A few billionaire technology moguls have had some dire opinions about what the arrival of sophisticated artificial intelligence will do to humanity. Elon Musk thinks that AI will be more dangerous than North Korea. Stephen Hawking thinks AI could be the "worst event in the history of our civilization." Bill Gates does not share their feelings that AI will be all bad for us. He thinks the arrival of AI will mean longer vacations.
What kind of vacation do you get? A week? Two weeks? Is any of it paid time off? With AI, you might just be able to check out, let a machine do your job, and take that month long safari you've always dreamed of. Gates said:
"Well, certainly we can look forward to the idea that vacations will be longer at some point. The purpose of humanity is not just to sit behind a counter and sell things. More free time is not a terrible thing. AI is simply better software. In these high value environments — whether it is an operating room, a jail, a factory, a courthouse — you will be able to transcribe everything that is being said, and you will be able to see things if they are safety violations even a construction site. And so you will be far more efficient in using resources, you will be far more aware of what is going on, and it is very cheap now because computers can see and hear as well as humans can."
Well, put that way, it doesn't sound so bad. Gates sees AI going to industries that need this kind of help – to help the elderly or reduce the number of students in a classroom, or even to help out kids with special needs. AI will give people the resources to be more productive.
Gates doesn't think the transition to a world of AI will be easy. The rate of change coming to society and the workplace in the coming decades will be faster and more dramatic that it has ever been before. The number of employees across a number of industries that will need to be retrained will be enormous.
Elon Musk thinks the only option for when this time comes will be to pay people a cash handout just to live.
This isn't a new line of thinking for Gates. He has expressed the idea that increasing productivity for each worker will be good for society before.
Well, like so much else in life, only time will tell, right?