SoftBank Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son
Photograph by Getty Images
By Aaron Pressman
February 27, 2017

Computers running artificial intelligence programs will exceed human intelligence within three decades, Masayoshi Son, founder of the Japanese technology and telecommunications conglomerate SoftBank Group, said on Monday.

“I really believe this,” Son told a large audience at the Mobile World Congress, the telecom industry’s annual conference in Barcelona. A computer will have the IQ equal to 1,000 times the average human by that point, he said. Even clothing like a pair of sneakers will have more computing power that a person, Son joked. “We will be less than our shoes,” he said, to laughter.

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Asked if the rise of the computer could be dangerous for humankind, Son said that would be up to how people react. “I believe this artificial intelligence is going to be our partner,” he said. “If we misuse it, it will be a risk. If we use it right, it can be our partner.”

The prediction of the inevitable rise of AI is not the first for the Japanese investor, who owns majority control of U.S. wireless carrier Sprint (s) and last year bought British chip designer ARM Holdings. Last year, Son predicted that the “singularity,” a fusing of AI programs and human society leading to massive technological advances, is “inevitable.”

Scenes from the 2017 Mobile World Congress

Appearing in a black turtleneck sweater and black pants, Son said he bought ARM to capitalize on the growth of AI. Son, who has met with President Donald Trump to discuss his ideas to bring more jobs to the United States, is raising a $100 billion investment fund, called the Vision Fund.

He also explained his investment in satellite Internet service One Web, which Son said would ultimately have 2,000 satellites in orbit. One day, the satellites will be offer Internet connections as fast as fiber optic cables everywhere on earth, he explained.

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