Bill Gates just wrapped up his fourth Reddit AMA, covering everything from the threat of terrorism to his fastest time in Minesweeper. His site, Gates Notes, released a video in advance of the AMA answering some of the questions he’s asked most frequently.
Several of Gates’ responses during the AMA reference the annual letter from him and Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Gates also clarified his stance on the privacy fight between Apple and the FBI, a story making waves in the tech world and beyond.
Reddit requires AMA hosts to verify their identity with a photo. Gates decided to have some fun with it, recreating the iconic shot from his high school yearbook (right).
Continue reading for highlights from the AMA.
On the privacy battle between the FBI and Apple
“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.”
On advances in medicine
“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.”
“I think medical advances will also be amazing and unbelievable. Like the robots some of the capabilities like gene editing will bring challenges with them.”
On the threat of terrorism
“The problem of how we prevent a small group of terrorists using nuclear or biological means to kill millions is something I worry about. If Government does their best work they have a good chance of detecting it and stopping it but I don’t think it is getting enough attention and I know I can’t solve it.”
On climate change
“Politics operates in 4 years cycles and climate change is a challenge that needs decades of work to reduce green house gas emission. I am disappointed that the US is where the debate has been the most difficult. November in Paris was a positive milestone with a commitment to reductions and a commitment to innovation by the governments and private sector.”
On regulating artificial intelligence
“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.”
On future innovation
“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.”