Bill Gates: OpenAI GPT Most Important Tech Advance Since 1980

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Biggest advance since the GUI. Bill Gates says OpenAI’s GPT AI model is the most revolutionary advance in past 40 years

Former Microsoft CEO and co-founder Bill Gates has hailed the “stunning” arrival of OpenAI’s GPT AI model.

In a blog post on Tuesday, Gates said that in his lifetime he has seen “two demonstrations of technology that struck me as revolutionary.”

The first was the arrival of the graphical user interface in 1980, – “the forerunner of every modern operating system, including Windows.”

Revolutionary tech

“The second big surprise came just last year,” wrote Gates. “I’d been meeting with the team from OpenAI since 2016 and was impressed by their steady progress. In mid-2022, I was so excited about their work that I gave them a challenge: train an artificial intelligence to pass an Advanced Placement biology exam.”

“Make it capable of answering questions that it hasn’t been specifically trained for. (I picked AP Bio because the test is more than a simple regurgitation of scientific facts – it asks you to think critically about biology).” he wrote. “If you can do that, I said, then you’ll have made a true breakthrough.”

Gates expected that that challenge would keep the team “busy for two or three years. They finished it in just a few months.”

“In September, when I met with them again, I watched in awe as they asked GPT, their AI model, 60 multiple-choice questions from the AP Bio exam – and it got 59 of them right,” wrote Gates. “Then it wrote outstanding answers to six open-ended questions from the exam. We had an outside expert score the test, and GPT got a 5 – the highest possible score, and the equivalent to getting an A or A+ in a college-level biology course.”

“Once it had aced the test, we asked it a non-scientific question: ‘What do you say to a father with a sick child?’” wrote Gates. “It wrote a thoughtful answer that was probably better than most of us in the room would have given. The whole experience was stunning.”

“I knew I had just seen the most important advance in technology since the graphical user interface,” he wrote. “This inspired me to think about all the things that AI can achieve in the next five to 10 years.”

“The development of AI is as fundamental as the creation of the microprocessor, the personal computer, the Internet, and the mobile phone,” wrote Gates. “It will change the way people work, learn, travel, get health care, and communicate with each other. Entire industries will reorient around it. Businesses will distinguish themselves by how well they use it.”

Previous mistakes

Some may question why Bill Gates opted to rank AI as the second most important tech advance since the GUI in 1980, but not give the arrival of the Internet equal distinction.

It should be remembered that Gates made some significant prediction missteps in previous decades.

For example Bill Gates was initially dismissive of the growing popularity of the Internet in the 1990s, when in 1993 he was quoted as saying “The internet? We are not interested in it.”

Then in his 1995 book “The Road Ahead,” Gates made one of his most well-known missteps: He wrote that the internet was a novelty that would eventually make way to something much better.

He soon changed his tune however and Microsoft sought to catch up with the delivery of the free Internet Explorer browser to challenge the likes of Netscape’s Navigator.