Bill Gates, the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft, knows a thing or two about predictions. After all, he correctly surmised the explosive growth of personal computers and helped shaped the landscape with Windows. He also made some observations about the Internet before it became a mainstream thing, and those mostly turned out to be true as well. Fast forward to today and Gates is now predicting that artificial intelligence will replace humans in the work place, and he doesn't necessarily think that is a bad thing.
One of the arguments Gates makes is that AI technology can perform tasks more efficiently than humans, which will ultimately lead to flesh and blood workers having more free time.
“Well, certainly we can look forward to the idea that vacations will be longer at some point," Gates said in an interview with Fox Business. "If we can actually produce twice as much as we make today with less labor, the purpose of humanity is not just to sit behind a counter and sell things, you know?"
The general perception is that more machines equates to fewer jobs for people, though Gates doesn't see things that way. If anything, he sees the AI movement leading to longer vacations and creating positions that focus on helping the elderly, working with children with special needs, and so forth.
Gates does concede that adjusting to this future AI-driven landscape will be challenging, and that change will happen much quicker in the next two decades than ever before. Ultimately, however, he thinks AI will put us in a better position to focus on philanthropy, a not surprising vision considering Gates efforts with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. According to Gates, AI will create an excess, of food and medicine and other essentials, and so it will be up to humans to redirect their efforts to helping others with this excess.
"I don’t see it as a huge plus or a huge minus when you step back and look at what we’re focused on, which is helping the world’s poorest," Gates added.
It is an interesting perspective, and maybe a bit utopian—it's difficult to imagine corporations leveraging AI for the greater good in every case, as opposed to creating more wealth at the top end. Then again, Gates has made some bold predictions before, many of which have come true.
Thumbnail Image Source: Flickr via World Economic Forum