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Bill Gates shares thoughts on AI-powered ‘agents’

Bill Gates has shared his views on an AI future, saying that it will completely change the way in which we use our devices.

user icon Daniel Croft
Mon, 13 Nov 2023
Bill Gates shares thoughts on AI-powered ‘agents’
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The Microsoft co-founder and multibillionaire has said that the technology will fix “dumb” technology, allowing programs to respond to commands much more personally.

“To do any task on a computer, you have to tell your device which app to use. You can use Microsoft Word and Google Docs to draft a business proposal, but they can’t help you send an email, share a selfie, analyse data, schedule a party, or buy movie tickets,” he said, adding that these tasks require human help.

“In the next five years, this will change completely.


“You won’t have to use different apps for different tasks. You’ll simply tell your device, in everyday language, what you want to do.

“And depending on how much information you choose to share with it, the software will be able to respond personally because it will have a rich understanding of your life.”

Gates referred to this technology as “an agent”, a software that can accomplish tasks by responding to natural language based on what it knows about the user.

“Agents are not only going to change how everyone interacts with computers,” he said.

“They’re also going to upend the software industry, bringing about the biggest revolution in computing since we went from typing commands to tapping on icons.”

While Gates discussed the ways in which the technology has the potential to greatly aid the healthcare, technology and education industries, he said there are still major technical hurdles that need to be overcome.

“Nobody has figured out yet what the data structure for an agent will look like. To create personal agents, we need a new type of database that can capture all the nuances of your interests and relationships and quickly recall the information while maintaining your privacy,” he said.

“We are already seeing new ways of storing information, such as vector databases, that may be better for storing data generated by machine learning models.”

In addition, there are a number of questions regarding the use of agents that still need to be addressed. How will users interact with agents, and how many agents will the average person use? How will the agent check-in and follow up on requests?

Furthermore, agents will need to be prevented from hallucinating. Artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots and other tools are prone to hallucinating and going off track. In areas like healthcare and financial matters, where accuracy is a top priority, this is a major issue.

Finally and most importantly, privacy and security need to be maintained.

“As all of this comes together, the issues of online privacy and security will become even more urgent than they already are,” said Gates.

“You’ll want to be able to decide what information the agent has access to, so you’re confident that your data is shared with only people and companies you choose.

“But who owns the data you share with your agent, and how do you ensure that it’s being used appropriately?”

For the full blog post, Bill Gates’ blog can be found here.

Daniel Croft

Daniel Croft

Born in the heart of Western Sydney, Daniel Croft is a passionate journalist with an understanding for and experience writing in the technology space. Having studied at Macquarie University, he joined Momentum Media in 2022, writing across a number of publications including Australian Aviation, Cyber Security Connect and Defence Connect. Outside of writing, Daniel has a keen interest in music, and spends his time playing in bands around Sydney.

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