Salesforce Building Artificial General Intelligence for Business: CEO Marc Benioff

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CRM and cloud software pioneer Salesforce is building artificial general intelligence for business, founder, CEO and chairman Marc Benioff said today at the company’s Dreamforce conference. Benioff bills 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 company’s 20,000 global “trailblazers” build AI-infused apps for their own businesses without code.

But the company’s ambitions clearly go much further.

“AI will change everything. Everything is going to change,” Benioff said, talking about predictive artificial intelligence and generative AI before adding that Salesforce’s platform will soon be “autonomous with agents and soon AGI.”

Benioff outlined four waves of enterprise AI, the first two of which are currently real, available and shipping:

  1. fortune teller
  2. Generative
  3. Autonomous and agentic
  4. Artificial General Intelligence

“Agents” are intelligent automation powered by AI to complete tasks, communicate information, make decisions, or learn new things. AGI is artificial general intelligence—human-level or superior cognition—that experts cannot agree on. Those who think this is possible are deeply divided on the timeline.

Jeffrey Hinton, 2018 Turing Award winner, former head of Google’s DeepMind division and one of the “godfathers of deep learning,” says AGI is 5-20 years away, but stresses his lack of confidence.

“I now predict 5 to 20 years but without much confidence,” he said on Twitter, now X. “We live in very uncertain times. It’s possible that I’m completely wrong about digital intelligence overtaking us.”

Benioff made the remarks at the start of an in-depth presentation of his company’s AI plans and offerings, noting that Salesforce is now the world’s third-largest software company with revenue guidance of $35 billion in 2024. Salesforce started an AI research team nearly a decade ago. As of 2014, there are 300 AI patents and its employees have written 227 AI research papers. In many ways, Salesforce sees itself as a major contender for enabling the AI-first enterprise, as companies that can best implement AI technology over the next five years are likely to fall behind the competition.

Salesforce’s Einstein AI engine already runs more than a trillion predictions a week, the company says, and chief technology officer Parker Harris said the company has produced “more than 10 LL.M.”

LLMs are large language models running some of the most sophisticated and effective AI engines of the past few years, such as ChatGPT.

“We want to reach AI nirvana,” Benioff said.

AI Nirvana, presumably, is when companies can apply AI to streamline processes, make faster decisions, and enable seamless customer service. Others at Salesforce say this is a significant step in the evolution of technology.

“When Google came out 20 years ago … everybody got smarter,” Salesforce CEO of AI Clara Shih told me earlier this week. “We are now witnessing one of those pivotal moments … we are witnessing a step function in human capacity.”

AI Nirvana also looks like “hyperautomation”.

As CTO Harris points out, this hyperautomation is AI that auto-generates websites, auto-generates product descriptions for e-commerce apps, auto-generates landing pages for marketing campaigns. Salesforce demonstrated how the customer is using Williams-Sonoma AI for its service representatives to automatically suggest answers to customer questions, resolve issues and interact with customers. For sales reps, Salesforce showed how AI can set up meetings, record notes from those meetings and generate action items.

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