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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.

Go deeper

Restaurant software meets the pandemic moment

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Food delivery companies have predictably done well during the pandemic. But restaurant software providers are also having a moment as eateries race to handle the avalanche of online orders resulting from severe in-person dining restrictions.

Driving the news: Olo filed last week for an IPO and Toast is rumored to be preparing to do the same very soon.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
2 hours ago - Technology

How the automation economy can turn human workers into robots

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

More than outright destroying jobs, automation is changing employment in ways that will weigh on workers.

The big picture: Right now, we should be less worried about robots taking human jobs than people in low-skilled positions being forced to work like robots.

House passes $1.9 trillion COVID relief package

Photo: Screenshot via C-SPAN

The House approved President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief package on a 219-212 vote early Saturday morning, sending it to the Senate for a possible rewrite before it gets to Biden's desk.

The big picture: The vote was a critical first step for the package, which includes $1,400 cash payments for many Americans, a national vaccination program, ramped-up COVID testing and contact tracing, state and local funding and money to help schools reopen.