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Exclusive: Bill Gates, ousted for misconduct, is still pulling the strings at Microsoft

๐ŸŒˆ Abstract

The article discusses Bill Gates' continued influence and involvement in Microsoft's AI strategy and development, even after stepping down from the company's board. It highlights how Gates' 2017 memo predicting the rise of powerful "AI agents" foreshadowed the creation of Microsoft's Copilot tool, and how Gates has remained a key advisor and decision-maker behind the scenes, guiding Microsoft's AI efforts and its partnership with OpenAI.

๐Ÿ™‹ Q&A

[01] Bill Gates' 2017 Memo and the Rise of Copilot

1. What did Bill Gates predict in his 2017 memo to Microsoft executives?

  • Gates predicted that "AI agents" - powerful digital personal assistants with godlike knowledge and supernatural intuition - would soon transform the software industry and how people interact with computers.
  • He believed these agents would be far more advanced than existing digital assistants like Siri and Alexa.

2. How did Gates' 2017 memo anticipate the development of Microsoft's Copilot?

  • The article states that Copilot, Microsoft's AI-powered tool to assist users with tasks, "now sounds exactly like what he wrote" in the 2017 memo.
  • Gates' vision of transformative "AI agents" appears to have directly influenced Microsoft's development of Copilot.

3. What was the initial reaction to Gates' 2017 memo within Microsoft?

  • At the time, the memo was seen as "super futuristic" and far-fetched by Microsoft executives, given the company's previous failed attempts at creating personal "agents" like Clippy.

[02] Gates' Continued Influence at Microsoft

1. How has Bill Gates remained involved in Microsoft's operations and strategy, even after stepping down from the board?

  • Gates has been "quietly orchestrating much of Microsoft's AI revolution from behind the scenes," advising on strategy, reviewing products, recruiting executives, and nurturing the company's relationship with OpenAI.
  • Current and former Microsoft executives say Gates remains "intimately involved" in the company's operations and that Satya Nadella and the senior leadership team "lean on Gates very significantly."

2. What role did Gates play in Microsoft's partnership with OpenAI?

  • Gates had been meeting regularly with OpenAI since 2016 and played a "pivotal role" in turning the two companies into a "power couple."
  • He challenged OpenAI to create a model capable of passing an Advanced Placement biology exam, which led to the development of GPT-4 that impressed Gates.
  • Gates then wrote another memo outlining how Microsoft should leverage GPT-4, which "sparked Microsoft's push to take the lead in the AI arms race."

3. How has Gates continued to influence Microsoft's product development and strategy?

  • Executives from across Microsoft's business units, including its business applications, cybersecurity, and Teams divisions, meet regularly with Gates to review products.
  • Gates has also personally been involved in recruiting and retaining key executives for Microsoft.
  • He has pushed Microsoft to be more consumer-focused, which may have influenced the company's decision to hire Mustafa Suleyman to lead a new consumer-AI organization.
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