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DeepMind CEO says Google to spend more than $100B on AGI despite hype

Google’s not backing down from the challenge posed by Microsoft when it comes to the artificial intelligence sector. At least not according to the CEO of Google DeepMind, Demis Hassabis. 

Speaking at a TED conference in Canada, Hassabis recently went on the record saying that he expected Google to spend more than $100 billion on the development of artificial general intelligence (AGI) over time. His comments reportedly came in response to a question concerning Microsoft’s recent “Stargate” announcement.

Stargate

Microsoft and OpenAI are reportedly in discussions to build a $100 billion supercomputer project for the purpose of training AI systems. According to the Intercept, a person wishing to remain anonymous, who has had direct conversations with OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and seen the initial cost estimates on the project, says it’s currently being discussed under the codename “Stargate.”

To put the proposed costs into perspective, the world’s most powerful supercomputer, the U.S.-based “Frontier” system, cost approximately $600 million to build.

According to the report, Stargate wouldn’t be a single system similar to Frontier. It will instead spread out a series of computers across the U.S. in five phases with the last phase being the penultimate “Stargate” system.

Artificial general intelligence

Hassabis’ comments don’t hint at exactly how Google might respond, but seemingly confirm the notion that the company is aware of Microsoft’s endeavors and plans on investing just as much, if not more.

Ultimately, the stakes are simple. Both companies are vying to become the first organization to develop artificial general intelligence (AGI). Today’s AI systems are constrained by their training methods and data and, as such, fall well short of “human-level” intelligence across myriad benchmarks.

AGI is a nebulous term for an AI system theoretically capable of doing anything an average adult human could do, given the right resources. An AGI system with access to a line of credit or a cryptocurrency wallet and the internet, for example, should be able to start and run its own business.

Related: DeepMind co-founder says AI will be able to invent, market, run businesses by 2029

Cryptocurrency

The main challenge to being the first company to develop AGI is that there’s no scientific consensus on exactly what an AGI is or how one could be created.

Even among the world’s most famous AI scientists — Meta’s Yann LeCun, Google’s Demis Hassabis, etc. — there exists no small amount of disagreement as to whether AGI can even be achieved using the current “brute force” method of increasing datasets and training parameters, or if it can be achieved at all.

In a Financial Times article published in March, Hassabis made a negative comparison to the current AI/AGI hype cycle and the scams it’s attracted to the cryptocurrency market. Despite the hype, both AI and crypto have exploded their respective financial spaces in the first four months of 2024.

Where Bitcoin, the world’s most popular cryptocurrency sat at about $30,395 per coin in April of 2023, it’s now over $60,000 as of the time of this article’s publishing, having only recently retreated from an all-time-high about $73K.

Meanwhile, the current AI industry leader, Microsoft, has seen its stock go from $286 a share to around $416 in the same time period.