Bill Gates says AI chatbots like ChatGPT will become "every bit as important" as PCs or the internet.
Gates' Microsoft helped launch the era of personal computers decades ago.
Microsoft has invested billions in OpenAI, but Gates wasn't always so certain about the technology.
Bill Gates says that the rise of AI chatbots like ChatGPT will just as significant as the dawn of the internet or the evolution of personal computers.
"AI is going to be debated as the hottest topic of 2023," Gates told Forbes. "And you know what? That's appropriate."
"This is every bit as important as the PC, as the internet," the Microsoft cofounder added.
Gates helped launch the era of personal computers in the 80s. Before companies like Microsoft and Apple entered the market, computers were largely owned by large corporations, governments, and universities, and were seen as highly technical devices, not designed for the average American.
According to Gates, AI could have a similar impact on society.
ChatGPT, which uses data collected from millions of websites to answer questions in a clear and conversational manner, has already shown how popular and useful AI chatbots can be — from writing essays to offering coding solutions. And the implications it may have on the global workforce are immense.
But it's not perfect: The site has been known to give incorrect answers at times as the chatbot has some difficulty identifying misinformation.
A new study from analytics firm UBS found that the site set a record for the fastest growing user base. The firm said ChatGPT was estimated to have reached over 100 million monthly active users in January, only two months after its launch. That's even faster than top apps like TikTok.
Microsoft invested $1 billion in OpenAI, the company that created ChatGPT, in 2019. The partnership allowed the company to exclusively license the technology. More recently, Microsoft announced plans to invest more money into the company. In January, the tech company said it was making a "multiyear, multibillion-dollar" investment in OpenAI. Bloomberg had previously reported the investment was around $10 billion.
Gates isn't the only one sounding the alarm. In December, Google issued a "code red" over the chatbot. Since the latest version of ChatGPT was released on November 30, Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google and its parent company, Alphabet, has participated in several meetings around Google's AI strategy in response to the threat the chatbot represents to the company's search engine, The New York Times reported.
The company also called in Google cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin to help address the issue, the Times reported in January. At the time, The Information had reported that Microsoft planned to use ChatGPT to power its own search engine, Bing.
Gates was not always such a big supporter of OpenAI. When Microsoft first looked into partnering with OpenAI, he expressed doubts about the company's technology, The Information reported. Sources familiar with the issue told the publication that the billionaire was "very engaged" in analyzing OpenAI's technology ahead of the partnership, and was doubtful of the ability of AI to understand and contextualize human speech.
It looks like OpenAI may be having the last laugh.
Read Forbes' full story on its website.
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