Calls to pause the development of artificial intelligence will not “solve the challenges” ahead, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said in his first public comments since an open letter sparked a debate about the future of the technology. The technologist-turned-philanthropist said it would be better to focus on how best to use the developments in AI, as it was hard to understand how a pause could work globally.

His remarks comes after an open letter — published last week and co-signed by Elon Musk and more than a thousand AI experts – demanded an urgent pause in the development of systems “more powerful” than Microsoft-backed OpenAI’s new GPT-4, which can hold human-like conversation, compose songs and summarise lengthy documents.

Clearly there are huge benefits to these things… What we need to do is identify the tricky areas

The experts, including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, said in the letter the potential risks and benefits to society need to be assessed.

“I don’t think asking one particular group to pause solves the challenges,” Gates said on Monday. “Clearly there are huge benefits to these things… What we need to do is identify the tricky areas.”

Microsoft has sought to outpace peers through multibillion-dollar investments in ChatGPT owner OpenAI.

While currently focused full-time on the philanthropic Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Gates has been a bullish supporter of AI and described it as revolutionary as the Internet or mobile phones.

In a blog titled “The age of AI has begun”, published on 21 March, a day before the open letter, he said he believes AI should be used to help reduce some of the world’s worst inequities. He also said in the interview the details of any pause would be complicated to enforce.

“I don’t really understand who they’re saying could stop, and would every country in the world agree to stop, and why to stop,” he said. “But there are a lot of different opinions in this area.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: