Tesla CEO Elon Musk — who has an abysmal track record for making predictions — is predicting that we will achieve artificial general intelligence (AGI) by 2026.

"If you define AGI as smarter than the smartest human, I think it's probably next year, within two years," he told Norway wealth fund CEO Nicolai Tangen during an interview this week, as quoted by Reuters.

The mercurial billionaire also attempted to explain why his own AI venture, xAI, has been falling behind the competition. According to Musk, a shortage of chips was hampering his startup's efforts to come up with the successor of Grok, a foul-mouthed, dad joke-generating AI chatbot.

Of course, we should take his latest prognostication with a hefty grain of salt. Musk already has a well-established track record of making self-serving timeline predictions that didn't come true on schedule or at all.

Nonetheless, he's far from the only tech leader in the business arguing that we're mere years away from a point at which AIs can compete with humans on virtually any intellectual task. Other experts have predicted that AGI could become a reality as soon as 2027. Last year, DeepMind co-founder Shane Legg reiterated his belief that there was a 50-50 chance of achieving AGI by 2028.

What complicates all these predictions is the fact that we have yet to agree on a unifying definition of what AGI would actually entail. Last year, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman published an incendiary blog post, arguing that his company was set to use AGI to "benefit all of humanity."

Researchers dismissed the post as a meaningless publicity stunt to appease investors.

"The term AGI is so loaded, it's misleading to toss it around as though it's a real thing with real meaning," Bentley University mathematics professor Noah Giansiracusa argued in a tweet at the time. "It's not a scientific concept, it's a sci-fi marketing ploy."

"AI will steadily improve, there's no magic [moment] when it becomes 'AGI,'" he added.

In short, it's no secret that billions of dollars are tied up in the industry's promise of achieving AGI — and tech leaders, including Musk, are gripping onto the idea that such a watershed moment is only a few years away.

That type of money talks. According to a January Financial Times report, xAI was looking to raise up to $6 billion in funding for a proposed valuation of $20 billion.

That's despite the venture having a vapid and borderline meaningless goal of assisting "humanity in its quest for understanding and knowledge," for some reason programming its Grok AI chatbot to have "a bit of wit" and "a rebellious streak."

In practice, Musk wants his startup to enhance human knowledge through an "anti-woke" and "maximum truth-seeking AI" that can teach people how to make cocaine or build explosives while insulting its users and indulging in low-brow potty humor.

Worst of all, the AI is relying on real-time X-formerly-Twitter data, making it a "form of digital inbreeding that will continually train its model on the data of a website that, other than being a deeply-unreliable source of information, is beset with spam," as media commentator Ed Zitron described it in a December blog post.

In short, given the complexities involved and the countless ways to interpret and quantify human intelligence, we should treat any predictions as to when we'll reach the point of AGI with skepticism — especially when they come from a man who thinks a dad joke generator will lead us to enlightenment.

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