Bill Gates says A.I. like ChatGPT is the ‘most important’ innovation

Microsoft founder-turned-philanthropist Bill Gates smiles during the Global Investment Summit at the Science Museum in London on October 19, 2021.

Leon Neal | AFP | Getty Images

Improvements in artificial intelligence are the “most important” innovation at the moment, billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates said in an interview published Friday.

“This will change our world,” he continued. The applications of generative AI like OpenAI’s ChatGPT could improve office efficiency, drafting invoices and letters, Gates said in a podcast conversation with the German-language business paper, Handelsblatt.

“Today, they require too much computation, they’re not always accurate,” Gates said, “But even this week, you’ll have announcements from Microsoft and Google, where they’re competing to lead in this space.”

Microsoft announced this week that its Bing search engine will be powered in part by ChatGPT AI technology. Google also recently announced Bard, its ChatGPT competitor.

Gates co-founded Microsoft in 1975 and led the company for over two decades, before stepping down as CEO in 2000. “I’m biased,” Gates joked, noting that he remained a consultant for the roughly $2 trillion company.

The optimizations that AI can offer for reading and writing, Gates said, will make a “huge impact.” In the health care and education spaces, Gates said, AI can tangibly improve efficiency and meaningfully improve outcomes.

“The easiest way to understand it is that AI has got very good at speech recognition and visual recognition, but they essentially couldn’t read,” he said. In other words, traditional AI platforms couldn’t actually process the language they were taking in. But newer platforms, like ChatGPT, are capable of training, improving, and reading and writing through new knowledge.

Gates pointed to applications within word processing and office tasks as optimal future applications for natural language platforms like ChatGPT.

As an example, Gates pointed to a hypothetical integration with Microsoft’s Teams collaboration software, noting that the AI could keep track of the conversation to produce relevant information based on a meeting.

“The progress over the next couple of years to make these things even better will be profound,” Gates said.

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