According to a blog post by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates on Tuesday, the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) is considered the most significant technological advancement in several decades.
Gates described it as being just as fundamental as the creation of the microprocessor, personal computer, internet, and mobile phone.
“It will change the way people work, learn, travel, get health care, and communicate with each other,” he said.
In his blog post, Bill Gates referred to the technology utilized by chatbots such as ChatGPT. ChatGPT is an AI-based chatbot designed to respond to online queries using natural language, developed by OpenAI.
The team behind ChatGPT received a multibillion-dollar investment from Microsoft, where Mr Gates serves as an advisor.
However, there are other AI-powered chatbots on the market, including Google’s Bard.
As one of the first individuals to have access to Bard, my colleagues and I are currently testing its capabilities. So far, it has provided me with a philosophical response to the meaning of life, and my colleague received a competent overview of Russia-China relations in light of the recent meeting between their respective leaders.
Unlike ChatGPT, Bard has the ability to access current affairs. A program editor requested Bard to suggest a good running order for her news show, to which it responded to start with the most significant story of the day and end with a performance by a musician or comedian.
Additionally, it provided a decent but generic poem about trees and blossom. I have yet to experiment with its ability to be impolite towards me or others, but I will update on that soon.
According to his blog, Mr Gates revealed that he had been in meetings with OpenAI, the team responsible for developing the artificial intelligence behind ChatGPT, since 2016.
In 2022, he challenged the team to train an AI that could pass an Advanced Placement (AP) Biology exam, which is roughly equivalent to an A-level exam, without being specifically trained to answer Biology questions.
A few months later, the team revealed the results, which Mr Gates described as near perfect, with only one mark out of 50 being missed.
After the exam, Mr Gates asked the AI to write a response to a father with a sick child.
“It wrote a thoughtful answer that was probably better than most of us in the room would have given,” he said.
“I knew I had just seen the most important advance in technology since the graphical user interface (GUI).”
A graphical user interface (GUI) is a type of visual display that enables users to interact with images and icons rather than relying on text-based commands.
The development of GUI technology was instrumental in the creation of operating systems like Windows and Mac OS during the 1980s and remains a fundamental aspect of computing today.
According to Mr Gates, he envisions that AI technology will pave the way for similar revolutionary advancements in the future.
Mr Gates, who co-chairs the charitable Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, called on governments to work with industry to “limit the risks” of AI, but said the technology could be used to save lives.
“AI-driven improvements will be especially important for poor countries, where the vast majority of under-5 deaths happen,” he wrote.
“Many people in those countries never get to see a doctor, and AIs will help the health workers they do see be more productive.”
Some examples of this he gave include completing repetitive tasks such as insurance claims, paperwork, and note-taking.
But in order for this to happen, Mr Gates called on a targeted approach to AI technology in the future.
“Market forces won’t naturally produce AI products and service that help the poorest,” he said. “The opposite is more likely.
“With reliable funding and the right policies, governments and philanthropy can ensure that AIs are used to reduce inequity.
“Just as the world needs its brightest people focused on its biggest problems, we will need to focus the world’s best AIs on its biggest problems.”