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When do experts expect artificial general intelligence big

[click here for a big version of the visualization]

The visualization shows the forecasts of 1128 people – 812 individual AI experts, the aggregated estimates of 315 forecasters from the Metaculus platform, and the findings of the detailed study by Ajeya Cotra.

There are two big takeaways from these forecasts on AI timelines:

  1. There is no consensus, and the uncertainty is high. There is huge disagreement between experts about when human-level AI will be developed. Some believe that it is decades away, while others think it is probable that such systems will be developed within the next few years or months.

    There is not just disagreement between experts; individual experts also emphasize the large uncertainty around their own individual estimate. As always when the uncertainty is high, it is important to stress that it cuts both ways. It might be very long until we see human-level AI, but it also means that we might have little time to prepare. 
  2. At the same time, there is large agreement in the overall picture. The timelines of many experts are shorter than a century, and many have timelines that are substantially shorter than that. The majority of those who study this question believe that there is a 50% chance that transformative AI systems will be developed within the next 50 years. In this case it would plausibly be the biggest transformation in the lifetime of our children, or even in our own lifetime.

The public discourse and the decision-making at major institutions have not caught up with these prospects. In discussions on the future of our world – from the future of our climate, to the future of our economies, to the future of our political institutions – the prospect of transformative AI is rarely central to the conversation. Often it is not mentioned at all, not even in a footnote.

We seem to be in a situation where most people hardly think about the future of artificial intelligence, while the few who dedicate their attention to it find it plausible that one of the biggest transformations in humanity’s history is likely to happen within our lifetimes.




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OWID's articles and graphs on AI are great!

Relatedly, Epoch published some weeks ago this literature review of AI timelines (EA Forum post here).

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