(Bloomberg) -- SoftBank Group Corp.’s big-talking founder Masayoshi Son is back, this time with plans to bring about an era of artificial super-intelligence.

Son sketched out ambitions to help create AI thousands of times smarter than any human, making his most grandiose pronouncements since the Japanese conglomerate began taking steps to shore up its finances following a series of ill-timed startup bets. 

Son, sounding both more energized and more reflective than he has in years, talked Friday about a future when Arm Holdings Plc chips support a thriving ecosystem of robots and powerful data centers that can collectively cure cancer, clean houses and play with children. 

Son, at times visibly overtaken with emotion, talked about how he wanted to change the world before he leaves it for good. The 66-year-old invoked his late friend Steve Jobs, saying their frequent conversations often left him in tears when he realized his legacy would pale in comparison with the Apple Inc. co-founder’s.

But after agonizing about his next move over the past year, during which Son’s father passed away, the billionaire said he woke up with an epiphany Friday morning. “I had my answer,” Son told shareholders gathered at an annual meeting. “This is what I was born to do,” he said, without elaborating on what his next plans might be. “We’ve done many things, but all that’s been a warm-up for my dream to realize ASI.”

Shares of SoftBank fell 3.1% in their biggest drop in three months.

SoftBank is working on a plan to deploy some $100 billion into AI-related chips in a project dubbed Izanagi, Bloomberg reported in February. When a shareholder asked about Izanagi, Son said he’s committed to obtaining results and that he will work hard to achieve his goals, without elaborating. 

Son’s exposition and his goals have grown grandiose in proportion to SoftBank’s share price, which has ridden Arm’s AI-driven rally in 2024, and its cash pile. He brushed off questions about share buybacks, dividends and stock splits, saying that such matters are of little significance compared to realizing a world powered by super intelligence and the evolution of humanity. 

“Share buybacks, dividend payouts - these are minor things,” Son said, adding that evolution and proliferation of technology were what will boost boost shareholder value. “You may be worried about whether or not SoftBank shares are going to rise. Let’s all forget about such things. Does that really matter? Masayoshi Son has a dream to chase - please root for me.” 

Son’s stance on share buybacks come after Elliott Investment Management’s recent purchase of more than $2 billion of SoftBank stock and its demand for a share buyback worth $15 billion. This is the second time Elliott has targeted SoftBank. 

“You never know what will happen, and I’m not promising anything. I might do a share buyback, I might decide to take the company private, or I might continue business as is,” Son said. “In whatever shape or form, I’m going after ASI.” 

Top executives have hinted that the company is getting ready to go on the offense in investing, potentially ending several quarters of hiatus in activity. The company’s loan-to-value ratio dropped to 8.4% as of end March, near a record low and far below the company’s target of 25%. That is one of Son’s favorite metrics for determining whether the company is properly balancing risk and opportunity.

SoftBank’s net asset value hit ¥34 trillion ($214 billion) as of Thursday, bolstered by Arm’s rally. SoftBank’s own shares are up almost 60% this year and are on the verge of setting a fresh record high. 

Chief Financial Officer Yoshimitsu Goto told investors during an earnings briefing last month that SoftBank is now in a position where it needs to take more risk, particularly as AI development accelerates. “Failing to take risks constitutes the biggest risk for us,” said Goto who’s previously served as the voice of reason to the risk-taking Son. “We have our sights set on a variety of challenges.” 

--With assistance from Hiroshi Miyazaki.

(Updates with share reaction)

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