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Weak AI - Definition, Applications and Limitations

  • Ashesh Anand
  • Jan 18, 2022
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Most of the time, when the word artificial intelligence (AI) is used nowadays, it refers to weak AI. This is the only AI that exists now, also known as narrow AI. Although weak AI can solve complicated issues and finish tasks faster than humans, its capabilities are limited by its programming. 


Weak AI infiltrates many aspects of our job, personal lives, and entertainment, despite its moniker suggesting limitation. 


(Related Read - Narrow AI vs General AI)


What Is Weak Artificial Intelligence (AI) and What Does It Mean?


Weak artificial intelligence (weak AI) is a research and development approach to AI that takes into account the fact that AI is and will always be a mimic of human cognitive function, and that computers can only appear to think but are not conscious in any sense.


Weak AI just follows and is bound by the rules set on it, and it is unable to deviate from them. Characters in a computer game who operate realistically within the context of their game character but are unable to do anything else are a good illustration of bad AI. Weak AI is also known as narrow AI.


Voice-based personal assistants like Siri and Alexa, for example, could be called weak AI systems because they work within a limited pre-defined set of functions, implying that their responses are often pre-programmed. 


Weak AI is merely the belief that intelligent behaviour may be represented and exploited by machines to solve complicated problems and tasks; it is not enthusiastic about the results of AI. However, just because a machine may act intelligently does not mean it is intelligent in the same way that a human is. 


By finding patterns and making predictions, weak AI aids in the transformation of massive data into meaningful knowledge. Meta's (previously Facebook) newsfeed, Amazon's suggested purchases, and Apple's Siri, the iPhone technology that answers users' spoken questions, are all examples of poor AI.

Spam filters in email are an example of weak AI; a computer uses an algorithm to determine which messages are likely to be spam and then sends them to the spam folder instead of the inbox.


Difference between a Strong and a Weak AI


Strong AI is a theoretical branch of AI that contends that robots can develop human intelligence and consciousness in the same way as a conscious person can. A hypothetical machine with strong AI capabilities is referred to as a strong AI machine. 


Weak AI (also known as narrow AI) is a type of artificial intelligence that uses advanced algorithms to complete certain problem-solving or reasoning tasks that do not require the entire range of human cognitive abilities.


In comparison to strong AI, weak AI has fewer functions. Weak AI is unable to achieve self-awareness or demonstrate the full spectrum of human cognitive capacities. 


Weak AI refers to systems that are programmed to solve a wide variety of issues but only perform within a limited set of functions. Strong AI, on the other hand, refers to machines that have the ability to think like humans. 


The goal is to advance AI to the point where humans can communicate with conscious, intelligent computers that are motivated by emotions and self-awareness.


(Do you know about the Different types of AI?. Here’s the list of all the AI types!)


Limitations of Weak AI


Aside from its restricted capabilities, one of the issues with weak AI is the potential for harm if the system fails. Consider a driverless car that misjudges the location of an oncoming vehicle, resulting in a fatal collision. A terrorist using a self-driving car to detonate explosives in a crowded area is an example of how the technology might do harm if it is utilised by someone who wants to create harm.


The loss of jobs due to the automation of an expanding number of tasks is another problem associated with poor AI. Will unemployment grow, or will civilization devise new ways for humans to generate income? 


Although the thought of a huge number of workers losing their employment is frightening, proponents of AI argue that if this happens, new jobs will emerge that we can't currently predict as AI becomes more widely used.


Watch this: The Rise of Artificial Intelligence | Documentary HD


Practical Examples of Weak/Narrow AI


Narrow AI refers to any AI that is now in use—not depictions from the silver screen or pages of science fiction novels depicting robots taking over the world, for example. Here are eight examples of how to put this into practice:


  1. Voice-activated digital assistants (Siri, Alexa)


Digital voice assistants like Siri and Alexa, which are sometimes referred to as the best instances of weak AI, are examples of weak AI that we rely on every day. To function properly, the AI identifies data and replies to requests at a breakneck speed.


  1. Recommender systems


These suggestion engines are instances of narrow AI. Whether Netflix tells you what movie to watch next or Amazon or other retail websites provide you useful advice on what else you might be interested in buying, these recommendation engines are examples of narrow AI.


  1. Search engines


Search engines such as Google and others are examples of poor AI. When you write your query into the box, the algorithm goes to work classifying it and returning replies from its large database.


  1. Chatbots


If you've ever communicated with an organisation via chat, whether it's your bank, internet service provider, or favourite e-commerce company, you've most certainly been conversing with a chatbot powered by AI. The majority of the time, chat features are an AI algorithm that takes care of answering simple questions, allowing humans to focus on higher-level jobs.


  1. Automated vehicles


AI that enables vehicles to operate without the assistance of a human driver is considered weak AI. Algorithms are used to fulfil pre-programmed functions. Because this AI lacks the complete cognitive powers of a human brain, the difficulty is to programme and teach it to recognise any potential road hazard or situation that the car may meet.


  1. Recognition of images and voice


Image recognition, which aids radiologists with detecting disease in patient scans, is one important way narrow AI is making an effect in healthcare. Image recognition is also hampered by poor AI in other businesses. Speech recognition and translation systems like Google Translate are also affected.


  1. Analytics and predictive maintenance


Predictive analytics employs narrow AI. It examines historical data using data, algorithms, and machine learning to produce a prediction of a likely future outcome. AI can assist in discovering maintenance issues that need to be addressed before a machine fails in warehouses and other places where heavy machinery is used.


  1. Robots


At the moment, robots do not have their own minds. Drones and factory robots have limited AI and can only carry out a limited range of tasks that have been programmed for them. During the epidemic, delivery bots were extremely beneficial in complying with social distancing orders and as disinfecting robots.


Watch this: How Far is Too Far? | The Age of A.I.

In a nutshell, Strong AI is a sort of artificial intelligence that has progressed to the point where it may be termed actual intelligence. Strong AI backs the idea that a computer with the right functional structure has a mind that perceives, thinks, and intends in the same way as a human mind does. 


Weak AI, on the other hand, lacks self-awareness and does not display a broad range of human cognitive capacities. Weak AI algorithms, on the other hand, cannot be termed intelligent because they are unable to reason and make decisions independently like humans.

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