Bill Gates is one of the most recognizable symbols of success in the modern world. So how does Bill Gates, the man, define success on a personal level?
With a little help from his friend Warren Buffett, it turns out.
“Warren Buffett has always said the measure is whether the people close to you are happy and love you,” Gates wrote during an Ask Me Anything session on Reddit this morning. “It is also nice to feel like you made a difference — inventing something or raising kids or helping people in need.”
— Bill Gates (@BillGates) February 27, 2017
After promoting the AMA with the Saturday Night Live spoof above, Gates fielded questions on topics ranging from his favorite sandwich to Trump. Check out the full AMA here and continue reading for highlights.
On Trump and the state of the country: “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.”
“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 U.S. and for the world. Climate change requires cooperation between countries over a period of decades but we don’t have much time to waste.”
On social media’s divisiveness: “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 anyone’s suggestion on how we avoid this.”
On “copying” Steve Jobs: “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.”
On healthcare’s slow innovation: “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.”
On his biggest achievement: “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.”
On artificial intelligence’s threat to humanity: “One thing to make sure the people who create the first strong AI have the right values and, ideally, that it isn’t just one group way out in front of others. I am glad to see this question being discussed. Google and others are taking it seriously.”
On hypothetically going into business with Elon Musk: “We need clean, reliable cheap energy — which we don’t have. It is too bad the sun doesn’t shine all the time and the wind doesn’t blow all the time. The Economist had a good piece on this this week. So we need some invention — perhaps miracle batteries or super-safe nuclear or making sun into gasoline directly.”
On his favorite TV shows: “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.”
On his favorite sandwich of all time: “Cheeseburger, Cheeseburger, Cheeseburger.”