Bill Gates said he believes artificial intelligence is the most revolutionary technology he’s seen in decades, on par with computers, cell phones and the internet.
“The development of AI is as fundamental as the creation of the microprocessor, the personal computer, the Internet and the mobile phone,” he wrote in a blog post Tuesday. “Entire industries will refocus around it. Companies will differentiate themselves by how well they use it.”
Mr Gates, a 67-year-old personal computing pioneer, said he was excited about how AI could improve lives. He and other technologists have spent years theorizing about the various applications of AI, a debate that has intensified since startup OpenAI launched ChatGPT in November. Essentially, artificial intelligence refers to a computer’s ability to learn from large amounts of data and then mimic human responses.
“The rise of AI will free people to do things that software will never do, such as teaching, caring for patients and supporting the elderly,” he wrote.
He said he believed AI could also help scientists develop vaccines, teach students math and replace jobs in task-oriented areas such as sales and accounting. He suggested that one day AI could go through someone’s email inbox and schedule their meetings.
Representatives of Mr. Gates and OpenAI did not immediately return requests for comment on Wednesday.
Mr Gates has said for years that he believes AI will change lives. He helped transform industries after co-founding Microsoft Corp.
a software giant and personal computing pioneer, in 1975. He has since become involved in other areas, including philanthropy, vaccine development, and AI.
Engineers have been working on AI technology for decades, but ChatGPT is one of the most advanced versions of it released to the public. The chatbot attracted attention for its human answers to almost every question. However, some of the answers were wrong or unhinged, highlighting ChatGPT’s substantial limitations. Certain schools and companies have banned people from using the chatbot, while others have encouraged people to try it.
OpenAI sparked a race between tech giants to release similar technologies, including Microsoft’s AI search engine Bing and Bard, a conversational computer program from Alphabet Inc.
owned by Google.
Microsoft said earlier this year that it made a multi-year, multi-billion dollar investment in OpenAI, the startup behind the viral ChatGPT chatbot. Mr Gates said he had been meeting people at OpenAI since 2016 and was impressed with their steady progress. He said he watched in awe as the company’s AI model correctly answered 59 of 60 questions on an AP Biology exam in September.
Still, Mr. Gates acknowledged AI’s shortcomings on Tuesday.
“We have to keep in mind that we are only at the beginning of what AI can achieve,” he wrote. “Any limitations it has today will be gone before we know it.”
He said he thought AI should be properly regulated. Elon Musk, another tech entrepreneur, has proposed creating a regulatory body to help guide the development of AI. Mr. Musk helped create OpenAI, but for years he has said he is concerned that AI technology will become so powerful that it could start a war or be used to make weapons. Representatives for Mr Musk did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.
Mr Gates acknowledged his concerns about AI in his blog post, saying: “We need to try to balance the fear of AI’s drawbacks – which are understandable and valid – with its ability to improve people’s lives.”
Still, he added: “I am fortunate to have been involved in the PC revolution and the Internet revolution. I am just as excited about this moment.”
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