- Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters
- Bill Gates said that artificial intelligence is coming to replace some jobs, and there isn’t a lot we can do to stop it.
- But if it plays out like Gates predicts, it will be a net positive for the world.
- We might all have more free time because of AI, he says.
Bill Gates, the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft, thinks that artificial intelligence will take over a lot of jobs and ultimately will be a good thing.
In an interview with Fox Business, Gates said that robots taking over our jobs will make us more efficient, and lead to more free time.
“Well, certainly we can look forward to the idea that vacations will be longer at some point,” Gates told Fox Business. “If we can actually produce twice as much as we make today with less labor, the purpose of humanity is not just to sit behind a counter and sell things, you know?”
Gates is arguing that AI, the technology that some fear is already stripping jobs from primarily low-wage workers, is just allowing us to better manage our time. In a way, he’s right. If artificial intelligence allows us to get in our cars and reply to emails on our way to work, it would definitely save time.
But, companies like Amazon are starting to trial technology that could eventually eliminate the jobs of cashiers. Its new cashier-less grocery store uses AI to track what customers are putting in their baskets and charges them once they leave the store, no checkout required. Amazon has not announced plans to bring the technology to Whole Foods, the grocery chain it recently bought for $13.7 billion, and the new store does employ human workers to help customers and restock shelves.
“There will be challenges because the rate of change will be faster in these next 20 years than it’s been before,” Gates said. He concedes that the government will likely be forced to rework its social safety net programs, and help displaced workers retrain for the new economy, but if done right, it will be a net positive for everyone.
If society is able to make all the food, homes, and consumer goods it needs, then workers should be allowed to relax, and focus on other interests, Gates argues.
That future is likely a long way off, but AI can already see and hear more accurately than humans. Some of the smartest people in tech have different views on how society should handle the rapidly-growing technology, but all agree that it will significantly change the world. Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, recently said that AI is more important to humanity than the mastery of fire or electricity, according to Bloomberg.
Gates says all that change will leave society with a lot of decisions and options in the future, “because you’ll just be so much more productive.”