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Bill Gates thinks AI could spell the end of tedious life admin

Hasan Chowdhury   

Bill Gates thinks AI could spell the end of tedious life admin
  • AI assistants are on their way.
  • Bill Gates and Sam Altman spoke this week about the future of AI lying in "agents."

There are a lot of doomers who want us to think AI will probably kill us all. They might want to think again: The future of AI looks more and more like that of software-as-a-servant.

This past week has made that much clear as big-name techies, including Bill Gates and Sam Altman, touted the future of AI as one of "agents."

Think of these as your personal digital assistants who make light work of all the life admin that bogs you down.

In a post to his blog on Thursday, Gates said a lot of software today "is still pretty dumb" because it requires a lot of human input before it becomes useful.

"To do any task on a computer, you have to tell your device which app to use," he wrote. "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, analyze data, schedule a party, or buy movie tickets."

He reckons that AI agents can change that within the next five years.

Gates said he sees a future where you "simply tell your device, in everyday language, what you want to do."

In return — depending on how much information you choose to share with your computer — the AI agent "will be able to respond personally because it will have a rich understanding of your life."

Altman also put agents front and center as he held OpenAI's first-ever developer day in San Francisco on Monday.

At the event, the AI company behind ChatGPT introduced a new product called GPTs. These are effectively customizable versions of ChatGPT, which users "can create for a specific purpose" without needing to know anything about coding.

That means you could have GPTs programmed to quickly teach you the rules of a game or teach your kids math, OpenAI said.

It could also mean building specific tools that help you create email templates, plan parties, optimize social-media posts for engagement, and more.

To make these little assistants useful to lots of people, OpenAI is creating an Apple-like App Store called GPT Store, where users can buy and sell assistants. A store leaderboard will even help you identify the most useful AI assistants.

"GPTs are a new way for anyone to create a tailored version of ChatGPT to be more helpful in their daily life, at specific tasks, at work, or at home — and then share that creation with others," OpenAI said.

Gates acknowledged in his blog that agent-like tools, such as Clippy, have come and gone without making much of a difference to people's lives.

With more advanced technology such as generative AI powering these agents, though, they may well become indispensable. "Clippy has as much in common with agents as a rotary phone has with a mobile device," Gates wrote.

AI agents, then, could become the admin-buster you've always wanted. Don't expect them to become humanity-busters anytime soon.