Bill Gates: The Future Is Robots (And Quantum Computing)

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Microsoft founder chats AI regulation, hoverboards, and the company’s future in Reddit AMA

Advanced robotics and Artificial Intelligence will have a large effect on the technology space within the next few years, according to one of the world’s leading technology minds.

Bill Gates took to online forum Reddit for his fourth Ask Me Anything (AMA) interview, where he fielded questions ranging from his shopping habits to his memories of Harvard University.

But the Microsoft founder was also quizzed on some of the hottest topics affecting the technology sector today, including whether he agreed on establishing regulation guidelines for Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems.

Although Gates said that he hadn’t seen any concrete proposal on how any regulation would be policed, he admitted that, “I think it is worth discussing because I share the view of (Elon) Musk and (Stephen) Hawking that when a few people control a platform with extreme intelligence it creates dangers in terms of power and eventually control.”

All change

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Gates was also asked about his view on the progress Microsoft has made since his departure, and how current CEO Satya Nadella (pictured left) is continuing his legacy. Referencing Microsoft’s launch of SQL servers on Linux earlier this week as a good example of the company moving forward, Gates said he was positive about the future.

“I think it shows Satya looking at how the market is changing and being willing to change how things have been done,” he wrote. “His embrace of the cloud and mobile including doing software on other people’s mobile platforms are also great examples of that.”

Gates, who also revealed he is currently using a Surface Book with an “always updated Windows 10”, also confirmed that Microsoft is currently working on quantum computing technology, which is set to revolutionise many areas of the tech industry, although he admitted that “it isn’t clear when it will work or become mainstream.”

“There is a chance that within 6-10 years that cloud computing will offer super-computation by using quantum, he cautioned, “It could help use solve some very important science problems including materials and catalyst design.”

And when asked about what he thought would be the next biggest advancement in technology in the next 20 years, it was quite an old-school vision that Gates predicted.

“I think robots that have vision and manipulation as good as humans is a huge milestone that will happen in the next decade and is being underestimated,” he noted.

“I think medical advances will also be amazing and unbelievable. Like the robots some of the capabilities like gene editing will bring challenges with them.”

Fantasy

climate changeOn a lighter note, Gates also noted that his ‘fantasy technology’ wish would be for better health-related tools, describing a company working on “stunning” robotic surgery.

“The idea that this will make surgeries higher quality, faster and less expensive is pretty exciting. It will probably take a decade before this gets mainstream – to date it has mostly been used for prostate surgery.”

And when asked, “What’s a technological advancement that’s come about in the past few years that you think we were actually better off without?” Gates listed a common gripe along with bigger worries about bioterrorism.

“Some people think Hoverboards were bad because they caught on fire,” he said, “I never got to try one.”

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