Bill Gates on AI: Thanks to co-pilots, we can take care of the elderly

“Philanthropy is my full-time job,” writes Bill Gates in a memoir on recent AI successes. Accordingly, he wants to use the latter to make the world a better place for us humans. According to the Microsoft co-founder, the technology could lead to major advances, especially in the health sector: fewer children under the age of five would die and more time would be left to care for the elderly and the sick. Gates also expects significant improvements in the early detection of diseases and their cure.

While early detection and research in the medical field can benefit directly from artificial intelligence – for example by helping AI to detect tumors – the other effects are of a more secondary nature. Gates, for example, speaks of the fact that the entry of AI into our working world will also free up manpower that we can use to take care of other people. Not an entirely new thought. Nevertheless, he obviously firmly believes that the “co-pilots” moving into Microsoft products will create what speech recognition and many other functions should create before – relief and efficiency at work.

“In my lifetime I’ve been shown two demonstrations of technology that seemed like a revolution to me,” explains Gates: The graphical interface in the 1980s that led to him and Charles Simonyi devising Windows. And now last year a demo of OpenAI. He has been meeting with the founders since 2016. In 2022, he gave them the task of developing an AI that would pass a specific biology test. A few months later, GPT passed the exam. “The development of AI is as fundamental as the creation of the microprocessor, the personal computer, the Internet and the cell phone,” writes Gates. It will change the way people work, learn, travel, communicate and get healthcare.

Gates then explains in a somewhat abstract way how important it is for students to get better at math, since successful people often have a good understanding of math – no matter what kind of career they choose. Poorer people, blacks, and Latinos are more likely to be less proficient in math. AI can help here. In other words, thanks to AI, everyone can do math and become more successful as a result.

Gates is also aware that AI worries people, whether it’s possible AI bias through one-sided training, lack of regulations, wrong answers or even hallucinations. That is why he also distinguishes the current AI from what an Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) would and could be. ChatGPT can communicate in chat, but cannot take on any other tasks. An AGI could learn all the different tasks. So far, however, nothing like this exists. “For decades, the question has been when computers would be better than humans at anything other than doing calculations. Now, with the arrival of machine learning and the vast amount of computing power, sophisticated AIs are a reality and they will get better very quickly. ” Even if humans are still better than GPT in most areas, many jobs would change. Gates is not alone with this forecast. He names accounting, sales and insurance as examples. He also takes the copilot, who moves into Microsoft’s Office services, as an example of more effectiveness at work. “The rise of AI will enable people to do things that software will never be able to do, to care for patients and to support the elderly.”

In the poorer countries of the world, where millions of children under the age of 5 die, AI can help with education and diagnosis. Many of those affected have never seen a doctor. That could change thanks to a kind of AI doctor. She will make mistakes, Gates predicts, “but so do people.”


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