Microsoft founder-turned-philanthropist Bill Gates smiles during the Global Investment Summit at the Science Museum in London on October 19, 2021.

Leon Neal | AFP | Getty Images

Improvements in artificial intelligence are the “most important” innovation of the moment, billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates said in an interview published Friday.

“It will change our world,” he continued. Applying generative artificial intelligence, such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT, can improve office efficiency, invoicing and letter writing, Gates said in a podcast conversation with a German-language business newspaper. Handelsblatt.

“Today they require too many calculations, they’re not always accurate,” Gates said, “but even this week you’ll have messages from Microsoft and Googlewhere they compete for leadership in this space.”

Microsoft announced this week that its Bing search engine will be partially powered by ChatGPT’s AI technology. Google also recently announced Bard, its competitor to ChatGPT.

Gates co-founded Microsoft in 1975 and led the company for more than two decades before stepping down as CEO in 2000. “I’m biased,” Gates joked, noting that he remained a consultant to the $2 trillion company.

The optimizations that artificial intelligence can offer for reading and writing, Gates said, will have a “huge impact.” In healthcare and education, Gates continued, AI can significantly increase efficiency and significantly improve outcomes.

“The easiest way to understand is that AI is very good at speech recognition and visual recognition, but they basically can’t read,” Gates continued. In other words, traditional AI platforms couldn’t actually process the language they were receiving. But newer platforms like ChatGPT are able to teach, improve, and read and write with new knowledge.

Gates pointed to word processing and office applications as optimal future applications for natural language platforms such as ChatGPT.

As an example, Gates pointed to a hypothetical integration with Microsoft’s Teams collaboration software, noting that artificial intelligence could track a conversation to extract relevant information based on a meeting.

“There’s going to be a lot of progress over the next few years to make these things even better,” Gates said.

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