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The development of artificial intelligence (AI) is often categorized into two different forms with different goals and objectives, which are strong and weak AI. Strong AI is a form of artificial intelligence intended to be equal or greater than human intelligence with respect to problem solving and cognitive abilities. Weak AI, also called narrow AI, is intended as a program able to solve problems or act intelligently within a narrow focus or for specific tasks. A great deal of recent work has been aimed at developing narrow AI platforms, while strong AI is often seen as an overall or long-term goal for AI programmers.
Strong AI is generally seen as a form of artificial intelligence designed to closely emulate human intelligence and cognition. Such AI is meant to equal or surpass the human brain in its ability to solve problems and effectively “think” and “learn” once created. While there are currently limitations in the development of strong AI, there are numerous arguments that have been presented in favor of the potential for future developments in this field. In general, however, technological and scientific limitations have held back development of stronger and broader AI.
Technological limitations on strong AI involve hardware that is available, while scientific limitations involve human understanding of cognitive thought. Computer hardware needed to fully emulate the “processing power” of the human brain simply does not exist as of 2011, and at best the processing of a brain can be mimicked at slower speed using powerful hardware. Scientific understanding of the cognitive processes in the brain, including how various biological aspects of brain chemistry and anatomical composition affect thought, is also still limited. Strong AI is unlikely to fully develop until these limitations are overcome, which some experts believe could be by the middle of the 21st century, while others speculate it could take hundreds of years to achieve.
Most recent advances in artificial intelligence have been in narrow or weak AI, such as specific applications that can recognize human speech or solve certain types of problems. Strong AI would combine these various aspects of artificial intelligence into a single program that can recognize external data, solve problems, and effectively behave in an intelligent way. The exact nature of what defines intelligent behavior, however, has been grounds for a great deal of controversy and debate, leaving an exact definition of strong AI somewhat difficult to determine. Most people agree that such AI would be able to demonstrate the ability to learn new information, incorporate such information into prior knowledge, solve problems, and communicate in some way.