Salesforce’s Vision for Artificial General Intelligence in Business
CRM and cloud software pioneer Salesforce is building toward artificial general intelligence for business, founder, CEO and chairman Marc Benioff said today at the company’s Dreamforce conference.
Benioff billed Dreamforce as the world’s largest AI conference, and will host OpenAI founder and CEO Sam Altman in a conversation later today.
At the conference, Salesforce announced Einstein Copilot, which will help the companies’ 20,000 global “trailblazers” build AI-infused apps for their own businesses around the world without code.
But the company’s ambitions clearly go much further. “AI will change everything. Everything is going to shift,” Benioff said, speaking about predictive artificial intelligence and generative AI before adding that Salesforce’ platform would soon be “autonomous with agents and soon to be AGI.”
The Waves of Enterprise AI
Benioff outlined four waves of enterprise AI, the first two of which are currently real, available, and shipping:
- Agents: Intelligent automations driven by AI to accomplish tasks, communicate information, make decisions, or learn new things.
- AGI: Artificial general intelligence—human-level or better cognition—which experts aren’t unanimously certain is possible.
Those who think AGI is possible are deeply divided on timelines. Geoffrey Hinton, a 2018 Turing Award winner and former head of Google’s DeepMind division, says AGI might be 5-20 years away, but emphasizes his lack of confidence.
“I now predict 5 to 20 years but without much confidence,” he said on Twitter. “We live in very uncertain times. It’s possible that I am totally wrong about digital intelligence overtaking us.”
Salesforce’s AI Journey
Salesforce started an AI research team almost a decade ago in 2014, has 300 AI patents, and its employees have written 227 AI research papers. In many ways, Salesforce sees itself as a key contender to enabling the AI-first enterprise, as companies that can implement the best AI technology over the next five years are likely to out-compete laggards.
Salesforce’ Einstein AI engine already runs over a trillion predictions a week, and the company has built “over 10 LLMs,” which are large language models that drive some of the most sophisticated and impactful AI engines of the past few years.
AI Nirvana and Hyperautomation
“We want to get to AI nirvana,” Benioff said. AI nirvana, in Salesforce’s vision, is when companies can implement AI to streamline processes, speed decisions, and enable seamless customer service. It’s a significant step in the evolution of technology.
This hyperautomation means AI that auto-generates websites, product descriptions, and landing pages. Salesforce demonstrated how client Williams-Sonoma is using AI for its service reps to automatically suggest replies to customer queries, proactively suggest resolutions to problems, and communicate with clients.
Building Trust and Ethical AI
As with previous Salesforce AI presentations, the word “trust” featured heavily in Benioff’s presentation. Salesforce has established policies and procedures as well as six ethical AI councils to build AI safely. The company stresses its key tenets of ethical AI, including protecting human rights, advancing responsible AI globally, and transparency to build trust.
One challenge to Salesforce’s AI mission is the lack of concrete numbers on how AI will improve customer service. While data, integration, and faster creation can help serve customers better, hard data to support that in the real world is still missing.
The Future of AGI
Regarding AGI, it’s unclear whether Benioff is pursuing it as a corporate initiative or simply stating that it’s the currently visible end state of AI development. Futurist Ray Kurzweil believes it will take another six years to achieve AGI, while others prefer not to speculate on timelines.
However, the biggest question about AGI, if achieved, is not how it will drive business faster, but whether humanity will survive its advent.