Humans should be worried about the threat posed by artificial Intelligence, Bill Gates has said.
The Microsoft founder said he didn’t understand people who
were not troubled by the possibility that AI could grow too strong for
people to control.
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Bill Gates said he could not understand why people were not concerned by AI
Mr Gates contradicted one of Microsoft Research’s chiefs, Eric Horvitz, who has said he “fundamentally” did not see AI as a threat.
Mr Horvitz has said about a quarter of his team’s resources are focused on AI.
During an “ask me anything” question and answer session on
Reddit, Mr Gates wrote: “I am in the camp that is concerned about super
intelligence. First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be
super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well.
“A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong
enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this
and don’t understand why some people are not concerned.”
His view was backed up by the likes of Mr Musk and Professor
Stephen Hawking, who have both warned about the possibility that AI
could evolve to the point that it was beyond human control. Prof Hawking
said he felt that machines with AI could “spell the end of the human
Mr Horvitz has said: “There have been concerns about the
long-term prospect that we lose control of certain kinds of
intelligences. I fundamentally don’t think that’s going to happen.”
He was giving an interview marking his acceptance of the AAAI Feigenbaum Prize for “outstanding advances” in AI research.
“I think that we will be very proactive in terms of how we
field AI systems, and that in the end we’ll be able to get incredible
benefits from machine intelligence in all realms of life, from science
to education to economics to daily life.”
Mr Horvitz runs Microsoft Research’s lab at the parent
company’s Redmond headquarters. His division’s work has already helped
introduce Cortana, Microsoft’s virtual assistant.
Despite his own reservations, Mr Gates wrote on Reddit that,
had Microsoft not worked out, he would probably be a researcher on AI.
“When I started Microsoft I was worried I would miss the chance to do basic work in that field,” he said.
He added that he believed the firm he founded would see “more progress… than ever” over the next three decades.
“Even in the next 10 [years,] problems like vision and speech understanding and translation will be very good.”
He predicted that, in that time, robots would perform tasks
such as picking fruit or moving hospital patients. “Once
computers/robots get to a level of capability where seeing and moving is
easy for them then they will be used very extensively.”
He said he was working on a project with Microsoft called
“Personal Agent”, which he said would “remember everything and help you
go back and find things and help you pick what things to pay attention
He wrote: “The idea that you have to find applications and
pick them and they each are trying to tell you what is new is just not
the efficient model – the agent will help solve this. It will work
across all your devices.”
But he admitted that he felt “pretty stupid” because he cannot speak any language other than English.
“I took Latin and Greek in High School and got As and I guess
it helps my vocabulary but I wish I knew French or Arabic or Chinese.
“I keep hoping to get time to study one of these – probably
French because it is the easiest… Mark Zuckerberg amazingly learned
Mandarin and did a Q&A with Chinese students – incredible,” he
AI research is highly technical and specialized, and is deeply
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The field was founded on the claim that a central property of humans, intelligence—the sapience of Homo sapiens—”can be so precisely described that a machine can be made to simulate it.”This raises philosophical issues about the nature of the mind and the ethics of creating artificial beings endowed with human-like intelligence, issues which have been addressed by myth, fiction and philosophy since antiquity. Artificial intelligence has been the subject of tremendous optimism but has also suffered stunning setbacks. Today it has become an essential part of the technology industry,
providing the heavy lifting for many of the most challenging problems in