Microsoft founder Bill Gates reacts during a visit with Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of the Imperial College University, in London, Britain, February 15, 2023.
Justin Tallis | Pool | Reuters

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates believes that the future top company in artificial intelligence will likely have created a personal digital agent that can perform certain tasks for people.

This yet-to-be developed AI assistant will be able to understand a person’s needs and habits and will help them “read the stuff you don’t have time to read,” Gates said Monday during a Goldman Sachs and SV Angel event in San Francisco about artificial intelligence.

The technology will be so profound, that the first company to develop it will have leg up on competitors. This personal assistant could radically alter user behaviors, resulting in people not needing to visit a search website again, use certain productivity tools, or shop on Amazon, Gates said.

“Whoever wins that, it will take the current dispersed high-profit areas and move it to a single area,” Gates said explaining how the notion of a capable personal assistant could impact the current lucrative businesses of tech giants like Google-parent Alphabet, Microsoft and Amazon.

Gates said there is a fifty-fifty chance that this future AI winner will be either a startup or a tech giant.

“I’d be disappointed if Microsoft didn’t come in there,” Gates said. “But I’m impressed with a couple of startups, including Inflection,” he added referring to the startup Inflection.AI, cofounded by former DeepMind executive Mustafa Suleyman.

It will take some time until this powerful future digital agent is ready for mainstream use, Gates said. Until then, companies will continue embedding so-called generative AI technologies akin to OpenAI’s popular ChatGPT into their own products.

Gates also discussed health efforts related to his work at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, saying that AI will accelerate innovations in the space and lead to more advanced drug development.

Although the inner-workings of the human brain is still a mystery to scientists, Gates believes that humanity is getting close to creating helpful drugs to cure diseases like Alzheimer’s, with human trials for the new drugs possibly taking place in ten years.

He also likened the rise of generative AI technologies that can produce compelling text as a game-changing technology that will impact white-collar workers. Gates believes that future humanoid robots that are cheaper for companies to use than human employees will greatly impact blue-collar workers.

“As we invent these robots, we just need to make sure they don’t get Alzheimer’s,” Gates said in jest.

Watch: Bill Gates says OpenAI’s GPT is the most important tech advance since the 1980’s

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