Bill Gates on Innovation, Education and Role of Govt

In a one on one with Peter Jennings (via ABC news) Bill Gates has some interesting insights. Some interesting questions captured here.

JENNINGS: Can you tell me two things that you have changed your mind about in the last year about, in the last year, about technology?

GATES: Well let’s see. There are some things that we are always thinking about. For example, when will speech recognition be good enough for everybody to use that? And we have made a lot more progress this year on that. I think we will surprise people a bit on how well we will do on our speech recognition. Also the idea of how the phone and the PC are coming together. Where you will be able to see the calls that you missed, or even when your phone rings see immediately who that is that’s calling, or control how that is forwarded, or even set it up so that the screen is part of your interaction. We are seeing that as increasingly important and are putting a lot of research into that.

JENNINGS: You have been a big advocate of travel. And you have on occasion said that Americans who spent more time traveling in Africa, for one, would learn something. What would we learn?

GATES: Well I think there is a lot of compassion when you see people in a very tough situation. When you see parents dying of AIDS, you see orphans, you see malaria. If you don’t see it — if you are just reading the statistics its hard to relate to and its hard to think of it as something that you need to help change. So actually getting out to India, to Africa, that’s critical to me to make sure my foundations is doing effective work and you know renews my commitment to take all the wealth I have and make sure it goes back to causes like world health.

JENNINGS: But you are a very specific example in this case and I will come to that, how do you think the average American would change if he or she traveled more?

GATES: I think they’d vote for Politicians who cared more about the developing world and the tough conditions there. That our aid would be more enlightened and a higher percentage of what we do. I think they would want to get involved themselves in either being a part of a volunteer organization here in the U.S. or even spending some time helping out overseas. I think they would feel a more common bond and realize how privileged they are.

JENNINGS: What have you learned about the value of private money?

GATES: Well private money can take risks in a way that government money often isn’t willing to. For example, take the creation of a vaccine that will eliminate AIDS as a problem or Malaria — that’s been vastly under-funded and we need to change that. Governments didn’t want to try something that could be a failure.

JENNINGS: And are you very, very aware that your children are terribly privileged? I shouldn’t say terribly privileged, very privileged and that you have to fight that with them for the future?

GATES: I think that’s one of the biggest challenges that Melinda and I face is that our kids will grow up in a nice house and we don’t want them to take things for granted. We’re looking forward to taking them on a lot of these foundation trips so that they will see what life really is like for most people on the planet and they’ll have an understanding for why we’re giving our wealth to those causes.


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