Bill Gates says that in the future ChatGPT will be like 'having a white-collar worker available to help you'

Bill Gates speaks onstage at the TIME100 Summit 2022 at Jazz at Lincoln Center on June 7, 2022 in New York City.
Though some have expressed concerns about generative AI, Gates has previously spoken about the potential the technology holds.Jemal Countess/Getty Images for TIME
  • Bill Gates said in a blog post that ChatGPT will be like "having a white-collar worker" as an assistant.

  • He said people could use AI to do jobs in sales and document handling "more efficiently."

  • Gates said it was realistic that people would use AI as a digital personal assistant in the future.

In the future, ChatGPT will be like having a "white-collar worker" as an assistant, Bill Gates said in a blog post Tuesday.

The billionaire businessman and philanthropist published a detailed post on what he thinks the future of generative AI systems like OpenAI's ChatGPT holds, including their use cases, benefits, and risks.

"Although humans are still better than GPT at a lot of things, there are many jobs where these capabilities are not used much," Gates wrote. He said that jobs in sales and document handling require decision-making but not the ability to learn continuously and that AI can be trained using data sets to "empower people to do this work more efficiently."

"As computing power gets cheaper, GPT's ability to express ideas will increasingly be like having a white-collar worker available to help you with various tasks," Gates continued.

Microsoft-backed OpenAI first launched ChatGPT to the public in November 2022. Since then, Google has debuted its own generative AI, Bard, while Microsoft has launched a new version of Bing powered by AI.

Gates noted that concerns about generative AI — including its lack of contextual understanding and abstract reasoning, the possibility of malicious use by people, and the risk of superintelligent AIs — were "understandable and valid."

"To make the most of this remarkable new technology, we'll need to both guard against the risks and spread the benefits to as many people as possible," Gates wrote in Tuesday's blog post.

The Microsoft cofounder said that ChatGPT would help combat inequalities in healthcare, boost education, and combat climate change. ChatGPT was the only demonstration of technology that struck him as "revolutionary" since he was introduced to a graphical user interface in 1980, he wrote.

"The development of AI is as fundamental as the creation of the microprocessor, the personal computer, the Internet, and the mobile phone," he wrote. "It will change the way people work, learn, travel, get healthcare, and communicate with each other. Entire industries will reorient around it."

Microsoft last week launched Microsoft 365 Copilot, which it says uses data from users' calendars, emails, meetings, and documents and will be integrated into its apps, such as Word and Excel. Microsoft said users can use Copilot to summarize emails, make meeting notes, and format data.

Copilot appears to be similar to Gates' idea of a personal agent, which he called a "digital personal assistant" that would read people's emails, "know about the meetings you attend," and help them with scheduling, communications and e-commerce. He noted in his post, however, that such a personal agent "is not feasible yet" because of the cost of training the models and running the computations but was a "realistic goal" for the future.

Gates wrote that firms could also create company-wide agents which would have access to sales information, finance documents, product schedules, and industry news and which employees could consult. He said that the agent "should be part of every meeting" and "can be told to be passive or encouraged to speak up if it has some insight."

"I believe that the result will be that employees will become more productive," he wrote.

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