(Rio de Janeiro) Artificial intelligence could replace “80% of jobs” in the next few years, but “it’s a good thing”, said American researcher Ben Goertzel in an interview with AFP.

Long hair, round glasses and a wide-brimmed leopard-print hat, the Brazilian-born scientist caused a stir this week at the Web Summit conference in Rio de Janeiro, presenting Grace, a robot nurse designed to care for elderly people in retirement homes.

It is to him that we owe the name of “Artificial General Intelligence” (AGI), this major technology with human cognitive capacities which could be ready “within a few years”. He is at the origin of the SingularityNET platform, intended for the decentralized and democratic development of AI.

ANSWER: “If we want machines that are really as smart as people, and able to react quickly to the unexpected, they would have to be able to do much more than what they are programmed to do.” And we’re not there yet. But there’s reason to believe it could happen, not decades from now, but years from now.”

A: “I don’t think you have to take a break, because it’s not a dangerous artificial intelligence […] It can’t do complex, multi-step reasoning, like scientists, or invent new things apart from the received data. It cannot develop strategies to manage new situations, such as a pandemic, for example.

Some people say that research should be stopped because this kind of system contributes to misinformation. But then, should the internet be banned? […] I think we need to live in a free society and just as the internet shouldn’t be banned, it shouldn’t be banned (ChatGPT) either.”

A: “With new systems such as ChatGPT coming soon, I think 80% of jobs done by humans could become obsolete. But I don’t see that as a threat, but as an advantage. This is a good thing. People will find better things to do than work for a living. Virtually all administrative tasks will be able to be automated.”

“The problem will be the transition period, when the artificial intelligences will start to make obsolete one job after another […] I do not know how we are going to solve the social problems caused”.

A: “They can do a lot of good things, like Grace the robot nurse. In the United States, a large number of elderly people feel lonely in nursing homes. Even if they are fed, receive medical care and watch TV, this is insufficient in terms of social and emotional support. If we introduce humanoid robots into these spaces that answer their questions, listen to their stories, help them call their children or shop online, it improves their lives.”

“In this case, we are not cutting jobs, because there are not enough candidates for the positions of nurses or orderlies. Education could also be an incredible market for humanoid robots, as could housework.”

A: “Governance should be participatory, involve the people in some way. And it is technically possible. The problem is that the companies funding most AI research are not interested in the common good. What they want is to make as much money as possible for their shareholders.”