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Bill Gates shares the secret to retaining talent in the AI space

We bang on all the time about the skills gap and how it continues to grow, and while there may not be an immediate solution to address the issue, Bill Gates might have a solution for those wishing to retain their existing talent. Sure, you could throw money at the problem, but take it from the world’s richest man, money isn’t always the best solution. 

According to Gates, who spoke at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Beijing on Thursday, the key to retaining talent in the AI space was to allow employees to openly share their research with the wider world. Sure, that may sound counterproductive for companies wishing to protect their IP, but Gates noted that the scientific community has long bred success through openness, and the AI community needs to do the same. 

Gates was discussing the China-US trade war during the event in Beijing, where he noted that it made no sense for countries to try and keep their research secret from one another. In fact, he said it would be almost impossible for those countries that wanted to keep their research a secret, commenting, “AI is very hard to put back in the bottle,” and that “whoever has an open system will get massively ahead.”

The China-US trade war is breeding an arms race in the AI space, however. Each country wants a competitive advantage over the other, and it’s led to some rather radical moves from the US government, such as the attacks on Huawei. This ill feeling between the two countries could spill over to employees in those nations also, who may not want to share projects with researchers in the other country, even if they could improve their own technology. 

Thankfully, the tech community has largely embraced collaboration. Especially those working on groundbreaking research; you’re going to want to share it with the world. And according to Gates, employees that can share their research with the world are supposedly happier than those that don’t. In fact, he admitted that it was a big motivating factor for why Microsoft retains its AI talent compared to salary alone. 

“We gladly pay their salaries, but if we didn’t have that publishing approach, those people would go and work somewhere else,” Gates said.

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