Innovation

SoftBank CEO Believes Robots Will Outsmart, Outnumber Humans In 30 Years

Masayoshi Son, chief executive of SoftBank Group Corp., believes that within 30 years, artificial intelligence will be smarter than the human brain.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Son made the prediction at Mobile World Congress, the telecom industry’s biggest trade show, which is currently being held in Barcelona, Spain. Not only does Son think that super smart robots will outnumber humans in 30 years, but more than a trillion objects will be connected to the internet.

“That is why I’m in a hurry to aggregate cash to invest,” he said. SoftBank has made quite a few recent deals, including purchasing British microprocessor designer ARM Holdings PLC for $32 billion, as well as U.S. asset manager Fortress Investment Group PLC for $3.3 billion.

Son plans to ramp up the research-and-development funding for ARM, which designs the basic architecture for chips in more than 95 percent of smartphones around the world. Son said that within 30 years, more than one trillion ARM-designed chips would be in use, including in super intelligent robots that would have IQs of 10,000 (the average human has an IQ of 100, while a genius like Albert Einstein was believed to have an IQ of 200). These robots will also be able to fly and swim, eventually numbering in the billions.

The chips would also be in everyday objects. “One of the chips in our shoes will be smarter than our brain,” Son said. “We will be less than our shoes, and we will be stepping on them.”

But perhaps the most eye-raising investment has been SoftBank’s partnership with a Saudi sovereign-wealth fund to start a $100 billion technology-investment fund. Known as the SoftBank Vision Fund, the deal would focus on “artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, smart robots: Those are the three main things I’m interested in,” Son said.

Son added that he doesn’t expect oil company Saudi Aramco’s planned IPO to affect the size of Vision Fund, while this month’s surprise purchase of Fortress Investment would complement it. Fortress has about $70 billion in assets under management, so with Vision Fund, the company will soon have $200 billion combined.

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