Narrow Intelligence

What is Narrow Intelligence?

Narrow AI is AI that is programmed to perform a single task whether it’s checking the weather, being able to play chess, or analyzing raw data to write journalistic reports.

Narrow AI is a term used to describe artificial intelligence systems that are specified to handle a singular or limited task. The antithesis to Narrow AI sometimes referred to as weak AI, is called strong AI. Strong AI, unlike Narrow AI, can handle a wide range of tasks rather than one task or problem. This variation of artificial intelligence can be roughly conceptualized as a foundation for neural networks emulating sentience or consciousness.

Applications of Narrow AI

Applications of Narrow AI are becoming increasingly common as machine learning is continually integrated into modern society. For example, Narrow AI may be used for spam email filtering, music recommendation services, and even autonomous vehicles. There are some concerns, however, about the widespread use of Narrow AI in important infrastructure functions. Some argue that characteristics of Narrow AI make it brittle, and in cases in which a neural network may be used to control important systems (e.g. power grid, financial trading) alternatives may be more risk-averse.

Examples of Narrow AI

One of the most availably integrated forms of Narrow AI is Apple’s Siri. Siri is a narrow artificial intelligence algorithm that brings the functions of machine learning to the mobile platform of an iPhone. While Siri is helpful at completing various specific tasks, it is by no means a strong AI, and often has challenges with tasks outside its range of abilities. Because Siri expresses no self-awareness or genuine intelligence, it is a foundational example of Narrow AI.

A popular contestant on the television show Jeopardy! IBM’s Watson is technically a complex incarnation of Narrow AI. Like Siri, Watson is not truly sentient but does integrate Narrow AI well enough to cover a range of functions.


Benefits of Narrow AI

Though we refer to existing AI and intelligent machines as “weak” AI, we should not take it for granted. Narrow AI by itself is a great feat in human innovation and intelligence.

ANI systems can process data and complete tasks at a significantly quicker pace than any human being can, which has enabled us to improve our overall productivity, efficiency, and quality of life. ANI systems like IBM’s Watson, for example, are able to harness the power of AI to assist doctors to make data-driven decisions, making healthcare better, quicker, and safer.

Additionally, Narrow AI has relieved us of a lot of the boring, routine, mundane tasks that we do not want to do. From increasing efficiency in our personal lives, like Siri ordering a pizza for us online, to rifting through mounds of data and analyzing it to produce results, Narrow AI has made our lives significantly better, which is why we shouldn’t underestimate it. With the advent of advanced technologies like self-driving cars, ANI systems will also relieve us of frustrating realities like being stuck in traffic, and instead provide us with more leisure time.

ANI systems also act as the building blocks of more intelligent AI that we might encounter soon.


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