July 3, 2024
Posted by
Brent Peters

So, What Exactly Is AI? - Terms and Concepts You Need to Know

These days, artificial intelligence (AI) is a ubiquitous topic, popping up in seemingly every industry and other areas of our lives. AI is driving rapid advancements and reshaping the way we approach problems and solutions. However, keeping up with these developments can be a major challenge, especially with the frequent use of specialized jargon and abbreviations.

To help you better navigate your next article or YouTube video on AI, let’s demystify some of the most important terms and abbreviations you will likely encounter. Understanding these key concepts will give you a solid foundation for enhancing your grasp of AI's evolving landscape.

AI (Artificial Intelligence): Let’s start with AI itself. Artificial Intelligence is the overarching field that involves the creation of machines and systems capable of performing tasks that typically require human intelligence. These tasks include reasoning, learning, problem-solving, perception, and language comprehension. AI encompasses various subfields, including machine learning, natural language processing, and robotics, aiming to develop algorithms and models that can mimic or exceed human cognitive abilities.

ML (Machine Learning): Machine Learning is a subset of AI focused on developing algorithms that allow computers to learn from and make predictions or decisions based on data. Instead of being explicitly programmed for specific tasks, ML systems use statistical techniques to find patterns and correlations in data, improving their performance over time with increasingly large sets of data. Common applications of ML include recommendation systems, fraud detection, and predictive analytics. If a service you use has ever suggested a song, a movie, or a social media post to you – that's ML.

DL (Deep Learning): Deep Learning is a specialized branch of machine learning that uses neural networks with many layers (hence "deep") to model complex patterns in large datasets. These deep neural networks can automatically extract and learn features from raw data, making them particularly powerful for tasks such as image and speech recognition, natural language processing, and autonomous driving. DL has driven significant advancements in AI due to its ability to handle vast amounts of unstructured data.

LLM (Large Language Model): A Large Language Model is a type of deep learning model trained on vast amounts of text data to understand and generate human language. These models, such as GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer), can perform a variety of natural language processing tasks, including text completion, translation, summarization, and question-answering. LLMs have demonstrated remarkable capabilities in generating coherent and contextually relevant text, making them valuable for applications like chatbots and automated content creation. Much of the day-to-day interaction that people have with AI in office settings or in web searches is with LLMs

AGI (Artificial General Intelligence): Artificial General Intelligence refers to a hypothetical form of AI that possesses the ability to understand, learn, and apply knowledge across a wide range of tasks at a level comparable to natural human intelligence. Unlike AI designed for specific tasks, AGI would generalize knowledge to tackle new and diverse problems. Achieving AGI remains a long-term goal in the AI research community, with significant ethical and technical challenges to overcome.

A quick note on the abbreviation AGI. Most of the time it will refer to Artificial General Intelligence (as above). You will also see GAI for General Artificial Intelligence or even GenAI. In some contexts, however, it may refer to Artificial Generative Intelligence. Let’s look at what this term means (immediately below) before moving on to other terms.

Artificial Generative Intelligence (AGI): This term is sometimes used to describe AI systems that can generate new content, such as text, images, or music, in a way that is creative and human-like. It emphasizes the generative capabilities of AI models, such as those seen in GANs (Generative Adversarial Networks) and LLMs (Large Language Models) like GPT.

GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer): GPT is a type of large language model developed by OpenAI that uses the transformer architecture to generate human-like text. GPT models are pre-trained on extensive datasets and fine-tuned for specific tasks, enabling them to produce coherent and contextually relevant text based on the input they receive. GPT has been widely used in various applications, including chatbots, content creation, and language translation, due to its ability to generate natural language content.

Artificial Superintelligence (ASI): ASI refers to a level of artificial intelligence that surpasses human intelligence in all aspects, including creativity, problem-solving, decision-making, and emotional intelligence. ASI would not only perform tasks better than humans but also generate new ideas and concepts that are beyond human comprehension.  

Here are some key points about ASI:

Beyond Human Capabilities: ASI would have the ability to understand, learn, and apply knowledge across all domains at a level far beyond human capabilities. It would be able to process information and solve problems at speeds and accuracies that are orders of magnitude greater than the best human minds. On the upside, ASI may solve human problems that we have been unable to solve in our history, such as war, poverty and disease. On the downside, there is concern of a sci-fi dystopian scenario where AI becomes more powerful than humans in all ways, without sharing our interests.  

Current State and Speculation: It is important to remember that ASI remains a theoretical concept, and current AI technologies are far from achieving this level of intelligence. Most research today is focused on narrow AI and, to some extent, AGI. However, the possibility of ASI is of deep interest and debate within the AI community.

Of course, there is so much more to say about AI. We will continue to present key themes and developments to help you stay on top of the future as it unfolds into today.

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