Bill Gates believes a 3-day work week is possible, foresees a future with more leisure time for humans | Technology News


Technology may not replace humans after all. At a time when millions of Indians are returning to office, many are debating the 6-day workweek, and some mulling over Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy’s emphasis on 70 hours of work a week. Respite is on its way, it seems. Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates, who has been a vocal proponent of AI, believes that we can foresee a future with a three-day week work cycle, where machines could also be making food and performing other chores.

The 68-year-old Microsoft cofounder shared his views while talking to South African comedian and writer Trevor Noah on his podcast ‘What Now’. On the collective apprehension that AI will take over human jobs, Gates said that AI will not be taking jobs but will ‘change it forever’.

In the 45-minute-long conversation, the billionaire spoke on the broader aspects of AI and how technology could change lives. On AI displacing human jobs, Gates believes that there is a possibility that society will adapt. He said that if the transition happens at a manageable pace and there is adequate government support, then it could lead to a society where less manual labour is needed, and people would end up having more leisure time.

Positive potential of AI

Throughout his conversation, Gates was upbeat about AI’s potential. He believes that AI can significantly enhance productivity and also mentioned that it could be of great help in tasks like programming and testing. It could also be a boon in healthcare as it will reduce a lot of paperwork for doctors.

Gates also acknowledged the limitations in fully understanding AI by citing the example of an LLM making basic mathematical errors. With AI becoming smarter, the billionaire also expressed his concerns about it being used for malicious purposes such as deepfakes and cyberattacks. He also commented on the duality of AI as it can be a tool of empowerment and can also be used to polarise people.

Festive offer

Gates down the memory lane

Gates also reflected on his own journey from his childhood to his years at Microsoft. When asked about how he saw himself, Gates went down the memory lane. “I have a long period from about age 18 to 40 where I was very monomaniacal; that is, Microsoft was everything. Once I dropped out, I didn’t let myself focus on much else. Then I was lucky enough, as other people took over Microsoft, I got to read and learn all about the health challenges – why do children die? And that led to the Gates Foundation being my full-time work,” he said.

After Microsoft, he directed his focus on healthcare, AI and many other sectors, keeping him involved with a variety of activities. “Today, I am involved in all of them, with Microsoft, AI work, the health stuff where we continue to make amazing progress in reducing childhood death. Now people are realising more than ever that if we don’t innovate to get rid of emissions, we are going to be in deep trouble.”

On his career in technology

On how he pursued a career in technology, Gates reflected on his childhood. He told Noah that at 13 years of age, he did well at maths. And when computers came along, people had a tough time figuring it out. He said that he was part of a small group that worked around computers.

“One of the teachers made a mistake on the computer and lost $200, so no teacher touched that computer ever again,” he said while narrating an incident from childhood. When asked what was the mistake that cost the teacher $200, Gates said that “it was an infinite loop and it was a timeshare computer where you actually had to pay for the compute time. And, he didn’t hit the stop command. He thought, why isn’t the program doing anything? But he’d written what’s called an infinite loop.”

He later added that he and Paul Allen later took over the computer and spent a lavish amount of time trying to figure it out. When asked if he ever made the mistake that cost the school $200, the billionaire said that to avoid the infinite loop, he and his batchmates tried to get free computer time by offering their services as computers were expensive then. Gates said that he offered to write all kinds of ‘boring software’ just so they could have access to computers.

On technology shaping human morality, Gates said that he always perceived computers as helping people to be ‘more moral and achieve the highest values’. “Because you could go out and see the lawsuit and read what was there. You could go out and learn the facts about inequity”.


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