Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, has expressed his belief that the development of artificial intelligence (AI) is the most significant technological advance of the past few decades. In a blog post on Tuesday, he compared it to the creation of the microprocessor, the personal computer, the internet, and the mobile phone. He stated that it would transform the way people work, learn, travel, receive healthcare, and communicate with each other. Gates specifically referred to the technology used by AI chatbot ChatGPT, which is programmed to answer questions online using natural, human-like language. OpenAI, the team behind ChatGPT, received a multibillion dollar investment from Microsoft in January 2023, where Gates still serves as an advisor.
Gates challenged the OpenAI team in 2022 to train an AI that could pass an Advanced Placement (AP) Biology exam with the strict rule that the AI could not be specifically trained to answer Biology questions. A few months later, they revealed the results – a near-perfect score, missing only one mark out of 50. Gates was impressed and stated that he had just witnessed the most important advance in technology since the graphical user interface (GUI), which led to the Windows and Mac OS operating systems in the 1980s.
Gates emphasized that AI technology could save lives, especially in poor countries where most under-5 deaths occur, by completing repetitive tasks such as insurance claims, paperwork, and note-taking. However, he also called for a targeted approach to AI technology in the future, stating that market forces would not naturally produce AI products and services that help the poorest. With reliable funding and the right policies, governments and philanthropy can ensure that AI is used to reduce inequity.
In conclusion, Gates believes that AI technology will lead to significant advancements, similar to the GUI, and that governments should work with industry to limit the risks of AI while using it to improve people’s lives.