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Different Categories of AI for Executives to Understand

Too often in the media, artificial intelligence is referenced as a single monolithic technology, when in fact, the realm of AI is immense and populated with various types of tech. Before business leaders can begin integrating AI into their digital architecture, they need to understand how diverse AI can be.

There are almost infinite ways of categorizing AI, and almost every AI expert employs their own system. Here are three different systems of understanding different types of AI:

3 Types: ANI, AGI, ASI

One of the simplest ways to categorize AI is to consider its capabilities relative to human intelligence. This allows for three distinct categories of AI:

Artificial narrow intelligence (ANI) is an exceedingly limited type of AI which can only focus on a single, specific task. Sometimes called weak AI, ANI is the only type of AI that is currently available. Every example of AI programs currently used by an organization has an exceedingly narrow application, like identifying faces or deciphering natural language. Though ANI does not come close to the power and range of human intelligence, it is nonetheless valuable for organizations looking to improve the performance of various systems and processes.

Artificial general intelligence (AGI) does not currently exist, but when it does, it will be roughly equivalent to human intelligence. AI experts anticipate AGI to have the same capacity to learn as the human brain, which means it will not be confined to a single realm or task but have the ability to learn and grow in various ways. Also called strong AI, AGI is likely to emerge in the coming decades, with most experts anticipating the development of AGI before 2050.

Artificial super intelligence (ASI) is an AI that surpasses our meager human cognitive abilities. Though ASI might seem like a figment of science fiction, most AI experts agree that it could become science fact within our lifetimes, especially if we have AGI tools available soon. How, exactly, ASI will function is difficult to predict, though advantages like perfect recall and superior multitasking are likely.

4 Types: Purely Reactive, Limited Memory, Theory of Mind, Self-aware

Some AI experts describe different types of AI by defining features. Some features are more advanced than others, giving AI tools greater power to complete tasks. Four features tend to be more crucial to an AI’s functionality, and those include:

  1. Purely reactive, which notoriously do not maintain any memory and thus cannot learn from past behavior. Instead, purely reactive machines strive to make the best possible decision based on currently available information, like a computer playing chess.
  2. Limited memory, which can collect limited amounts of data to improve its decision-making processes. Most AI tools available today fall under this category, with varying degrees of memory at their disposal. One of the most intriguing examples of limited memory AI is the autonomous vehicle, which collects data about the surrounding environment before deciding how best to navigate to a destination.
  3. Theory of mind, which describes the capability to understand what people are thinking and feeling. There is some debate as to whether any existing AI has effectively demonstrated true theory of mind, but this valuable feature could help improve human-AI interactions.
  4. Self-aware, which are currently purely speculative machines that have sentience and consciousness as humans do. This level of AI will likely not emerge until we are able to generate AGI.

5 Types: Analytic, Functional, Interactive, Text, Visual

In truth, there are more varieties of artificial intelligence available today than can be adequately described by the categories listed above. Thus, some AI experts prefer to discuss AI using the terms listed below:

  1. Analytic: AI that searches data for patterns and uses those patterns to produce insights and drive effective decision-making.
  2. Functional: AI that searches data for patterns and uses insights from those patterns to improve the efficacy of its own processes.
  3. Interactive: AI that automates communication services by understanding conversation context and reacting appropriately.
  4. Text: AI that understands and generates text, such as text recognition tools, speech-to-text conversion tools, content generation tools and the like.
  5. Visual: AI that can identify and classify visual content, like images and video, which can include computer vision and augmented reality tools.

Business professionals looking to understand more about integrating AI into strategy and processes may enroll in an artificial intelligence online course. Using the basic AI categories explained above, professionals can better understand and assess their AI options into the future.

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