Robot news: Bill Gates defends AI technology following Stephen Hawking warning | Science | News

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Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who is believed to be worth around £86billion, told an audience at the Misk Global Forum that advancements in robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) will help improve efficiency in a range of industries.

Speaking at the forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Mr Gates said: “We are in a world of shortage, but these advances will help us take on all of the top problems.

“We need to solve these infectious diseases … We need to help health care workers do their job.”

The 62-year-old business magnate believes AI will transform the working environment in countries across the world and could eventually be used to help with social care and education.

He continued: “As we free labour up from things like manufacturing, we can shift it to some of these very human-centric needs.”

But Mr Gates is at odds with world-leading theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking who last week warned AI could be “worst event in the history of our civilisation”.

Speaking at the Web Summit technology conference in Lisbon, Portugal, Mr Hawking reiterated his warning against the rise of powerful, conscious machines.

While Professor Hawking admitted AI could be used for good, he also stated humans need to find a way to control it so that it does not become more powerful than us as “computers can, in theory, emulate human intelligence, and exceed it.”

The University of Cambridge alumni said: “Success in creating effective AI, could be the biggest event in the history of our civilisation. Or the worst. We just don’t know. 

“So we cannot know if we will be infinitely helped by AI, or ignored by it and side-lined, or conceivably destroyed by it.

“Unless we learn how to prepare for, and avoid, the potential risks, AI could be the worst event in the history of our civilisation. 

“It brings dangers, like powerful autonomous weapons, or new ways for the few to oppress the many. It could bring great disruption to our economy.”

Professor Hawking added that to make sure AI is in line with our goals, creators need to “employ best practice and effective management.”

But he still has hope: “I am an optimist and I believe that we can create AI for the good of the world. 

“That it can work in harmony with us. We simply need to be aware of the dangers, identify them, employ the best possible practice and management, and prepare for its consequences well in advance.” 

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