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Big AI Surprises Around the Corner? Metaculus Predictions Show Expectations Changing Rapidly

In a time of tremendous technological advancement, where the pace of innovation often outstrips our capacity to understand it, prediction markets emerge as crucial tools to forecast our trajectory. 

In the AI realm, none stands out more prominently than the predictions from Metaculus. Their latest data paints a tantalizing, if somewhat unsettling, picture of the future. 

As I dug into the numbers, one particular stat leapt out: the accelerating timelines for the arrival of Artificial General Intelligence (AGI).

A mere four months ago, we were confidently placing our bets on AGI being a distant 20+ year dream. Today? 4-9 years. That’s a seismic shift, and one that should give us all pause.

Metaculus predictions for the first AGI, AUgust 2023
Metaculus predictions for the first AGI

A Shrinking Horizon: The Race to AGI

First, let’s consider what this might mean. The rapid contraction in the predicted time until AGI’s emergence indicates that breakthroughs are happening faster than we anticipated. And, importantly, that our capacity to forecast technological innovation is more fallible than we might hope. The implications are vast: from economic disruption to ethical considerations about machine consciousness.

However, the path to AGI is littered with significant milestones and challenges. A mere 9% chance that OpenAI achieves superalignment by 2027 underscores the technical challenges ahead and the widespread belief that OpenAI’s goal of solving this problem in just four years is overambitious.

OpenAI Superalignment

While many of us eagerly await the announcement of GPT-5 in December 2024, the broader question looms: will it have the ability to “escape”? The 22% chance of GPT-5 having autonomous replicating capabilities means we are gambling with odds that wouldn’t be out of place in a game of Russian roulette.

Unsuprisingly, the prediction market is overwhelmingly betting on deep learning as the foundation for the first AGI, with a 90% probability. But the real intrigue lies in the 70% chance that one of the first AGIs will claim to be conscious. Such a claim would not only be groundbreaking but also carry profound ethical implications. If a machine claims consciousness, how do we treat it? Do we grant it rights? Do we even have the tools or frameworks to ascertain the validity of such a claim?

AI’s Broad Reach: From MENSA to Poker

By June 2025, we might see an AI acing the MENSA test, something that was expected not until 2050 just three years ago. 

Metaculus predictions for Mensa Score by AI
Metaculus predictions for AI scoring in the 98th Mensa Percentile

But will the same AI obliterate online poker? The odds are low at 12% guessing online poker will be a thing of the past by 2031, but it’s a reminder of AI’s potential to eventually disrupt even the most unexpected sectors.

Regulation, Deepfakes, and a Grand Project

With the rapid advancements in AI, a pertinent question arises: will the U.S. restrict compute? At a 39% chance, it’s a coin toss. The looming threat of deepfakes causing real damage is growing continually more imminent, with an 86% chance it’ll hit headlines this year, up more than double from the start of the year.

Metaculus predictions for Deepfake damage making front page news in 2023
Metaculus predictions for Deepfake damage making front page news in 2023

And as we race towards these milestones, there’s a growing call for a coordinated effort, akin to the Manhattan or Apollo projects, for AGI. The prediction market sees this massive undertaking commencing in 2029 with the first AGI by March 2032, down from 2057 just a year ago.

The numbers from Metaculus paint a future that’s both thrilling and daunting. From the shrinking timelines for AGI’s arrival to the ethical conundrums of machine consciousness, we’re standing on the precipice of a brave new world. As these predictions evolve, one thing is clear: the AI conversation is one that all of us, from technologists to philosophers, need to be a part of. The future is coming at us faster than we think. Let’s be ready.

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