OpenAI GPT most essential technological advance since 1980

Microsoft founder Bill Gates speaks at the Global Fund Seventh Replenishment Conference in New York on September 21, 2022.

Almond Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

Microsoft founder Bill Gates says that OpenAI’s GPT AI model is the most revolutionary advance in technology since he first saw a modern graphical desktop environment (GUI) in 1980.

Before that, people used their computers from a command line. Gates took “GUI” technology and built Windows on top of it, creating a modern software juggernaut.

Now Gates sees parallels with OpenAI’s GPT models, which can write text resembling human output and generate near-usable computer code.

He wrote in a blog post Tuesday that he challenged the OpenAI team last year to develop an AI model that could pass the Advanced Placement Biology exam. GPT-4, which was revealed to the public last week, got the maximum score according to OpenAI.

“The whole experience was breathtaking,” Gates wrote. “I knew I had just seen the most important technological advance since the graphical user interface.”

“The development of AI is as fundamental as the development of the microprocessor, the personal computer, the Internet and the mobile phone. It will change the way people work, learn, travel, receive medical care and communicate with each other. Industries will reorient themselves afterwards. Companies will excel at how well they use it,” he continued.

Gates is the latest notable technologist to comment on recent advances in AI as a major shift in the tech industry. He joins former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in predicting that data-based machine learning could transform entire industries.

Current CEOs also see big business opportunities in AI applications and tools. NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang said Tuesday that the industry is experiencing an “iPhone moment,” referring to the time when new technology is widespread and entrepreneurs see opportunities for new businesses and products.

Gates and Microsoft have close ties to OpenAI, which developed the GPT model. Microsoft invested $10 billion in the startup and is selling some of its AI software through Azure cloud services.

Gates suggests that when people talk about AI, they should “balance” their fears of biased, wrong, or unfriendly tools with their life-enhancing potential. He also believes that governments and philanthropists should support AI tools used in developing countries for education or health, as companies are not necessarily going to make them themselves.

Gates’ entire post is worth reading on his blog.

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