ASAE, Bill Gates & AI

At the writing of this blog, ASAE is preparing for its upcoming conference on artificial intelligence or AI (January 30-31, 2024). As I’ve said before, I always used to wonder what the next big thing will be to come up the pike? After all, hasn’t everything been invented by now? Well, the next big thing, of course, is Artificial Intelligence or, rather, AI, and I for one cannot imagine anything beyond it (except for, maybe, corporate meetings in space, a roundtable of movers and shakers swirling through space at the speed of light just to get a little privacy). ASAE’s conference, however, will not be held at some fancy resort in Silicon Valley but, appropriately enough, it will be hosted online. This is what to expect per

Join us from January 30-31 as we pioneer the new world of artificial intelligence in associations during ASAE’s first-ever AI Summit. This event will be two packed days of unique educational content designed for association professionals. Leaders in all sectors are recognizing that AI has the power to transform not only their business but their industry. Attend this event to get a sense of the state of AI in associations, evaluate what your organization’s next steps should be, and more! This program will be hosted via Matchbox and will have professional live captioning provided by 3PlayMedia.

It certainly sounds positive and the way to go and according to Bill Gates’ blog, he agrees. In fact, what caught my attention is that on his blog of, perhaps, the biggest mover-and-shaker of them all, he chose to reflect not on the end of 2023 (except for the birth of his first grandchild which has made a huge impression upon him) but the start of 2024 with a specific focus on AI. Everyone seems uncertain about its merits, even scared, but Bill is loosey-goosey on what, for most of us, is nothing less than a quantum leap into the future. If you haven’t read his blog, here’s an excerpt:

 “This year gave us a glimpse of how AI will shape the future and, as 2023 comes to a close, I’m thinking more than ever about the world today’s young people will inherit (i.e., his grandchild),” Bill says. “In last year’s letter, I wrote about how the prospect of becoming a grandparent made me reflect on the world my granddaughter will be born into. Now I’m thinking more about the world she will inherit and what it will be like decades from now when her generation is in charge.”

Gates assures that we now have a better sense of what types of jobs AI will be able to perform by itself and which ones it will serve as a copilot. He explains that it’s clearer than ever how AI can be used to improve access to education, mental health, and more. “It motivates me to make sure this technology helps reduce—and doesn’t contribute to—the awful inequities we see around the world. I’ve always been a firm believer in the power of innovation to offer every child an equal chance to survive and thrive. AI is no exception.”

Consider the birth of the internet, he reminds. Yeah, thirty years ago, it was the start of a new age and had a lot of challenges. I know from my own experience, that every time something “went wrong” with it, like every hour, I was so frustrated I was ready to attack my big, fat desktop computer with a hammer. “Who needs email anyway?” I stupidly muttered to myself. Still, I stuck with it and soon I was researching every possible topic, ordering food for the week (or month), shopping for summer sandals ONLINE, and then, wonder of all wonders, working from home – what we now call remote work. Alas, just what I always wanted!

Well, that’s how Bill compares AI. He assures us all, “We are just at the beginning of this transition right now. This is an exciting and confusing time, and if you haven’t figured out how to make the best use of AI yet, you are not alone. I thought I would use AI tools for the Annual Foundation’s Strategy Review this year, which requires reading hundreds of pages of briefing materials that an AI could accurately summarize for me. But old habits are hard to break, and I ended up preparing for them the same way I always do.”

While he confesses what we all know to be true, that there are a lot worse things in the world, his advice anyway is to remain optimistic about the future. After all, “The speed of innovation has never been faster,” he says. “We’re making big strides on tough problems.” 

Based on his very rational approach to AI, I bet probably by the start of 2025, the Microsoft legend will have mastered AI enough to perform his Annual Foundation Strategy Reviews – and who knows just how much AI will assist with the myriad number of details of a meeting and event planner’s life?

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