Weak and Strong Artificial Intelligence: What’s the Difference?

Although chatbots like ChatGPT and Bing AI are very advanced, they are still considered examples of weak AI: what lies ahead in the future of AI

With a growth forecast of up to $190 billion by 2025, as indicated by research firm Markets and Markets, artificial intelligence is emerging as a dominant force in the modern technological era. This revolution is not just about numbers and markets: AI is profoundly influencing our daily lives, our work and the way we interact with the world. Today, AI has become an almost ubiquitous presence, influencing a wide range of industries. From supply chain optimization to fraud prevention, from artistic creation to scientific research, AI has proven to be a versatile and powerful tool. In the field of medicine, for example, AI is used to diagnose cancer, strokes and bone fractures, while in the education sector, it is used to improve the learning experience at all levels.

In the context of vocational education and training, AI is revolutionizing the way we learn and develop. Personalized learning is one of its main contributions, allowing the adaptation of training contents based on users’ performance and preferences. Intelligent tutoring systems, automated content creation, adaptive testing, chatbots and virtual assistants, and predictive analytics are just a few examples of how AI is shaping the future of education and training. The distinction between strong and weak AI is crucial to understanding the limits and potential of current technology. While strong AI (or general artificial intelligence), capable of solving problems without having been specifically trained, remains a long-term goal, weak AI (or specialized AI) is already a reality. The latter focuses on specific tasks, such as autonomous driving, and is limited compared to the versatility of human intelligence.

Although chatbots like ChatGPT and Bing AI are very advanced, they are still considered examples of weak AI because they only do one job (answer written text prompts). Virtual assistants like Alexa also fall into the category of weak artificial intelligence, as they only respond to voice commands. Strong AI possesses the full range of human capabilities, including speaking, reasoning, and feeling and expressing emotions. So far, examples of strong artificial intelligence only exist in science fiction films such as AI: Artificial Intelligence, WALL-E and 2001: A Space Odyssey. A concrete example between weak and strong artificial intelligence is a program called MuZero, capable of mastering video games it doesn’t know. MuZero is technically a weak AI as it is limited to the task of playing video games, however it can identify and pursue new goals without human intervention, a characteristic typical of strong AI.

Machine Learning and Deep Learning are fundamental concepts in AI. Machine Learning uses algorithms which, through the analysis of large quantities of data, progressively improve their performance. Deep Learning, a subset of Machine Learning, uses complex neural networks to process data, allowing AI to make deeper, more meaningful connections. The road to a full and safe integration of AI into society is still long and full of challenges, especially when considering the potential risks associated with strong AI. The question of regulation, safety and ethics in the use of AI remains open, with an ongoing global debate on how to best manage this powerful technology.