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Nine key highlights from Bill Gates' Reddit AMA session

Team YS
28th Feb 2017
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Bill Gates, Co-founder of Microsoft and co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, hosted his fifth Ask-Me-Anything (AMA) session on Reddit. Gates noted,

My idea for a David Pumpkins sequel at Saturday Night Live didn't make the cut last Christmas, but I thought it deserved a second chance and shared a link to his AMA teaser:

Here are some of the key highlights from Bill Gates's AMA session where questions ranged from his greatest achievement, advice to younger self to Universal Basic income and Steve Jobs.

1. On success?

simonlecomber asked, Hello Bill Gates. What is your idea of success?

Warren Buffett has always said the measure is whether the people close to you are happy and love you. It is also nice to feel like you made a difference – inventing something or raising kids or helping people in need.

2. On advise he would give his younger self?

UncomfortableChuckle asked, If you could give 19-year-old Bill Gates some advice, what would it be?

I would explain that smartness is not single dimensional and not quite as important as I thought it was back then. I would say you might explore the developing world before you get into your 40s. I wasn't very good socially back then but I am not sure there is advice that would fix that – maybe I had to be awkward and just grow up.

3. On his greatest achievement?

INeedGentleHands asked, What do you personally find as your greatest achievement?

Although the Foundation work is super promising and will be the biggest thing over the decades ahead, I still think the chance to be part of the software revolution empowering people was the biggest thing I have gotten to do.
Right now I am very focused on making sure we successfully eradicate polio – that will be amazing if we do it – as good as shipping even the best software product.

4. Two technological advancements Bill Gates is looking forward to?

qaziee asked, What kind of technological advancement do you wish to see in your lifetime?

The big milestone is when computers can read and understand information like humans do. There is a lot of work going on in this field – Google, Microsoft, Facebook, academia,…. Right now computers don't know how to represent knowledge so they can't read a textbook and pass a test.
Another whole area is vaccines. We need a vaccine for HIV, Malaria, and TB and I hope we have them in the next 10–15 years.

5. The solution for isolation is not Tinder?

Sushideception asked What do you think is the most pressing issue that we could feasibly solve in the next 10 years?

A lot of people feel a sense of isolation. I still wonder if digital tools can help people find opportunities to get together with others – not Tinder but more like adults who want to mentor kids or hang out with each other. It is great that kids go off and pursue opportunities but when you get communities where the economy is weak and a lot of young people have left then something should be done to help.

6. If Bill Gates and Elon Musk had a 'baby' together?

IT_guys_rule asked If you could create a new IP and business with Elon Musk, what would you make happen?

We need clean, reliable cheap energy – which we don't have. It is too bad the sun doesn't shine all the time and the wind doesn't blow all the time. The Economist had a good piece on this this week. So we need some invention – perhaps miracle batteries or super-safe nuclear or making the sun into gasoline directly.

7. Good artists copy; great artists steal?

HalesOwnShrek asked, Did you copy Steve Jobs or did he copy you?

The main "copying" that went on relative to Steve and me is that we both benefited from the work that Xerox Parc did in creating graphical interface – it wasn't just them but they did the best work. Steve hired Bob Belville, I hired Charles Simonyi. We didn't violate any IP rights Xerox had but their work showed the way that led to the Mac and Windows.

8. The hard question?

TitusRex asked, What do you think about Universal Basic Income?

Over time countries will be rich enough to do this. However, we still have a lot of work that should be done – helping older people, helping kids with special needs, having more adults helping in education. Even the US isn't rich enough to allow people not to work. Some day we will be but until then things like the Earned Income Tax Credit will help increase the demand for labor.

9. The softball-HR interview question?

Mabenga asked, Where do you see yourself in 15 years?

I will be 76 at that time. Hopefully a grandfather. The Foundation with its partners will have eradicated a number of diseases and health in poor countries will be a lot better – specifically instead of five percent of children under five dying it should be at 2.5 percent which is still a lot.
I hope I can still type fast enough to do Reddit sessions without someone transcribing for me.

You can read the full AMA session here.

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