Bill Gates Shares Predictions for 2024 Elections, AI, and Next Pandemic

Bill Gates Shares Predictions for 2024 Elections, AI, and Next Pandemic

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AI could transform modern medicine and the 2024 elections could serve as an important ‘turning point’ for both health and climate, Mr. Gates said.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has shared his predictions for next year, including how artificial intelligence could transform modern medicine and how the 2024 elections could serve as an important “turning point” for both health and climate.

The tech billionaire shared his predictions for 2024 in a blog post published on Dec. 19, in which he noted that 2023 was the first time he had used “artificial intelligence for work and other serious reasons,” and “not just to mess around and create parody song lyrics for my friends.”

Mr. Gates said this year has given the world a glimpse into how AI will shape the future and impact the next generation, providing a better sense of where and when it might be applied and where it will likely serve as a “copilot.”

Earlier this year, Goldman Sachs economists warned two-thirds of occupations across America could be partially automated by AI, while a March research paper by the University of Pennsylvania and OpenAI employees found that the majority of white-collar jobs in the United States can be completed more efficiently with the help of the AI system ChatGPT.

Microsoft has invested billions of dollars in OpenAI, the makers behind ChatGPT.

Mr. Gates noted the swift advances in AI this year and its growing application in various sectors, noting that it’s now “clearer than ever how AI can be used to improve access to education, mental health, and more.”

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However, he cautioned that the technology must be used to help reduce, and not contribute toward, “the awful inequities we see around the world.”

AI Use in Medicine

“We are just at the beginning of this transition right now,” he continued, adding that AI “is about to accelerate the rate of new discoveries at a pace we’ve never seen before.”

Mr. Gates said one of the biggest impacts AI has had so far is in creating new medicines, noting that it can speed up the process of drug discovery “significantly.”

He said that experts are currently assessing AI to see if it can be used to combat antibiotic resistance, help treat high-risk pregnancies, help people assess their risk of HIV, and make medical information easier to access for all health workers.

“If I had to make a prediction, in high-income countries like the United States, I would guess that we are 18–24 months away from significant levels of AI use by the general population,” he suggested. “In African countries, I expect to see a comparable level of use in three years or so. That’s still a gap, but it’s much shorter than the lag times we’ve seen with other innovations.”

Elsewhere, Mr. Gates predicted that the 2024 elections would mark a “turning point for both health and climate,” but warned that the “decisions made by elected leaders will determine how much progress we continue to make in each area.”

 People check their phones as AMECA, an AI robot, looks on at the All In artificial intelligence conference in Montreal on Sept. 28, 2023. (The Canadian Press/Ryan Remiorz)
People check their phones as AMECA, an AI robot, looks on at the All In artificial intelligence conference in Montreal on Sept. 28, 2023. (The Canadian Press/Ryan Remiorz)

Pandemic Preparation

National elections, such as those taking place in the United States, India, and South Africa, will “grab most of the attention,” he said.

“And while every year’s elections are important, the sheer number of people who will vote in 2024 means that the results will have an outsized impact on the future of our world,” Mr. Gates wrote.

The tech mogul also predicted various new innovations entering the marketplace in 2024, even in “very complicated areas like nuclear” power, despite some objections from environmentalists.

Earlier this month, the United States joined 21 other countries from four continents in signing a pledge at the United Nations climate summit to triple global nuclear energy capacity from 2020 by 2050.

“As countries make progress on their climate plans, more people are realizing that we will likely need nuclear power to meet the world’s growing need for energy while eliminating carbon emissions,” Mr. Gates wrote, adding that the next decade will also serve as a key period for upgrading electric grids and improving power transmission.

He stressed that the next five years are also a critical period in terms of energy production.

“The world has made incredible advancements in generating clean electricity, but we won’t realize the full potential of this hard work without the infrastructure to deliver it. This is something that will require support from all levels of government but especially from local leaders,” he said.

The tech mogul signed off his blog post by stating that the world is not as prepared for the next pandemic as he had “hoped we would be by now” despite the upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Now is the time for policymakers to prioritize pandemic preparedness before it is too late,” Mr. Gates concluded.

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