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ARM says “Brain Cells” in Chips Will Surpass Neurons in Humans by 2018

Softbank’s CEO and chairman offers up exciting and even scary picture of the future 30 years out—says ARM will ship trillions of chips in IoT devices and these chips will one day have the IQ of 10,000.


There isn’t such a thing as Moore’s Law for human brains. However, this isn’t a problem microprocessors face. Speaking at the Mobile World Congress last week, Softbank’s CEO and chairman, Masayoshi Son, stated that brain cells in microprocessors will surpass the number of neurons in human beings by 2018.

Softbank acquired the British chip design firm ARM for $32 billion back in 2016. It is a giant bet on the future of the Internet of Things (IoT). It’s likely not just a sound bet but an even sounder investment for the Japanese holdings company. Here’s why.

ARM Looking Up for Softbank Parent Company

ARM already licenses its chip designs to industry leaders like Apple, Nvidia, and even Qualcomm—all of them major chip designers spinning off their own chip designs. Apple’s designs are known as the A-series and power the revenue-leading iPhone and its iPad tablet computers. ARM chips are also already in each and every modern automobile driving on the road today and the future of AI-based vehicles will need even more processing power.

01 - Softbank's ARM chip unit will ship trillions of microprocessors for IoT devices but security is looming large for a world with everything connected to thwart hackers from doing harm.

01 – Softbank’s ARM chip unit will ship trillions of microprocessors for IoT devices but security is looming large for a world with everything connected to thwart hackers from doing harm.

Key Takeaway

Softbank’s big bet on ARM is all about the future of IoT (Internet of Things) but even if IoT somehow falls short of grand projections, ARM still dominates in vehicles and is attacking the server market which powers the cloud. If projections are under-sized, in 20-30 years ARM chips in your tennis shoes may have 100 times the IQ of the average human brain and be under constant threat of being hacked. 

Then there is ARM’s challenge to Intel in the supercomputing space and in giant, cloud-distributed compute infrastructures like Microsoft’s Azure cloud. According to Bloomberg this week, Microsoft has pledged to use ARM server chips as it seeks to cut costs around its Azure cloud business, one of Microsoft’s stronger business segments.

The Birth of Super-Intelligence

But Masayoshi Son’s comments about the brain cells in chips outstripping neurons is pointedly centered at the Internet of Things (IoT). Everything from Nest thermostats in homes, to smart refrigerators that are connected to the Internet, to explosive growth in devices in buildings that communicate status updates over the Internet, the IoT market is set to explode beyond our imagination. And ARM intends to be driving it forward.

During his keynote at the Mobile World Congress, Masayoshi Son asked his audience to raise their hands if they knew what the word “singularity” means, referring to the point in history when artificial intelligence overtakes human intelligence. When the machines have become greater than us. “If a guy has a 200 IQ we call him [a] genius,” says Masayoshi Son, “If a guy has 10,000 IQ what should we call him?”

02 – To listen to Softbank’s CEO (Softbank owns ARM) speak about why he acquired ARM for $32 billion watch the video above. 

Referencing the 30 billion neural connections in the human brain and roadmaps for ARM microprocessors, he predicts that in 30 years ARM-powered IoT devices will have intelligence equaling an IQ of 10,000. He believes that mankind will have 10 billion smart robots assisting with human activity by 2040. And for IoT—which is where Softbank plans to truly leverage future growth with ARM—he bemusingly states: “Think of one of the chips in our shoes…it will be smarter than our brains. We will be less than our shoes…”

Related Articles

Microsoft Pledges to Use ARM Server Chips, Threatening Intel’s Dominance

Softbank expects ARM to deliver 1 trillion IoT chips in next 20 years. 


[Editor’s note: Earlier today we reported that Softbank’s CEO said mankind would have 10 million smart robots helping mankind. He actually said 10 billion. – 10 Marc 17. 10:15. ]


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