Bill Gates published a seven-page letter on Tuesday which was titled The Age of AI has Begun which included 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.”
“It will change the way people work, learn, travel, get health care, and communicate with each other,” he said.
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.
He was writing about the technology used by tools such as chatbot ChatGPT. Developed by OpenAI, ChatGPT is an AI chatbot that is programmed to answer questions online using natural, human-like language.
The letter arrived the same day Google released its AI chatbot, Bard, which joins Microsoft’s Bing in the AI arms race, and a week after OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT, announced the much-anticipated evolution of its AI model, GPT-4.
The team behind it in January 2023 received a multibillion-dollar investment from Microsoft – where Gates still serves as an advisor. But it is not the only AI-powered chatbot available, with Google recently introducing rival Bard.
Gates writes about how AI could be used in the workforce as a “digital personal assistant” to enhance employee productivity — an idea he previously spoke about in February. AI, integrated into digital work tools like Microsoft Office, could help with managing and writing emails, Gate wrote.
He wrote that these AI-generated “personal agents” — equipped with vast knowledge and data on their company and industry — could also pose as resources for employees to communicate with.
“As computing power gets cheaper, GPT’s ability to express ideas will increasingly be like having a white-collar worker available to help you with various tasks,” he wrote.
In the healthcare industry, Gates wrote that AI could free up healthcare workers from certain tasks, including filing insurance claims, completing paperwork, and drafting doctor’s visit notes.
Bill 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 analyze 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 wrote that AI would also need to be made equally accessible to low-income schools in the US and across the globe “so that students in low-income households do not get left behind.”
Bill Gates also said that teachers will also have to adapt to students using new technologies in the classroom, like GPT. Gates listed an example of teachers enabling students to use GPT to write a first draft of an essay they would then have to personalize in later drafts.
“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.