Every tech baron worth their Patagonia vest is talking about AGI these days – albeit with mixed feelings. Some await our robotic overlords with rapturous excitement; others anticipate a digital apocalypse.
The divergence stems from different motivations: personal perspectives, vested interests, and the ambiguity of what exactly constitutes artificial general intelligence.
DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis defines it as “human-level insight” — and his opinion carries weight. Hassabis has turned London-based DeepMind into one of the world’s leading AI labs, with the core mission of building AGI.
“The progress has been pretty incredible.
This week, the former chess prodigy and video game pioneer revealed his own expectations for the arrival of AGI.
“The progress over the last few years has been pretty incredible,” Hassabis told t on Tuesdayhe Wall Street Journal Festival of the future of everything. “I see no reason why this progress should slow down. I think it can even accelerate. So I think we could be just a few years, maybe a decade away.”
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He’s allowed some leeway, but clearly doesn’t see AGI as a distant prospect. But what about its tech luminaries? Here’s what they predict.
Geoffrey Hinton – Turing Prize winner and former Googler
Geoffrey Hinton is so concerned about AI that he left Google to warn of the risks in the field. After his departure, Hinton made a new prediction about when AI will surpass human intelligence. ThreateningTThe deep learning legend dramatically accelerated its original forecast of 30-50 years.
“I’m now forecasting five to 20 years, but without much confidence,” he said on Twitter. “We live in very uncertain times. It is possible that I am completely wrong about the digital intelligence that is overtaking us. Nobody really knows why we should be worried now.”
I’m now forecasting 5 to 20 years but without much confidence. We live in very uncertain times. It is possible that I am completely wrong about the digital intelligence that is overtaking us. Nobody really knows why we should worry now.
— Geoffrey Hinton (@geoffreyhinton) May 3, 2023
Ray Kurzweil – Author, inventor, manager and futurist
Ray Kurzweil, a legendary futurist, loves to make predictions – and they are admirably accurate. At the 2017 SXSW Conference in Austin, Texas, Kurzweil gave a typically pinpoint prediction.
“By 2029, computers will have human-level intelligence,” he said. “As a result, computers have human intelligence, we build it into our brains, connect it to the cloud, and so expand who we are. Today this is not just a future scenario. It’s partially here and it’s going to accelerate.”
Ben Goertzel – CEO at SingularityNET and Principal Scientist at Hanson Robotics
Ben Goertzel, a divisive figure in tech circles, helped popularize the term AGI. He’s also prone to bold statements about the future of technology. He added a few more at a conference in 2018.
“I don’t think we need fundamentally new algorithms,” he said. “I think we need to connect our algorithms in a different way than before. If I’m right, then we already have the core algorithms we need… I think we’re less than ten years away from developing human-level AI.
Before you flee to the bomb shelter, it’s worth noting that Goertzel isn’t the most sincere forecaster. “It will take place on December 8, 2026, my 60th birthday,” he added. “I’ll put it off until then just to have a great birthday party.”
Goertzel (right) is best known for helping to create Sophia the robot. Photo credit: WebSummit
Jürgen Schmidhuber — co-founder of NNAISENSE and Director of IDSIA
Jürgen Schmidhuber is often referred to as the “father of AI” and is notorious for outlandish claims.
When it comes to tech predictions, Schmidhuber looks beyond AGI and towards “the singularity”. Broadly speaking, this refers to a time when AI has progressed so uncontrollably that it is irrevocably changing humanity. What could possibly go wrong?
“[The Singularity] “It’s only 30 years away if the trend doesn’t break, and there will be pretty cheap computing devices that have as many connections as your brain but are much faster,” he told Futurism in 2018.
Yoshua Bengio – Professor of Computer Science at the University of Montreal
Like his friend and Turing Award winner Yann LeCunn, Bengio prefers the term “human-level intelligence” to “AGI”. Regardless, he’s skeptical of predictions for its advent.
“I don’t think it’s plausible that we can really know when, how many years, how many decades it will take for human-level AI to be reached,” Bengio told Professor Toshie Takahashi.
Herbert A. Simon – AI pioneer
As the founding father of AI, Herbert A. Simon has the earliest prediction on our list. The Nobel laureate once went so far as to estimate that AGI would arrive by 1985. In fairness, he made that guess as early as 1965. “Machines will be able to do any job that a human can do within twenty years,” said Simon.
Simon’s guess shows what fickle game tech predictions can be. If you think you could do better, let us know through the usual channels – but do it soon because time is running out. Possibly.