Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Artificial intelligence will become strong and threaten us, says Bill Gates, as he details new AI-driven personal assistant

Gates joins Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking in publicly worrying about intelligent robots

Andrew Griffin
Thursday 29 January 2015 14:43

Artificial intelligence will start out as a help but will become “strong enough to be a concern”, Bill Gates has said in its latest question and answer session on Reddit.

In response to a question about whether machine super intelligence will become an existential threat, Gates said that he was “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,” he wrote. 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.”

The warning came as part of Gates’ Ask Me Anything (AMA) session on Reddit. It is the third time that he has taken part in one of the question and answer sessions on the site.

Microsoft’s technologies such as Cortana, the digital personal assistant, make use of artificial intelligence to anticipate what users will want and respond to their requests. During the AMA, Gates said that he was working on such technology.

“One project I am working on with Microsoft is the Personal Agent which will remember everything and help you go back and find things and help you pick what things to pay attention to,” he wrote. “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.”

Microsoft executives were among the signatories to an open letter that received support from hundreds of computer scientists and technologists. Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking signed the letter, which called for research into the problems of artificial intelligence.

Both Musk and Hawking have spoken out about the dangers of such technology. Musk has described it as “summoning the demon” and the “biggest existential threat there is”, and Hawking said that AI could be the end of humanity.

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