Softbank CEO: Robots to soon outnumber humans
Son outlines his vision for future at tech gathering, and it’s only 30 years away
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.