According to US-Brazilian researcher Ben Goertzel, a top AI specialist, artificial intelligence could replace 80 percent of human occupations in the next years.
Goertzel, a mathematician, cognitive scientist, and well-known robot designer, is the founder and CEO of SingularityNET, a research organization he founded to develop “Artificial General Intelligence,” or AGI – artificial intelligence with human cognitive capacities.
Goertzel was in provocateur mode last week at Web Summit in Rio de Janeiro, the world’s largest annual technology conference, where he told AFP in an interview that AGI is just years away and spoke out against recent efforts to limit artificial intelligence research.
Are they as intelligent as humans?
Q: What is the distance between artificial intelligence and human cognitive abilities?
“If we want machines to be as smart as people and as agile in dealing with the unknown, they must be able to go beyond their training and programming.” And we’re still not there. But I feel we’re still years, rather than decades, away from getting there.”
Q: What are your thoughts on the AI danger discussion, such as ChatGPT and its risks? Should a six-month research hiatus be implemented, as some argue?
“I don’t believe we should suspend it because it’s hazardous superhuman AI… These are fascinating AI systems, but they are incapable of evolving into human-level general intelligence because they lack the ability to perform complex multi-stage reasoning required for science. They can’t come up with radical new ideas outside of the confines of their training data.
“They can also spread misinformation, and some argue that we should pause them as a result.” That seems strange to me. Why hasn’t the internet been outlawed? This is exactly what the internet does. It puts a lot more information at your disposal. It also distributes nonsense and falsehoods.
“I believe we should live in a free society.” And, just as the internet should not be prohibited, we should not prohibit this.”
Q: Isn’t their potential to replace people’s occupations a threat to jobs?
“My guess is that without an AGI, you could probably eliminate about 80% of the jobs that people do.” Not exactly with ChatGPT as a product. But with technologies like that, which are coming in the next few years.
“I don’t see it as a threat.” I believe it is advantageous. People can discover more enjoyable things to do with their lives than work for a living… Almost all paperwork-related tasks should be automatable.
“The issue I see is in the interim when AIs are replacing one human job after another… “I don’t know how to solve all of the social problems.”
Q: What can robots accomplish now for society, and what will they be able to do if AGI is achieved?
“AI has the potential to do a lot of good.”
“We showed Grace (a robot nurse) at Web Summit Rio. Many elderly persons in the United States are sitting alone in nursing homes. And while they aren’t horrible in terms of physical condition you have medical care, food, and a big-screen TV they are lacking in emotional and social support. So, if you infuse humanoid robots into it to answer your questions, listen to your stories, help you make a phone call to your kids, or order something online, you’re improving people’s lives. They’ll be even better pals once you reach AGI.
“In that case, you are not removing human jobs.” Because there aren’t enough people interested in nursing and nursing assistant positions.
“I believe that education, as well as domestic help, will be a fantastic market for humanoid robots.”
Q: What regulations are required for AI to have a good impact?
“What you need is for society to develop these AIs so that they can do good.” And the AI governance should be participative among the populace. All of this is technically possible. The issue is that the firms that support the majority of AI research are unconcerned about doing good. They are concerned with increasing shareholder value.”