What are the four types of artificial intelligence?

See all insights
January 30, 2020

When artificial intelligence is discussed, it is usually very broad and does not delve into the four main categories which can help our understanding of this exciting technology.

In this guide, we’ve provided clarity on the four main types based on the past, present and predicted AI categories.

  • Reactive machines
  • Theory of mind
  • Limited memory
  • Self-awareness

1. Reactive machines

This is considered the most basic type of artificial intelligence, because, as the name suggests, it is an AI system that is reactive. That means that unlike other AI categories, it cannot form memories or use previous situations to determine present decisions.

A famous example of a reactive machine would be IBM’s chess-playing computer Deep Blue. This ‘supercomputer’ managed to beat the chess champion Garry Kasparov in the 1990s.

Deep Blue works by identifying the pieces onthe chess board, and can determine how each will move.  It can make predictions about what the nextpossible move may be, as well as the moves of the person they are playing too.

However, it has no concept of the past nor memory of what has happened previously. Deep Blue makes its decisions based on the pieces on the board at the time, and then considers the best moves among the possibilities.

2.Limited memory

This AI system involves machines that have the capacity to observe past actions in order to determine future ones. A good example of this would be self-driving cars to a certain extent, as they observe other vehicles direction and speed.

This is achieved by monitoring specific objects over a period of time, and adding it to the car’s pre-programmed observations. For example, to be aware of traffic lights and curbs on the road.

3.Theory of mind

The 'theory of mind' feature is considerably more advanced than other types of artificial intelligence. They form representations about the world as well as other entities and agents too.

This type of AI is named after the psychological term which is a theory stating that people, objects and creative have thoughts and feelings that determine their behaviour.


The last stage of AI development will be to create systems that are able to build a type of consciousness. In a number of ways, it is an extension of the theory of mind AI systems previously discussed.  

Self-aware AI machines are predicted to be a future category of artificial intelligence. In terms of how close we are to developing them, experts believe we still have a long way to go. However, this has many purposes, including smart devices at home, business-uses, self driving cars and more.

Optalitix is an artificial intelligence provider helping companies grow their businesses using AI. We are able to analyse millions of data points and build models that can be immersed into your daily business processes. We have successfully helped companies see the benefits of AI and boost their efficiency and bottomline. For more information, email us at info@optalitix.com

Dani Katz
Dani Katz
Founder Director

Dani’s actuarial experience and passion are key. He is a strong advocate of innovation, optimism and communication, both within the team and for the clients. Dani’s ability and experience with data ensure that we always maximise value and efficiency for every project, enabling us to unlock hidden value for the clients business.

Share this article
Get the latest insights in your inbox

Sign up to get the latest Optalitix updates and news straight to your inbox.

Thank you. You're now subscribed!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Improve your efficiency and reduce costs today