Bill Gates publishes blog post on the risks of AI, says employees will need 'retraining' and 'support' as workplace transforms

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Bill Gates publishes blog post on the risks of AI, says employees will need 'retraining' and 'support' as workplace transforms
Bill Gates believes technology will revolutionize the nation in many different areas. There may be some bumps in a road, but he is overall 'optimistic.'VCG / Contributor/Getty Images
  • Bill Gates wrote a 3,000-word post on his blog, GatesNotes, discussing artificial intelligence.
  • Gates believes that AI is a powerful tool, but society will have to learn to use it efficiently.
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As the debate about artificial intelligence and its future impact continues, one of AI's most prolific supporters, Bill Gates, published a new 3,000-word blog post on Tuesday. Gates shared his thoughts on some of the drawbacks of AI — such as disruptive impacts on workers and the classroom — and how those effects can be mitigated.

Gates said that he believes AI is the future of tech, but he's also taking a realistic and practical view amid the hype and hysteria.

"The future of AI is not as grim as some people think or as rosy as others think. The risks are real, but I am optimistic that they can be managed," Gates said on his blog, GatesNotes.

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He's not underselling it either: He compared the introduction of AI to that of other innovations like cars, computers, and calculators — advancements that may have caused confusion at first but would eventually make lives easier.

Referencing the introduction of calculators and computers decades ago, Gates wrote about how teachers worried at the time that these tools would prevent students from learning. He then drew similarities between those concerns and fears about students using AI to write essays and quoted teacher Cherie Shields, who uses AI in her classroom.

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"'Teachers will have to embrace AI technology as another tool students have access to,' she wrote. 'Just like we once taught students how to do a proper Google search, teachers should design clear lessons around how the ChatGPT bot can assist with essay writing,'" Gates wrote.

However, Gates does not believe classrooms will look too different. In March, Gates predicted that AI will revolutionize many fields, but that "learning will still depend on great relationships between students and teachers."

What about AI's impact on people's jobs?

Many workers — and even some executives, according to a recent survey — fear that AI will come for their jobs. A survey commissioned by employee screening service Checkr found that 79% of employees worried that AI would threaten their income and their jobs. However, 86% of those surveyed said they'd be willing to take pay cuts if it meant they got to work less.

"It is true that some workers will need support and retraining as we make this transition into an AI-powered workplace," Gates wrote. "That's a role for governments and businesses, and they'll need to manage it well so that workers aren't left behind."

Research from Goldman Sachs concluded that Generative AI and text-generating programs like ChatGPT could impact 300 million jobs. While that doesn't necessarily mean 300 million people are expected to lose their jobs, it does indicate that, for many, some aspect of their job could become automated.

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"I don't think AI's impact will be as dramatic as the Industrial Revolution, but it certainly will be as big as the introduction of the PC. Word processing applications didn't do away with office work, but they changed it forever," Gates said. "Employers and employees had to adapt, and they did."

White-collar professions like the legal, administrative and finance industries will likely be the most impacted by changes related to AI, studies suggest, while blue-collar occupations, construction, manufacturing and trades, will likely see less of an impact.

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