SoftBank wants to become a major AI player

In a Sept. 20 speech in New York, Masayoshi Son, founder of the Tokyo company SoftBank, forecast that by 2047, the Earth will be populated by equivalent number of humans and robots — 10 billion each. And the robots, he said, will be "smarter than mankind." Over the last year, Son has been investing in that moment.

Data: Crunchbase; Axios reporting; Chart: Chris Canipe / Axios

Why it matters: Son appears intent on becoming as big in artificial intelligence as the U.S. and Chinese tech titans that have dominated AI research — Alibaba, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Tencent and so on. Toward that aim, over the last year, Son's $93 billion Vision Fund has put down large investments in at least a dozen promising AI startups.