Bill Gates takes a dig at Elon Musk, calls risks of AI 'real but manageable'

Gates wants the public to engage to know the benefits and risks of AI and for governments to step up and bring in safeguards.
Ameya Paleja
Gates takes a dig at Musk in a blog post
Gates takes a dig at Musk in a blog post

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In a recent blog post, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates took a dig at Tesla CEO Elon Musk for the latter's call to pause artificial intelligence (AI) developments temporarily. Gates admitted that using AI brought in real risks but also said they were manageable.

Musk has been a vocal critic of the deployment of AI and one of the celebrity signatories of a letter that demanded a six-month moratorium on AI research earlier in March this year.

Gates, whose company Microsoft is one of the front runners in rolling out AI models like GPT-4 to users, had then publicly rejected Musk's demand. However, that did not stop the 67-year-old from talking about it again in his lengthy blog post about the risks of AI.

Gates agrees risks of AI are real.

Gates delved into various possible feared outcomes of using AI daily.

According to Gates, deep fakes claiming that a particular candidate had won an election when they hadn't to a call impersonating the voice of one's child claiming they had been kidnapped were all within the realms of possibilities that could be executed with the technology available today.

He also cited that some workers would need retraining as workplaces become more dominated by AI, or they would risk being left behind. Comparing the transition to the introduction of word processors when personal computers became common in offices, Gates said that shifts in labor markets were not happening for the first time.

In an apparent dig at Musk, Gates said that these changes were not causes to call for a pause in technology adoption. Instead, they needed to be explored further since hackers and adversarial countries would not pause their work and continue to leverage AI for their causes.

Interestingly, Musk has revealed his plans to launch an AI company recently.

Bracing for transition

Gates did not hold back when he also compared AI's power to nuclear weapons. Stating that an all-out nuclear war was a concern for his generation, measures such as the non-proliferation regime, while imperfect, had succeeded in preventing it. He urged readers to look at history to guide us when dealing with new technologies.

Bill Gates takes a dig at Elon Musk, calls risks of AI 'real but manageable'
Humanity has dealt with technology transitions before and will do so now again

The ex-CEO of Microsoft also suggested that governments should consider setting up a global body to look into issues of AI, much like the International Atomic Energy Agency was set up for nuclear cooperation.

Governments and politicians need to build expertise in AI to enable them to make laws and regulations around them to smoothen the transition for society at large.

AI could also be used to counter the ill effects of AI, Gates added. For instance, AI could detect deep fakes, which Intel and DARPA are working on.

Gates also believes that instead of worrying about learning outcomes in children because of the use of AI models, teachers must embrace it as another tool that students have access to and design lessons around them.

For people at large, Gates advised that they engage in this "transformative innovation" of our lifetime, and knowing its benefits, risks, and the technology, in general, would make for a healthy debate about it.

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