By John Ikani
Microsoft’s President, Brad Smith, has dismissed any possibility of super-intelligent artificial intelligence emerging in the next 12 months, asserting that the development of such technology could take not just years but potentially decades.
“There’s absolutely no probability that you’re going to see this so-called AGI, where computers are more powerful than people, in the next 12 months. It’s going to take years, if not many decades, but I still think the time to focus on safety is now,” emphasized Smith.
In the backdrop of the statements, reports have surfaced about an internal project dubbed Q* (pronounced Q-Star), believed to be a significant stride in the quest for artificial general intelligence (AGI), defined by OpenAI as autonomous systems surpassing humans in economically valuable tasks.
Sam Altman, co-founder of OpenAI, faced a brief removal from the CEO position by the company’s board of directors, swiftly reversed after a weekend of uproar from employees and shareholders. This move coincided with researchers alerting the board about a potentially risky discovery that could have unintended consequences.
Contrary to speculation, Smith refuted any connection between the reported dangerous breakthrough and Altman’s removal, stating, “I don’t think that is the case at all. I think there obviously was a divergence between the board and others, but it wasn’t fundamentally about a concern like that.”
Addressing concerns about the need for safety measures, Smith stressed the necessity of safety brakes in AI systems controlling critical infrastructure, akin to safety features in elevators, circuit breakers for electricity, or emergency brakes for buses, ensuring they always remain under human control.
While the warning to OpenAI’s board played a role in the decision to remove Altman, sources indicate a broader list of grievances, including apprehensions about commercializing technological advances without thoroughly assessing their associated risks.