AI and gene ther­a­py could help cure AIDS and under­stand human biol­o­gy, Bill Gates says.

Minasse Wondimu Hailu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Microsoft founder Bill Gates thinks arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence and gene ther­a­py are the two tech­nolo­gies with the great­est pow­er to change lives. In a speech being deliv­ered Feb. 14 at the Amer­i­can Asso­ci­a­tion for the Advance­ment of Sci­ence, Gates said AI can “make sense of com­plex bio­log­i­cal sys­tems,” while gene-based tools have the poten­tial to cure AIDS.

The poten­tial of AI is only just being real­ized now, the bil­lion­aire phil­an­thropist said Fri­day, with com­pu­ta­tion­al pow­er dou­bling every 3.5 months. Along with improve­ments in han­dling data, Gates said it’s enabling “the abil­i­ty to syn­the­size, ana­lyze, see pat­terns, gain insights, and make pre­dic­tions across many, many more dimen­sions than a human can com­pre­hend.”

Gates said the most excit­ing part of AI “is how it can help us make sense of com­plex bio­log­i­cal sys­tems and accel­er­ate the dis­cov­ery of ther­a­peu­tics to improve health in the poor­est coun­tries.”

Gene-edit­ing tech­nolo­gies will mean­while help with vac­cines, diag­nos­tics and ther­a­peu­tics, he said. “[It] has the poten­tial to improve health — not only for rare genet­ic dis­or­ders, but also for dis­eases that pre­dom­i­nate­ly afflict peo­ple in poor coun­tries.”

Gates also addressed the dead­ly coro­n­avirus, say­ing these two tech­nolo­gies could help with diag­nos­tic tests, treat­ment and vac­cine devel­op­ment.

“Our foun­da­tion has com­mit­ted up to $100 mil­lion to address this new coro­n­avirus because we believe it pos­es a seri­ous threat to glob­al health,” Gates said. “This mon­ey will sup­port efforts to detect, iso­late and treat con­firmed cas­es, help coun­tries in sub-Saha­ran Africa and South Asia take steps to pre­pare for the epi­dem­ic and pro­tect their most vul­ner­a­ble cit­i­zens, and accel­er­ate the devel­op­ment of vac­cines, treat­ments and diag­nos­tics.”

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