Bill Gates says AI tools can help reduce injustice

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is famously optimistic about artificial intelligence and its promise to accelerate innovation. He believes that AI tools like OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot are one of two technologies that are truly revolutionary (the other example is with graphical user interfaces or digital icons and buttons in computers).

Gates now says that “the era of artificial intelligence has begun” and that it will not only improve productivity, but also help solve societal problems such as injustice. He believes technology can free up resources and improve access to healthcare and education in countries that lack it, if governments and philanthropists put the right policies in place and direct funds where they are most needed.

“I’ve been thinking a lot about how artificial intelligence can reduce some of the biggest inequalities in the world,” Gates wrote in a blog post on Tuesday. “On the one hand, they will help health care workers make the most of their time by taking care of certain tasks for them—things like filing insurance claims, handling paperwork, and preparing doctor visit notes.”

Gates pointed out that a number of developing countries struggle to attract enough doctors, often exacerbating the disparity between the wealthy and the disadvantaged. If every healthcare professional had access to AI tools to better advise patients on the best course of action, many more people in need could be served, he says. Meanwhile, in education, AI can help teach students and help them get higher test scores.

Creating such systems will take years of testing and sustained efforts by governments, philanthropists and businesses to make artificial intelligence part of the solution rather than making the problem worse, Gates said. In this way, the benefits will be available to everyone, not just the wealthy who can afford to use such technologies.

“Governments and philanthropy will need to play a major role in ensuring that inequality is reduced, not contributed to. This is the priority for my own AI work,” Gates wrote.

AI’s potential to solve problems affecting entire countries and communities comes with its own set of threats, and Gates admits the technology is still limited.

“People will need to see evidence that health AIs are generally useful, even though they won’t be perfect and will make mistakes,” Gates wrote. “AI needs to be tested very carefully and properly regulated, which means it will take longer to be adopted than in other fields.”

AI can sometimes confuse or hallucinate, returning inaccurate or fictitious information and become a threat in the hands of the wrong people who abuse it, he said. Then, of course, there is the possibility that the AI ​​will run amok and become a threat to humans.

Despite these risks, Gates still believes that AI technology has great potential.

“Whole industries will reorient themselves around it. A business will be distinguished by how well it uses it,” he writes.

The billionaire philanthropist has long supported AI, arguing that its benefits far outweigh its dangers. For one thing, he doesn’t see AI as a threat to jobs. If anything, it could improve the way people work by increasing efficiency, he says.

As the man who helped start a computing revolution half a century ago that also sparked similar job-killing fears, he said the development of AI was “as important as the computer as the Internet.” Earlier this year, during a Reddit Ask Me Anything session, he touted AI as a tool that “gives insight into what’s to come.”

It’s normal for people to express concern about any revolutionary technology, Gates said, but added that AI is just one such example and that it can be used to bring about real change.

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