robot thinking, looking at the view from a window

Artificial Intelligence

What is AI?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help create intelligent machines that work, react, and learn on their own like humans. We are not quite at the stage of true artificial intelligence yet, but there are pseudo-forms of AI, which we currently use to can make our lives easier and more productive such as digital assistants, self-driving vehicles and even number-plate recognition.

There are four distinctive types of Artificial Intelligence: Reactive, Limited Memory, Theory of Mind and Self-Aware and we have provided a brief description for each:


Reactive machines are the most basic variety out of the four. They react to current scenarios, rather than rely on data they have been taught. They have no concept of the world around them, only the specific tasks they are assigned. They behave exactly the same way every time they encounter the same situation. An example of this is IBM’s Beep Blue, which beat Kasparov at chess. Aside from robots playing chess, (which is impressive in itself) they don’t have any other interactions with the world and will respond identically each time.

Limited Memory

Limited Memory looks at past information along with pre-programmed representations of the world. This technology is used in some autonomous cars, where they observe their surroundings such as other cars, road markings and traffic lights, continuously collecting data. The idea being the car will avoid hazards and stop when it needs to. However, although the technology is constantly improving, it is not considered fast enough to react to unpredictable hazards such as pedestrians and cyclists to be fully trusted.

Theory of Mind

Theory of Mind is an advanced kind of AI that interprets not only the world around it but the people too. This AI has a strong understanding of how people and other things in a certain environment can alter behaviours.  Being able to recognise people’s emotions, and predicting how they might behave. C-3P0 or R2-D2 from Star Wars are (fictional) examples of this. Analysts believe that if theory of mind progresses enough, it could be used to assist elderly or disabled people with everyday tasks.


Self-awareness is the most advanced type of Artificial Intelligence and an extension of ‘Theory of Mind’.  It is where a machine can make decisions based on its own feelings and can recognise the emotions of humans and react accordingly. This level of AI is still in its infancy because AI researchers need not only to be able to fully understand consciousness, but replicate it in a machine. It is difficult to know how close we are to a fully self-aware, Westworld-like, human replica that is indistinguishable from a real person. While AI scientists strive to create self-aware machines, they are firstly focusing their efforts on understanding the memory and teaching machines the ability to make decisions on experience, the way humans tend to learn and improve.

Those are how the four main types of AI differ, each have advantages and disadvantages but useful in their own ways. As with anything to do with technology, AI will improve in unimaginable ways and enhance our lives. These are exciting times to be living and we’re looking forward to seeing what happens next.

How useful did you find this article?
Thank you for your feedback!