Understanding the different types of AI

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a cornerstone of modern business, driving innovation and efficiency across industries. However, AI encompasses a broad spectrum of technologies and capabilities. For professionals looking to leverage AI in their operations, understanding the different types of AI is crucial. Here’s a guide to the primary categories of AI:

Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI)

ANI refers to AI systems designed to handle specific tasks. These systems are highly specialised and cannot perform tasks outside their designated functions. Fine-tuned language models, such as those based on GPT-4, Mistral, BART, Bert, Llama, and T5, primarily fit within this category. Examples include:

  • Voice assistants: Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant use narrow AI to process voice commands and provide responses.
  • Recommendation engines: Netflix and Amazon use algorithms to suggest products or content based on user preferences.
  • Image recognition: Applications like facial recognition in security systems or diagnostic imaging in healthcare.

ANI is prevalent in our daily lives, offering targeted solutions to well-defined problems. Subcategories of ANI include:

  • Reactive machines - they can react to specific inputs with programmed responses but do not have memory or the ability to learn from past experiences. These systems are excellent at performing a single, well-defined task.
  • Limited memory - systems can use historical data to make decisions and improve over time. This type of AI is used in applications like self-driving cars, which analyse past data to navigate roads and avoid obstacles. Unlike reactive machines, these systems can learn from their experiences to a certain extent, enhancing their performance.

Artificial General Intelligence (AGI)

AGI is a more advanced and theoretical form of AI with the ability to understand, learn, and apply knowledge across a wide range of tasks, like human intelligence. It remains a concept rather than a reality. The development of AGI would mean creating systems capable of performing any intellectual task that a human can do, potentially transforming every aspect of our lives and industries. Subcategories of AGI include:

  • Theory of mind - still in the research phase. It aims to understand human emotions, beliefs, and intentions, allowing for more sophisticated and human-like interactions.
  • Self-aware AI - represents the pinnacle of AI development, where machines possess self-awareness and consciousness. This concept is purely hypothetical at this stage.

Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI)

ASI goes beyond human intelligence, capable of outperforming humans in every aspect, from creativity to complex problem-solving. This type of AI is purely speculative and raises significant ethical and existential questions.