IMAGR Weekly: The three types of Artificial Intelligence- Explained

By September 19, 2018News, Updates

The race to create an ever more capable Artificial Intelligence (AI) is on, with companies and organizations investing billions of dollars in R&D each year.  This trend is only set to continue, fueled oftentimes by ambitious governments who count technological superiority as a national achievement. However, what tends to get lost among these discussions is the actual technology behind the promised capabilities. In this installment if IMAGR Weekly, we take a look at the three types of AI, their functions, and what implications they might have on the economy, people, and society.

1: Narrow AI

If you own a smartphone, chances are you’ve used a program powered by narrow AI. All major operating systems these days include a “voice assistant”, such as “Ok Google” on Android, or “Hey Siri” with IOS. The reason these programs are referred to as “narrow” AI is due to their restricted and limited functions. While you can ask your phone for updates to the weather or traffic conditions, the information provided is simply derived from a predefined source, such as your weather app, or Google Maps. Once its apparent “coolness” wears off, its flaws are quickly revealed. It doesn’t take long for you to realize the annoying limitations, or the oftentimes inaccurate answers. For these reasons, you’ve most likely stopped using your voice assistant after repeated instances of it defaulting to asking Google the same question you posed to it. The reason this happens is because you’ve asked it a question outside of its (finite) pool of pre-prepared responses, which triggers a default to its only other option- to ask Google. Essentially, narrow AI isn’t actually smart, conscious, or intelligent. It does not possess the ability to learn, make decisions, or think autonomously, rather it focuses on completing a list of preprogramed tasks according to a flow chart. One could make the argument that narrow AI is only AI in name and doesn’t actually perform tasks expected of Artificial Intelligence. In terms of impact, we don’t anticipate significant implications from the use of narrow AI, which is already evidenced by its current applications such as voice assistants.

2: Artificial General Intelligence (AGI)

This brings us to the next level of AI, referred to as Artificial General Intelligence, or AGI. While there is no strict definition for what constitutes AGI, there have been attempts at differentiating AGI from the more basic “weak” AI. In 1950, the likes of Alan Turing developed the now famous Turing Test as a way of measuring a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behavior equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human. In a Turing test, the objective is for a machine to engage in natural language conversation with such a high degree of realism that a human evaluator cannot tell which parts of the conversation were from the machine, and which part from the human participant. The accuracy of the answers given is not judged, only how closely the answers resemble those that a human might give. There are various flaws to a Turing test, such as the non-scientific nature of how it is conducted, but it guides us to some general conclusions for what AI needs to accomplish in order to be considered AGI.

In a broad sense, it is accepted that AGI must be able to exhibit capabilities such as reasoning, problem solving, planning, learning and communication. At IMAGR, our goal is to transform retail through computer vision. Computer vision is one example of what AGI is capable of. Our product, SMARTCART instantly recognizes items at they are placed into the basket, and ads it to the virtual shopping cart. This is achieved through our advanced machine learning powered algorithm that has been trained to accurately identify objects without the need for traditional barcode scanning. The goal is to save time for both customers and retailers, eliminating a major point of friction that is currently the checkout. IMAGR strongly believes in the applications of AGI in retail, and our technology offers an excellent demonstration of this potential. Going forward, our advanced algorithms will make it possible to provide customized product recommendations based on a customer’s pervious purchasing history. This is in addition to our planned guidance technology, which helps customers navigate their way around the store to easily find those hidden products.

3: Artificial Super-intelligence (ASI)

Now for the one we’ve all been waiting for- the kind of AI seen in movies, the one that is frequently shown to go rogue and destroy humanity… (Note, this is not* the kind of AI IMAGR is working on).

Even though an Artificial Super-intelligence is not currently known to exist, the idea of one is what generates the most interest among both the general public and AI enthusiasts alike. In technical terms, it is a computer program capable of greater intelligence than even the smartest human being alive, or perhaps the cumulative brainpower of all humans for that matter. Some researchers believe that super-intelligence will likely follow shortly after the development of artificial general intelligence. The first generally intelligent machines are likely to immediately hold an enormous advantage in at least some forms of mental capability, including the capacity of perfect recall, a vastly superior knowledge base, and the ability to multitask in ways not possible to biological entities.

Of course, with these potential capabilities comes the greatest level of risk. There have been suggestions that if such an ASI were to be created, it could have either overwhelmingly positive impacts for humanity, or conversely it could also mark our demise. For these reasons, industry leaders such as Elon Musk have called for greater regulation of AI to prevent any unintended consequences, or to prevent the capabilities from being used against the common good.

While the likes of Siri might seem a world away from such powerful intelligence, growth in this field is exponential. The vastly improved computational power now at our disposal has enabled great advancements in computer vision. For us, it is through harnessing these capabilities that we have created SMARTCART- the checkout-less solution to revolutionize the way you shop.


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