Microsoft founder Bill Gates reacts during a visit with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at Imperial College University, in London, Britain, on February 15, 2023.

Justin Tallis | Pool | Reuters

Microsoft Co-founder Bill Gates believes that the future top company in artificial intelligence will likely have created a personal digital agent that can perform certain tasks for humans.

The technology will be so profound that it can radically change user behavior. “Whoever wins the personal agent, that’s the big thing, because you’ll never go to a search site again, you’ll never go to a productivity site, you’ll never go to Amazon again,” he said.

This yet-to-be-developed AI assistant will be able to understand a person’s needs and habits and will help them “read what you don’t have time to read,” Gates said Monday during a Goldman Sachs and SV Angel event in San. Francisco on the subject of artificial intelligence.

Gates said there is a 50-50 chance that this future AI winner will be either a startup or a tech giant.

“I would be disappointed if Microsoft didn’t get in there,” Gates said. “But I’m impressed by a couple of startups, including Inflection,” he added, referring to Inflection.AI, which was founded by former DeepMind chief Mustafa Suleyman.

It will take some time before this powerful future digital agent is ready for mainstream use, Gates said. Until then, companies will continue to embed so-called generative AI technologies similar to OpenAI’s popular ChatGPT into their own products.

Gates also discussed health efforts related to his work at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, saying AI will accelerate innovations in space and lead to more advanced drug development.

Although the inner workings of the human brain are still a mystery to scientists, the Microsoft co-founder believes humanity is getting closer to creating useful drugs to cure diseases like Alzheimer’s, with human trials for the new drugs possibly taking place in 10 years.

He also likened the emergence of generative AI techniques that can produce persuasive text as a game changer that will influence officials. Gates added that he believes future humanoid robots that are cheaper for companies to use than human employees will also greatly affect workers.

“When we invent these robots, we just have to make sure they don’t get Alzheimer’s,” Gates joked.

Look at: Bill Gates says OpenAI’s GPT is the most important technological advance since the 1980s

Bill Gates calls OpenAI's GPT the most important technological advance since 1980