media update’s Aisling McCarthy delves into the two major types of AI, and what they are all about.

Weak AI

Weak AI, also known as narrow AI, describes the kind of technology that is currently available. It’s AI that is able to do some tasks, but is not likely to take over the human race.

Rather than trying to mimic the intelligence and emotional capabilities of humans, weak AI focuses on developing intelligence to perform a particular task. This is the kind of AI that can perform simple, repetitive tasks, like calculations or an analysis of large amounts of data.

Personal assistants, like Siri and Alexa, can also be considered weak AI programs that are focused on voice recognition and interpretation. These assistants are considered weak because they have programmed responses.

These programs search for things similar to what they know, and classify them accordingly. Users are presented with a human-like experience, but it is only a simulation. For example, if you ask Alexa to turn on the TV, the program understands keywords like ‘on’ and ‘TV’. The algorithm will respond by turning on the TV, but it is only responding to its programming. It does not understand what you are saying.

So weak AI is not what cool sci-fi movies are using for their plot lines – that’s strong AI.

Strong AI

Strong AI, also known as general or full AI, is technology that has developed the mental capabilities and functions that mimic the human brain. Keep in mind, this technology does not exist yet, and experts suggest we are a long way away from reaching this goal.

Jeff Kurns, writing for Machine Designs, explains how it works.

“[Strong AI] does not classify, but uses clustering and association to process data … Like talking to a human, you can assume what someone would reply to a question with, but you don’t know.”

He goes on to explain that a machine might associate hearing “good morning” with putting the coffee maker on. Theoretically, if the machine heard “good morning”, it could also then decide whether to put the coffee machine on or not.

Gary Marcus, CEO of machine learning start up Geometric Intelligence, says that there has been very little measurable progress achieved in creating strong AI.

“The power of narrow AI has demonstrated exponential growth in solving constrained problems such as a chess game, but there is not any data on what I would call strong AI,”

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Humans have no reason to fear AI, especially when thinking about its assistive qualities. Find out more in our article, What is augmented intelligence?