Current AIs only have the IQ level of a cat, asserts Google DeepMind CEO

Demis Hassabis
Demis Hassabis talks cats (Image credit: Institute for Global Change on YouTube)

The CEO of Google DeepMind has compared the IQ levels of contemporary artificial intelligence (AI) agents to domestic cats. “We’re still not even at cat intelligence yet, as a general system,” remarked Hassabis, answering a question about DeepMind’s progress in artificial general intelligence (AGI). However, research is progressing fast, with some huge cash and compute investments propelling it forward. Some expect it to eclipse human intelligence in the next half-decade.

Demis Hassabis, the co-founder and CEO of Google DeepMind, made the artificial intelligence vs. cat IQ comparison in a public discussion with Tony Blair, one of Britain’s ex-Prime Ministers. The talk was part of the Future of Britain Conference 2024, organized by the Institute for Global Change.

Hassabis highlights that his work is not focused on AI but on AGI. It gives us more perspective on how he is looking at the computer vs cat comparison. Yes, a contemporary AI can sometimes write, paint, or make music in a convincingly human-like fashion, but an ordinary house cat has a lot more general intelligence. “At the moment, we’re far from Human-level intelligence across the board,” admitted Hassabis. “But in certain areas like games playing [AI is] better than the best people in the world.”

(Image credit: Institute for Global Change)

On the potential of AI to shape our lives, Hassabis boldly reckons that it will be as big as the Industrial Revolution or the harnessing of fire or electricity. In the future, and more specifically, the DeepMind CEO thinks one of the most exciting ways AI will become a leading light will be accelerating scientific discovery in energy, materials science, health care, climate, and mathematics – and it is already doing this. Interestingly, he said we were all talking about ‘big data’ in the noughties, and AI systems are the answer.

Hassabis took the opportunity to plug a DeepMind project called Project Astra. This removes AI from the restrictions of being a mere Chatbot like ChatGPT or Google Gemini, with much more awareness of a user’s situation, environment, preferences, history, and so on. In this way, Project Astra aims to deliver a ‘universal AI agent’ that is helpful in everyday life.

Meanwhile, the biggest hurdles remaining for outfits like DeepMind and human-level AGI achievements include planning, memory, tool use, and smart questioning. The DeepMind CEO knows that big breakthroughs and compute scaling are still needed for AGIs to achieve human IQ levels.

Mark Tyson
News Editor

Mark Tyson is a news editor at Tom's Hardware. He enjoys covering the full breadth of PC tech; from business and semiconductor design to products approaching the edge of reason.

  • ingtar33
    well anyone who's used Google's AI will agree whole heartedly with his assertion. anyone who's used chatGPT 4.0 will not.
  • A Stoner
    That is an infinitely large exaggeration, so far there is not an AI out there that has any intelligence at all. None, zero, nada, zilch, so they do not even have the intelligence of an insect. There are probably plants with more intelligence.

    I am not saying that they do not possess the ability to do things, but none of it is based upon intelligence.
  • Neilbob
    I wonder, if you placed an AI supercomputer and a cat on a long conveyor belt heading slowly and dramatically towards a giant meat grinder, which one would try to get off the conveyor belt first?
  • CmdrShepard
    Neilbob said:
    I wonder, if you placed an AI supercomputer and a cat on a long conveyor belt heading slowly and dramatically towards a giant meat grinder, which one would try to get off the conveyor belt first?
    Since AI was trained on Reddit it would escape and tie the cat to the conveyor belt for lulz.
  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    That's because there is no "intelligence" in current "AI", it's all pattern recognition and content cues. We know it's -superb- at these tasks, as they're able to pour over upteen thousand astronomical images and find patterns that humans could never do, or look at medical scans and find dental and health issues. It's also great at focused content, like law, which is very black and white. It will also excel at finding errors and bugs in code because it can trail and error at a speed impossible for even a team of coders to do.

    Pretty much everywhere else it falls flat because it would involve a certain level of intelligence. I wouldn't even say current AI has the intelligence level of a cat because a cat can very efficiently stalk and hunt prey, notice and evade danger, and anticipate and predict events. To me current AI has the intelligence somewhere between an encyclopedia index and Excel, and has a long way to go to even reach "Crow" levels of intelligence, much less "average adult human" or "Stephen Hawking" level.
  • NedSmelly
    Being pedantic here… but you can’t do IQ tests on animals. Unless they have suddenly developed the capacity to fill out questionnaires.
  • DSzymborski
    If so, my cats can cause a *lot* of destruction and chaos.
  • JRStern
    Hassabis seems a fine fellow, but he does cats no favor with the comparison. Cats can't tell me much about the history of mathematics and ChatGPT can't catch a mouse or red dot. So if they're equal, they're equal at about zero. Surely cats deserve better.
  • JRStern
    Also, getting away from Gemini sounds like an excellent idea.
  • watzupken
    To begin with, AI has no IQ. The algo is as good as the programmer trying to determine the right response(s) based on what content the AI has been trained and have access to. The algo in any case, is a black box.