Future of AI
March 14, 2024

What is AGI (Artificial General Intelligence)? How is it Different from AI?

Science fiction paints a vivid picture of a sentient AI machine wreaking havoc on (and saving) humanity. It was a quirky visual that most saw as out of the bounds of reality. However, with the turn of generative AI in 2022, these conversations wound back up - Mainly in the form of Artificial General Intelligence or AGI.

What is AGI?

It’s a type of AI that mimics human intelligence,  with the ability to learn, reason, solve problems, and adapt to new situations – all without being explicitly programmed for each task.

While the concept of AGI has fascinated scientists for decades, there's no universally agreed-upon definition. However, some key characteristics showcase what AGI might look like:

  • General intelligence: Unlike current AI, which excels at specific tasks like content creation, facial recognition or spam filtering, AGI wouldn't be limited by programming or training data. It would possess a broad range of cognitive abilities, allowing it to tackle new problems and learn from experience.
  • Self-learning, reasoning, and problem-solving: AGI wouldn't require constant human intervention. It could independently gather information, analyze it, and develop new skills without explicit instructions. It would be able to understand complex situations, identify patterns, and draw logical conclusions, then utilizing this reasoning to solve problems in innovative ways.
  • Adaptability: AGI could adapt along with the changes and evolutions seen across the world. It would be able to adjust its behavior and strategies based on real-time information, while possibly predicting unforeseen circumstances.

But the reason why there is no clear definition of AGI is that it’s still theoretical. While significant advancements have been made in AI research, achieving human-level intelligence remains a significant hurdle.

We can, however, see the possibilities of its deployment.

Real-World Use of AGI

The applications of a functional AGI system would be vast and transformative. Here are a few potential real-world uses:

  • Scientific discovery: AGI could analyze massive datasets, identify patterns, and generate new hypotheses, accelerating scientific progress in fields like medicine, materials science, and astronomy.
  • Personalized education: AGI could tailor learning experiences to individual students, identifying their strengths and weaknesses and creating customized study plans.
  • Automation: AGI could automate complex tasks currently requiring human expertise, from managing logistics networks to performing surgery.
  • Robotics: AGI-powered robots could operate in dynamic and unpredictable environments, performing tasks in disaster zones, deep-sea exploration, and space exploration.
  • Societal challenges: It could model complex climate systems and design strategies to mitigate climate change. Or analyze medical data that identifies disease outbreaks faster, while developing personalized treatment plans. 

And while there is always hope that AGI would be used for good, we can’t ignore the potential negative consequences.

Impact of AGI on society

Any new technology has the potential to revolutionize or entirely disrupt the way we function. It started with the Ford assembly line, to the introduction of robotics, to the widespread use of the internet. AGI has a similar potential to either revolutionize or disrupt the next few decades. Here are some potential consequences to consider:

  • Economic transformation: AGI could automate many jobs, leading to widespread unemployment and economic disorganization. However, it could also create new opportunities in fields like AI development, maintenance, and oversight, requiring reskilling of the existing workforce.
  • Societal progress: AGI, like AI, could be used for social manipulation thro create highly realistic deepfakes and spread misinformation, potentially destabilizing societies and democracies. This situation could be exacerbated if advanced AI is used to develop autonomous weapons. 
  • Ethical considerations: The development and deployment of AGI raise critical ethical questions. Who will be responsible for its actions? How will we ensure it aligns with human values? Some experts warn that poorly designed or malicious AGI could pose an existential threat to humanity, surpassing human control and pursuing its own goals.
  • Unequal access and bias: If access to AGI is concentrated in the hands of a few powerful entities, it could exacerbate existing inequalities and lead to a more divided world.

It’s again important to remember that these are theoretical problems, as AGI is still far from development. However, it forces companies to be cognizant of the potential challenges that might arise as we further develop AI models.

What is the difference between AI and AGI?

While both AI and AGI deal with intelligent machines, there are fundamental differences between the two. Let’s look at what differentiates AGI from other AI systems:

  • Scope: AI is typically narrow AI, meaning it excels at specific tasks it's trained for. For example, a chess-playing AI can't write poetry. AGI, on the other hand, aims for general intelligence, allowing it to perform a wide range of tasks and adapt to new situations.
  • Learning: Most AI systems rely on supervised learning, where they're trained on vast amounts of labeled data. AGI, however, would possess self-learning capabilities, independently acquiring and processing information.
  • Reasoning: Current AI systems struggle with reasoning and problem-solving. They can follow predefined algorithms but lack the ability to think critically and adapt to unforeseen circumstances. AGI would be able to reason, draw logical conclusions, and solve problems creatively.

The development of AGI holds immense potential for progress and innovation. However, careful consideration of the ethical and societal implications remains crucial. As research in this field advances, open dialogue and collaboration will be essential to ensure AGI benefits humanity as a whole.

What is another term for AGI?

AGI has several other terms, though some have slightly nuanced meanings:

  • Strong AI: This emphasizes AGI's ability to perform human-like intellectual tasks.
  • Full AI: This term highlights the completeness of AGI's intelligence, encompassing a wide range of cognitive abilities.
  • Human-level AI: It focuses on AGI's intelligence matching or exceeding human capabilities.
  • Universal AI: This phrasing emphasizes AGI's versatility and flexibility in taking intelligent action that parallels human intelligence.

When will AGI happen?

This is the question that’s keeping many awake at night. Unfortunately, there's no definitive answer to this question and experts hold varying opinions. 

  • Optimists: Some believe AGI is achievable within a few decades, driven by rapid advancements in machine learning and computing power.
  • Realists: Others believe significant hurdles remain, and achieving true human-level intelligence may take much longer, perhaps centuries.
  • Skeptics: Some experts even doubt AGI is achievable at all, arguing that human consciousness and intelligence may be fundamentally different from what machines can achieve.

The true timeline for AGI remains an open question, a topic of ongoing debate and research. You can read our in-depth article on this here.

The race for AGI is well underway, with the potential to revolutionize countless aspects of our lives. However, significant challenges remain, both technical and ethical. Continued research, international collaboration, and open discussion are crucial to ensure AGI is developed safely and ethically, benefiting all of humanity. 

What are your thoughts on AGI?
Write to us.

Want to cut the clutter and get information directly in your mailbox?