Skip to main content

What is AGI? A self aware AI might be closer than you think

Artificial General Intelligence, or AGI, is considered by some to be the end goal of artificial intelligence (AI) development. Instead of having an AI that can perform specific tasks, an AGI would be able to perform any task you set it, and with enough time and computational power, do it well. Some see ChatGPT as the first example of AGI, while others consider us at least a few years away from an AI that can do anything.

Really, it’s more of a debate about how exactly we define AGI, and how to know when we get there.

What is AGI?

An AGI agent should, in theory, be able to complete almost any intellectual task that a human or animal can do — and potentially do it better. There are certain tasks that even an AGI can’t complete, however, such as almost anything to do with the physical world. That is, at least, until robotics come into play.

With the launch and success of ChatGPT, and Google’s Bard, however, the discussion has moved from whether AGI is possible, to when it will be achieved. Some claim that the existing GPT 3 model chatbots get pretty close, while others say the newer GPT4 model, or even future GPT5 models, will reach that threshold.

Others still claim that we’re years, or even decades away. But wherever you believe we are on the timeline, we are moving towards a time where AI agents can do almost anything on a computer that a human can.

Is ChatGPT an AGI?

In its current form, no. The publicly available GPT-3.5 model, while capable, is extremely limited in some areas, and OpenAI safeguards constrain it further for moral, safety, or legal reasons.

More than anything else we’ve seen, however, ChatGPT gives us a preview of what true AGI might be like. It understands and responds in natural language, and for the most part, is hard to distinguish from a real human.

When will AGI be reached?

Because the concept of AGI is so abstract, it’s difficult to say when it will arrive — and when even when it does, there will be debate about whether or not it’s real.

i have been told that gpt5 is scheduled to complete training this december and that openai expects it to achieve agi.

which means we will all hotly debate as to whether it actually achieves agi.

which means it will.

— Siqi Chen (@blader) March 27, 2023

However, enthusiasts are looking at future versions of OpenAI’s LLMs (Large Language Models) to see if they may achieve AGI. The upcoming GPT-5 model is expected to finish training later this year, and some have suggested it could achieve AGI.

Of course, as the Twitter user notes, this will still be debatable, and chances are there will be ways to break it. But the potential is certainly there for this sort of intelligence to emerge in the coming years.

Interesting find: One year ago, forecasters estimated AGI to be ready by 2057.

Given the rapid pace of AI these past few weeks, AGI is now expected to be ready by October 2032. 🤯

— Rowan Cheung (@rowancheung) March 28, 2023

Other experts mark a further date for when AGI may be achieved. Elon Musk predicted 2029 at one point, while a broader census taken by Metaculus puts it at October 2032. According to AI enthusiast Rowan Cheung, has been moved up from 2057 when the forecast was taken a year ago.

Limitations on intelligence

There is an important distinction to draw between the classic idea of an AGI, and what current language model AIs are doing. They have the potential to develop the capabilities of AGI, but they won’t be “intelligent” in the sense that they understand what they’re doing, or have any kind of motivation for such tasks beyond completing the instructions given to them.

Natural language model chatbots are prediction engines. They predict the next best word in a sequence, which with enough of, and the right, training data, can lead to very believable interpretations of intelligence. It can also allow the creation of AI agents which can do all kinds of amazing things. It can even create chatbots like ChatGPT, which can seem intelligent, and even sentient under the right circumstances.

But they aren’t, and won’t be. ChatGPT and its ilk are not intelligent in the sense that they understand anything, and most near-future ideas of AGI won’t be either. They could be incredibly capable, though.

Editors' Recommendations

Jon Martindale
Jon Martindale is the Evergreen Coordinator for Computing, overseeing a team of writers addressing all the latest how to…
The best apps powered by GPT-4
Be My Eyes application preview.

ChatGPT and the language models it's based on are revolutionizing the digital and online worlds in new and exciting ways. If you want to see what some of the cutting-edge developments can do, you'll want some of the best tools based on the latest OpenAI language model, GPT-4. Although there are some ways you can play with the classic GPT-4 chatbot for free, you can also try out these awesome applications to see what the power of GPT-4 can really do.

Here are some of the best apps to use GPT-4.
A word of warning
There are a lot of ChatGPT clones, AI chatbots that claim to be based on GPT-4, or sites and services that claim to give you access to GPT-4. They are almost entirely false, and in some cases can be bundled with dangerous malware. GPT-4 API access is limited by OpenAI, and the costs involved in using GPT-4 for an app can be incredibly high, so smaller developers are unlikely to be able to deliver a GPT-4 experience, even if they aren't lying.

Read more
OpenAI threatens lawsuit over student GPT-4 project, forgets you can use it for free
OpenAI's ChatGPT blog post is open on a computer monitor, taken from a high angle.

There's nothing quite like the nonprofit research group turned for-profit company OpenAI chasing down a computer science student over an open-source GPT-4 project. Sounds ridiculous, but it's true. The creators of ChatGPT are threatening a lawsuit against student Xtekky if he doesn't take down his GPT4free GitHub repository.

As reported by Tom's Hardware, GPT4free is an open-source project from a European computer science student. The student identifies as Xtekky, and his tool pings various websites that use GPT-4. You can clone the repository, set up the chatbot locally on your PC, and interact with GPT-4 without paying for OpenAI's ChatGPT Plus service.

Read more
Microsoft has a new way to keep ChatGPT ethical, but will it work?
Bing Chat shown on a laptop.

Microsoft caught a lot of flak when it shut down its artificial intelligence (AI) Ethics & Society team in March 2023. It wasn’t a good look given the near-simultaneous scandals engulfing AI, but the company has just laid out how it intends to keep its future efforts responsible and in check going forward.

In a post on Microsoft’s On the Issues blog, Natasha Crampton -- the Redmond firm’s Chief Responsible AI Officer -- explained that the ethics team was disbanded because “A single team or a single discipline tasked with responsible or ethical AI was not going to meet our objectives.”

Read more