Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates is warning that AI assistants could soon make search engines like Google Search obsolete by profoundly altering the behaviors of users online.
"Whoever wins the personal agent, that’s the big thing, because you will never go to a search site again, you will never go to a productivity site, you’ll never go to Amazon again," Gates said during a Goldman Sachs event on AI in San Francisco this week, as quoted by CNBC.
These AI assistants could "read the stuff you don’t have time to read," he said, allowing users to get to information without having to use a search engine like Google.
While Gates didn't single out Google's search engine verbatim on Monday, he predicted in a podcast interview back in February that Google's "search profits will be down" since Microsoft was able to "move fairly fast" on AI.
Tech giants are desperately trying to push themselves into a beneficial pole position to have a chance to become the defacto AI-powered landing page of the internet — and even Gates isn't entirely certain how it will all play out.
Gates is giving it a 50-50 chance for the winner of the AI wars to be either a startup or tech giant.
"I’d be disappointed if Microsoft didn’t come in there," he said at Monday's event. "But I’m impressed with a couple of startups, including Inflection," referring to a startup co-founded by former DeepMind executive Mustafa Suleyman.
Gates has been bullish on the topic of AI for a while now. Just last month, he told an audience during a keynote speech that AI could eventually teach kids how to read. Even within "the next 18 months, the AIs will come in as a teacher’s aide and give feedback on writing," he said. "And then they will amp up what we’re able to do in math."
But it'll take some time before an AI assistant can fill in for Google, Gates told audiences earlier this week. In the meantime, companies will continue embedding tech like ChatGPT into their products, he said.
At the event, Gates also warned that robots could take over the jobs of not just white-collar workers, but blue-collar ones as well with the aid of humanoid robots.
The AI wars are upon us and tech giants are desperately vying for the number one spot — a future of the internet that could look radically different from the one we've come accustomed to.
But whether Microsoft will be able to dethrone Google as the homepage of the internet — at least in the Western world — remains to be seen, regardless of Gates' hopes and dreams.
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