Reddit AMA interview reveals the tech titan also regrets never learning a second language
He may be one of the world’s richest men, but it seems that Bill Gates does have some worries – notably the risk that Artificial Intelligence (AI) could pose to the human race in the future.
The Microsoft co-founder took part in an ‘Ask Me Anything’ (AMA) interview on Reddit yesterday, covering a wide range of subjects posed to him by the site’s users, and revealing some interesting details about himself along the way.
Crush, kill, destroy
One of the most striking titbits was that Gates seemed to side with the likes of Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking in urging caution of the limits of AI in our everyday lives.
“I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence. First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well,” Gates wrote. “A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don’t understand why some people are not concerned.”
Tesla founder Musk announced earlier this month that he was investing $10 million of his own money to fund an effort to keep artificial intelligence friendly.
However Gates was keen to emphasise that people should still get involved in computer technology, an ever-changing and developing market, particularly coding and programming.
This followed a question which asked whether computer programming was a smart career choice for people who aren’t expert-level coders, because automation and AI will likely replace all lower-level programmers in the future.
“It is safe for now! It is also a lot of fun and helps shape your thinking on all issues to be more logical,” Gates answered. “Understanding how to program will always be useful.”
Gates also revealed that he regrets not being able to speak a foreign language, citing Mark Zuckerberg’s recent speed-learning of Mandarin as something that piqued his jealousy.
“I feel pretty stupid that I don’t know any foreign languages,” Gates said.
“I took Latin and Greek in high school and got A’s and I guess it helps my vocabulary but I wish I knew French or Arabic or Chinese.”
“I keep hoping to get time to study one of these – probably French because it is the easiest. I did Duolingo for a while but didn’t keep it up. Mark Zuckerberg amazingly learned Mandarin and did a Q&A with Chinese students – incredible.”
Gates, who is reportedly worth around $80bn, has looked to invest in a range of projects since stepping down from Microsoft in 2008. Most notably, he and his wife Melinda have given away billions to support vaccination treatments in developing countries, which has had incredible success in helping cope with several debilitating diseases including polio and malaria.
Earlier this month, Gates also hit the headlines thanks to his support of a new water purification treatment, which can turn human waste into drinkable water. Demonstrating the ‘Omniprocessor’ himself, Gates hailed the effect that the technology could have in improving sanitation in third world countries.
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