There have been some dour predictions about the potential of artificial intelligence from some high-profile technologists. For example, billionaire tech entrepreneur Elon Musk has said AI will be more dangerous than North Korea. Legendary physicist Stephen Hawking says that AI has the potential to be the "worst event in the history of our civilization."
"Well, certainly we can look forward to the idea that vacations will be longer at some point," says Gates, speaking to FOX Business Network on Thursday at the World Economic Forum. Machine learning will make humans more productive and therefore able to accomplish the same amount of work in less time. That's a good thing, says Gates.
"The purpose of humanity is not just to sit behind a counter and sell things. More free time is not a terrible thing," says Gates.
Surveillance, security and transcription are several areas where machine learning will make things faster and cheaper.
"AI is simply better software," Gates continues. "In these high value environments — whether it is an operating room, a jail, a factory, a courthouse — you will be able to transcribe everything that is being said, and you will be able to see things if they are safety violations even a construction site.
"And so you will be far more efficient in using resources, you will be far more aware of what is going on, and it is very cheap now because computers can see and hear as well as humans can."
Ideally, that freed up labor can go to industries that need it.
"This is a problem of excess, ... so can you redirect people to help the elderly, to reduce class size, to help out kids with special needs? You will have the resources because you will just be so much more productive," says Gates.