Softbank CEO: Ro­bots to soon out­num­ber hu­mans

Son out­lines his vi­sion for fu­ture at tech gath­er­ing, and it’s only 30 years away

USA TODAY US Edition - - MONEY - Ed­ward C. Baig @ed­baig USA TO­DAY

In 30 years, your shoes will be smarter than you.

That’s not meant to be an in­sult but rather what Masayoshi Son be­lieves will be the case as ro­bots out­num­ber hu­mans and ex­ceed their in­tel­li­gence in just three decades.

The chair­man and CEO of Ja­pan’s SoftBank Group out­lined his vi­sion of the fu­ture dur­ing re­marks made on stage at the Mo­bile World Congress tech con­fer­ence un­der­way this week in Barcelona.

“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 chuck­led.

Son was talk­ing up the con­cept of “sin­gu­lar­ity,” that is when the ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence built into com­put­ers, con­nected In­ter­net of Things ob­jects and the cloud will sur­pass that of the hu­man brain.

As ro­bots gain that same level of in­tel­li­gence, the so­ci­etal im­pact is likely to be pro­found. Dal­las Mav­er­icks owner Mark Cuban re­cently tweeted that “Au­to­ma­tion is go­ing to cause un­em­ploy­ment, and we need to pre­pare for it.” And Mi­crosoft co-founder Bill Gates re­cently said in an in­ter­view that ro­bots that take over a job for­merly done by a real live per­son should be taxed at the same level as that hu­man.

Son notes that to­day, an av­er­age IQ for a per­son is around 100. If you’re an Ein­stein or Da Vinci your IQ is around the 200 mark and you’re con­sid­ered a ge­nius.

In con­trast, Son be­lieves AI-in­fused com­put­ers will even­tu­ally have an IQ of 10,000.

“This burst of su­per­in­tel­li­gence,” he says, “is go­ing to be­come a re­al­ity.”

And this in­tel­li­gence will make its way into all sorts of IOT de­vices, ro­bots, cars and up in the cloud.

Ac­cord­ing to Son, a pop­u­la­tion of smart ro­bots will ex­ceed the pop­u­la­tion of mankind over this 30-year time frame. Such brainy ro­bots will make up all sizes and shapes. Some will fly, some will swim, some will have two legs, some will have hun­dreds of legs.

This past year, SoftBank launched a $100 bil­lion in­vest­ment fund called the SoftBank Vi­sion Fund, which will fo­cus in part on AI and IoT. Sun said that sum is big­ger than the cu­mu­la­tive $65 bil­lion that has been in­vested in all other ven­ture funds.

SoftBank sep­a­rately pur­chased UK-chip de­signer ARM Hold­ings for $32 bil­lion. ARM chips are in 99% of smartphones and will be in 80% of IoT de­vices, he says. And he posted stats that showed that by 2035 there will be 100 IoT de­vices per per­son, up from two such de­vices in 2010.

With all that ac­tiv­ity, ARM is spend­ing a lot of time fo­cused on se­cu­rity.

There were 128 bil­lion cy­ber- at­tacks last year, 4 1⁄2 times the 2 year be­fore.

“The num­ber of (hacks) is ex­po­nen­tially grow­ing, so we have to be very care­ful,” Son says.

Son men­tioned that one of his com­pany’s en­gi­neers wanted to see how many se­cu­rity cam­eras he could hack be­fore his wife re­turned from lunch. He hacked 1.2 mil­lion se­cu­rity cam­eras in a sin­gle lunchtime.

What’s more, there are 500 ARM chips in some of the cars that are on the street to­day.

“And none of them are se­cure to­day,” Son says. “I’m telling you be­cause we are ship­ping (them).”

He played a video dur­ing his re­marks demon­strat­ing how hack­ers could steer a con­nected ve­hi­cle or pre­vent the brakes from work­ing.

To com­bat such threats, the com­pany re­cently an­nounced that it is putting new en­crypted se­cu­rity fea­tures into the mi­cro­con­troller chips that go into cars and IoT de­vices.

Son wrapped up his re­marks by ask­ing whether sin­gu­lar­ity is good or bad. Some schol­ars at Ox­ford came up with 12 risks that threaten hu­man in­tel­li­gence, such things as nu­clear war, global pan­demics and so forth. Ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence made the list too.

But AI can also be the so­lu­tion for the other crises, Son says.

“I think this su­per­in­tel­li­gence — ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence — is go­ing to be our part­ner,” he says. “If we mis­use it, it’s a risk. If we use it in good spirit, it will be our part­ner for a bet­ter life.”

“This burst of (A.I.) is go­ing to be­come a re­al­ity.” Masayoshi Son, CEO SoftBank Group


Then pres­i­dent-elect Trump, left, ac­com­pa­nied by SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son, who re­cently spoke about ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and ro­bots at the Mo­bile World Congress tech con­fer­ence un­der­way this week in Barcelona.

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