For more detailed information on the sources and definitions of the terms in the digitalisation glossary, please, check this file
Additive manufacturing uses data, computer-aided-design (CAD) software or 3D object scanners to direct hardware to deposit material, layer upon layer, in precise geometric shapes. As its name implies, additive manufacturing adds material to create an object. Although the terms ‘3D printing’ and ‘rapid prototyping’ are occasionally used to refer to additive manufacturing, each process is actually a subtype of additive manufacturing.
The term advanced robotics refers to the design, production and use of machines able to carry out difficult and complex tasks using AI to interact with the real world around them.
AI-based worker management (AIWM)
Refers to a worker management system that gathers data, often in real time, on the workspace, workers and the work they do, which is then fed into an AI-based model that makes automated or semi-automated decisions or provides information for decision-makers on worker management-related questions.
AI-powered prediction models
Forecasting models that use AI for data analysis to predict different factors related to workers, such as those used for people analytics. These may be used for example to predict who in the staff is most likely to leave the company soon as a result of stress or burnout or for lack of motivation, and hence should receive more attention from managers.
An explicitly defined set of instructions describing how a computer or a human could perform an action, task or procedure or solve a problem.
A worker management system where simple (i.e. without ‘intelligence’) algorithms and digital technologies (e.g. worker-monitoring devices, computers or face recognition software) are used to manage workers in an automated or semi-automated manner. It provides the means to automate a large number of worker management tasks (e.g. schedule-making, shift-making and worker monitoring through wearable devices). AI-based worker management involves the intelligence simulation necessary to deal with uncertainty (e.g. providing different outputs based on changes in the environment), whereas algorithmic management is deterministic in nature (i.e. it always provides the same output, given the same input).
Algorithmic transparency is the principle that the factors that influence the functioning of algorithms and the results they produce should be visible, or transparent, to employers, policy-makers and workers, who use, regulate, and are affected by the systems that employ those algorithms. The involvement of staff representatives is essential to build workers’ trust in the systems.
The attribution of human traits, emotions or intentions to non-human entities (e.g. robots).
Artificial intelligence (AI)
AI refers to systems that display intelligent behaviour by analysing their environment and taking actions – with some degree of autonomy – to achieve specific goals. AI-based systems can be purely software-based, acting in the virtual world (e.g. voice assistants, image analysis software, search engines, speech and face recognition systems) or AI can be embedded in hardware devices (e.g. advanced robots, autonomous cars, drones or Internet of things applications).
Use of systems or technical procedures to allow a device or system to execute (partially or fully) a function that was previously, or conceivably could be, carried out (partially or fully) by a human.
Datasets characterised by volume (large size), velocity (constantly growing), and variety (structured and unstructured form such as texts), which are often used by artificial intelligence machines.
Cameras to monitor activities
There are two types of cameras: basic systems that only record signals, which can be stored and/or actively monitored; and intelligent systems that use algorithms to interpret data, related to the environment and/or to behaviours, for instance.
Client relationship management (CRM) software
Customer Relationship Management, abbreviated as CRM, is an integrated management information system that is used to schedule, plan and control the sales and pre-sales activities in an organization. CRM systems comprise of hardware, software and networking tools to improve customer tracking and communication.
Cloud computing is the on-demand availability of cloud-hosted services (e.g. data storage, computing power) delivered to a user over the Internet.
Cobot (collaborative robot)
A type of robot designed to perform tasks in collaboration with workers in industrial sectors.
A task that requires a number of mental processes for its completion, such as decision-making, pattern recognition, and speech- or language-based tasks.
The protection of computer systems and networks from information disclosure and theft of or damage to their hardware, software or electronic data, as well as from the disruption or misdirection of the services they provide.
A process of extracting insights and knowledge from data using statistical or other techniques and tools.
Data bias occurs when data contain systematically certain types of errors for which some elements in a dataset are more or less weighted and/or represented than others. Socio-cultural prejudices and beliefs of programmers or software developers can be the reason why systems collect and produce biased data.
Branch of machine learning that uses (artificial) neural networks to mimic a human brain and to improve artificial intelligence learning capabilities.
Loss of skills and knowledge needed to perform a job as a consequence of automation.
Digital labour platform
An online facility or marketplace operating on digital technologies (including the use of mobile apps) that are owned and/or operated by an undertaking, facilitating the matching between the demand for and supply of labour provided by a platform worker. Examples of platforms include Uber, Glovo, Wolt and Task Rabbit.
Digital platform work
Digital platform work is all paid work provided through, on or mediated by an online platform – that is, an online marketplace operating on digital technologies that facilitate the matching of demand for and supply of labour.
Exoskeletons are wearable devices that modify internal or external forces acting on the body and therefore enhance or support the strength of the user. For workers wearing occupational exoskeletons (both active and passive), several risk scenarios can be identified relating to their prolonged use.
Gamification refers to bringing ideas and concepts from games, such as rewards for milestones, into the work environment and work processes to nudge the worker into behaviours desired by the employer to ultimately improve efficiency and productivity. It can promote collaboration and interaction between teams, reduce stress and improve overall employee satisfaction in the workplace.
In the human-in-command approach to digital transformation, artificial intelligence and digital technologies support but do not replace human control and decisions or information, consultation and participation of workers. Making the design, development and use of digital systems human-centred allows them to be used to support workers, while leaving humans in control.
Human-robot interaction (HRI)
Human-robot interaction (HRI) is the study of interactions between people (users) and robots. HRI is multidisciplinary with contributions from the fields of human-computer interaction, artificial intelligence, robotics, speech recognition, and social sciences (psychology, cognitive science, anthropology, and human factors).
An industrial robot is an automatically controlled, reprogrammable multipurpose manipulator, programmable in three or more axes, which can be either fixed or mobile.
Internet of things (IoT)
The IoT is a cyber-physical system in which the information collected is fed, via the internet, to computers to gather data about production and work processes and to analyse these data with unprecedented granularity. This entails humans creating a ‘“ubiquitous world” in which all devices … will be fully networked.’ The IoT reshapes our interaction with the physical world through devices interconnected on a platform (e.g. the cloud) and performing functions adaptively based on inputs and programming.
A branch of physics, developed in classical mechanics, that describes the geometrically possible motion of points, bodies (objects), and systems of bodies (groups of objects) without considering the forces involved (i.e. causes and effects of the motions).
Machine learning is a branch of artificial intelligence dealing with how computers can learn, grow and improve on their own from data without human intervention.
New occupational safety and health (OSH) monitoring systems
New OSH monitoring systems use digital technology to collect and analyse data from workers and/or working environment to identify hazards, assess risks, prevent and/or minimise harm, and promote OSH.
People or workforce analytics
Application of AI-based worker management used to support decision-making about human resource management aspects. It uses digital tools and data to measure, report and understand employee performance.
A task that requires one or more physical acts for its completion.
Radio-frequency identification (RFID)
RFID is ‘a wireless sensor technology which is based on the detection of electromagnetic signals [that] includes three components: an antenna or coil, a transceiver (with decoder) and a transponder (RF tag). […] There is emission of radio signals by the antenna in order for the tag to be activated and data to be read and written to it.’
Remote work is any type of working arrangement to work from home or – more generally – away from the employer’s premises or in a fixed location. In this context the focus is on remote work enabled by digital technologies (e.g. personal computers, smartphones, laptops, software packages and the internet).
The process of acquiring/learning new skills.
Semi- and fully automated decisions
Semi-automated decision-making refers to human decisions supported by results of automated computer algorithms (with or without AI integration), while fully automated decision-making refers to giving full autonomy to computer algorithms to make decisions.
Smart digital systems
Umbrella term to indicate digital systems for monitoring and enhancing workers’ safety and health including for example smart PPE (that can identify levels of gases, toxins, noise levels and high-risk temperatures), wearables (able to interact with workers, with sensors that may be embedded in hardhats or safety glasses), mobile or static systems that use cameras and sensors (e.g. drones that effectively reach and monitor dangerous areas of work sites avoiding to put humans in danger in the construction and the mining industries).
Smart personal protective equipment (PPE)
Smart PPE is the last level of protection to be used against hazards for workers and is used when hazards cannot be removed or their risks cannot be mitigated further by collective or organisational measures, engineering designs or maintenance practices – it combines traditional garments with smart parts, such as sensors, detectors, data transfer modules, batteries, cables.
The cloud is a network of remote servers around the world which are connected together and operate as a single ecosystem. These servers are designed to either store and manage data, run applications, or deliver content or a service (e.g. streaming videos, web mail, office productivity software, or social media). Files and data are accessible online from any Internet-connected device.
Trust can be defined as the attitude that an agent [automation technology, i.e. advanced robotics] will help achieve an individual’s goal in a situation characterised by uncertainty and vulnerability.
Unmanned aerial system (UAS)
UASs are ‘composed of the vehicle airframe and power supply, vehicle sensors, remote operator, an onboard computer, and vehicle actuators. Sensors gather information about the vehicle’s environment and actuators cause movement of the vehicle. The operator can receive information by looking directly at the vehicle (flying by ‘line of sight’) or by looking at a video transmitted from the vehicle (flying by ‘first-person view’)’.
The process of acquiring/teaching additional skills.
Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR)
VR is a computer-generated scenario that simulates a real-world experience, while AR combines real-world experiences with computer-generated content. AR can be defined as an ‘immersive’ technology, blurring the lines between reality and the virtual world, enhancing the interaction of the user with the environment. Practically, AR users point their devices (smartphones, wearables, etc.) towards a specific image, which is acquired and processed to create projections (2D or 3D), which the user can interact with.
Wearables are electronic devices with sensors and computational capacity (e.g. smart watches, data glasses, or other devices with embedded sensors or tags), which can be placed on different body parts to gather data to be fed into other digital systems for processing purposes. They can be used to analyse physiological and psychological data such as feelings, sleep, movements, heart rate, body temperature and blood pressure, via applications either installed on the device itself or on external devices, such as smartphones connected to the cloud.
The practice of capturing information on employees, such as their location, wellbeing and current task, with a goal to track performance and compliance with company policies, but also to identify health issues or safety risks. Worker monitoring is reported to entail violation of data protection legislation and worker’s personal rights and can result in stress and mental health issues.
A more intrusive worker monitoring, extending also beyond work and including activities as tracking social media posts and website visits to gather as much information on workers as possible. . Worker surveillance practices can violate data protection legislation and worker’s personal rights and can result in stress and ill mental health.