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The Four Types of Artificial Intelligence Explained

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been in the zeitgeist for some time now and it doesn’t look like it’s going away. Though there is some debate as to whether AI will surpass human intelligence in the next 20 years, it remains ubiquitous that AI will advance beyond menial operative tasks toward more complicated reasoning and human-like functioning. Australian startups like Harrison.AI, Huddle and Tiliter are already producing innovative AI technology, with the trend forecasted to evolve in the upcoming years.

The rapid growth of AI is no doubt an exciting time for innovative founders and the Australian startup ecosystem. However, the creations we see today are only in their infancy and its’ impact is yet to be determined.  To give your startup an understanding of existing technologies and its’ potential capabilities, we have broken down the four types of artificial intelligence. This will assist your startup in considering the possibilities and ramifications AI may have on your venture:

 Reactive Machines

Reactive machines are the oldest and simplest form of artificial intelligence. This type of intelligence requires a computing system to filter information and react accordingly. Reactive machines do not have memory-based functionality and will only undertake the tasks they are programmed to complete with no variation or creative problem solving. Thus, they do not have the ability to ‘learn’ or draw on previous memories for input. An example of reactive AI is IMB’s Deep Blue, a form of AI that can identify the pieces on a chess board and respond to its’ opponents’ moves.  

Limited Memory

Self-driving cars, chatbots and virtual assistants are all examples of limited memory AI. This technology is based on reactive machines, with the differentiating factor its’ ability to draw on historical data to make improved predictions. Limited memory AI are trained to interpret simple information through processes such reinforcement learning, long short-term memory (LSTMs) and evolutionary generative adversarial networks (E-GAN).  

Theory of Mind

Currently theory of mind AI is a work in progress. Though this form of AI still has a long way to go, researchers are actively engaged in its’ innovation. In psychology “theory of mind” seeks to understand the behaviour and emotions of people, creatures, and objects. Theory of mind AI will do something similar; it will attempt to discern the needs, emotions, and beliefs of other entities in a bid to create emotionally intelligent machines.


Though only in existence as a concept, self-aware artificial intelligence is the most controversial of all AI forms. This is owing to a fear of what researchers call ‘self-aware AI’ or ‘machines with consciousness.’ Akin to the human brain, self-aware AI will be able to interact with humans, have needs, emotions and desires of their own.

Need Help?  Contact Us 

At Allied Legal our commercial lawyers frequently work with artificial intelligence centred startups, so we understand your unique set of needs. If you want to learn more about how we can help, or if you would like to book a free consultation with one of our commercial lawyers, you can give us a call on 03 8691 3111 or send us an email at  

You might also like our article Australian Startups are Leading Electric Vehicle Innovation.

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