distribution, communications (e.g. telegraph, radio, telephone), new materials and substances including alloys and chemicals, the internal combustion engine and petroleum.
The Digital Revolution or Third IR dates from the late 1940s with the development of digital systems, communication and rapid advances in computing power, which enabled new ways of generating, processing and sharing information. This “Information Age” is characterised by computerisation, electronics, automated mass production, ICT, and the transformation of the world into a “global village”. (forbes.com; weforum.org/centre-for-the-fourth-industrial-revolution)

IT – Information Technology

K-Wave – A Kondratieff Wave, or wave of innovation, is a long-term economic cycle believed to be born out of technological innovation, which results in a long period of prosperity. (investopedia.com)

M2M – Machine-to-Machine is a broad label that can be used to describe any technology that enables networked devices to exchange information and perform actions without the manual assistance of humans. AI and ML facilitate the communication between systems, allowing them to make their own autonomous choices. M2M technology was first adopted in industrial settings to help remotely manage and control data from equipment, but has since found applications in other sectors, such as healthcare, business and insurance. M2M is also the foundation for IoT. (internetofthingsagenda.techtarget.com)

Machine vision – The science of allowing computers to see, where visual information is captured and analysed, using a camera, analogue-to-digital conversion and digital signal processing. Not bound by biology, machine vision can be programmed, for instance, to see through walls, and is used in a range of applications from signature identification to medical image analysis. (searchenterpriseai.techtarget.com)

Mechantronics – Technology combining electronics and mechanical engineering, coined by engineer Tetsuro Mori in 1969. Also called mechatronic engineering, this branch of engineering focuses on designing, manufacturing and maintaining products that have both mechanical and electronic components and has become multidisciplinary, including programming and computer and systems engineering, to combine new technologies such as robotics, electronics, computer, telecommunications, systems, control, and product engineering. (whatis.techtarget.com)

MGI – McKinsey Global Institute

MIT – Massachusetts Institute of Technology

ML – Machine learning, an aspect of AI, is the science of getting a computer to act without programming, or “the scientific study of the algorithms and statistical models that computer systems use to effectively perform a specific task or program without using direct instructions, relying on models and inference instead.” (programmingknowledgefeeds.blogspot.com)

MOOC – Massive Open Online Course: Massive: Enrolment is unlimited and can run into hundreds of thousands; Open: Anyone can enrol, there is no admission process; Online: Delivered via the internet; and Course: Teaches a specific subject. MOOCs typically comprise video lessons, readings, assessments, and discussion forums. Most MOOCs are created by universities, while others by companies or other organisations, but are distributed and taken by course providers (e.g. edX; Coursera; FutureLearn). Free and paid enrolment options exist and certificates of completion usually require payment. (https://www.classcentral.com/help/moocs)

MRMixed Reality or hybrid reality starts with the virtual world and can only be experienced using MR headsets. The digital environment is anchored to and replaces the real world, but physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real time. Using MR, you can see virtual objects just as in AR, but these objects can also interact with the real world. In a sense, MR is a more immersive and interactive type of AR.
The first immersive MR system (with enveloping sight, sound, and touch) was the Virtual Fixtures platform developed in 1992 (US Air Force; Armstrong Laboratories). (rubygarage.org; forbes.com)

NASA – National Aeronautics and Space Administration

NGI – Next Generation Internet, an aspect of Future Internet, has been adopted as a programme by various countries and regions, starting with the US in 1996. While programme objectives vary, the focus tends to be on internet  performance and architecture, or design, and to respond to critical shortcomings (e.g. reliability, scalability, security) as well as to opportunities for human-centric networking. (wikipedia.com; ec.europa.eu; ngi.eu)

NLP – Natural language processing is an AI technology referring to the processing of human language by a computer programme. One of the older and best-known examples of NLP is e-mail spam detection, while current approaches to NLP are based on machine learning with tasks including text translation, sentiment analysis and speech recognition. (searchenterpriseai.techtarget.com)

OHMD – Optical Head-Mounted Display

P2P – Peer-to-Peer is a decentralised communications model in which each party has the same capabilities and either party can initiate a communication session, unlike the client/server model. In a P2P network architecture, each computer has the same responsibilities and capabilities and, since there is no server, the computers connect with each other in a workgroup to share files, printers and access to the Internet. (searchnetworking.techtarget.com)

QoL – Quality of Life

Robotics – An AI field of engineering focused on the design and manufacture of robots which are often used to perform tasks that are difficult for humans to perform or perform consistently. Used in assembly lines for car production or by NASA to move large objects in space. (searchenterpriseai.techtarget.com)

RPA – Robotic Process Automation (See Automation)

SA – South Africa

Sense Making is the ability to determine the deeper meaning or significance of what is being expressed. Used in relation to higher-level thinking skills, that cannot be codified, which generate unique insights critical to decision making. (IFTF-University of Phoenix, 2011)

SET – Science, Engineering, Technology

Sharing Economy – also known as collaborative consumption or peer-to-peer (P2P)-based sharing – describes a non-traditional means of distributing goods and service, although there is still considerable debate about what transactions fall under this concept. In the sharing economy, consumers are able to rent or borrow goods rather than buy and own them and an important criterion of the sharing economy is that it enables individuals to monetise underutilised assets, ranging from large goods (e.g. houses – Airbnb; cars – Uber) to products such as tools, toys and clothing. Economists have noted that “sharing economy” has become an umbrella term encompassing not only file sharing and open source software, but also crowdfunding, P2P lending, bitcoin and other forms of blockchain. (searchcio.techtarget.com)

Smart Cities – A designation given to a city that incorporates ICT to enhance the quality and performance of urban services such as energy, transportation and utilities in order to reduce resource consumption, wastage and overall costs. The overarching aim of a smart city is to meet the demands and enhance the quality of living for its citizens through smart technology and through community involvement in the processes. Factors contributing to a city being classified as smart include the:  Application of a wide variety of digital and electronic technologies to the city and its communities; Application of ICT to uplift life and the working environments in the region; Embedding of such ICT within government systems; and Territorialisation of practices that bring the people and ICT together in order to foster innovation and enhance the knowledge that they offer. (techopedia.com)

Smart Containers – Containers equipped with sensor equipment to track such data as: Geolocation; Temperature and humidity; Door status/opening; and Shock detection. Real-time conditions are monitored and transmitted, with exception notifications sent for action to be taken in the event of an abnormality. Other applications include tracking the origins, destinations, content and volume of cargo.(universalcargo.com; cma-cgm.com)

Smart Glasses / Digital Eye Glasses – Computer supported glasses, which can be handsfree or coupled with a handheld mobile device, that display more information than what the wearer can see, superimposed onto a field of view achieved through an optical head-mounted display (OHMD), transparent heads-up display (HUD) or AR overlay. Some smart glasses can play both audio and video files, support wireless technologies like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and GPS, and may have GPS and activity tracking and camera capabilities. Current applications in various fields such as warehousing, logistics, manufacturing, training, health, education, military, sports, recreation and art. (slashdigit.com; wikipedia.org; technologyreview.com)

Social Skills – The development of good interpersonal skills is essential in today’s always-connected world, everyone has immediate access to technical knowledge. Thus, “people skills” are even more important now because you must possess a high EQ to better understand, empathise and negotiate with others in a global economy. Among the most useful skills are:
– Influence. Wielding effective persuasion tactics.
– Communication. Sending clear messages.
– Leadership. Inspiring and guiding groups and people.
– Change catalyst. Initiating or managing change.
– Conflict management. Understanding, negotiating and resolving disagreements.
– Building bonds. Nurturing instrumental relationships.
– Collaboration and cooperation. Working with others toward shared goals.
– Team capabilities. Creating group synergy in pursuing collective goals.

Society 5.0 is a political-ideological concept that emerged in Japan in 2015, which follows Industry 4.0 and takes advantage of technological advances but does not focus on production, rather it seeks to put people at the centre of innovation and to deepen technological integration in improving quality of life, social responsibility and sustainability. “Society 5.0 proposes to deepen the potential of the individual-technology relationship in the promotion of the improvement of the quality of life of all people through a super smart society, is an extremely recent concept as a guiding social development that can have a profound impact in societies at all levels, such as quality of life and sustainability.” (preprints.org)
The implementation of Society 5.0 requires the integration of several dimensions, such as: Innovation Policy (government); Entrepreneurial spirit (Society); and Entrepreneurial Skills (Civil society and institutions). While Society 5.0 is a proposal for Japan, it will potentially extend to other countries. (preprints.org) In Society 5.0, there is a high degree of convergence between cyberspace (virtual space) and physical space (real space) – people, things, and systems are all connected (and analysed) in cyberspace and optimal results obtained by AI are fed back to humans in physical space in various forms (e.g. high-value information, proposals, equipment operating instructions). (cao.go.jp)

Soft Skills – A combination of interpersonal (peoplesocialcommunication skills), character or personality traits, attitudes, career attributes, social intelligence and emotional intelligence quotients, among others, that enable people to navigate their environment, work well with others, perform well, and achieve their goals with complementing hard skills.[2] The Collins English Dictionary defines the term “soft skills” as “desirable qualities for certain forms of employment that do not depend on acquired knowledge: they include common sense, the ability to deal with people, and a positive flexible attitude.”[3]

Systems Skills – Systems thinking emphasises the ability to recognise and understand socio-technical systems – their interconnections and feedback effects – and choose appropriate actions in light of them. It marks a shift from more reductionist and mechanistic forms of analysis and lends itself to interdisciplinary learning and teaching approaches, such as game design. (futureskills.pearson.com).

UID – Unique Identifier (See IoT – The Internet of Things)

UJ – University of Johannesburg

US – United States

VR – Virtual Reality is a simulated experience that can be similar to, or completely different from, the real world and there is a wide range of applications from entertainment/gaming to educational (e.g. medical) and military training. (rubygarage.org; forbes.com)

VTOL – Vertical TakeOff and Landing small electric aircraft, conceived as part of the Uber Elevate / Uber Air offering, facilitating reach into urban built environments to enable “effortlessly riding between conveniently located Skyports, from ground to air to ground.” (uber.com)

Wait-learning is the practice of turning every waiting opportunity into a learning opportunity, enabled by apps and services designed to engage users in learning during idle moments, such as WaitSuite developed by MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. (IFTF-Dell, 2017)

WEF – World Economic Forum

Wits – University of Witwatersrand

XR – Extended Reality is an umbrella term referring to all real-and-virtual combined environments and human-machine interactions generated by computer technology and wearables. XR includes all its descriptive forms like the Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Mixed Reality (MR). (medium.com)