What Is AI (Artificial Intelligence)?

  1. A machine.
  2. A computer.
  3. Computer software.
  4. Some degree of intelligence that is suggestive of the intelligence of a human.
  • AI is the capacity of a computer to approximate some fraction of the intellectual capacity of a human being.
  1. Weak AI. Only a relatively small, limited fraction of human intelligence.
  2. Strong AI. Much closer if not at or above human intelligence.
  1. Weak AI or Light AI. Individual functions or niche tasks, in isolation. Any learning is limited to relatively simple patterns.
  2. Moderate AI or Medium AI. Integration of multiple functions and tasks, as in a robot, intelligent digital assistant, or driverless vehicle. Possibly some relatively limited degree of learning.
  3. Strong AI. Incorporates roughly or nearly human-level reasoning and some significant degree of learning.
  4. Extreme AI. Systems that learn and can produce even more capable systems that can learn even more capably, in a virtuous spiral.
  5. Ultimate AI. Essentially Ray Kurzweil’s Singularity or some equivalent of superhuman intelligence. Also called superintelligence.
  • Intelligent digital assistants.
  • Smart appliances.
  • Smart devices.
  • Smart homes.
  • Smart vehicles.
  1. Nothing. No automation capabilities in a particular area. User is completely on their own.
  2. Minimal subset of full function. Something better than nothing, but with severe limits.
  3. Rich subset. A lot more than minimal, but with substantial gaps.
  4. Robust subset. Not complete and maybe not covering all areas, but close to complete in areas that it covers.
  5. Near-expert. Not quite all there, but fairly close and good enough to fool the average user into thinking an expert is in charge.
  6. Expert-level. All there.
  7. Super-expert level. More than an average human expert.
  1. Behavior of both human and digital systems, as well as animals, can be classified based on level of function.
  2. Functional behavior spans a broad spectrum of levels.
  3. Functional behavior must reach the level of being highly functional or high function in order to be considered comparable to human-level intelligence or behavior.
  4. Integration and coordination of functions is requisite for high function and true, human-level intelligence.
  1. Non-functional. No apparent function. Noise. Twitches and vibrations.
  2. Barely functional. The minimum level of function that we can discern. No significant utility. Not normally considered AI. Automation of common trivial tasks.
  3. Merely, minimally, or marginally functional, tertiary function. Seems to have some minimal, marginal value. Marginally considered AI. Automation of non-trivial tasks. Not normally considered intelligence per se.
  4. Minor or secondary function. Has some significance, but not in any major way. Common behavior for animals. Common target for AI. Automation of modestly to moderately complex tasks. This would also include involuntary and at least rudimentary autonomous actions. Not normally considered intelligence per se.
  5. Major, significant, or primary function. Fairly notable function. Top of the line for animals. Common ideal for AI at the present time. Automation of complex tasks. Typically associated with consciousness, deliberation, decision, and intent. Autonomy is the norm. Bordering on what could be considered intelligence, or at least a serious portion of what could be considered intelligence.
  6. Highly functional, high function. Highly notable function. Common for humans. Intuition comes into play. Sophisticated enough to be considered human-level intelligence. Characterized by integration of numerous primary functions.
  7. Very high function. Exceptional human function, such as standout creativity, imagination, invention, and difficult problem solving and planning. Exceptional intuition.
  8. Genius-level function. Extraordinary human, genius-level function, or extraordinary AI function.
  9. Super-human function. Hypothetical AI that exceeds human-level function.
  10. Extreme AI. Virtuous spiral of learning how to learn and using AI to create new AI systems ever-more capable of learning how to learn and how to teach new AI systems better ways to learn and teach how to learn.
  11. Ray Kurzweil’s Singularity. The ultimate in Extreme AI, combining digital software and biological systems.
  12. God or god-like function. The ultimate in function. Obviously not a realistic research goal.

What is intelligence?

  1. Perception. The senses or sensors. Forming a raw impression of something in the real world around us.
  2. Attention. What to focus on.
  3. Recognition. Identifying what is being perceived.
  4. Communication. Conveying information or knowledge between two or more intelligent entities.
  5. Processing. Thinking. Working with perceptions and memories.
  6. Memory. Remember and recall.
  7. Learning. Acquisition of knowledge and know-how.
  8. Analysis. Digesting and breaking down more complex matters.
  9. Speculation, imagination, and creativity.
  10. Synthesis. Putting simpler matters together into a more complex whole.
  11. Reasoning. Logic and identifying cause and effect, consequences and preconditions.
  12. Following rules. From recipes to instructions to laws and ethical guidelines.
  13. Applying heuristics. Shortcuts that provide most of the benefit for a fraction of the mental effort.
  14. Intuitive leaps.
  15. Mathematics. Calculation, solving problems, developing models, proving theorems.
  16. Decision. What to do. Choosing between alternatives.
  17. Planning.
  18. Volition. Will. Deciding to act. Development of intentions. When to act.
  19. Movement. To aid perception or prepare for action. Includes motor control and coordination. Also movement for its own sake, as in communication, exercise, self-defense, entertainment, dance, performance, and recreation.
  20. Behavior. Carrying out intentions. Action guided by intellectual activity. May also be guided by non-intellectual drives and instincts.
  1. Natural language.
  2. Spoken word.
  3. Written word.
  4. Gestures. Hand, finger, arm.
  5. Facial expressions. Smile, frown.
  6. Nonlinguistic vocal expression. Grunts, sighs, giggles, laughter.
  7. Body language.
  8. Images.
  9. Music.
  10. Art.
  11. Movement.
  12. Creation and consumption of knowledge artifacts — letters, notes, books, stories, movies, music, art.
  13. Ability to engage in discourse. Discussion, conversation, inquiry, teaching, learning, persuasion, negotiation.
  14. Discerning and conveying meaning, both superficial and deep.
  1. Objects
  2. Faces
  3. Scenes
  4. Places
  5. Names
  6. Voices
  7. Activities
  8. Identities
  9. Intentions
  10. Meaning

Artificial intelligence is what we don’t know how to do yet

Emotional intelligence

Autonomy, agency, and assistants

AI areas and capabilities

  1. Reasoning
  2. Knowledge and knowledge representation
  3. Optimization, planning, and scheduling
  4. Learning
  5. Natural language processing (NLP)
  6. Speech recognition and generation
  7. Automatic language translation
  8. Information extraction
  9. Image recognition
  10. Computer vision
  11. Moving and manipulating objects
  12. Robotics
  13. Driverless and autonomous vehicles
  14. General intelligence
  15. Expert systems
  16. Machine learning
  17. Pattern recognition
  18. Theorem proving
  19. Fuzzy systems
  20. Neural networks
  21. Evolutionary computation
  22. Intelligent agents
  23. Intelligent interfaces
  24. Distributed AI
  25. Data mining
  26. Games (chess, Go, Jeopardy)

Neural networks and deep learning

Animal AI


  1. Only those components directly involved in intellectual activity.
  2. Also sensors that provide the information needed for intellectual activity.
  3. Also fine motor control and use of end effectors. Including grasping delicate objects and hand-eye coordination.
  4. Also any movement which enables pursuit of intellectual interests and intentions.
  5. Any structural elements or resource management needed to support the other elements of a robotic system.
  6. Any other supporting components, subsystems, or infrastructure needed to support the other elements of a robotic system.
  7. All components of a robotic system, provided that the overall system has at least some minimal intellectual capacity. That’s the point of an AI system. A mindless, merely mechanical robot with no intelligence would not constitute an AI system.

Artificial life


Historical perspective by John McCarthy

Can machines think?

What’s the IQ of an AI?

Turing test

And so much more




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Jack Krupansky

Freelance Consultant

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