Few nonagenarians would have people claiming their views on artificial intelligence. But Warren Buffett, 92, and Charlie Munger, 99, gave their thoughts on today’s hottest tech at Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting on Saturday to an elated audience.
Buffett acknowledged the “incredible” capabilities of AI. He played with OpenAI’s ChatGPT when former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates showed it to him three months ago. (Microsoft has invested heavily in OpenAI.) But, the Berkshire CEO added:
“When something can do all kinds of things, I worry a little, because I know we can’t un-invent it. We invented – for a very, very good reason – the atomic bomb during World War II, and it was extremely important that we did. But is it good for the next 200 years of the world that the ability… has been released? »
He noted that Albert Einstein said the atomic bomb changed everything except the way people think. (The exact quote was: “The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything but our ways of thinking and thus we are drifting towards an unprecedented catastrophe.”)
Likewise with AI, Buffett said, “it can change everything in the world except how people think and behave.”
As for Munger, the Berkshire vice president expressed his characteristic skepticism towards the technology.
“I’m personally skeptical of some of the hype that has gone into artificial intelligence,” he said. “I think old-fashioned intelligence works pretty well.” (That line drew applause from the audience.)
“There will be nothing in AI that will replace the G,” Buffett added. “I’ll say it without reservation.”
AGI, or artificial general intelligence, refers to AI that (eventually) gets to a point where it can find a solution to an unknown task. OpenAI defines it as “highly autonomous systems that outperform humans in the most economically valuable work.”
There is little doubt about the AI hype that Munger referred to. So far this year, in first-quarter earnings calls, AI has been mentioned more than 1,070 times, according to Bloomberg, more than double than a year ago, as companies try to s associate with technology.
One exception was Apple, which only touched on AI once in its earnings call, when CEO Tim Cook briefly answered a question about it during the Q&A session. Cook said AI is “huge” but warned it was “very important to be deliberate and thoughtful” when deploying the technology.
Buffett, as it happens, praised Apple at today’s conference, calling it better than any other company in Berkshire Hathaway’s portfolio.
Buffett also shared his thoughts on AI this week with local station WOWT in Omaha, Nebraska, where the conference is being held.
“It’s not going to tell me what stocks to buy or anything like that,” Buffett said. “He can tell me every action that meets a certain criteria, or a criteria, in three seconds or something. But there are decided limits in some ways.
“It’s very interesting,” he continued. “He can translate the Constitution into Spanish in a second. But the computer couldn’t tell jokes… I told Bill to bring it back when I could ask him, “How are you going to get rid of the human race?” I want to see what he says and pull the plug before he does.