Bill Gates, at his latest Reddit question and answer session, expressed his concern for the future of Artificial Intelligence. In sharing this sentiment Gates is joining other tech-savvy heavyweights such as Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and English theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking. Bill Gates explains that he is not in fear of machines that aid in average processes like helping people to clean the house, make shopping lists, or to find their keys. His apprehension lies with super intelligence.
Elon Musk, while at the Aeronautics and Astronautics Department 2014 centennial Symposium at MIT, said that in advancing artificial intelligence people are “summoning the demon.” At first there was much debate whether this was him trying to be humorous or if he really meant this. It has been confirmed it is the latter. Stephen Hawking has also expressed his concern that AI could easily evolve into something that people would not be able to control. In fact, Hawkins has gone as far as to suggest that full development of AI could lead to “the end of the human race.”
Bill Gates being concerned about AI has not deterred him from working on projects that have and will use AI in the future. He completely supports the use of AI to make jobs easier and feels that this should be encouraged as long as it is managed correctly. His new Hololens by Microsoft borders on AI technology by bringing augmented reality to life, and Microsoft’s Cortana uses AI technology as it works as a personal assistant.
Bill Gates is working on another AI project though called “Personal Agent” that can remember everything. Its purpose will be more developed than Cortana and will help the user to find things and to advise on what things the user may want to pay attention to. To many, the process of selecting each app they want to use and then trying to decipher what each app it trying to tell them can be an inefficient way to manage the data that is flowing to them. Personal Agent will aid in fixing this problem by working across all your apps and devices in order to provide a more fluid experience.
Bill Gates admits that AI is an area of study that drew him to the tech industry and that he has always had an interest in developing the field. With these new products it seems that he has achieved this goal. His fear is that a few decades after technology reaches it pinnacle of being the ideal personal assistant, it will reach beyond that into an unknown status.
Bill Gates has expressed his concern about the future development of AI, a sentiment shared by Musk and Hawking. In addition to these three tech behemoths, others have shared this hesitation in too fully advancing AI. There was recently an open letter written calling for research into the problems that AI may encounter on its evolutionary path. It was signed by hundreds of computer scientists and technologists, Microsoft executives, as well as Hawking himself also signed. When seeing the mass support for research into the field of controlling AI, it is not difficult for people to imagine the worst. The new Johnny Depp movie Transcendence might come to mind or even The Matrix is an example of technology going further than the people in the film would have chosen it to.
By Joel Wickwire