The term artificial intelligence was coined by American computer scientist John McCarthy in 1956. Artificial intelligence, or AI, is the simulation of human intelligence by computers or machines. These processes may include identifying patterns, reasoning, or learning. In our new technological era, the possibilities of AI are sparking curiosity across industries. With the greater volume and velocity of data available, AI is getting better and better. Now, some programs can perform certain tasks better than humans. In this article, we outline a brief introduction to AI, the three main types of artificial intelligence and their applications.
The three key types of artificial intelligence
Computer scientists define AI in relation to human intelligence. Based on these metrics, the different types of artificial intelligence can be broadly divided into three groups. We’ll briefly describe these divisions below, beginning with the kind type achieved so far – narrow AI.
1- Narrow AI
Narrow AI, otherwise known as weak AI, is a system that programmers develop for a particular task. Therefore, narrow AI can only operate within certain contexts. Although often very good at particular tasks, like recognising patterns in data, their capabilities don’t really go beyond set parameters. Types of narrow AI include purely reactive machines, which don’t store information or past experiences.
An example of this type of program is Google’s AlphaGo. The second variety of narrow AI are programs with limited memory, like chatbots. Now, chatbots are able to store information to make ‘informed’ decisions based on past experience.
2. Artificial General Intelligence
Artificial General Intelligence, or AGI, is an AI program with general cognitive abilities. This means that these programs could find solutions to unfamiliar tasks or understand their environment like a human. So, although humans may not be able to compute at the same speed as a machine, they can think abstractly and imaginatively – which is what ultimately defines intelligence. From here, this technology could achieve a ‘theory of mind’. This is where a machine can understand the thoughts and emotions associated with human behaviour. An example of this technology would be C-3PO from Star Wars – and as you’ve probably guessed, scientists haven’t achieve this level of AI yet.
Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI) refers to the point at which machine cognition could surpass human intelligence. Some programmers dispute whether or not humans should attempt to achieve this, as it could be dangerous. However, some scientists like Demis Hassabis, co-founder and CEO of DeepMind, believe that better AI becomes, the more it can help mankind. An example of this kind of super intelligence would be Ava in the movie Ex Machina, who has an awareness of her internal state.
Applications of artificial intelligence
These three type of artificial intelligence might sound like science fiction, but artificial intelligence is appearing everywhere in our everyday lives. For instance, digital assistants like Siri and Alexa are already using Natural Language Understanding (NLU) to process speech. Furthermore, knowledge management programs like data mining software are already capable of capturing, analyzing and categorising vast amounts of information. In the case of chatbots, this technology is already playing an important role in enhancing customer experiences and streamlining internal processes. Both consumers and businesses are already seeing the benefits, so corporations and governments are already making large investments in AI development.