Microsoft cofounder, Bill Gates published a seven-page letter on Tuesday, March 21 — “The Age of AI has Begun” — outlining his views on the future of AI. He wrote that developing AI is “as fundamental as the creation of the microprocessor, the personal computer, the internet, and the mobile phone.”
The letter arrived the same day Google released its AI chatbot, Bard, which joins Microsoft’s Bing in the AI race for users, and a week after OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT, announced the much-anticipated evolution of its AI model, GPT-4.
Gates has previously spoken about his excitement for the future of AI, namely how it could be used as a tutor in education or to provide medical advice to people where doctors aren’t easily accessible.
The Business Insider summary says Gates writes about how AI could be used in the workforce as a “digital personal assistant” to enhance employee productivity—AI, integrated into digital work tools like Microsoft Office, could help with managing and writing emails, Gates wrote. He wrote that these AI-generated “personal agents” or “white-collar assistants”— equipped with vast knowledge and data on their company and industry — could also pose as resources for employees to communicate with.
In the healthcare industry, AI could free up healthcare workers from certain tasks, including filing insurance claims, completing paperwork, and drafting doctor’s visit notes.
Gates wrote that for impoverished countries, where “many people in those countries never get to see a doctor,” AI could enable healthcare workers to be more productive with the patients they do see. It’s possible that AI could also aid in the treatment of patients who don’t live near health facilities, Gates wrote.
AI is already used in healthcare to analyse medical data and design drugs, Gates wrote, but the next wave of AI tools could assist with predicting medication side effects and calculating dosage levels.
For crops and livestock in poor countries, Gates wrote that AI could help design seeds tailored to local climates and develop vaccines for livestock — developments that could be important “as extreme weather and climate change put even more pressure on subsistence farmers in low-income countries.”
Gates predicted that AI could transform education in the next five to 10 years by delivering content tailored to a student’s learning style, and learning what motivates individual students and causes them to lose interest in subjects.
The billionaire also acknowledged in the letter concerns around artificial intelligence, including the risk that humans will misuse it, as well as the possibility of superintelligent, or “strong,” AI that could “establish their own goals” as AI technology improves over time.
“To make the most of this remarkable new technology, we’ll need to both guard against the risks and spread the benefits to as many people as possible,” Gates wrote.
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