SoftBank CEO Parties With Smart Robots During UN GA Week

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  • Futuristic predictions and Mahler rule galas in New York
  • ‘Metal-collar’ workforce can free humans for other tasks

At the soirees scheduled during the week of the United Nations General Assembly annual meeting, the current state of the world hovers uneasily over every conversation.

Masayoshi Son, chief executive officer and founder of SoftBank, offered something different: a wild vision of the future in which 10 billion smart robots with IQs of 10,000 will form a metal-collar workforce replacing most blue-collar and many white-collar jobs. These members of the superintelligence in about 30 years will swim and fly, come in all shapes -- and redefine every industry, giving us a new lifestyle that presents great investment opportunities, he said: a gold rush. The Singularity is his "one belief" for SoftBank’s $100 billion Vision Fund.

Brian Moynihan, Masayoshi Son and Rabbi Arthur Schneier at the Appeal of Conscience gala Monday night.

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Which leaves us where exactly? Unemployed and humbled -- these smart robots may cure diseases and even save the world, he said Monday night at the New York Hilton while accepting an honor from the Appeal of Conscience Foundation.

But there’s a silver lining: We’ll also have free time to help each other and ask the big questions. "What is mankind’s job when they become so smart, smarter against us? What is life, what is the meaning of living?"

Steve Schwarzman and Christine Lagarde at the Appeal of Conscience gala.

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Unfortunately, the able forecaster who’s made a lot of money on his technology-focused investments didn’t provide answers. Time was limited, after all, at a gala where two other CEOs were honored (Paul Polman and Brian Moynihan) and Son got to catch up with Blackstone Group LP’s Steve Schwarzman.

"Steve has been my mentor," Son said. "I am just following what he has done."

There were also remarks by the Vatican’s foreign minister, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher; Rabbi Arthur Schneier, Appeal of Conscience founder; and Christine Lagarde.

The next night, Schwarzman and Lagarde went aboard the USS Intrepid for the Atlantic Council’s Global Citizen Awards, where Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, was among those honored. But the most fun was a performance by pianists Lang Lang and Amir Siraj, a Harvard freshman who hopes to work on space policy one day, and who pledged to be back in Cambridge in time for his 10 a.m. class on Chinese ethical and political theory.

Also cutting through the tensions of the week was opening night at the New York Philharmonic, where conductor Jaap van Zweden and the orchestra wowed with Mahler.

Jaap van Zweden conducts New York Philharmonic’s 2017-18 opening night concert at David Geffen Hall.

Photographer: Chris Lee via Bloomberg

Deborah Borda, the Philharmonic’s new CEO, said she was glad the evening had brought Hurricane Jaap to New York instead of Hurricane Jose.

Richard LeFrak, Jenny Paulson, Karen LeFrak and John Paulson

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

"It was electrifying," Alec Baldwin said in the dinner tent after the performance at Lincoln Center. He was just back from Los Angeles where he won an Emmy, which is already in a box on its way to his house in Long Island “because we have no room in our apartment for any more of my crap.”

Gary Parr, John Paulson, Bobby Tudor, Jeff Peek and Richard and Karen LeFrak were among the 700 guests who helped raise $2.1 million for the Philharmonic, which will hopefully ward off smart robots from replacing the musicians for a little while at least.

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