SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son Expects Artificial General Intelligence to Be Realized in 10 yrs

The Yomiuri Shimbun
SoftBank Group Corp. Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son delivers a speech in Tokyo on Wednesday.

SoftBank Group Corp. Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son said Wednesday that he expects artificial general intelligence (AGI) to be achievable within a decade.

AGI could theoretically lead to software that is capable of surpassing human thinking.

Son was speaking at a Tokyo event hosted by SoftBank Group’s telecommunications subsidiary SoftBank Corp.

Though the definition of AGI has yet to be concretely defined, Son posited that it “will be ten times smarter than the sum of human intelligence,” further opining that the technology will have an industry-wide impact, including in such fields as manufacturing, transportation, drug-making and finance.

Son also said he wanted his company to be the world’s foremost user of AI.

SoftBank Group has established a competition among employees regarding the utilization of AI, with prize money of up to ¥10 million.

“More than 100,000 ideas have been submitted,” Son said. “We’ve applied for patents for more than 10,000 of the best concepts.”

Son also expressed expectations regarding Arm Ltd., a leading semiconductor design company under the umbrella of SoftBank Group that was listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange market last month.

“[Arm] will play an active role in the age of AI,” Son said. “Its [semiconductor chip] shipments are growing.”

High-performance data-processing machines are essential to utilize AI effectively, and Arm’s technologies for high-end semiconductors could prove a significant asset for the SoftBank Group in this regard.

However, Son also touched upon the necessity of carefully monitoring AI usage, saying: “AI should be regulated, in the same way that the use of vehicles within society has regulations. Cars are convenient but dangerous, while AI, from a certain perspective, could be more dangerous than nuclear bombs.”