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Bill Gates thought the internet would make all of us more responsible, but he realized it just helped 'a critical mass of crazy people' find each other

Bill Gates, Founder of Breakthrough Energy and Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, speaks onstage at The New York Times Climate Forward Summit 2023 at The Times Center on September 21, 2023 in New York City.
Bill Gates speaks onstage at The New York Times Climate Forward Summit 2023 at The Times Center on September 21, 2023 in New York City.Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for The New York Times
  • When the internet was taking off, Bill Gates thought it would make the world more rational.

  • But it turns out that it's been used by "crazy people" to help them find each other, he said.

  • Gates said he initially believed people would use the internet to responsibly seek information.

Bill Gates said he was originally expecting the internet to make the world a more fact-based, rational place, but has come to realize it's become a tool for disinformation and "crazy ideas."

"I will admit, the people who drove the digital revolution, including myself, really thought that the world would get more rational," Gates said at a fireside chat on Thursday in New York.

Gates was talking about the implications of artificial intelligence on the world, and reflected on his own predictions during the original digital revolution.

The Microsoft founder said that as the internet was taking off, he believed it would "make the world so factual."

He thought the internet would drive people to search up information and responsibly empower themselves, giving an example of how someone could learn about a lawsuit by looking up what both the plaintiff and defendant claimed without relying on a news article.

And if someone had a question about a topic in science, they could "go read the articles and see everything about them," the billionaire said.

Internet entrepreneurs like him expected to drive "Socratic debate," he added.

What Gates hadn't foreseen, however, was how the internet would be used by the world's people with "crazy ideas," he said.

"There were a lot of them out there. They were just not finding each other," Gates said. "And now, with digital tools, said: 'Oh you think that crazy thing? Me too! Let's get together and have a critical mass of crazy people. Let's, you know, call ourselves QAnon.'"

Gates said he hoped younger generations would be able creative enough to solve the disinformation issues of the current day.

The billionaire said he's open to AI being regulated — adding that anyone who fights against AI regulation just sounds "stupid."

Despite his admissions about the internet, Gates said he feels positive about AI, saying it could relieve labor shortages and make the world richer.

"I'm more optimistic about AI because of the near-term benefits," he said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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