Bill Gates says technology could 'accentuate' the gap between the rich and poor

  • Microsoft founder Bill Gates warned that technology advancements could increase the gap between the rich and poor
  • Speaking at the Misk Global Forum in Riyadh, he said if technology is only taught in rich schools and if it's expensive, it could not benefit everyone
  • The billionaire also said the benefits of artificial intelligence (AI) advancements will outweigh any potential pitfalls

Microsoft founder Bill Gates said on Tuesday that technology could "accentuate" the difference between the rich and the poor.

Speaking at the Misk Global Forum in Riyadh, he said that the benefits of technological advancements, may not be felt by all if developed in the wrong way.

"If we're not careful, technology will actually accentuate the difference between the well off and the poor because if it's expensive, if you learn about it only in a rich country school, then you'll have the difference between the well off and the poor people even worse," Gates said.

The billionaire also addressed concerns over artificial intelligence (AI), and said its benefits will outweigh any potential pitfalls.

"We are in a world of shortage, but these advances will help us take on all of the top problems," he said at a CNBC-moderated panel in the Saudi Arabian capital.

"We need to solve these infectious diseases ... We need to help health care workers do their job."

Bill Gates
Ramin Talaie | Getty Images
Bill Gates

Gates believes that ultimately AI will alter the labor environment in developed countries but will help society take care of older people or address class sizes in schools.

"As we free labor up from things like manufacturing, we can shift it to some of these very human-centric needs," he said. Gates has previously said that robots should face an income tax.

A renowned figure in the field of information technology, Gates did admit that there were challenges ahead with new advancements, such as issues regarding privacy and political advertisements and campaigns. He added that parents would also have to have "some judgment" if their children were playing "too many video games" and weren't exercising.

Gate's comments come just days after high-profile physicist Stephen Hawking warned on the emergence of AI, saying it could be the "worst event in the history of our civilization" unless society finds a way to control its development.

—CNBC's Arjun Kharpal contributed to this article.