Bill Gates, one of the foremost technocrats of the modern world, appears to be wary of imparting higher level reasoning skills to machines.
It would seem ironic for a man whose company makes technologically advanced products, to be concerned about Artificial Intelligence (AI), but that is precisely what seems to be the case. Apart from revealing his remorse about not learning any other language besides English at the Reddit “Ask me Anything” session, Bill Gates indicated he was worried about the higher cognitive skills that will eventually be imparted to machines, making them capable of taking perceptive and logical decisions on their own.
The Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist outlined a future that is equal parts promising and ominous. However, the session wasn’t all gloomy. He did highlight how well machines would help us fragile humans in the near future when asked what personal computing will look like in 2045.
“Even in the next 10 years, problems like vision and speech understanding and translation will be very good. Mechanical robot tasks like picking fruit or moving a hospital patient will be solved. 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 even shed some light on a Microsoft project known as the “Personal Agent,” which is being designed to help people manage their memory, attention and focus.
“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.”
Shortly after, Gates was asked just how much of an existential threat super-intelligent machines will pose to humans. The question of whether machines with reasoning skills will eventually pose a direct threat to humans has been raging on for quite some time. Last month, even theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking had said.
“Artificial Intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”
When faced with a similar query, Elon Musk referred to Artificial Intelligence as “summoning the demon.” Hence it would be understandable for the crowd to be excited to know what Bill Gates had to say on the matter and surprisingly, he sided with Musk and Prof. Hawking.
“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.”
Ironically, Bill Gates’ comments on Artificial Intelligence came shortly after the managing director of Microsoft Research’s Redmond Lab said the doomsday declarations about the threat to human life are overblown.
[Image Credit | The Spudd]