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Looking ahead to 2050 – Artificial Intelligence II

The holy grail for the next decades would be to move from ANI to AGI, Artificial General Intelligence, or to an AI that can mimic and best our own general human intelligence.

This seems now within reach and just a matter of time. Some are putting the crossover (machines more intelligent than humans) in the fourth decade, a few years after 2030, well before 2050. This forecast is based on two considerations:

  • the past has shown that by increasing processing power, storage and communications we have been able to create ANI that best humans;
  • the processing power of machines, their storage and connectivity capacity will continue to grow and will go beyond our comparable brain processing/storage/communications power.

Although the first consideration is a “fact” the second one is not. First of all it is not a given that AGI would be just a matter of processing/storage/communications power (several scientists are convinced this is the case, others oppose this) and, secondly, it is extremely difficult, and so far arbitrary, to measure our brain computation power.  It may be worth considering that we have no clue, today, why one brain is “more” intelligent than another, and that most brains look very much alike although their "intelligence" differs.

However, I do not think that a comparison between AI and brain is really the point. I am convinced that in the same way we have built machines that are better (faster, more accurate, more powerful) than our bodies without mimicking our muscles, in a few years, possibly in the next decade, we will build machine that are better thinkers than we are, even though their hardware may not be comparable to ours.

By 2050 many of the results of "thinking tasks" we are normally engaging in will be bested by “thinking tasks” carried out by machines or interconnected machines. Would a machine be able to write a nice article or an engaging book? Definitely Yes! We can discuss on when and what “nice” or “engaging” means but I have no doubt that by 2050 the discussion will be over.  Already today we have computers paintings and computer music that is indistinguishable from painting and music created by humans.

So, just looking at the “result” (or at the Turing test) my bet is that we will have AGI well before 2050.

But ….

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the New Initiative Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He is a member of the IEEE in 2050 Ad Hoc Committee. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.