"I don't believe in God. I'm a strong atheist. So I don't believe in AGI."


The CEO of Europe's brightest new AI firm is calling bull on the quest for so-called "artificial general intelligence" (AGI), which he says is akin to the desire to create God.

In an interview with the New York Times, Arthur Mensch, the CEO of the AI firm Mistral, sounded off on his fellow AI executives' "very religious" obsession with building AGI.

"The whole AGI rhetoric is about creating God," the Mistral CEO told the newspaper. "I don't believe in God. I'm a strong atheist. So I don't believe in AGI."

While far from the first to suggest that AGI — or superhuman AI, its supposed natural endpoint — is a pseudo-religious pipe dream, Mensch's comments hold a lot of weight because, at just 31, he's Europe's self-appointed AI "champion."

Indeed, the youthful Frenchman boasts an impressive resume prior to founding Mistral. Less than two years ago, he was working at Google DeepMind — which, along with OpenAI, is all-in on the AGI crusade — as a research scientist. His Mistral cofounders, Timothée Lacroix and Guillaume Lample, also worked as researchers at Meta, the NYT notes.

Cultural Revolution

Building AI that could put Europe on the AI map is one thing, but creating human-level artificial intelligence is another. Mensch, clearly, differs from his Silicon Valley counterparts in that regard.

"These models are producing content and shaping our cultural understanding of the world," the CEO said. "And as it turns out, the values of France and the values of the United States differ in subtle but important ways."

While AI figureheads like OpenAI's Sam Altman and Mensch's former big boss, DeepMind's Demis Hassabis, are cautiously excited about the labor changes AI will bring — but to the Mistral cofounder's mind, those changes will require swift retraining.

"It’s coming faster than in the previous revolutions," Mensch told the NYT. "Not in 10 years but more like in two."

While those sorts of predictions are much more tangible — and frankly terrifying — than AGI prognosticating, his vision seems to have broad appeal among the European elite. During a recent speech, as transcribed by the Times, British investor Matt Clifford heralded Mensch as the "poster child for A.I. in France" — and indeed, the French government has inked a deal with Mistral to boot.

Cédric O, France's former digital minister who owns shares in Mistral and is lobbying the European Union to loosen its AI regulations to allow the company to flourish, talks an even bigger talk.

"If Mistral becomes a big technical power,” O told the NYT, "it’s going to be beneficial for all of Europe."

More on AGI predictions: Elon Musk Says That Within Two Years, AI Will Be "Smarter Than the Smartest Human"

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