Artificial intelligence

Bill Gates calls AI revolutionary, says it can reduce some of the world’s worst inequities

Artificial Intelligence is shaping our lives in more ways than one could imagine. While AI has been a part of our lives through various daily applications, its use cases were amplified in the last two years. And the introduction of OpenAI’s revolutionary chatbot ChatGPT has fuelled more conversations around the future potential of AI.

Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates, whose Microsoft has pumped billions of dollars into OpenAI, took to his personal blog on Tuesday to share his thoughts on the advent of the AI era. The 67-year-old, while sharing his blog on his LinkedIn account, said that during his lifetime, he has seen demonstrations of two technologies that struck him as revolutionary. In 1980 it was the graphic user interface, and in 2016 it was his meeting with the team at OpenAI. Gates said that he was mighty impressed with the progress that the team made.

The billionaire said that in mid-2022, he was so excited about OpenAI’s work that he gave them a challenge – to train an artificial intelligence model to pass an Advanced Placement (AP) biology exam. Essentially, make the model answer questions that it hasn’t been trained for.

For the AP bio exam, Gates reasoned that it was more than a simple scientific fact and would expect the examinee to think critically about biology. While Gates thought the task would keep the team engaged for two to three years, to his surprise they accomplished the feat in a few months. In September, when he met the team again, he was in awe of GPT, the AI model that was able to get 59 out of 60 multiple-choice questions from the AP Bio test.

Below are the key takeaways from Gate’s post titled ‘The Age of AI has begun’:

AI – A fundamental creation

According to Gates, AI is as fundamental as the invention of microprocessors, the Internet, PC, and mobile phones. He believes it will change the way people work, learn, travel, get healthcare, and communicate with each other. Gates claims that entire industries will reorient around it and businesses will be distinguishing themselves by how efficiently they use AI.

AI can reduce the world’s worst equities

When it comes to education, Gates cited the case of the United States. According to him, the best opportunity for reducing inequality is by improving education, specifically, by ensuring that students succeed at math. He stated that there is evidence suggesting that having basic math skills sets students up for success regardless of the career path they opt for later. Incidentally, achievement in math is going down across the country, especially among Black, Latino, and other students hailing from low-income backgrounds. Gates strongly feels that AI can turn this around. He also said that he is convinced that climate change is another area where AI can make the world more equitable.

AI and risks

While talking about the merits of AI, Gates also touched upon the risks that come along. “Any new technology that’s so disruptive is bound to make people uneasy, and that’s certainly true with artificial intelligence,” he said. Gates stated that he understood why the advent of AI has been raising questions about the workforce, legal system, privacy, bias, etc. He stated that AI is also prone to make factual inaccuracies and experience hallucinations. While suggesting ways to mitigate risks, the Microsoft boss also underscored the ways in which AI can empower people with work, health, and education.

On a similar tangent, Gates said that AIs give wrong answers to math problems as they struggle with abstract reasoning. However, he added that developers are working on them and these issues will be fixed sooner. For other risks such as threats posed by humans armed with AI, the billionaire feels that governments need to work with the private sector to limit these risks.

AI as a personal agent

Gates highlighted the way AI will be able to help humans with productivity enhancement. Although humans are better than GPT in a lot of things, there are many jobs where their skills are not used much. Most of the tasks done in sales, services, or document handling, require decision-making and not continuous learning. However, companies often train their staff using various data sets. Going forward, Gates feels that AI that will be trained using these datasets will empower people in doing these tasks more efficiently.

AI in healthcare

According to Gates, AI will dramatically accelerate the rate of medical breakthroughs considering the amount of data that it has access to. On a practical level, AI tools will greatly help healthcare workers make the most of their time by taking care of tasks such as drafting notes, insurance claims, dealing with paperwork, etc. Gates feels that AI-driven improvements will be particularly beneficial for poor countries. In these countries, where many are unable to even see a doctor, AI will give patients the ability to do basic triage and get advice on whether they should go for treatment or not. He said that the AI that will be used in poorer countries will be trained on different diseases than in rich countries.

AI in education

Gates feels that in the next 10 years, AI-driven software will finally deliver on the promise of revolutionizing the way people learn and teach. The AI models will be able to assess the learning styles of individuals and offer tailored content. Moreover, it will be able to measure the students’ understanding, and motivation, and can greatly help in career planning.

Meanwhile, Gates who was recently in India attended The Ramnath Goenka Lecture 2023. During his conversation with Anant Goenka, Executive Director of The Indian Express Group, Gates shared his experience with ChatGPT. The philanthropist admitted that he had used a newer version of the revolutionary chatbot to write things in Hindi. During his interaction, he went on to state that India gave him hope and that the country has proven that it can tackle any big challenge.

AI – A fundamental creation


Donovan Larsen

Donovan is a columnist and associate editor at the Dark News. He has written on everything from the politics to diversity issues in the workplace.

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