Hey there! Chances are you’ve been hearing more and more about artificial intelligence (AI) lately. Whether it’s powering your Netflix recommendations or helping self-driving cars navigate the streets, AI is becoming increasingly prominent in our daily lives.
But with this growing spotlight comes confusion around how to refer to AI. Should we capitalize it like a proper noun? Or leave it lowercase since it’s just a field of technology? Don’t worry, I’m here to provide a definitive guide on capitalizing the term “artificial intelligence” so you can use it correctly going forward.
Throughout this article, we’ll cover:
- What exactly AI is
- The rules around capitalizing words in English
- When “artificial intelligence” should be capitalized
- Example sentences showing both cases
- The pros and cons of capitalizing AI
So if you’ve ever wondered whether to write Artificial Intelligence or artificial intelligence, read on for a thorough explanation!
What is Artificial Intelligence?
Before we dive into the capitalization debate, it helps to level-set on what artificial intelligence actually is.
AI refers to computer systems or machines that are designed to perform tasks that typically require human intelligence and cognition. The goal is to create processes and algorithms that can mimic human-level perception, reasoning, learning, and problem solving.
While the concept of AI has been around since the 1950s, we’ve seen huge advances in recent years. There are now many branches and applications of AI:
- Machine learning algorithms that can improve and “learn” over time based on data patterns
- Deep learning neural networks modeled after the human brain
- Natural language processing to understand and generate human speech and text
- Computer vision to see, identify objects, and process images like humans
- Robotics to perform physical tasks and interact with the environment
With these capabilities, AI is being applied in diverse sectors like healthcare, transportation, finance, agriculture, entertainment, and more. The opportunities seem endless as AI continues to evolve!
The Rules Around Capitalizing Words
Now that we know what AI is, let’s look at the general rules around capitalizing words in English.
The main times when words should be capitalized are:
- At the beginning of a sentence
- When used as a proper noun (a specific name or title)
- In titles and headers
- When part of an acronym
Common nouns like “chair”, “computer” or “science” are not typically capitalized.
Proper nouns that refer to unique entities like person names, places, brands, etc. are always capitalized. For example, “San Francisco”, “Coca-Cola”, or “Jessica Alba”.
Acronyms, which are abbreviated versions of longer phrases, are usually capitalized like “NASA” for National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
There can also be variation based on different style guides. For instance, the AP Stylebook may have different rules than Chicago Manual of Style.
When Should “Artificial Intelligence” be Capitalized?
Given these capitalization conventions, should we write Artificial Intelligence or artificial intelligence?
The answer depends on whether it’s being used as a proper noun or common noun.
When referring to the broad concept or field of study, artificial intelligence is usually not capitalized. For example:
- Artificial intelligence will transform healthcare in the coming years.
- Many experts have raised concerns about the ethics of artificial intelligence.
In these cases, “artificial intelligence” is used as a common noun to talk about AI technology in general terms.
However, Artificial Intelligence should be capitalized when referring specifically to AI as a unique academic discipline or area of study. For instance:
- She is studying to get a degree in Artificial Intelligence.
- The university launched a new Artificial Intelligence Research Lab.
Here, “Artificial Intelligence” is a proper noun denoting the name of a specific program or institute focused on AI.
Similarly, it should be capitalized in titles and headers like:
- Advancements in Artificial Intelligence Over the Past Decade
Whether abbreviated as AI or written out, the term is also often capitalized when used as part of a proper name for conferences, organizations, products or initiatives. For example:
- The Artificial Intelligence Association of America
- The company unveiled their new AI Assistant product.
So in summary, capitalize Artificial Intelligence when referring specifically to the field of study but use lowercase artificial intelligence when talking about AI capabilities or technology in a general sense.
Different Styles Adopted by Publications
If you look at different publications and style guides, you’ll notice some variations in capitalizing AI or leaving it lowercase.
For example, The Associated Press Stylebook recommends lowercase artificial intelligence in all uses. On the other hand, industry journals like Artificial Intelligence Review or the AI Magazine published by AAAI (Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence) capitalize the term.
Among technology publications, Wired magazine tends to capitalize it more often while MIT Technology Review uses lowercase. The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage favors lowercase in most cases but does capitalize in certain contexts like job titles.
This reflects the lack of consensus around whether AI should be treated as a proper noun or common noun. With an emerging field like artificial intelligence, new styles and conventions may still be evolving.
Ultimately it’s up to each publication to decide on their house style. When writing your own content, just aim for consistency and be aware of the context.
The Pros and Cons of Capitalizing AI
Some argue Artificial Intelligence should always be capitalized to emphasize its status as an academic discipline and important field driving innovation. But others believe artificial intelligence should remain lowercase since it’s essentially just a technical concept and tool.
Reasons to capitalize Artificial Intelligence:
- Distinguishes AI as its own recognized area of study and expertise
- Gives it proper respect as a pioneering field advancing society
- Consistency in capitalizing widely used terms like Artificial Intelligence may aid public understanding
Reasons to use lowercase artificial intelligence:
- Following conventions for common nouns rather than treating as proper noun
- Avoids potential misconception that AI is one single “thing” rather than a broad concept
- Lowercases conveys artificial intelligence is an evolving technology not yet realized
There are merits to both perspectives. With AI playing an increasingly prominent role, it will be interesting to see whether consensus builds around capitalizing or not. For now, the key is being aware of connotations and using your best judgment based on context.
Should You Use AI or Artificial Intelligence?
Another choice you’ll encounter is whether to refer to artificial intelligence by its abbreviated form AI or writing it out in full.
Using the acronym AI is more common in technical or scientific contexts. For example:
- AI systems rely on neural networks and deep learning algorithms.
However, writing artificial intelligence can make it more clear and accessible, especially for general audiences. For instance:
- Some people have concerns about the growing use of artificial intelligence.
When introducing or defining the term, it’s best to write artificial intelligence first before abbreviating as AI. You can then use AI afterward for brevity.
If trying to educate readers on this technology and what it means, spelling out artificial intelligence more frequently can aid understanding. Use your discretion based on the readers’ familiarity with AI.
Example Sentences Showing Capitalization
Let’s look at some example sentences demonstrating when artificial intelligence and Artificial Intelligence would be appropriately capitalized or not:
- The professor gave a lecture on artificial intelligence and its revolutionary impact across industries. (lowercase as common noun)
- Many experts have raised concerns about the ethics of artificial intelligence systems. (lowercase again referencing AI technology broadly)
- She is pursuing her PhD in Artificial Intelligence with a focus on machine learning. (capitalized as proper noun and field of study)
- The university is building a new Artificial Intelligence Research Center on campus. (capitalized as proper noun and name of specific institute)
- Last year, the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence held its annual conference in Austin. (capitalized as part of proper name of organization)
- Google recently unveiled a new AI algorithm. (abbreviation AI capitalized as acronym)
- Advances in speech recognition technology rely heavily on artificial intelligence. (lowercase as common noun)
- The company announced the launch of its new AI Assistant product today. (capitalized as part of product name)
- Artificial Intelligence: The Next Frontier in Computing (capitalized title)
Hopefully these examples help illustrate when to capitalize Artificial Intelligence versus using lowercase artificial intelligence. Apply the same principles in your own writing.
We’ve covered a lot of ground here! To recap, there are no absolute rules but Artificial Intelligence is generally capitalized when referring specifically to the academic discipline and related institutes. Lowercase artificial intelligence is more common when used as a common noun describing the broader concepts and technologies.
I suggest using your best judgment based on the context and erring on the side of capitalizing in most formal usages. Remember to check any in-house style guides too. And aim for consistency either way.
While conventions are still evolving, what matters most is using Artificial Intelligence or artificial intelligence thoughtfully to educate audiences on this increasingly important field. Thanks for reading this definitive guide on AI capitalization! Let me know if you have any other questions.