Masayoshi Son, chairman and CEO of Japan’s SoftBank Group, outlined his vision for the future today during a fascinating keynote speech at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Son told a captivated audience that he believes computers will exceed human intelligence in 30 years, by which time they will have IQs of 10,000.
“I bought ARM for $32 billion in cash. Why did I spend that much cash? Because I have a vision for the next 30 years. This is the day computer brain, artificial intelligence, surpasses mankind’s brain” Son said.
ARM Holdings is a multinational semiconductor and software company that designs and licenses its chip architecture to dozens of companies, including Apple, Samsung and Qualcomm. Its chips are being used to power the vast majority of our smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices.
According to Son, ARM will deliver about a trillion chips designed for the so-called internet of things (IoT) over the next 20 years. He said the number of "brain cells" in chips would surpass the number of human brain neurons in 2018, opening up a huge opportunity in an already highly competitive market. The IoT chip market is already expected to be valued at $14.81 billion by 2022, according to the latest market research from Markets and Markets.
But Son did stress that the firm needed to increase its focus on chip security. He showed video footage of ARM engineers hacking a 4x4 car and security cameras. One of the biggest news stories of 2016 was the cyber attack that took down Twitter, Paypal, Spotify and other sites. This was achieved by targeting hundreds of thousands of IoT devices.
"There are about 500 ARM chips in a car today and none of them are secure," said Son, predicting that 64 percent of cyber attacks will be through hacking connected objects.
Softbank are also in the process of creating a $100 billion Vision Fund with Saudi Arabia. The fund has been backed by some influential contributors, including Foxconn, Apple, Qualcomm and others. When first announced last October, Son said the investment period for the fund would be five years and could potentially be investing $20BN into tech startups globally each year.
One of these tech start-ups appears to be U.S. office-sharing startup WeWork. CNBC are reporting that Softbank is close to finalizing a deal to invest more than $3 billion in the company. Earlier this month, it also announced it was purchasing the asset-management firm Fortress for $3.3 billion.
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