Entrepreneurs

By 2050, A.I. will have the same ability to learn as humans, says billionaire tech investor

Within the next three and a half decades, artificial intelligence will be able to learn at the same speed as humans.

That's according to Jim Breyer, the founder and CEO of Breyer Capital, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm. Breyer was an early investor in Facebook and Etsy and is as a billionaire three times over, according to Forbes. He's especially interested in artificial intelligence, and as a top-tier investor, Breyer spends much of his time traveling around the world learning from the smartest people in the industry so he can back the best new companies.

"When I visit campuses and speak to the AI experts, there is a median year of 2050 where they think the self-learning capability of AI will be singular and will be at human-level intelligence," says Breyer, speaking at CNBC and Institutional Investor's Delivering Alpha conference in New York City.

"So, 2050? Does it happen? There are a lot of people who don't think that is the case. It is median data from some of the best AI researchers in the world."

Jim Breyer speaking at the 2017 Delivering Alpha conference in New York on Sept. 12, 2017.
David A. Grogan | CNBC
Jim Breyer speaking at the 2017 Delivering Alpha conference in New York on Sept. 12, 2017.

In recent months, some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley have publicly talked about the future of artificial intelligence. Elon Musk called AI "a fundamental risk to the existence of human civilization." Meanwhile, Mark Zuckerberg said that Musk's dire warnings are "pretty irresponsible" and that the potential of artificial intelligence is worth being optimistic about.

"Well, I bet on Mark Zuckerberg when he was 20 and I will never bet against Mark Zuckerberg," says Breyer, who owes much of his significant wealth to an early bet on Facebook.

Breyer doesn't go so far as to disavow Musk, but says, "For the next decade or two, the good that comes out of proper, safe and interesting AI applications is enormous, and I am very excited about being part of investing in it."

In addition to being optimistic about the near future of AI, the venture capitalist is also confident there is a tremendous amount of money to be made in the industry.

"I think opportunities from an investment standpoint will be five to 10 [times] — in terms of market cap around AI — what social [media] currently is," Breyer says.

He says "for sure" the market capitalization will be that much bigger than Facebook, Twitter, Snap and the like. "Take a decade, go a decade forward. But absolutely positively."

That's quite a statement. Facebook, the largest of the bunch, on its own has a market cap of almost $500 billion.