Bill Gates Answered 13 Questions About Himself And Now I’m Feeling Oddly Optimistic.
There's a section on Reddit called AMA, or Ask Me Anything, where anyone of particular interest can make themselves available to be asked questions by the general public. Past guests have included President Obama, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Chris Hadfield, Louis CK, Madonna, Will Ferrel, and Woody Harrelson.
This week, Bill Gates decided to have a go and he shared a lot of great information on a wide range of topics such as immortality, his regrets in life, pets, his favorite football team and the new virtual reality technology his company is creating. Here's some of the top questions he answered.
Yes, this is the real Bill Gates!
"I’m happy to talk about anything. Philanthropy, technology, what it’s like to drink water made from human waste... (Short answer: Just like drinking any other kind of water, except that people get a little freaked out by the whole idea.)"
Do you have a pet? If so what's his/her name?
"We have two dogs. One is Oreo and the other is Nilla. I will say I spend less time with the dogs than the kids do but I really like them (when they are not barking at night and not eating things they are not supposed to and when they are well house trained). I have resisted getting a third dog."
What do you think about life-extending and immortality research?
"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."
What's your favorite spread to put on bread?
"Butter? Peanut butter? Cheese spread? Any of these."
As for the Reddit 's Secret Santa, we know what present you've given them this year. But we don't know what gift YOU have received from your Secret Santa. Can you tell us?
"It is quite a coincidence but my gift arrived this morning. I got three cool things - a great quilt that a group of people did with a Snoo on it. A great jug of maple syrup and the book The Promise of a Pencil. All very thoughtful. Last year I waited and nothing came."
Is there anything in life that you regret doing or not doing?
"I feel pretty stupid that I don't know any foreign languages. I took Latin and Greek in High School and got A's and I guess it helps my vocabulary but I wish I knew French or Arabic or Chinese. I keep hoping to get time to study one of these - probably French because it is the easiest. I did Duolingo for awhile but didn't keep it up. Mark Zuckerberg amazingly learned Mandarin and did a Q&A with Chinese students - incredible."
Dry rub or sauce on your BBQ?
"Sauce. Lots of sauce. I always spill a bit so I avoid BBQ before TV appearances."
2015 will mark the 30th anniversary of Microsoft Windows. What do you think the next 30 years holds in terms of technology? What will personal computing will look like in 2045?
"There will be more progress in the next 30 years than ever. 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.
One project I am working on with Microsoft is the Personal Agent which 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."
Who are you rooting for in the Super Bowl?
"This is an easy question. I am good friends with Paul Allen who owns the Seahawks and I live in Seattle. The playoff game was amazing to watch. Go Seahawks!"
What do YOU think about the new HoloLens? Have you tried them out yet?
"The HoloLens is pretty amazing. Microsoft has put a lot into the chips and the software. It is the start of virtual reality. Making the device so you don't get dizzy or nauseous is really hard - the speed of the alignment has to be super super fast. It will take a few years of software applications being built to realize the full promise of this."
What is your favorite expensive food?
"Nathan Myhrvold has some amazing modern cuisine stuff that is super tasty. I am not a foodie but his new concoctions are amazing. I also like Thai and Indian food but it doesn't have to be expensive."
One of the themes in this year's Gates letter is helping to improve agricultural practices in Africa. As a person who was raised in an agricultural community in Canada, the ideas you presented really resonated with me. As individuals, is there anything we can do to help Africa achieve food security?
"Government aid funding from rich countries to develop new seeds and help the countries educate their farmers and provide credit to them can make a huge difference. Canada does some of this like the United States. We need to raise African productivity by 1.5 to 2x in order for them to avoid malnutrition and be able to lift themselves out of poverty. It is strange a continent with 70% adults as farmers imports food from countries like the US with 2% farmers. Africa spends $50B net buying food today. With productivity improvement they can offset the weather getting worse and feed their children enough to thrive."
What do you think has improved life the most in poor countries in the last 5 years?
"Vaccines make the top of the list. Being able to grow up healthy is the most basic thing. So many kids get infectious diseases and don't develop mentally and physically. I was in Berlin yesterday helping raise $7.5B for vaccines for kids in poor countries. We barely made it but we did which is so exciting to me!"
Do you feel that we are facing an overpopulation problem on this planet? If so, what do you think needs to be done about it?
"Fortunately as people get healthy they choose to have less kids. We have already had the maximum number of births - that number is starting to go down. We still need to help provide health and contraception in poor countries but all of the global population growth is coming from people living longer. Hans Rosling talks about this in the clearest way at vimeo."
You can see more of the Q&A here.