Bill Gates addresses copying Steve Jobs, here are highlights from his 5th Reddit AMA

Arif Bacchus

Earlier today we reported that Bill Gates would be holding an AMA (Ask Me Anything) session on Reddit. As promised, we followed the session closely, and we’ve picked out a few of Bill Gate’s top answers, and have highlighted the aspects which we’ve found most interesting. They cover areas relating technology, social media, politics, health care, and so much more.

On Technology/ Social Media:

1. u/qaziee: What kind of technological advancement do you wish to see in your lifetime?

Bill Gates: 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 text book 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.

2. u/HalesOwnShrek: Did you copy Steve Jobs or did he copy you?

Bill Gates:  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.

3. u/terrashine: Do you think social media – and perhaps the internet in general – has played a role in helping divide this country?

Bill Gates: This is a great question. I felt sure that allowing anyone to publish information and making it easy to find would enhance democracy and the overall quality of political debate. However the partitioning you talk about which started on cable TV and might be even stronger in the digital world is a concern. We all need to think about how to avoid this problem. It would seem strange to have to force people to look at ideas they disagree with so that probably isn’t the solution. We don’t want to get to where American politics partitions people into isolated groups. I am interested in anyones suggestion on how we avoid this.

Bill Gates at the Microsoft Faculty Summit

On Trump/ Politics/Philanthropy/Healthcare:

1. u/FluffyTopicsOnly: Mr Gates!  Any thoughts on the current state of the U.S.?

Bill Gates: Overall like Warren Buffett I am optimistic about the long run. I am concerned in the short run that the huge benefits of how the US works with other countries may get lost. This includes the aid we give to Africa to help countries there get out of the poverty trap

2. u/Privacyrise: Mr. Gates, how do you feel about President Trump and his views on global climate change?

Bill Gates: I hope his administration will decide that funding R&D to invent the next generation of energy (clean, cheap, reliable) is a good deal for the US and for the world. Climate change requires cooperation between countries over a period of decades but we don’t have much time to waste.

3: u/suaveitguy: What are the limits of money when it comes to philanthropy?

Bill Gates: Philanthropy is small as a part of the overall economy so it can’t do things like fund health care or education for everyone. Government and the private sector are the big players so philanthropy has to be more innovative and fund pilot programs to help the other sectors. A good example is funding new medicines or charter schools where non-obvious approaches might provide the best solution. One thing that is a challenge for our Foundation is that poor countries often have weak governance – small budgets, and the people in the ministries don’t have much training. This makes it harder to get things done.
If we had more money we could do more good things – even though we are the biggest foundation we are still resource limited.

4: u/Exekias: Why do you think our healthcare systems have such a hard time leveraging the revolutionary changes in scalability that we’ve seen in software?

Bill Gates: It is super important to improve our healthcare system – both to reduce chronic disease but if we don’t do better health costs will squeeze out spending on all other government functions. I agree it is surprising how tough it has been to get digital medical records right and to learn from looking at those records. Still there are some very promising things going on. For example the idea of looking at a blood sample to find cancer very early so it can be treated. We will be able to use genomic data to tune treatments. There are a few big problems like diabetes, obesity and neurological conditions including Alzheimer’s that we really need to solve.

Xbox and Gates
Xbox and Gates

Random tidbits:

1. u/simonlecomber: What is your idea of success?

Bill Gates: 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. u/Nayru-chan00: Hi! Favorite TV shows? Food? Video games?

Bill Gates: There are so many great TV shows now I can’t keep up. I thought someone might ask specifically about Silicon Valley which I love. I can relate to Richard. Silicon Valley captures a lot of how crazy it is to start a new company and the dynamics of success. All the employees of Pied Piper remind me of people I have known. I love This is Us, The Crown, The Knick, Homeland, Downton Abbey, …

3. u/INeedGentleHands: What do you personally find as your greatest achievement?

Bill Gates: 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.

Satya Nadella and Bill Gates
Satya Nadella and Bill Gates

Of course, Bill Gates answered several other questions, so we invite you to head over to the full AMA thread here. What do you think of these answers? What would you have asked Bill Gates? Let us know what you think by dropping us a comment below!