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Bill Gates: ‘AI as revolutionary as mobile phones and the Internet’

by Marco van der Hoeven

Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft and philanthropist, shared his excitement about the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) in a blog. Gates described witnessing two technological advancements that struck him as revolutionary during his lifetime. The first was the graphical user interface, which he brainstormed with Microsoft’s Charles Simonyi, and the second was OpenAI’s GPT model that aced an Advanced Placement biology exam.

Gates believes that AI will be fundamental to the future of the world, changing the way people work, learn, travel, get healthcare, and communicate with each other. Entire industries will be reoriented around it, and businesses will distinguish themselves based on their ability to use AI. Gates sees philanthropy as a full-time job and wants to ensure that AI helps reduce some of the world’s worst inequities, such as reducing the number of deaths of children under five years old from preventable causes, helping students succeed in mathematics, and fighting climate change.

However, Gates acknowledges that any new technology that is so disruptive raises difficult questions about the workforce, legal systems, privacy, bias, and other issues. Before suggesting ways to mitigate the risks, Gates defines what he means by AI and how it can empower people at work, save lives, and improve education.

Gates believes that many jobs require decision-making but not the ability to learn continuously, such as sales, service, or document handling. He suggests that these tasks can be made more efficient with AI, which can be trained on data sets that humans use in their training programs. AI can also be used to enhance productivity in many other industries.

Gates thinks that AI will play a critical role in reducing global health inequities by saving the lives of children born in poor countries who die from preventable causes. In the United States, AI can help improve education, especially in mathematics, where basic skills set students up for success, regardless of their chosen career. Gates also believes that AI can help address climate change, an issue that disproportionately affects the world’s poorest.

Despite his enthusiasm for AI, Gates acknowledges that the technology raises many challenges, such as factual mistakes and hallucinations. He believes that governments and philanthropy will need to play a major role in ensuring that AI reduces inequity and does not contribute to it. Gates concludes that he is excited about the impact that AI will have on the issues that the Gates Foundation works on and will have much more to say about AI in the coming months.

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