Bill Gates, who helped start Microsoft, says that the development of artificial intelligence (AI) is the most important step forward in technology in decades.
He said it was as important as the invention of the microprocessor, the personal computer, the Internet, and the cell phone in a blog post on Tuesday.
He said, “It will change how people work, learn, travel, get medical care, and talk to each other.”
He was writing about how tools like chatbot ChatGPT use technology.
ChatGPT is an AI chatbot that was made by OpenAI. It is programmed to answer online questions in natural, human-like language.
In January 2023, Microsoft, where Bill Gates is still a consultant, gave a large amount of money to the team behind it.
But it’s not the only AI-powered chatbot out there. Google just released a rival called Bard.
Mr. Gates said that he had been meeting with OpenAI since 2016. OpenAI is the team behind the artificial intelligence that runs the chatbot ChatGPT.
In his blog, Mr. Gates wrote that he had given the OpenAI team a challenge for 2022: train an AI that can pass an Advanced Placement (AP) Biology exam, which is about the same as an A-level exam, but the AI must not be trained to answer Biology questions in particular.
A few months later, the results were made public. He said that the score was almost perfect, missing only one mark out of 50.
Mr. Gates said after the test that he asked the AI to write a letter to a father whose child was sick.
“It wrote a thoughtful answer that was probably better than what most of us in the room would have said,” he said.
“I knew I had just seen the most important technological advance since the graphical user interface (GUI).”
A GUI is a visual display that lets a person interact with images and icons instead of having to type commands into a display that only shows text.
In the 1980s, it was used to make the Windows and Mac OS operating systems, and it is still a very important part of computing.
Mr. Gates says he thinks AI technology will lead to similar progress.
What’s Next for AI?
Mr. Gates, who is co-chair of the charitable Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, called on governments to work with industry to “limit the risks” of AI, but he also said that the technology could be used to save lives.
“AI-driven improvements will be especially important in poor countries, where most children under 5 die,” he wrote.
“Many people in those countries never see a doctor, and AIs will help the doctors and nurses they do see do their jobs better.”
He gave some examples of this, such as filling out insurance claims, paperwork and taking notes.
But in order for this to happen, Mr. Gates called for AI to be used in the future in a more focused way.
“AI products and services that help the poor won’t come out of the market on their own,” he said. “Most likely, the opposite is true.
“With reliable funding and the right policies, governments and philanthropy can make sure that AIs are used to reduce inequality.
“Just as the world needs its smartest people to work on its biggest problems, we will need to put the world’s best AIs to work on its biggest problems.”