Bill Gates becomes the latest tech leader to say pausing AI is not a practical idea


By Laya Neelakandan

Former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates responded to calls made last week to pause the development of artificial intelligence, saying it would not “solve the challenges ahead,” in an interview with Reuters.

Last Tuesday, the Future of Life Institute published an open letter calling for a six-month pause on training AI systems “more powerful” than OpenAI’s leading GPT-4 service, which can carry human-like conversations. The letter was signed by Twitter CEO Elon Musk, Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak, and over 1,000 other AI experts, arguing that we should only develop powerful AI systems after we know more about the risks and benefits associated with such developments.

But Gates said he thinks any pause is impractical in his first public comments since the letter came out.

“I don’t think asking one particular group to pause solves the challenges,” the billionaire told Reuters, noting that there are clearly benefits to the new technology. Microsoft has multibillion dollar investments in ChatGPT owner OpenAI.

He also said he doesn’t understand how the details of such a pause would work.

“I don’t really understand who they’re saying could stop, and would every country in the world agree to stop, and why to stop,” he said. “But there are a lot of different opinions in this area.”

Instead, Gates suggested that people focus on how to best use the developments and “identify the tricky areas.”


The Microsoft cofounder has been open in the past about his support for AI, including in a blog post published a day before the open letter in which he called AI “the most important advance in technology since the graphical user interface.”

He also explored the uses of AI to reduce inequities, adding that using AI to help health problems affecting “the poorest people in the world” will be one of the Gates Foundation’s priorities moving forward.

Fast Company