Q&A with Bill Gates | 2019 Breakthrough Technology | MIT Technology Review



every year MIT Technology Review makes a list of 10 breakthroughs we think will have a big impact on the world we've identified things like natural language processing augmented reality CRISPR wireless charging and gene therapy before they went mainstream so when we heard Bill Gates was interested in helping us choose this year's list we jumped at the chance through his investing and the work of the Gates Foundation he's thinking a lot about where technology is going and how it can do the most good for the most people we offered bill a short list he ignored it almost entirely this list is very much his own vision i sat down with him to talk about what he picked your famously optimistic and you know you subscribe to the view of people i cants rustling and steven pinker that when you look at the important indicators life has been getting better consistently for billions of people how do you sustain that kind of optimism in a world in which you know climate change is accelerating we have political polarization and disruption caused by social media we have growing economic inequality which is fueled at least in part by automation and AI so there's a lot of current worries about the technology having a harmful effect so how do you retain your optimism it's great that people are worried about the problems because they require action you know even take in equity globally inequity is down that is the poor countries are getting richer faster than the richer countries are getting richer right the bulk of humanity lives in middle-income countries today if you go back 50 years there were very very few middle-income countries it was pretty bimodal where he had Indian China Africa were poor and then Europe u.s. Japan starting to be fairly well-off and not much in the middle but today China's at the high end of middle income India's at the low and middle income Brazil Indonesia it's a it's a phenomenal story and the ability of science to saw problems you know clearly in the case of heart disease and cancer make a lot of progress some of the more chronic diseases like depression diabetes I'm optimistic even obesity you know we're gaining some fundamental understandings of the microbiome and the signaling mechanisms involved in these things so yes I am optimistic it does bother me that that most people aren't optimistic and you know so one of us is wrong like this is right do you think that you have may be successful persons by us in other words you of course we have to factor that in right at my own light you know I've been extremely lucky and you know the country I was born in the education I got to have the business work I got to do even my foundation work is amazing and interesting work but even tracting out for my personal characteristics and personal experience I I think the big picture is that it's better to be born today than ever and it'll be better to be born 20 years from now than today so I want to talk about some of the individual technologies you picked for the list so one of them is lab-grown meat which is still very tentative still very expensive why was that important enough to make the cut and you do you think that in a I don't know a decade two decades we could see lager and meat replacing a substantial proportion of animal grooming yes I do part of the reason I picked it is is to remind people that clean energy does not solve climate change you know every time you read about Oh clean energy that's it we just need clean energy no you don't that's only about a quarter of the emissions come from electricity generation so here you have a gigantic piece that is from beef production and now this can be a substitute so this is a category that people weren't paying much attention as a greenhouse gas problem and yet I think the path to solve it is clearer than in say the cement or steel or other materials case right and other technologies you picked is AI Virtual Assistants so the reference there is two improvements and things like natural language processing but you know these are still AI is a basically very dumb machines they're done one narrow task really well the computer is so stupid that when you're when you present email you don't let it order it for you you don't trust it to have enough context to look at the material understand the relationships and your calendar that it orders them for you you you pick which application to run you pick which item to open so it's working at a very very low level today I do think that we'll have executive assistant type capability in a five to ten year period now you know I've known to be too optimistic about some of these IT things in the past but the generally they have progressed and you know it's a huge priority project for companies like Google and Microsoft and on some things like translation you know the deep learning approaches are surprisingly good and so I work on that lot in my part-time work with Microsoft and you know I want one so right so in that case it's gonna happen yeah absolutely let's pick another of the technologies that you picked which i think is probably near and dear to your heart which is the reinvented toilet and you've explained this as the biggest advance in sanitation in 200 years so tell us some more about that well the technologies are often decent enough that you know they stayed the same and so the idea building sewers using clean water having a processing plant you know that's the paradigm in in rich countries unfortunately in even in some middle-income but certainly in low-income countries the idea that you're going to build that sewer system the capital cost to do it is just unattainable and yet the quality of life both in terms of disgust and disease when you're not taking the human waste and getting it out of an increasingly urbanized world you know Africa will although it's the last place it will be 50 percent urban 20 years from now will the kids there be healthy but maybe just describe briefly what it does okay well it takes the human waste the liquid and solid and in some cases it treats it as a uniform some most cases it does some type of separation the solids you can essentially burn the liquids you can filter now the cost of the equipment that does this reliably is a real challenge and the net energy now burning the solid part actually you get energy but whether you can make the balance if you actually have to boil the liquid part that uses up a lot of energy right and and so the technologies we have today work but you know the cost per seat is over five thousand dollars narcy's and maintenance that has to go into those things to really get into those slums we're gonna have to get down to the ultimate is the single-family household so the woman doesn't have to go out at night that we need to be less than 500 dollars right and so you know there are days that's you know it's kind of an intimidating Carter is there another technology like that which is you know something that has been around for so long and it's so well established that nobody even thinks of innovate but that actually in the same way as the toilets could be a you know right right for disruption there are cases where the sort of trickle down approach of okay the ritual does something in some way right and now hey the poor will just learn to do it you know in the rich world going to your doctors and getting regular medication sort of works actually compliance isn't that good what we'd really like for the rest of the world is something like a drug Depot where it's doing continuous release so that say you have take six months of TB medicine or you have to constantly have some HIV prophylactic drug in your body at a certain level drug Depot's would help the the poor world application a lot it's not necessary for the rich world and so there you have to challenge scientists to do something that if they just look at the rich world target product profile they won't see it likewise you know keeping vaccines cold in places where you have lots of electricity reliably stick it in the refrigerator that's fine in Africa as we get out into rural areas we've had to challenge engineers to create new types of refrigeration and you know that you know looks like it's rolling out in a positive way so trickle-down works for a lot of things you know cell phones chips you know measles vaccine but it it isn't you're gonna miss a lot of potential innovation if if you insist on that and toilets is one where it's even hard to see how some of these big Indian cities will ever deal with their waste if all we have the Seward sanitation and large-scale Sanitation processing right so you lead a 1 billion dollar investment fund breakthrough energy ventures which is investing a whole bunch of different technologies not all of them in a generation but that are about limiting emissions the question I have is you know there it feels like there really a lot of technological solutions to climate change and do we really need more of them or is the biggest problem not political about governments implementing them and creating the incentives in them to be taken up when you say to India should you provide electricity to everyone to have things we take for granted heating air conditioning their path is to build more coal plants that's the cheapest form of electricity for them and so yes the rich countries are rich enough that if they chose to they could pay huge premium prices for electricity now the reliability piece you know Smeal talks about you have seven days in in Tokyo where you have no Sun no wind right you know they the overall cost of electricity and Tokyo would be for the entire year would be more than doubled to have a hundred percent renewables solution we don't have ways of making cement steel meet that our zero emissions even a doubled premium for those things you know in France they were asked to pay a five percent increase on their their diesel price right right and now it's on acceptable so the willingness to go for super expensive things whose only benefit is their reduction in greenhouse gas emission it's just not there politics is where you decide how much you're gonna put into basic research or how you're gonna going to make things attractive for these innovative companies or how you're going to let things roll out when they're an ax less mature state but no if we froze technology today you will live in a four degree C warmer world in the future guaranteed and you said recently that you want the u.s. to regain its lead and you're gonna try to persuade the leaders of this country to regain the lead in nuclear power if we didn't have climate change the quest to get broad acceptance of nuclear power wouldn't be a priority for me the general public attitude towards nuclear is a real challenge and the economics are real challenge so if you can solve safety including the perception of safety and solve the economics you know that would be fantastic it's not easy you also have to convince people that you're not gonna have a shortage for uranium you're not gonna have proliferation and that the waste isn't going to be a huge problem but the two big problems are the economics and the safety and and so daunting there are very few entities working on it even though the digital tools we have now it's insane that we're not building a new reactor design China is probably the place that's most positive for nuclear energy as you say even there the populace is asking questions about the safety and some of the reactors that have been built you know did have cost overruns and the way that that they're balancing their power generation and their grid they have some challenges there that are hurting the economics of all energy producers so that gives us a nice segue to start talking about China it has laid out these plans to be the world's leading technology superpower within the next few decades it's got plans and a bunch of specific areas do you think it can get there well it's impressive what China's done but China's strength in digital areas even in biology where they're probably five years behind where they are in digital technologies it is very impressive I mean Xinhua is one of the top ten universities in the in the world and the number of science graduates in China's is far greater than in other places the the real question I have to ask is innovation and China good for the world if they cure some form of cancer if they have seeds that are more productive is that a good thing in the realm of economics it's not zero-sum it's really good the only zero-sum game there is is war and so you know I don't think we should end up in in a in a war with China so a trade war or any other kind of war right so the idea that they're starting to be innovative that is good for the world and like most countries in middle income status they're more willing to do big projects and upset the status quo the US and the 50s and 60s you know Japan and 70s and 80s Korea 80s and 90s there's that middle income state where your your technological capability gets really strong and you're willing you know whether it's your infrastructure or science to to go out and do very very ambitious things the u.s. it's good to have a sense okay we have to renew our edge you know in fact Japan was never going to overtake us and from scientific innovation but I do think in the 70s and 80s when we were like oh geez you know have they figured things out we haven't you know that we renewed our commitment to basic research so it will be post World War two it'll be the first time that we have a a broad technological competitor that actually uses the commercial market as the way they get their strengths the Soviets had the problem that they didn't have the commercial side and so it meant that although their scientific understanding was very good their ability to actually make things in an economic way fell way behind what we had and so we had you know incredible global uniqueness that we that's kind of spoiled to sent away we won't have as much neatness relative to China even though we're likely to stay number one for a long time thank you very very much bill I was really fascinated yes we should our great

21 Comments

  1. iOn-Christopher DiMeglio said:

    So I give him about a C on this. Wait – no, never mind. An anti-fan since I found out his habit of reading is to fill two weeks of his time a year. Not to mention the global disaster of the Microsoft hegemony since OFFICE. The abandonment of the document-container concept, and the worship of HTML help systems ignoring finer points — A hundred reasons why Bill Gates is not the infallible OZ — and here it shows — especially if you know better. One thing he may have gotten right, but didn't mention Thorium liquid salt so that anyone can look it up – still the capitalist even in his good-guy days.

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  2. For Goodness Ache said:

    Lab-grown meat is GARBAGE. The problem with beef is only in how we manage/raise/feed the cows ("finishing" them in CAFOs), not the cows or meat itself. Read "Defending Beef". Cows (and other ruminants) can actually be part of the solution to climate change, and Lab-grown meat would prevent that (among its other problems). But Bill is a technologist (and technophile), urbanite and maybe even a "moralist", so it's not surprising that he has been duped.

    And yes (later), we do have a way of "making meat" that is zero, or even negative emission. Negative in the sense that it improves soil quality, thereby increasing water retention and reducing desertification.

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  3. Syd Hoover said:

    ill eats…face/tool

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  4. Ryan Rhodes said:

    Does the camera guy have have a hand fetish? Just stick to the conversation my man.

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  5. FreakEasy said:

    I wish humanity would stop fighting each other and instead of funding wars invest it in all forms of technology.

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  6. Kendon casey Curtis said:

    Pick the desalination factory’s that are floating dome covered factories with pinwheel generators ,to create the desalination ,Of oceans water from oceans energy. Clean water pumped thousands of miles inland to desert farms with in-ground homes on per irrigation water lines radiation coolers. ( no freon) with the best solar energy ( photosynthesis) Of the plant energy, oil, compressed gas,burned for electricity by the one plant, that produces 90% more carbon to Oxygen conversion rate than any other plant. Such as the cane sugar plant that is not environmentally friendly because ,of the place grown ( coastal runoff) . We need to understand As Albert Einstein did to Quote (“ Raise new Questions ,explore new possibilities, regard old problems from A new angle”) consider the concept that it is NOT about just clean energy, but rather has more to do with. The deforestation Of old growth forests = dioxide To Oxygen conversion. Would the best bulk production plant, that also produces huge amounts of seed oil, that is complete comparable to crude oil, Only without the consequences of monoxide’s ( poison) but instead the same Dioxide that = millions of years of evolution. Geologists will tell you we had A turbulent world fires often burned for decades in our old growth forests. Blight, beetle, disease where common , with droughts, and solar flares, it was common. What if deforestation can be completely compensated by the growth of A plant already proven to grow in desert land ( narco) . Not grown for the THC, but Rather for.
    1-energy from oceans
    2-clean water
    3-safe to ozone air conditioning
    4-electric energy from burning stalk in coal type facilities, with compressed hydrogen gas capture capabilities.
    5-Oil like crude oil, Only non toxic.
    6-huge benefit of biodegradable plastic that is environmentally friendly because animals can literally eat it.
    7- meds, clothes, Animal fodder,fibers for in ground homes building materials.
    7 is Gods biblical number I believe that this concept was my Devine Dream. My name is Kendon Erland Curtis I openly give this concept to whoever can implement my concept. I whole reason is to benefit our world. Please implementation of this, in Syria could return the Syria people to their homes. Before the oil mongers start fracking to destroy the land, and water. My family would appreciate any compensation for the concept with future use . Please share!

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  7. Bruce Cain said:

    Stop 5G – Stop Smart Meters. Go to your City Council and say "I will not be subjected to a 5G Lab Experiment."

    Bruce Cain. Dearborn Heights City Council Meeting results in special study session on 5G. (05/14/2019)

    @o_sU

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  8. Forrest Jones said:

    Its official by evidence of this video…Bill Gates has rendered himself into the realm of the irrelevant…burning human shit and revamping toilets? Is this a joke? Stand aside while the mantle passes…this is embarrassing.

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  9. Threelly AI said:

    Old town roads is full of weird comments…
    https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/threelly-ai-for-youtube/dfohlnjmjiipcppekkbhbabjbnikkibo

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  10. Ian McFerran said:

    Shaking my head. Gates wasn't challenged once about his desire to kill people with vaccines or, as he put it, depopulation through more vaccination. So, vaccines kill people and the Gates Foundation pushes vaccines massively, yet not a word raised about this fact. Staged managed interview!!!

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  11. Oz El Coskuner said:

    I felt he is an arrogant interviewer. Annoying.

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  12. trickeyD said:

    So, creating meat… why does that make the cut?

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  13. abcd xx said:

    So bill is working on decentralised toilets

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  14. James Rendek said:

    Keep feeding the world crap burgers instead of grass fed meat and finish off our health. Keeping Windows broken for 30 years wasn't enough.

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  15. FlexFibre Bandwidth on Demand said:

    One of the key takeaways from this is that there is a case for optimism. Too much of the news agenda is negative in the world at the moment that it's becoming a self-fulfilling prophesy. Working in the communication sector, we've seen firsthand how connectivity is changing the world (for both good and bad, but overall, I think, good).

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  16. MisterEC1 said:

    Climate has always changed and will always change with man here or not. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-9UlF8hkhs&fbclid=IwAR2vk_4ClLpnY0rI8Jk2e863dETv-UjzwykgYwqEVzMrw1hVwxOR_PTwVfI

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  17. Celebrity Yak Yak said:

    Bill Gates is a wicked Luciferian eugenicist pushing vaccine pseudo science on humanity against their will. Anyone who believes what he says is a dupe. This man works for the Jesuit Vatican United Nations New World Order implementing their Agenda 30 DEPOPULATION programs worldwide. He is NOT a hero but a villain. He does NOT have your best interest in mind but wants you to DIE. The Cancer industry is burgeoning worldwide. WHY? Because vaccines cause cancer INCREMENTALLY over decades. New technologies are NOT for humanities benefit but are WEAPONS to KILL and depopulate the Earth. This is all documented. Ignore this at your peril. DO NOT VACCINATE. You CAN'T UNDO a vaccination … EVER!

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  18. Simply Human said:

    3:20 better to be born 20 years from now. REALLY! One million fewer species, another billion ppl, massive starvation more chaotic extreme weather, a world wide debt the interest for which will bankrupt every country in earth. Of course this self absorbed, self congragulatory, egotistical, myopic jew will think his narrow vision of the world is the only possible scenario – that his tech and benevolence will save the world. What a smug fvck he is.

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  19. Malvinder kaur said:

    china is overrated now they had their chance and did what needed to be done i believe they function on very strange kind of policies

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  20. Malvinder kaur said:

    the day India learns to conquer its quibbling and internal corruption it can forge ahead, with quality of mind and its intelligence and the way those who have been snapped around world so India has lot of potential which they know just have to get over their lot of hangups.

    May 17, 2019
    Reply
  21. Alex White said:

    Tell you what bill if my mom is just going to sit at u.s. cellular all day long with her boss and the recruitment center behind her and LITERALL6 monitor me on film while I sit three miles away and refuse to harrass people in the same manner then you have a big problem.i want to press harrassement of a sexual nature in that case. I am not allowed to make phone calls have a face book or any friends.ssi doesnt work very well with ucc can't and the public rent factor. Not allowed to have women or men friends so I think trump may be too old to contemplate,a beneficial future for younger lower middle class citizens like me.i do not conspire to manufacture amphetamines.or conspire. Thanks

    May 17, 2019
    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *