The Types of Artificial Intelligence Based on Capability

Artificial Intelligence isn’t another buzzword that will fizzle out. It is a significant element of modern life that has come to stay. It influences our jobs and the way we interact with others. This article explores artificial intelligence in detail, including the various types of AI.

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Photo by Andy Kelly on Unsplash

What Is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial intelligence is the branch of computer studies that finds ways of making machines work and behave in intelligent ways. At its core, AI is all about creating computers and machines that have the capability of complex reasoning and learning. These machines are considered intelligent because they can accomplish tasks that, traditionally, are seen as requiring the services of humans.

Research conducted in the field of artificial intelligence has grown in leaps and bounds in recent times. AI-powered tools are now used in different aspects of human endeavor. 

There are two ways of categorizing AI. AI can be categorized based on functionality and capability. The former has four divisions, while the latter has three divisions. This article analyzes both.

Types of AI Based on Functionality

The four types of artificial intelligence based on functionality are limited memory, reactive machines, theory of mind, and self-aware.

Limited Memory

This type of AI has the ability to absorb or store learning data and improve over time based on experience. This type of AI uses stored data to make better predictions. However, it is called limited memory AI because it cannot create detailed libraries of its experience.

Self-driving cars are prominent examples of machines that use limited memory AI. The algorithms that power these cars use data they were trained and programmed on to understand how to operate. They can also observe data in their environment and adjust when necessary.

Reactive Machines

Reactive machines are the oldest form of AI, and they have limited capacities. These machines don’t have memory-based functionality. Therefore, reactive machines lack the ability to make decisions based on previous experience. Essentially, they only work with present data and cannot learn. This means their future performance does not improve with practice.

Theory of Mind

The first two types of AI are already available. The last two are concepts or works in progress. Theory of mind refers to an AI that has a deep understanding of the entities in an environment, including humans. Such AI is expected to be able to discern the emotions, beliefs, and thought processes of entities surrounding it.


This is a hypothetical stage of artificial intelligence where AI can finally match the depth and sophistication of the human brain. Self-aware AI won’t just be able to understand emotions. It will have its own emotions and beliefs.

Types of AI Based on Capability

The three types of AI based on capability are narrow AI, general AI, and super AI.

Narrow Artificial Intelligence

Narrow AI is also called weak AI or artificial narrow intelligence (ANI). This type of AI focuses on one or a few specific tasks, like playing chess. They can accomplish such tasks with human-like capability. However, they can’t do any other thing apart from that single task. Thus, they have limited capability.

General Artificial Intelligence

Also known as artificial general intelligence (AGI), general AI is a type of AI that can learn and perceive like a human being. General AI enables machines to apply knowledge and skills in different contexts. AGI differs from narrow AI in the sense that the latter isn’t intended to have general cognitive abilities.

Super Artificial Intelligence

Super AI is an AI that eclipses human intelligence. This AI will be able to accomplish tasks better than humans. With super AI, AI becomes so human-like that it doesn’t only understand humans.

It evokes its own desires and beliefs. Some of the major characteristics of super AI are thinking, solving puzzles, making judgments, and making decisions on its own.

The Future of Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence is expected to play a more prominent role in the future. With deep learning and machine learning getting better, we can expect to have some of these hypothetical AIs in the near future. We expect such AIs to complement humans in critical tasks.

To Wrap Up

While some sources limit their classification of AI to one of functionality or capability, this article combines both. With this article, readers have a better understanding of AI, its current state, and its future potential.

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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