German computer scientist Jürgen Schmidhuber—who has contributed to various AI innovations like speech-recognition technology—predicts artificial intelligence will surpass that of humans by the year 2050. "[AI] will see little point in getting stuck to our bit of the biosphere," he tells the Guardian in an interview Tuesday. "They will want to move history to the next level and march out to where the resources are. In a couple of million years, they will have colonised the Milky Way."
What happens before that? Schmidhuber is building an electronic brain consisting of one billion neurons—or one one thousandth the number contained in the human cortex. He calls his project "true AI," one that can function much like a baby by "setting themselves little experiments in order to understand how the world works," according to the Guardian. "We aren't that many years away from an animal-like intelligence, like that of a crow or a capuchin monkey," he says.
Not everyone is convinced: One scientist told the Guardian that Schmidhuber is setting up AI to disappoint, much like the vaunted Segway, which was promoted as an invention as important as the PC, but ended up at best a niche product, and at worst a laughingstock.