Duke University computer science and economics grad Melinda Gates returned to her alma mater this past weekend to deliver the commencement address, telling grads to reject the notion of Time magazine’s thesis in the piece “The Me Me Me Generation.”
“I want to encourage you to reject the cynics who say that technology is flattening your experience of the world. Please don’t let anyone make you think … that you are somehow shallow because you like to update your status on a regular basis,” said Gates, who graduated from the school in 1986. “The people who say that technology has disconnected you are wrong. But so are the people who say that technology has automatically connected you.” (Previously on GeekWire: Talking ’bout my generation: We’re not acting entitled, we’re being reasonable)
Gates, who after working at Microsoft for a number of years co-founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, went on to stress the importance of “deep human connection.”
Taking advantage of new communications technologies, Gates said that the new graduates could connect with other people across the globe. “Your world, really can be a neighborhood,” she said.
Pointing to her experiences in Africa, Gates noted that there are now 700 million cell phone subscribers. Because of that, she said people across the world can now use technology to “make the world bigger” and connect with others by sharing stories, experiences or even favorite recipes.
“I don’t want you to connect for connection’s sake alone,” she said. “I want you to connect because I believe it will inspire you to do something, to take action, to make a difference in the world,” she says. “Humanity in the abstract will never inspire you the way meeting another human being will.”
Gates noted that being rich does not define her or Bill.
“The universe is like computer code in that way. It is binary. There’s life, and then there is everything else. There are zeroes and there ones. I’m a one. You are a one. My friend in the Himalayas, she’s a one.”
She concluded that technology can be used to help “light up a network of seven billion people with long lasting and highly-motivating human connections.”
You can watch Gates’ speech in full in the video below.
[Hat tip to Mashable]