() — Bill Gates seems less concerned than other Silicon Valley executives about the risks of artificial intelligence.
In a blog post Posted Tuesday, the Microsoft co-founder outlined some of the top concerns about artificial intelligence, including the potential for it to spread misinformation and replace jobs. However, he stressed that these risks “can be managed.”
“This is not the first time that a major innovation has presented new threats that need to be controlled,” Gates wrote. “We’ve done it before.”
Gates compared artificial intelligence to previous “transformational” changes in society, such as the automobile, which then forced the public to adopt seat belts, speed limits, driver’s licenses and other safety regulations. Innovation, he said, can create “a lot of turmoil” at the beginning, but society can “get better at the end” of the process.
Microsoft is one of the leaders in the race to develop and deploy a new suite of generative artificial intelligence tools in popular products, with the promise of helping people be more productive and creative. However, several prominent figures in the industry are also publicly making doomsday scenarios about this rapidly evolving technology.
In late May, technology leaders including Kevin Scott, Microsoft’s CTO, joined dozens of artificial intelligence researchers and a few celebrities to sign a one-sentence letter stating: “Mitigate the risk of extinction of AI should be a global priority alongside other societal dangers like pandemics and nuclear war.”
Gates already said on other occasions that there should not be “panic” before doomsday scenarios on artificial intelligence. In a blog post Earlier this year, Gates wrote: “Could a machine decide that humans are a threat, conclude that its interests are different from ours, or simply stop caring about us? Possibly, but this problem is no more urgent today than it is.” what it was before the advances in artificial intelligence of the last few months.
In his blog post this week, Gates said he believes one of the biggest concerns about AI is the possibility that deepfakes and technology-generated misinformation undermine elections and democracy. Gates was “hopeful” that “artificial intelligence can help both identify deepfakes how to create them.” He also said that laws should be clear about the use and labeling of deepfakes “so that everyone understands when something they are seeing or hearing is not genuine.”
The leader also expressed concern about how artificial intelligence could make it easier for hackers and even countries to launch cyberattacks against people and governments. Gates urged that related cybersecurity measures be developed and that governments consider creating a global body for AI similar to the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Gates also reviewed other concerns, such as the possibility of artificial intelligence taking people’s jobs, perpetuating biases built into the data it’s trained on and even altering the way children learn to write.
“It reminds me of the time when electronic calculators became more widespread in the 1970s and 1980s,” Gates wrote. “Some math teachers were concerned that students would stop learning basic arithmetic, but others embraced the new technology and focused on the thinking skills behind arithmetic.”
Gates said “it is natural to feel uneasy” during a transition period, but added that he is optimistic about the future and how “history shows that it is possible to solve the challenges created by new technologies.”
“It is the most transformative innovation we will see in our lifetimes,” he wrote, “and a healthy public debate will depend on making everyone aware of the technology, its benefits, and its risks.”