Bill Gates Is a Huge Fan of Artificial Intelligence

"Artificial intelligence is as revolutionary as mobile phones and the Internet," he says in a new essay

Microsoft founder Bill Gates reacts during a visit with Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to the Imperial College University on February 15, 2023 in London, England
Bill Gates: Excited by AI, not too worried about the computers taking over
Justin Tallis - WPA Pool/Getty Images

While talk of ChatGPT and other forms of artificial intelligence has raised alarm bells recently, Microsoft founder Bill Gates considers himself a fan. In a new essay on his personal blog, Gates calls AI “revolutionary” and places its existence on par with mobile phones and the internet. (No word on the metaverse.)

Gates became enamored with the technology last year when he asked OpenAI (the team behind ChatGPT) to use their AI to pass an AP Bio exam, a mixture of multiple-choice questions and essays. The key here is that the artificial intelligence hadn’t been specifically trained for that test.

The GPT model aced the exam, getting 59 of 60 questions correct and the highest score possible for the open-ended questions (as graded by an outside expert). It even gave a “thoughtful” answer to the non-scientific question, “What do you say to a father with a sick child?”

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“The whole experience was stunning,” writes Gates. “I knew I had just seen the most important advance in technology since the graphical user interface … The development of AI is as fundamental as the creation of the microprocessor, the personal computer, the Internet, and the mobile phone. It will change the way people work, learn, travel, get health care, and communicate with each other. Entire industries will reorient around it. Businesses will distinguish themselves by how well they use it.”

So he’s a fan, though he does note the potential issues with AI. “The world needs to make sure that everyone—and not just people who are well-off—benefits from artificial intelligence,” he says. “Governments and philanthropy will need to play a major role in ensuring that it reduces inequity and doesn’t contribute to it.” Oh, and also: “Then there’s the possibility that AIs will run out of control.” (He brushes that idea aside rather quickly.)

Fortunately, Gates mainly sees the good in AI, particularly from a health perspective, and also dealing with climate change and societal inequality. It’ll serve as a “digital personal assistant” and improve productivity, he adds. While somewhat light on details about how artificial intelligence will help in the above examples, he sums up AI as a whole as “a new technology [that] can help people everywhere improve their lives.”

Gates has proven to be prescient before — thankfully, unlike the world’s response to a pandemic, he’s quite full of optimism when it comes to AI.

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