Goertzel, 56, is the founder and chief executive of SingularityNET, a research group he launched to create "Artificial General Intelligence," or AGI—artificial intelligence with human cognitive abilities.
Speaking at Web Summit in Rio de Janeiro, the world's biggest annual technology conference, he told AFP in an interview that AGI is just years away and spoke out against recent efforts to curb artificial intelligence research.
He said that if we want machines to really be as smart as people and to be as agile in dealing with the unknown, then they need to take big leaps beyond their training and programming.
“We're not there yet. But I think there's reason to believe we're years rather than decades from getting there," he said.
He warned against pausing research work because it's a dangerous superhuman AI being developed. What was around, he said, were interesting AI systems, which were not capable of becoming like human-level general intelligences, because they could not do complex multi-stage reasoning. They could not invent wild new things outside the scope of their training data.
"They can also spread misinformation, and people are saying we should pause them because of this. That's very weird to me. Why haven't we banned the internet? The internet does exactly this. It gives you way more information at your fingertips. And it spreads bullshit and misinformation,” Goertzel said.
"I think we should have a free society. And just like the internet shouldn't be banned, we shouldn't ban this."
He said that 80 per cent of jobs that people do will be made obsolete by AI. Not with ChatGPT, but similar systems which will follow in the next few years.
"I don't think it's a threat. It’s a benefit. People can find better things to do with their life than work for a living. Every job involving paperwork should be automatable.
Goertzel saw the problem being in the interim period when AIs are obsoleting one human job after another... “I don't know how to solve all the social issues."
He said that society needed to develop AIs to do good things. The problem is that the companies funding most of the AI research don't care about doing good things. They care about maximizing shareholder value, Goertzel said.