In Reddit Exchange, Bill Gates Expounds on Life's Lessons
In his third AMA (Ask Me Anything) session on the Reddit web site, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates expressed a bit of regret ("I feel pretty stupid that I don't know any foreign languages"), lots of enthusiasm for his philanthropic ventures, and faith in continued job security for programmers ("It is safe for now!").
He also encouraged Redditors to check out the latest, just-published Gates Annual Letter, which makes a "big bet for the future." Gates predicts that, "The lives of people in poor countries will improve faster in the next 15 years than at any other time in history."
Throughout the Ask-Me-Anything texting session, which took place on Wednesday, the man who consistently ranks as one of the world's wealthiest people also displayed a mostly down-to-earth mindset about things ranging from fashion to food (he likes "Thai and Indian food but it doesn't have to be expensive"). When asked to name a "life lesson" he learned the hard way, Gates responded, "Don't stay up too late even if the book is really exciting. You will regret it in the morning. I am still working on this."
In the freewheeling fashion that's typical for AMAs, Reddit readers asked Gates about everything from his thoughts on philanthropy and the prospects for cheap nuclear energy to his barbecue preferences ("Sauce. Lots of sauce") and the names of his pets (he has two dogs, Oreo and Nilla). With the Super Bowl fast approaching, he was also asked who he would be rooting for. ("This is an easy question. I am good friends with Paul Allen who owns the Seahawks and I live in Seattle...Go Seahawks!")
Personal Computing Agents Will 'Remember Everything'
To the surprise of no one, technology was a frequent topic of conversation during the chat session. Noting that this year marks the 30th anniversary of Microsoft Windows, one Redditor asked Gates what he thought the future holds for computing.
"There will be more progress in the next 30 years than ever," Gates responded. "Even in the next 10, problems like vision and speech understanding and translation will be very good. Mechanical robot tasks like picking fruit or moving a hospital patient will be solved. Once computers/robots get to a level of capability where seeing and moving is easy for them then they will be used very extensively."
Gates added that he is personally working on a project with Microsoft to get to the point where a computing personal agent "will remember everything and help you go back and find things and help you pick what things to pay attention to. The idea that you have to find applications and pick them and they each are trying to tell you what is new is just not the efficient model -- the agent will help solve this. It will work across all your devices."
Machine Superintelligence 'A Concern'
While Gates expressed enthusiasm for technologies ranging from the Bitcoin cryptocurrency to Peter Janicki's Omniprocessor, a Gates Foundation-funded project that turns human waste into potable drinking water (which Gates has happily sampled), he did admit to having reservations about other innovations.
Asked about the risks of machine superintelligence, Gates acknowledged: "I am in the camp that is concerned about superintelligence. First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be superintelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that, though, the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don't understand why some people are not concerned."
Gates also had some critical thoughts on research into human immortality: "It seems pretty egocentric, while we still have malaria and TB, for rich people to fund things so they can live longer. It would be nice to live longer, though, I admit."
Finding a way to promote empathy about the lives of those most in need, however, is an innovation Gates said he would be eager to see.
"So far we have not been able to use technology to connect people to the needs of the poorest in countries that are far away, to tap into their empathy," he said. "I think this can be done, but it needs some missing creativity."
Image credit: Bill & Melissa Gates foundation.
Posted: 2015-02-06 @ 3:49pm PT
Upon hearing of Bill Gates' biggest regret, OneWorld Now! in Seattle, WA invites Bill Gates to become an honorary language student! oneworldnow.org
Posted: 2015-02-04 @ 11:48am PT
@kamanalo I dont usually do this, but that is just a stupid, stupid statement. "Reason" for being here? Why would there be a "reason" at all? Illogical, period.
Flies do more in the service of nature, etc. Humans are nature, as well, what don't you understand about that.
Two, why would we need to do something "for" nature? Our responsibility as a people is to continue to evolve, not "be nice to nature." The most important thing ever do to planet, etc. Then that would be said about any society in the universe, that is at our age as a species, and on the same technological path.
And even it it wasn't the case, it is just moronic to suggest that the dominant life on a planet should worry more about an inanimate object or species that will never evolve to levels of our intelligence, than about themselves, as a species. Get a clue, man, just a completely ridiculous mindset.
GW in SC:
Posted: 2015-01-30 @ 1:17am PT
Don't feel bad. I don't either, but I know a lot of other stuff.
MB in MI:
Posted: 2015-01-29 @ 6:44pm PT
Kamanolo's right about one thing: the Earth doesn't need us like we need it.
Posted: 2015-01-29 @ 6:19pm PT
Possibly by allowing the exposure of non-believers to the reality that be, would be a way to convince a few naysayers.
Posted: 2015-01-29 @ 6:10pm PT
hmmm...look, Kamanalo, not trying to start an argument, but what would you have us do?
Posted: 2015-01-29 @ 5:58pm PT
@kamanalo - you first.
Posted: 2015-01-29 @ 5:52pm PT
Lol kamanalo, cheery thoughts. Here add this onto it. Of all creatures, we are unique to date. We create and even see the uselessness as you have so pointedly placed in your thoughts, of that creation. No other creature is as self aware as we are. Capable of expressing what we have been able to express. You speak of nature and other things. Nature will end. All life on this planet will. If man brings it about or not it will happen. That life has blossomed at all was mathematically small based on what we have found thus far. Cheer up, love, laugh, grow, learn and pass it on to the next generation. At least that is the advice I would hand you.
Posted: 2015-01-29 @ 3:32pm PT
We humans have no reason for being on this planet; we are just here because we are. Flies and their maggots do more in service to Nature than all the humans that have ever lived, and will ever live, combined. Today we have seven billion humans on the planet and not a single one of us will ever do anything that is needed or important to Mother Nature. The most important thing we humans will ever do for the Planet is to leave it, by dying.