The billionaire philanthropist in an interview with German newspaper Handelsblatt, shared his thoughts on Artificial general intelligence, climate change, and the scope of AI in the future.
Generative AI has been the buzzword of the year with many companies investing heavily in it over the past few months. The launch of ChatGPT by OpenAI in November 2022 is a seminal moment in the developments related to artificial intelligence. OpenAI’s large language model, the GPT series, set in motion a series of developments in AI across industries. While GPT, which stands for Generative Pre-trained Transformer seems to steer the AI domain, billionaire Bill Gates feels that the technology may have plateaued.
In an interview with German business newspaper Handelsblatt, the 67-year-old said that there were plenty of reasons to believe that GPT technology reached a plateau. He also admitted that he could be wrong. He said that contrary to what people at OpenAI think about GPT-5, he believes that current generative AI has reached a ceiling. Talking about benchmark, he termed the leap from GPT-2 to GPT-4 as “incredible”.
In his interview, Gates also predicted that in the next two to five years, the accuracy of AI software will witness a considerable increase along with a reduction in cost. This will lead to the creation of new and reliable applications. Interestingly, he also said that he anticipates a stagnation in development initially. The billionaire said that, with GPT-4, the company has reached a limit, and he does not feel that GPT-5 will be better than its predecessor.
However, Gates also added that in the short term, he sees significant potential in AI. New research will make AI more reliable and comprehensible. He also said that going forward, developing nations too will benefit greatly from AI. He cited the example of health advice via smartphones.
When asked about the cost of AI and its reliability, Gates acknowledged that some AI chips from Nvidia cost around $30,000 per piece, and they have copious amounts of computing power and consume a lot of energy. “Well, it’s pretty expensive to train a large language model. But the actual usage costs were once ten cents per query. Today it’s probably more like three cents. The costs for computing power or semiconductors remain enormous,” he was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
Gates went on to share his thoughts that AI can benefit healthcare. He said that AI can help in developing drugs and vaccines much faster. Despite the prevalent issues with reliability, the billionaire sees AI becoming integral to these areas.
The philanthropist also spoke about AI black box and termed that understanding how AI encrypts information will be a milestone. When asked what his thoughts are on AI being a black box with little to no information on its inner workings, Gates said that many people were already working on deciphering it. On Artificial General Intelligence, Gates said that there is no way to know when it will arrive. He said AGI could be a profound development for humanity.
On how AI can mitigate climate change, the Microsoft co-founder said that climate models were getting better. He said that there will be new crops to cope with high temperatures. Gates also stated that he was investing in close to 100 companies that are working towards improving the power grid with AI.