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artificial superintelligence (ASI)

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

Artificial superintelligence (ASI) is a software-based system with intellectual powers beyond those of humans across an almost comprehensive range of categories and fields of endeavor.

Artificial intelligence (AI) involves the software-based simulation of human intellectual capabilities such as learning (the acquisition of information and rules for using the information), reasoning (using the rules to reach approximate or definite conclusions), and self-correction. AI is increasingly a part of our everyday environment in systems including virtual assistants, expert systems and self-driving cars. Nevertheless, the technology is still in the early days of its development. Although they may vary in terms of their abilities, all current AI systems are examples of weak AI: Applications of artificial intelligence technologies to enable a high-functioning system that replicates – and perhaps surpasses -- human intelligence for a dedicated purpose.

In contrast, a strong AI system would have human-level capabilities in a broad range of areas -- just like most people -- and would be capable of working out a solution when faced with a new problem. Strong AI has not yet been demonstrated, and many experts are skeptical that it can ever exist. ASI would far surpass strong AI. According to Nick Bostrom, a Swedish philosopher and author of Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies, a superintelligent artificial system would possess “an intellect that is much smarter than the best human brains in practically every field, including scientific creativity, general wisdom and social skills.

The theoretical future creation of superintelligent machines is sometimes referred to as the Singularity. In that scenario, one potential outcome is the addition of superintelligence to human beings.

This was last updated in February 2018

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