Entrepreneurs

Billionaire CEO of SoftBank: Robots will have an IQ of 10,000 in 30 years

Billionaire Masayoshi Son, chairman and chief executive officer of SoftBank Corp., shakes hands with a human-like robot called Pepper, developed by the company's Aldebran Robotics unit, during a news conference in Urayasu, Chiba Prefecture, Japan.
Tomohiro Ohsumi | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Billionaire Masayoshi Son, chairman and chief executive officer of SoftBank Corp., shakes hands with a human-like robot called Pepper, developed by the company's Aldebran Robotics unit, during a news conference in Urayasu, Chiba Prefecture, Japan.

Super artificial intelligence is coming, and sooner than you might expect.

That's according to SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son. The Japanese billionaire spoke from the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Wednesday. In about 30 years, artificial intelligence will have an IQ of 10,000, Son says. By comparison, the average human IQ is 100 and genius is 200, according to Son. Mensa, "the High IQ society," starts accepting members with an IQ score of 130.

The idea of machine learning becoming smarter than the human brain is often referred to as the "singularity." When exactly this will happen is oft-debated among the tech community.

"Singularity is the concept that [mankind's] brain will be surpassed, this is the tipping point, crossing point, that artificial intelligence, computer intelligence surpass [mankind's] brain and that is happening in this century for sure. I would say there is no more debate, no more doubt," Son says.

Son is particularly aggressive in his prediction of how soon the singularity will happen — in the "next 30 years or so," he says.

It is in Son's best interest to believe in the power of artificial intelligence. Not only is he the leader of a tech company, but he is heavily invested in the future of AI. Son is in charge of a $100 billion Vision Fund, which he expects to invest within five years, all in companies that have at least some relationship to AI.

The tech executive believes that artificial intelligence will dramatically change every industry. Son, 60, remembers the first time he encountered the smartphone, a tool which has transformed the world we currently live in.

"When I met with Steve Jobs, before he announced the iPhone, he told me, 'Masa, Masa, if you see what I'm developing, when I'm finished, I'm going to show you, you're going to piss off your pants.' And when I saw it, I actually almost did."

Today, humanoid robots like SoftBank's Pepper, which can perceive human emotions, according to its website, impress most of us. In the future Son envisions, we will laugh at the capabilities of Pepper.

"Thirty years from now, they are going to learn by themselves, they are maybe going to laugh at you and us," Son says. "Today they look cute, they will stay cute, but they will be super smart."

Currently, some robots are smarter than humans in some areas, says Son. "But 30 years from now, most of the subjects, they will be so much smarter than us. Because they are going to be a million times smarter than today, million times," says Son.

"We mankind created tools, the premise was mankind were always smarter than the tool we invented so we control," he says. "This is the first time ... the tool becomes smarter than ourselves."

One area where humans will always reign supreme over robots, though, is imagination, says Son.

"If you have to envision, 10 years or 30 years later, at least some humans will have a better imagination than them. So, it's not the end. The power of the brain is no limit. The imagination that we can have has no limit. So we are also going to improve our imaginations and our feelings, gut feeling."

See also:

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