The Future of Artificial Intelligence: Insights from the Forefront of AI Leadership

The Future of Artificial Intelligence

By Emil Bjerg, journalist and editor 

Ten months after the public release of Chat GPT 3.5, this article explores insights and predictions of leading figures in the AI industry, offering a glimpse into the multifaceted future of artificial intelligence beyond generative AI.

After almost a year of hype over large language models, it can be worthwhile to remember that AI is a lot more than just generative AI. Most of the central AI leaders believe that AGI – artificial general intelligence, a type of artificial intelligence that possesses the ability to understand, learn, and apply its intelligence in a diversity of domains, akin to the cognitive capabilities of a human being – is the future we should aim towards. 

What does the path towards that look like? This article briefly introduces some of the most interesting people in AI right now and presents their views of the future of artificial intelligence.

Sam Altman from OpenAI

Sam Altman became a global tech celebrity overnight after the release of ChatGPT. Just a few months after the public release of the chatbot, Microsoft made a massive 10 billion dollar investment in the company. 

While Altman acknowledges that OpenAI is synonymous with ChatGPT at this point, “OpenAI is really about this quest for AGI,“ he said recently. While they haven’t gotten there with ChatGPT yet,  building AGI and finding out how to deploy it responsibly for maximum benefit is the main agenda for OpenAI. 

Altman sees almost unlimited potential in the future of AGI, believing that it can cure all diseases and build better health care, get everybody a great education, and lead important scientific discoveries. “We want to make sure that people get that benefit, and that benefit is distributed equitably. “

Altman believes it’s a mistake to be too focused on where AI systems areare right now with their limitations and capabilities. Instead, he believes there will be a steep curve in the development of AI systems that he compares to the development of phones from a Nokia to an iPhone. In sum, the AI boom will make us wealthier and make us experience a productivity boom, says Altman, who speaks for an equal distribution of AI, to ensure that the advances are gained across geographies and incomes. 

Satya Nadella, CEO at Microsoft

Few people would have thought a year ago that by now, Microsoft would be 1) cool again and 2) threatening Google’s monopoly in search. Their investment and strategic partnership with OpenAI have allowed them to integrate generative AI in their software and made the once-ridiculed Bing a serious competitor to Google. 

 “I want people to know that we made Google dance,” Nadella said earlier in 2023. While Google has been at the very center of AI development, they have also been playing it safe. In the aftermath of OpenAI and Microsoft’s collaboration, Google has changed its strategy on AI, rushing to release their LLM, Bard, while also pushing forward Magi, a new AI-powered search engine. 

Nadella, like most of the world’s leading AI CEOs, is optimistic about the future of AI. He believes we’re in the middle of a golden age of AI that he believes will have a major positive impact for humanity. “My dream is that every one of Earth’s 8 billion people can have an AI tutor, an AI doctor, a programmer, maybe a consultant!” he recently said in an interview with Wired

“AI is just at the beginning of the S-curve,” Nadella said at this year’s World Economic Forum. “The near-term and long-term opportunities are enormous”, he said.

Joy Buolamwini from the Algorithmic Justice League

It is more than leaders in Big Tech that define the future of AI. It’s also the people giving qualified critiques of directions and tendencies in Big Tech. Joy Buolamwini is one of those. Boulamwini, a former researcher at the MIT Media Lab, is the founder of the Algorithmic Justice League (AJL), which aims to challenge bias in decision-making software. 

Joy Buolamwini’s “Gender Shades” research highlighted biases in facial recognition technologies, leading IBM to release a new dataset for improved accuracy and Microsoft to enhance its system’s accuracy for darker-skinned individuals.

Joy Buolamwini envisions a future where AI is developed and deployed responsibly, emphasizing equity, inclusivity, and accountability. She advocates for proactive measures to ensure that AI technologies serve all of humanity without perpetuating or amplifying existing prejudices.

Boulamwini was recently featured in Time’s Time100 AI list, where she gave her vision for the future of AI: “The future is never written in stone. We have the agency to decide what the AI future will be. It is not too late to change the trajectory of the development of AI systems so the benefits are more evenly distributed and the burdens do not fall disproportionately on the already marginalized.”

Mustafa Suleyman, co-founder of Deepmind and CEO of Inflection AI

Mustafa Suleyman was a co-founder of Deepmind, which was acquired by Google in 2014. Since then, he has moved on to start Inflection AI, which has attracted 1.5 billion in investments from Microsoft, Nvidia, Bill Gates, and the like. Inflection AI is creating personal assistants that, according to their site, can be a coach, confidante, creative partner, sounding board, and assistant.

According to Suleyman, generative AI is just a phase – even if generative AI is what his company is creating. What he believes is next is interactive AI, where bots can help humans complete tasks by calling in other software and people to get things done.

A shift from generative to interactive AI would mark a monumental technological milestone, giving AI a certain degree of autonomy. Does that make him worried? 

Like most industry leaders, Suleyman is a proponent of regulations and believes that humans should be at the wheel, even as the AI in his vision gets a growing autonomy. Boundaries become a keyword in Inflection AI’s work with autonomous systems. 

Among the boundaries that Inflection AI has achieved – according to Suleyman himself – is creating a personal assistant that is controllable and free of hate speech such as sexism, racism, and homophobia. 

Elon Musk from xAI

Elon Musk is famously deathly afraid of AI while also eagerly pushing its development. His fear of AI led him to found OpenAI with its CEO, Sam Altman. Since then, after OpenAI became a for-profit, Musk has been a vocal critic of the company, forming his own xAI. 

While Musk is building a chatbot akin to OpenAI’s, in the long term, Musk is looking to do something different than the generative AI and large language models. With xAI, Musk wants to merge data from his companies X, former Twitter, and Tesla. With his ownership of X comes more than a trillion tweets, which gives an understanding of humans that can compete with the enormous data sets that Google and OpenAI have access to. Musk has plans for xAI to utilize X data to train a “maximally curious” AI model. This could mean that the AI will be designed to ask questions, seek answers, and continuously evolve its understanding based on the vast amount of human sentiment and information available on X.

With Tesla, Musk has access to the 160 billion camera image frames that semi-autonomous Autopilot and Full-Self Driving driver assist systems take. With X and Tesla combined, Musk hopes to teach machines to navigate in physical space while also being able to answer questions in a language that is natural to humans. 

Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google

Eric Schmidt was the CEO of Google between 2001 and 2011. In that period, he changed Google’s ‘mobile first’ strategy to their current ‘AI first’-approach. 

After another summer of extreme weather events, Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google, envisions a future where artificial intelligence plays a pivotal role in addressing global challenges. 

Nvidia’s recent creation of an AI-powered “digital twin” of our planet, named ‘Earth-2’, exemplifies is an example to that. Earth-2 can predict weather patterns tens of thousands of times faster than current methods, offering thousands of predictions compared to the usual fifty. This precision could be a game-changer, providing early warnings for rare but catastrophic events, and potentially saving countless lives.

AI, in his view, is also set to redefine the very fabric of scientific research. Beyond the buzz surrounding large language models, the real potential, in his view, lies in specialized AI architectures tailored for scientific inquiries. Over the past decade, smaller, focused models have already made significant strides. However, the emergence of expansive deep-learning models, which allows for cross-domain knowledge, might possibly push the boundaries even further.

Highlighting some breakthroughs, Schmidt points to researchers at McMaster and MIT who utilized AI to discover antibiotics against formidable antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Google DeepMind’s model is inching closer to realizing nuclear fusion, a potential clean energy solution. 

For Schmidt, the future is clear: AI, if used correctly with the right regulation and innovation, can catalyze groundbreaking discoveries.

The perspectives of these AI leaders give us a glimpse into what’s next in AI. From tackling biases to exploring new AI models, the road ahead is packed with new challenges and lots of potential and promise. Exciting times indeed.

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