"I do consider it essentially inevitable."

Emulator Gator

John Carmack — Doom creator, father of virtual reality, and premier disgruntled Meta employee — believes humanity is on the cusp of Artificial General Intelligence (AGI).

"I think that, almost certainly, the tools that we've got from deep learning in this last decade," the famed programmer told Dallas Innovates, "we'll be able to ride those to artificial general intelligence."

As far as how to get there? All we have to do is figure out a little thing called "consciousness," and we'll be simulating the human brain in no time.

"The thing we don't yet have is sort of the consciousness, the associative memory, the things that have a life and goals and planning," Carmack continued. "I mean, forget human brains; we don't even have things that can act like a mouse or a cat."

"But it feels like we are within striking distance," he added, "of all those things."

Murky and Cloudy

To Carmack's credit, artificial intelligence has come a very long way in the last decade, and the current AI tools are impressive enough — a "revolution" that he attributes to deep learning and deep connectionist AI models.

Still, that consciousness "thing" that Carmack says the field is lacking — or machine sentience, or whatever you want to call it — is also a main point of contention within the industry and beyond. Yes, it's certainly missing from existing AI products, but it's also difficult to lay out any kind of roadmap for reaching consciousness-infused AGI when no one really knows are agrees on what it would look like.

And while Carmack didn't offer Dallas Innovates a solid definition of machine consciousness himself, he mainly seems to think that speed of innovation begets speed of innovation. A because-we've-gotten-this-far-of-course-we'll-get-that-far sort of thing. (Other deep learning experts might agree, while others, like Google's François Chollet, think of AGI as a pipe dream.)

"What I keep saying is that as soon as you're at the point where you have the equivalent of a toddler — something that is a being, it's conscious, it's not Einstein, it can't even do multiplication — if you've got a creature that can learn, you can interact with and teach it things on some level," Carmack said in the interview. "And at that point, you can deploy an army of engineers, developmental psychologists, and scientists to study things. Because we don't have that yet, we don't have the ability to simulate something that's a being like that."

"I do consider it essentially inevitable," he added.

READ MORE: Exclusive Q&A: John Carmack's 'Different Path' to Artificial General Intelligence [Dallas Innovates]

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