2017 WhenWillAIExceedHumanPerformanc

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Subject Headings: Mass Technological Underemployment.


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Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) will transform modern life by reshaping transportation, health, science, finance, and the military. To adapt public policy, we need to better anticipate these advances. Here we report the results from a large survey of machine learning researchers on their beliefs about progress in AI. Researchers predict AI will outperform humans in many activities in the next ten years, such as translating languages (by 2024), writing high-school essays (by 2026), driving a truck (by 2027), working in retail (by 2031), writing a bestselling book (by 2049), and working as a surgeon (by 2053). Researchers believe there is a 50% chance of AI outperforming humans in all tasks in 45 years and of automating all human jobs in 120 years, with Asian respondents expecting these dates much sooner than North Americans. These results will inform discussion amongst researchers and policymakers about anticipating and managing trends in AI.


Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) will have massive social consequences. Self-driving technology might replace millions of driving jobs over the coming decade. In addition to possible unemployment, the transition will bring new challenges, such as rebuilding infrastructure, protecting vehicle cyber-security, and adapting laws and regulations [5]. New challenges, both for AI developers and policy-makers, will also arise from applications in law enforcement, military technology, and marketing [6]. To prepare for these challenges, accurate forecasting of transformative AI would be invaluable.

Several sources provide objective evidence about future AI advances: trends in computing hardware [7], task performance [8], and the automation of labor [9]. The predictions of AI experts provide crucial additional information. We survey a larger and more representative sample of AI experts than any study to date [10, 11]. Our questions cover the timing of AI advances (including both practical applications of AI and the automation of various human jobs), as well as the social and ethical impacts of AI.

Survey Method

Our survey population was all researchers who published at the 2015 NIPS and ICML conferences (two of the premier venues for peer-reviewed research in machine learning). A total of 352 researchers responded to our survey invitation (21% of the 1634 authors we contacted). Our questions concerned the timing of specific AI capabilities (e.g. folding laundry, language translation), superiority at specific occupations (e.g. truck driver, surgeon), superiority over humans at all tasks, and the social impacts of advanced AI. See Survey Content for details.

Time Until Machines Outperform Humans

AI would have profound social consequences if all tasks were more cost effectively accomplished by machines. Our survey used the following definition:

  • High-level machine intelligence” (HLMI) is achieved when unaided machines can accomplish every task better and more cheaply than human workers.




 AuthorvolumeDate ValuetitletypejournaltitleUrldoinoteyear
2017 WhenWillAIExceedHumanPerformancKatja Grace
John Salvatier
Allan Dafoe
Baobao Zhang
Owain Evans
When Will {AI} Exceed Human Performance? Evidence from {AI} Experts2017
AuthorKatja Grace +, John Salvatier +, Allan Dafoe +, Baobao Zhang + and Owain Evans +
titleWhen Will {AI} Exceed Human Performance? Evidence from {AI} Experts +
year2017 +