From sending money virtually to a friend to ordering food to your home, computer and mobile applications allow us to perform many tasks faster and easier than in the past.
However, despite its rapid development in recent years, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates believes today’s software is still “pretty stupid,” according to a November 9 post on his blog, GatesNotes.
“You can use Microsoft Word and Google Docs to craft a business proposal, but they can’t help you send an email, share a selfie, analyze data, plan a party, or buy movie tickets” , writes the billionaire.
Currently, we mostly use apps to perform a single task, such as booking a flight or checking our bank account. However, Gates predicts that AI will make the use of different apps obsolete within the next five years.
Gates envisions a future where you would have an AI agent, a type of software capable of processing and responding to natural language and performing a number of different tasks. You simply ask your AI agent to do something and it can do things for you based on the information you’ve shared with it about your work, personal life, interests and preferences.
“In the coming years, they will completely change the way we live our lives, online and offline,” he says.
Gates uses planning a trip as an example. Normally this means that you book your hotel, flights, restaurants and other activities yourself. But an AI agent could use its knowledge of your preferences to book and buy those things on your behalf.
“When asked, it will recommend things to do based on your interests and propensity for adventure, and it will book reservations at the kinds of restaurants you like,” he writes.
AI challenges ahead
However, there are a number of challenges that must be overcome before we reach this AI-powered future. Here are a few Gates expectations that will emerge:
- A new kind of database would be needed so that the AI agent can store, retrieve, and build on the information it learns about you without sacrificing your privacy.
- Companies should figure out whether people will have one AI agent that works with other agents, or whether a person will create AI agents to perform specific tasks, such as tutoring or therapy.
- There should be a standardized way for AI agents to talk to each other.
Despite these lingering questions, however, Gates predicts that AI agents are not far from reality and could transform the way we interact with computers and each other.
AI now versus the future
Despite Gates’ predictions, you probably don’t have to worry about AI completely replacing humans anytime soon.
While AI chatbots like ChatGPT are impressive, they are light years away from achieving human-level intelligence, Humayun Sheikh, one of the founders of Google-owned AI startup DeepMind, told CNBC in May.
That’s because we don’t currently have the technology needed to create “artificial general intelligence,” or AGI, which refers to an AI that IBM believes could perform most tasks as well or better than a human.
“AGI doesn’t exist yet – there’s a robust debate in the computer industry about how to create it, and whether it’s even possible,” Gates wrote in a March blog post.
For now, we have what is called “narrow AI.” This is when an AI is trained to do specific tasks very well, such as recommending movies or books you might like based on what you’ve seen or read in the past, per IBM.
But as technology continues to evolve, the algorithms that drive the way AI systems learn will also continue to improve, Gates wrote in March.
“We must remember that we are only at the beginning of what AI can achieve,” he said. “Whatever limitations it has today will be gone before we know it.”
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