What Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and 12 other business leaders think about AI tools like ChatGPT
Business leaders are taking notice of popular AI tools like ChatGPT.
Some say they are excited about what AI can do. Others are skeptical, unimpressed, and even scared.
Insider compiled a list of 14 business leaders' thoughts on AI, from Bill Gates to Elon Musk.
Artificial intelligence tools have taken the world by storm — and business leaders are noticing.
Since OpenAI's ChatGPT came out in November, the buzzy conversational chatbot has been used to generate real estate advice, provide tips on starting a business, and some workers utilize it to make their jobs easier.
Business leaders' reactions to AI products like ChatGPT have been mixed. While figures like Bill Gates think that tools like ChatGPT can free up time in workers lives by making employees more efficient, others, like Elon Musk, believe that AI is "one of the biggest risks to the future of civilization."
From feelings of excitement to doomsday visions, here is what 14 influential figures in business think about AI.
Bill Gates - American business magnate and cofounder of Microsoft
AI will be the"biggest thing in this decade," Gates said on a podcast, mentioning that he's "excited" about ChatGPT and finds the chatbot "pretty fantastic" in its potential to teach math and offer medical advice to people with limited access to resources, per Forbes.
He said he uses ChatGPT primarily "for serious purposes" though he admits to using it for "fun things" like writing poetry.
Still, Gates said ChatGPT is "truly imperfect" and has seen it answer math questions "completely wrong."
In terms of jobs, Gates said AI can "change our world" by making work more efficient, he told German newspaper Handelsblatt.
When asked about his thoughts on the Big Tech race to build the best AI chatbot, Gates said he isn't sure there will be a clear winner, per the podcast.
Gates sees AI-integration into search engines as a "personal agent" that studies and understands its users' behavior, he said on the podcast, eliminating the need for separate tech services.
"A decade from now, we won't think of those businesses as separate, because the AI will know you so well that when you're buying gifts or planning trips, it won't care if Amazon has the best price, if someone else has a better price — you won't even need to think about it," Gates said. "So it's a pretty dramatic potential reshuffling of how tech markets look."
In a seven-page letter Gates published on AI, he wrote that building AI is "as fundamental as the creation of the microprocessor, the personal computer, the internet, and the mobile phone." AI, he said, can serve as a "digital personal assistant" for workers, and can help healthcare workers and teachers make their jobs easier.
Andy Jassy - Amazon CEO
Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said he is excited to see "what's possible with generative AI" amid the rise of tools like ChatGPT, according to an interview with the Financial Times.
But Jassy thinks that this latest iteration of AI is nothing new.
"Most large, deeply technical companies like ours, have been working on these very large, generative AI models themselves for a long time," Jassy said.
Sundar Pichai - CEO of Alphabet and Google
Sundar Pichai told investors during Alphabet's most recent earnings call that AI "is the most profound technology" his company is developing.
Pichai's comment came after Google's management reportedly issued a "code red" in response to the rise of ChatGPT.
Google is working on an AI-powered chatbot it calls Bard. The company demoed the chatbot to the public for the first time in early February. It is currently being tested and will be released in the coming weeks, the company said.
Satya Nadella - CEO at Microsoft
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is cautiously optimistic about AI's future.
In an interview with CBS Mornings, Nadella said that humans must be "unambiguously, unquestionably" in charge of powerful AI models to prevent them from going out of control.
If that happens, Nadella said "runaway AI" could be "a real problem," one that can be addressed by making models safer and "more explainable" first. That way, humans know exactly how the tech will be used.
Microsoft is making strides to build out its AI tech. Earlier this month, Microsoft launched the new Bing search engine equipped with a conversational chatbot available only to a limited number of users.
Nadella told The Verge in an interview that he hopes the "new Bing" will make its competitor Google "come out and show that they can dance."
"And I want people to know that we made them dance, and I think that'll be a great day," Nadella said.
Elon Musk - CEO at Twitter and cofounder of OpenAI
Elon Musk, who cofounded ChatGPT maker OpenAI before leaving the company — said at a recent conference that AI is "one of the biggest risks to the future of civilization," CNBC reported.
When asked about ChatGPT, Musk said that the tool is "both positive or negative" with "great promise" even if it comes with "great danger." Its impressive responses illustrate "just how advanced AI has become," he said.
That is why Musk said AI regulation is necessary even if it "may slow down AI a little bit," which he thinks is good.
"It is, I think, actually a bigger risk to society than cars or planes or medicine," he reportedly said during the World Government Summit in Dubai.
In fact, Musk has repeatedly sounded the alarm over the potential threat of AI.
In 2020, Musk insinuated that the Google-owned DeepMind project could take over the world. In 2018, he said AI may be more dangerous than nuclear weapons. A year before that, Musk emphasized the need for regulation as he claimed people "don't know how to react" to tech that he describes as "ethereal," science blog Futurism reported.
Musk's current thoughts on AI came full circle starting in 2015, when Musk cofounded OpenAI with current CEO Sam Altman, saying at the time that AI was the "biggest existential threat" to humanity.
Tim Cook - CEO at Apple
The AI revolution is here — and Apple CEO Tim Cook is watching.
Cook told investors on an earnings call that AI is a "major focus" at Apple and that "it's incredible in terms of how it can enrich customers' lives."
In fact, Cook said that AI will eventually be a major part of Apple's product line.
"We see enormous potential in this space to affect virtually everything we do... It will affect every product and every service that we have," Cook said.
Steve Wozniak - Cofounder of Apple
Steve Wozniak called OpenAI's ChatGPT "pretty impressive" and "useful to humans" during an interview with CNBC. But users should be careful, he said, as the chatbot can produce some major errors.
"The trouble is it does good things for us, but it can make horrible mistakes by not knowing what humanness is," Wozniak told CNBC.
In the interview, Wozniak compared the concerns around AI with fears around the tech used in self-driving cars, as AI can't yet replace human drivers.
"It's like you're driving a car, and you know what other cars might be about to do right now because you know humans," Wozniak said.
Warren Buffet - American business magnate, investor, and philanthropist
Billionaire investor Warren Buffet warned that AI tools have the power to disrupt society years before the release of ChatGPT.
In 2017, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway suggested in an annual company meeting that AI could replace jobs, CNBC first reported.
"I would certainly think it would result in significantly less employment in certain areas," he said. "But that's good for society," Buffet said, per CNBC.
In an ideal world, Buffett believes that widespread automation could reduce the number of hours people work which would free up time for leisure. Companies could also hire less workers, he said.
Despite AI's potential benefits, Buffet said the tech "can have huge problems, in terms of a democracy and how it reacts to that."
In fact, Buffet shared similar thoughts in 2016.
"I would think the biggest value will come when it actually replaces human labor," he said about AI during a 2016 CNBC interview.
Charlie Munger - American billionaire investor
Billionaire investor Charlie Munger isn't that impressed by the current state of AI.
"Artificial intelligence is very important, but there's also a lot of crazy hype on the subject," Munger said during a Daily Journal meeting that was broadcast live on CNBC.
"AI is not going to cure cancer, it's not going to do everything that we want done, and there's a lot of nonsense in it too," he continued. "So I regard it as a mixed blessing."
Munger said AI can be used for tasks like insurance underwriting, but faces limitations that might not make it very helpful in the task of buying an office building, for example.
Kevin O'Leary - "Shark Tank" investor
"Shark Tank" investor Kevin O'Leary told Insider he is starting to use ChatGPT for online research more than Google.
Before ChatGPT was launched, O'Leary said he used Google every day. "Now I'm splitting my search to 50% Google and 50% ChatGPT," he said. In fact, O'Leary said he's discussing potentially taking a stake in OpenAI.
Despite his preference for ChatGPT over Google, O'Leary is open to trying out new AI chatbots as they come out.
O'Leary said he is interested in trying out the new Bing search engine once its officially launched, though he hasn't used Bing in years.
Now that Google announced its plans to release its own chatbot Bard, it is only a matter of time before Google loses its grip on the internet, O'Leary said.
"ChatGPT certainly is a threat to Google, and Google must know that," O'Leary said. "The AI search wars are on."
Gautam Adani: Businessman and the world's third-richest person
Gautam Adani, the world's third-richest person with a net worth of $121 billion, according to Bloomberg's Billionaire Index, admits he might be using ChatGPT a little too much.
"The recent release of ChatGPT (I must admit to some addiction since I started using it) is a transformational moment in the democratization of AI given its astounding capabilities as well as comical failures," Adani wrote in a LinkedIn post.
"But there can be no doubt that generative AI will have massive ramifications," Adani, who is known for starting India's energy and logistics powerhouse Adani Group, added.
In fact, the disruptive nature of generative AI will only grow, Adani wrote.
Adani said that generative AI "holds the same potential and dangers" as the advent of chips which he said has "paved the way for precision and guided weapons used in modern warfare."
"And the race is already on, with China outnumbering the US in the number of most-cited scientific papers on AI," he said.
John Carmack - Video game pioneer and former Meta executive
Former Meta executive John Carmack said AI may be able to act and think like humans in just a decade, according to a Dallas Innovates interview.
The virtual reality visionary said that artificial general intelligence —the ability for AI to perform complex tasks currently only achievable by humans — is AI's "big brass ring" that will grow into a trillion-dollar industry by the 2030s.
In turn, artificial general intelligence will leave a positive impact on the world, he said.
"The world is a hugely better place with our 8 billion people than it was when there were 50 million people," Carmack told Dallas Innovates. "So, I am confident that the sum total of value and progress in humanity will accelerate extraordinarily with welcoming artificial beings into our community."
AI can't replicate human functions like consciousness at the moment. But with the rise of tools like ChatGPT, Carmack said that the world is making progress toward that goal.
"I mean, forget human brains; we don't even have things that can act like a mouse or a cat," he said. "But it feels like we are within striking distance of all those things."
Eric Schmidt - former Google CEO
Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt said AI could have as big of an impact on warfare as nuclear weapons did.
"Einstein wrote a letter to Roosevelt in the 1930s saying that there is this new technology — nuclear weapons — that could change war, which it clearly did," Schmidt told Wired in an interview. "I would argue that [AI-powered] autonomy and decentralized, distributed systems are that powerful.
Schmidt — who is a founding member of the government's Defense Innovation Board — is trying to get the Pentagon to use AI tools on the battlefield, though he said that progress has been slow.
In fact, Schmidt has previously expressed his support for AI.
In a 2020 op-ed in The New York Times, Schmidt wrote that the US government "needs to get back in the game in a serious way" in order for the country to win the technology race against China. AI should be a priority for the country, he said.
Vint Cerf - Father of the internet
Vint Cerf — widely known as one of the fathers of the internet — said that investors pouring money into AI tools are buying into the hype around buzzy tools like ChatGPT.
AI chatbots have "an ethical issue" that he hopes investors consider, Cerf said during a conference.
"Everybody's talking about ChatGPT or Google's version of that and we know it doesn't always work the way we would like it to," Cerf said, according to CNBC.
He added that investors should "be thoughtful" about how we use AI.
"If you think 'man, I can sell this to investors because it's a hot topic and everyone will throw money at me,' don't do that," Cerf reportedly said.
"Be thoughtful," he added. "You were right that we can't always predict what's going to happen with these technologies and to be honest with you, most of the problem is people — that's why we people haven't changed in the last 400 years let alone the last 4,000."
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