His products have had a massive impact on modern society. Bill Gates is now expecting the next big breakthrough from artificial intelligence. And explains why the crossroads have already been crossed.

He’s someone who needs to know. When the digital revolution brought a PC into every home and the Internet became irreplaceable, Bill Gates’ company Microsoft was at the forefront. He now sees the fact that he missed the smartphone revolution as the biggest mistake of his career (find out more here). This only adds weight to his most recent statement: Gates sees artificial intelligence as one of the most groundbreaking changes in decades.

Gates reports this in a long post on his personal blog. “The age of AI has begun,” he announces in the title. He sees nothing less than groundbreaking things coming our way: “The AI ​​development is as fundamental a change as the creation of the microprocessor, the PC, the Internet and the mobile phone,” he is certain. “It will change how people work, learn, travel, get health care and communicate with each other. Entire industries will have to reorient themselves as a result.”

The second major development

To make it clear how serious he is, he uses a personal anecdote. Twice in his life he knew that he was witnessing a technological revolution. In the first case, his future employee Charles Simonyi first showed him his concept of a graphical user interface, from which Microsoft later developed its most important product, Windows – and catapulted the PC into the mainstream. He then experienced the second such surprise last year when OpenAI gave its investor Gates a preview of its ChatGPT language model.

He was enthusiastic and set the developers a challenge. It should be trained to pass a biology entrance exam for US universities – on questions it had never been asked before. “I thought that would keep you busy for two or three years”; Gates remembers. “They were finished after a few months. A short time later, the AI ​​was able to answer 59 out of 60 questions correctly and to write essays on the topics.

“Once he passed the exam, we asked him to answer a non-scientific question: ‘What should I say to the father of a sick child?’ It wrote a profound response that few in the room could have put into words better,” Gates enthuses. “In that moment I knew: This is the greatest technological innovation since the graphical user interface.”

Chance for a fairer world

Unlike the graphical interface, however, he does not focus on his own business with AI. “Today I’m a full-time philanthropist,” Gates dryly sums up his numerous efforts to fight pandemics and global hunger. “And as such, I’ve thought a lot about how AI can help us fix the world’s worst inequalities, alongside the many ways it can make people more productive,” he explains. He sees opportunities in two major areas: health and education.

Gates believes that AI could bring great relief, especially in health. By supporting the documentation, she freed up the space for the doctors and nurses to care more about the people. At the same time, it can help identify symptoms and support the search for new drugs. This offers huge potential, especially in developing countries, to improve medical care, which is significantly worse than in the rich West.

learning revolution

There are also obstacles to be overcome in education. “Computers haven’t had the effect on education that many of us hoped for,” Gates admits self-critically. However, he firmly believes that this can finally change with AI support in the coming years. While the current discussion about AI in education is mainly limited to the possibilities of cheating on exams, he sees it more as an opportunity.” She will know our interests, our learning style. And she will be able to structure the learning material in such a way that we like to deal with it,” he is convinced.

However, the AI ​​will not replace the teacher and the learning itself. “It will only improve the work between teacher and student – but never replace it.”

There are dangers too

Of course, Gates is aware that many people are also concerned about the machines that seem to be getting smarter. Of course, there is a danger that AI could be used as a weapon, that people could lose control over it. “Like any invention, AI can be used for good or evil,” Gates says. He therefore sees governments as responsible for making companies responsible for ethical handling and safety measures. However, these problems are still in the distant future, there is still time to make the decisions, he reassured.

However, some of the smaller issues need action now. The conditions must be created so that schools in poorer areas can also use the appropriate tools in order not to further widen the gap between rich and poor in education.

In order to really be able to use the technology to improve the global health situation, it must also be adapted to the different circumstances, Gates warns: “The AI ​​models in poorer countries have to be trained on other diseases. They have to understand other languages, master other challenges “Like patients who live very far from clinics and can’t afford transportation. Or who can’t afford recovery breaks,” Gates predicts.

The development of AI, which is currently being driven primarily by rich countries and even there only by small groups, has been criticized several times in the past for blind spots or systematic discrimination against some groups by AIs. If this does not change, the opportunity for harmonization would be lost.

What: Bill Gates