Bill Gates talks artificial intelligence concern, immortality, overpopulation and more in "ask me anything"

Joe Hall
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If there's one thing Bill Gates enjoys more than computer software, philanthropy and tennis, it's talking to people on the internet. Whether it's TED Talks, book recommendations or online newsletters, the Microsoft founder loves to communicate with the web's masses.

The billionaire took to Reddit for his third "Ask me Anything" yesterday, and what followed was a fascinating and varied conversation that covered topics from the Superbowl to superintelligence. Here's our pick of the best:

On the future of technology in the coming decades:

There will be more progress in the next 30 years than ever. Even in the next 10 problems like vision and speech and translation will be very good. Mechanical robot tasks like picking fruit or moving a hospital patient will be solved. Once computers/robots get to a level of capability where seeing and moving is easy for them then they will be used very extensively.

On whether technology has made people less intelligent:

Technology is not making people less intelligent. If you just look at the complexity people like in Entertainment you can see a big change over my lifetime. Technology is letting people get their questions answered better so they stay more curious. It makes it easier to know a lot of topics which turns out to be pretty important to contribute to solving complex problems.

On the overpopulated planet:

Fortunately as people get healthy they choose to have less kids. We have already had the maximum number of births - that number is starting to go down. We still need to help provide health and contraception in poor countries but all of the global population is coming from people living longer.

Gates recommended this speech by Hans Rosling on the subject of overpopulation.

On his billionaire lifestyle:

I am pretty basic when it comes to clothes and food. My big splurge is having a plane to fly around in. I play tennis so I invest in shoes and racquets to help but they don’t make a big difference.

On the threat of artificial superintelligence:

I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence. First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be a positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don’t understand why some people are not concerned.

On scientific research into immortality:

It seems pretty egocentric while we still have malaria and TB for rich people to fund things so they can live longer. It would be nice to live longer though I admit.

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