Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates today did his fourth AmA on Reddit. He answered some interesting questions from Reddit users. He recently switched a Surface Book device and he always runs latest version of Windows 10 just like most of us. Read the highlights from the AmA session below.
Sql server on Linux was announced yesterday as I’m sure you are aware. What do you think this means or says about the company’s direction, culture and future?
I think it shows Satya looking at how the market is changing and being willing to change how things have been done. His embrace of the cloud and mobile including doing software on other people’s mobile platforms are also great examples of that.
Bill, why aren’t you running for president?
I like my current job at the Foundation better than I would being President. Also I wouldn’t be good at doing what you need to do to get elected. I thought Michael Bloomberg was thoughtful about why it didn’t make sense for him to try and run even though he is a great executive.
What’s your personal computer specs?
I just recently switched to the Surface Book. I only detach the screen a few times a week and I like the keyboard better than my previous Surface.
Afternoon Mr Gates, I was curious about your thoughts on VR. We’ve all seen the great strides in AR made by the Hololens but nothing on VR from you guys at this time. Does that market interest you?
VR is the extreme case of AR when nothing from the real world gets mixed in. It can be tricky if you are walking around that you might run into things. Mixed systems which seems like VR but when you might hit something it shows you that seem better than pure VR. So I don’t think these two things will stay as separate as they are now.
What’s your take on the recent FBI/Apple situation?
I think there needs to be a discussion about when the government should be able to gather information. What if we had never had wiretapping? Also the government needs to talk openly about safeguards. Right now a lot of people don’t think the government has the right checks to make sure information is only used in criminal situations. So this case will be viewed as the start of a discussion. I think very few people take the extreme view that the government should be blind to financial and communication data but very few people think giving the government carte blanche without safeguards makes sense. A lot of countries like the UK and France are also going through this debate. For tech companies there needs to be some consistency including how governments work with each other. The sooner we modernize the laws the better.
Maybe they could propose an overall plan for striking the balance between government being able to know things in some cases and having safeguards to make sure those powers are confined to appropriate cases. There is no avoiding this debate and they could contribute to how the balance should be struck.
What version of Windows do you use?
I use the latest version of Windows – always updated Windows 10.
Some people (Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, etc) have come out in favor of regulating Artificial Intelligence before it is too late. What is your stance on the issue, and do you think humanity will ever reach a point where we won’t be able to control our own artificially intelligent designs?
I haven’t seen any concrete proposal on how you would do the regulation. I think it is worth discussing because I share the view of Musk and Hawking that when a few people control a platform with extreme intelligence it creates dangers in terms of power and eventually control.
Mr. Gates! How soon do you think quantum computing will catch on, and what do you think about the future of cryptography if it does? Thanks!
Microsoft and others are working on quantum computing. It isn’t clear when it will work or become mainstream. There is a chance that within 6-10 years that cloud computing will offer super-computation by using quantum. It could help use solve some very important science problems including materials and catalyst design.
What’s a technological advancement that’s come about in the past few years that you think we were actually better off without? what’s a fantasy technological advancement you wish existed?
I am concerned about biological tools that could be used by a bioterrorist. However the same tools can be used for good things as well.
Some people think Hoverboards were bad because they caught on fire. I never got to try one.
I recently saw a company working on “robotic” surgery where the ability to work at small scales was stunning. The idea that this will make surgeries higher quality, faster and less expensive is pretty exciting. It will probably take a decade before this gets mainstream – to date it has mostly been used for prostate surgery.
In the Foundation work there are a lot of tools we are working on we don’t have yet. For example an implant to protect a woman from getting HIV because it releases a protective drug.
What do you see human society accomplishing in the next 20 years? What are you most excited for?
I will mention three things.
First is an energy innovation to lower the cost and get rid of green house gases. This isn’t guaranteed so we need a lot of public and private risk taking.
EDIT: I talked about this recently in my annual letter: https://www.gatesnotes.com/2016-Annual-Letter
Second is progress on disease particularly infectious disease. Polio, Malaria, HIV, TB, etc.. are all diseases we should be able to either eliminate of bring down close to zero. There is amazing science that makes us optimistic this will happen.
Third are tools to help make education better – to help teachers learn how to teach better and to help students learn and understand why they should learn and reinforce their confidence.
Read all his answers from the source link below.