There's a New Prediction for the Singularity: 2047

In 30 years, the singularity will happen and artificial intelligence in all the smart devices and robots will exceed human intelligence.

That was the prediction leveled by Softbank Robotics CEO Masayoshi Son Monday at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, during a keynote address focusing on the rapid advancement of A.I.

Son says that by 2047, a single computer chip will have an IQ of 10,000 — far surpassing the most intelligent people in the world. And by then, artificial intelligence will be able to continuously improve itself and control all of the smart technology and connected devices, creating a flood of robots into the world. Like Elon Musk, Son thinks humans can partner with artificial super-intelligence. Humanity just needs to figure out what its role in the world will be before A.I. becomes singular.

“One of the chips in our shoes in the next 30 years will be smarter than our brain. We will be less than our shoes. And we are stepping on them,” Son said. “I think this super intelligence is going to be our partner. If we misuse it, it’s a risk. If we use it in good spirits it will be our partner for a better life.”

Pepper and Masayoshi Son, Chairman and Chief executive officer of SoftBank Corp talk during the news conference on June 18, 2015 in Chiba, Japan. 

Getty Images / Koki Nagahama

Where the greatest geniuses of the human race have had IQ’s of about 200, Son says, within 30 years, a single computer chip will have an IQ of 10,000. “What should we call it,” he asks. “Superintelligence. That is an intelligence beyond people’s imagination [no matter] how smart they are. But in 30 years I believe this is going to become a reality.”

Son built this prediction by comparing the number of neurons in a brain to the number of transistors. He builds the comparison by pointing out that both systems are binary, and work by turning on and off. According to his predictions, the number of transistors in a computer chip will surpass the number of neurons in a human brain by 2018. He is using 30 billion as the number of neurons, which is lower than the 86 billion that is estimated right now, but Son says he isn’t worried about being exactly right on that number.

Son's prediction for how computer chips will have more connections than within a human brain by 2045.

Masayoshi Son

“The point is that mankind, for the last 2,000 yeas — 4,000 years — has had the same number of neurons in our brain. We haven’t improved the hardware in our brain,” Son says. He then gestured to a computer chip on his screen. “But this, in the next 30 years, is going to be on million times more. If you have a million times more binary systems, I think they well be smarter than us.”

The occurrence of the singularity by 2047 is a prediction similar to what Ray Kurzweil, Google’s director of Engineering and a futurist, has been saying for years. Kurzweil has been criticized for saying that he expects the singularity to occur around 2045, but some of his predictions about technology have been roughly in line with the advancement of technology.

Whereas Elon Musk is supposedly working on neural lace to prepare for the singularity, Son is embracing it. Son’s company, Softbank is working on developing A.I. with the Softbank Vision Fund. The plan is for the fund to hit $100 billion to back technology companies that are developing artificial intelligence.

Alongside that, Son has also recently invested $32 billion in acquiring ARM, a microchip design company. Part of his decision in purchasing ARM was because it makes so many IoT chips, Son said he decided to purchase the company to better study what will happen.

“If this superintelligence goes into moving robots, the world, our lifestyle dramatically changes,” Son says. “We can expect all kinds of robots, Son said. “Flying, swimming, big, micro, run, two legs, four legs, 100 legs.” And based on the number of devices connected to the internet, as well as smart cars — Son says the population of superintelligent robots will surpass that of people in 30 years as well.

The Mobile World Congress is primarily an annual meeting for the smartphone industry, but as the devices include cutting-edge technology, it’s expanded beyond just that in recent years. For example, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg dared to predict the future of the internet last year during his keynote.

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