Michael Dell doesn’t buy the hype about killer artificial intelligence and tech dystopias

Dell Technologies CEO Michael Dell and Pivotal CEO Rob Mee discussed the future of tech in Sausalito, California on Monday.

Dell Technologies CEO Michael Dell and Pivotal CEO Rob Mee discussed the future of tech in Sausalito, California on Monday.
Wesley Verhoeve/Pivotal
  • Michael Dell, the billionaire founder behind Dell Technologies, expects technology to continue to yield “tremendously positive outcomes for humans.”
  • No matter how smart computers become, they will always be fundamentally different from human brains, Dell argued.
  • Dell’s comments, made to an audience of executives at a conference hosted by the software company Pivotal, come at a time of widespread skepticism over the impact that technology companies have on society and concerns about artificial intelligence in particular.

SAUSALITO, California – Some tech execs and observers are worried that artificial intelligence could lead to massive job losses, widespread social upheaval, and potentially even World War III.

But don’t count Michael Dell among the AI skeptics. Despite all the fear bubbling around AI, Dell, the CEO and founder of Dell Technologies, expects technology in general will yield “tremendously positive outcomes for humans” over the next 30 years.

“There’s all sorts of scary scenarios – science fictions movies, those sorts of things – but when you look at the actual results, it’s been way way more positive for humans than anyone would have predicted,” said Dell during a stage appearance here Monday at a conference sponsored by software company Pivotal. “I think that will continue.”

Even though artificial intelligence will become increasingly integrated into our daily lives, it’s important to remember that brains and computers are not interchangeable, Dell said.

“Computers are machines. The human brain is an organism. Those are different things,” he said. “Maybe in 15 to 20 years from now, we’ll have computers that have more power than 10 million brains in terms of computational power, but it’s still not an organism.”

Dell was speaking at Pivotal’s Built to Adapt, a one-day conference for c-level executives. Dell Technologies has had a close relationship with Pivotal since 2016, when Dell bought the cloud computing company EMC for $67 billion – the biggest acquisition in the history of tech. Pivotal – now worth $2.8 billion – was spun out from EMC and VMware in 2013, but Dell inherited a stake in the company with its acquisition of EMC.