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Baidu CEO Robin Li Predicts AGI More Than 10 Years Away, Calls for Faster AI Development

Musk predicts AGI by 2026, while Baidu's CEO and Meta's AI Chief foresee it taking over 10 years.

By Mackenzie Crow

5/23, 05:18 EDT
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Key Takeaway

  • Baidu CEO Robin Li predicts AGI is more than 10 years away, contrasting with Elon Musk's 2026 forecast.
  • Despite rapid AI advancements, Li believes the pace is still too slow and highlights the lack of a "killer app" for AI.
  • Meta's Yann LeCun criticizes current LLMs like ChatGPT for lacking logic and reasoning, focusing on "world modeling" for future AI development.

Baidu CEO on AGI Timeline

Robin Li, CEO of Baidu, one of China's leading tech firms, expressed skepticism about the imminent arrival of artificial general intelligence (AGI). During a talk at the VivaTech conference in Paris, Li stated, "AGI is still quite a few years away. Today, a lot of people talk about AGI, [and] they’re saying ... it’s probably two years away, it’s probably, you know, five years away. I think [it] is more than 10 years away." This contrasts with predictions from industry figures like Tesla's Elon Musk, who anticipates AGI by 2026, and OpenAI's Sam Altman, who foresees it in the "reasonably close-ish future."

Li emphasized that current AI models are far from achieving human-level intelligence. "By definition, AGI is that a computer or AI can be as smart as a human right? Or sometimes ... smarter. But we would want an AI to be as smart as [a] human. And today’s most powerful models are far from that. And how do you achieve that level of intelligence? We don’t know," he said. Despite the rapid advancements in AI technology, Li called for an even faster pace of development, stating, "[My] fear is that AI technology is not improving fast enough. Everyone’s shocked how fast the technology evolved over the past couple of years. But to me it’s still not fast enough. It’s too slow."

AI Growth and Applications

Baidu has been actively developing its AI capabilities, launching its ChatGPT-style chatbot called Ernie last year. Chinese tech giants like Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent are heavily investing in their AI models, similar to their U.S. counterparts. However, Li pointed out a significant difference in focus between regions. In the U.S. and Europe, companies are concentrating on creating the most powerful and cutting-edge foundation models. In contrast, Chinese firms are more focused on the applications of AI technology.

Despite these efforts, Li noted the absence of a "killer app" for AI. "Today, in the mobile age, you have apps like Instagram, YouTube, TikTok. The daily active users are in the order of, like, a few 100 million to a billion users, right? And for AI native apps, we don’t see that yet. We don’t see that in U.S. We don’t see that in China. We don’t see that in Europe," he said. Li questioned what form AI native apps should take to reach a significant user base, asking, "What’s the right form for AI native apps? What kind of ... AI native apps will be able to reach the 100 million user mark?"

Meta's AI Chief on LLM Limitations

Yann LeCun, Meta's Chief AI Scientist, has expressed doubts about the potential of large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT, Google's Gemini, and Meta's Llama to achieve human-level intelligence. In an interview with the Financial Times, LeCun stated that LLMs have "very limited understanding of logic," lack persistent memory, and cannot plan hierarchically. He emphasized that these models "cannot reason in any reasonable definition of the term" and are only accurate when fed the right training data, making them "intrinsically unsafe."

LeCun, who leads a team of about 500 staff at Meta’s Fundamental AI Research (Fair) lab, is focusing on developing a new generation of AI systems based on an approach called "world modeling." This method aims to create AI that can develop common sense and learn how the world works similarly to humans. LeCun believes this vision could take up to 10 years to achieve. "We are at the point where we think we are on the cusp of maybe the next generation AI systems," he said.

Management Quotes

  • Robin Li, CEO of Baidu:

    "AGI is still quite a few years away. Today, a lot of people talk about AGI, [and] they’re saying ... it’s probably two years away, it’s probably, you know, five years away. I think [it] is more than 10 years away."
    "By definition, AGI is that a computer or AI can be as smart as a human right? Or sometimes ... smarter. But we would want an AI to be as smart as [a] human. And today’s most powerful models are far from that. And how do you achieve that level of intelligence? We don’t know."
    "[My] fear is that AI technology is not improving fast enough. Everyone’s shocked how fast the technology evolved over the past couple of years. But to me it’s still not fast enough. It’s too slow."
    "Today, in the mobile age, you have apps like Instagram, YouTube, TikTok... for AI native apps we don’t see that yet... What kind of ... AI native apps will be able to reach the 100 million user mark?"