6 Types of Artificial Intelligence


Date Published


Getting deep in the development of Machine Learning.

Coined by computer and cognitive scientist John McCarthy in 1956, the term Artificial Intelligence came into reality a decade before the United States sent a man to the moon. AI was not a thing of the 21st Century; it was a thing of the 20th Century. Despite this, the term seems intimidating to most, something reserved for computer scientists and the tech-savvy.

The goal of AI is to emulate human behavior; the more advanced the AI, the more human-like in its functionality. Based on this definition, seven segments of AI have been identified to this day. Let’s take a deeper dive into the different types of AI out there:

1. Reactive Machine

As the oldest form of AI, relative machines have the most limited capabilities. This AI can react to stimuli but is unable to learn like humans due to its limited memory-based functionality. It cannot rely on memory or past experiences to inform on future or present decisions. IBM’s Deep Blue, a chess computer, is an example of this.

2. Limited Memory

Building on reactive AI, limited memory AI can learn from historical data to inform its decisions. Trained by large volumes of data that is then stored in their memory and used as a reference to inform decisions, these AI systems are currently the most common. Image recognition, chatbots, and self-driving vehicles are limited memory AI machines.

3. Theory Mind

Theory of mind AI is still in a developmental phase and is not clearly defined. A work in progress for researchers, the goal of the Theory of Mind AI is to be able to understand humans. That includes being able to discern human needs, emotions, beliefs, and thought processes. Although very exciting, Theory of Mind requires additional development in various branches of AI to become an every-day reality.

4. Self Awareness

Purely hypothetical for now, self-aware AI is fundamentally a human brain that is self-aware. Much like humans, this AI will have its own sets of beliefs, needs, emotions, and desires—it is a self-aware entity. This stage of AI is also the most controversial in large part due to popular culture referencing this point of AI development as the downfall of human civilization and the rise of robots. This fear is deeply rooted in the belief that self-aware AI not only challenges but threatens human intelligence. Nonetheless, this work is hypothetical for now and decades away from becoming tangible.

4. Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI)

Sometimes referred to as Weak AI, all existing AI falls under this term. Overlapping with reactive and limited memory AI, ANI systems can only perform one task autonomously using human-like capabilities. This AI system is limited to its default programming and nothing else. ANI systems cannot interpret anything beyond their code.

5. Artificial General Intelligence (AGI)

Also known as Strong AI or Human-Level AI, these systems can mimic how humans learn, plan, and perceive. We don’t have any systems like this yet, but AGI will have the general mental capacity to independently generalize and form connections – cutting down on training time with its ability to replicate how we reason and understand the world around us.

6. Artificial Superintelligence (ASI)

Superintelligence! That is the end goal, the Grand Prix. These systems are a compilation of all previous AI and mark the pinnacle of AI research. Similar to self-aware AI, these systems are synonymous with the modern futuristic world that we’ve often envisioned. Surpassing AGI with superior memory and the ability to process and analyze data for faster, more informed decisions; these systems mark the beginning of a singularity. Defined by the moment when the capabilities and intelligence of technology surpass human abilities, singularity symbolizes the end of the era of man and the beginning of the era of machine.

While the many AI applications have not been perfected, much less discovered is AI’s role in our future is guaranteed. Perhaps it’s because of the dismal worlds reflected in popular culture at the fault of AI or that its unmapped future seems so daunting. Regardless, the reality is that we’ve all used some form of artificial intelligence in our day-to-day lives unknowingly, and maybe during our life-time, we’ll get to interact with AGI and ASI systems— or maybe not. One thing is certain when looking at the evolution of AI, there are a lot of advancements and uncharted territory to go through first.


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