Bill Gates Talks Regrets, Current Microsoft Project

Bill Gates

Earlier this week, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates took to Reddit for his third Ask Me Anything (AMA) with the site’s readers. As befitting one of the world’s most prominent philanthropists, he offered a hopeful vision of humanity’s future, while hinting at some projects he’s currently developing for Microsoft, where he still serves as an advisor.

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“There will be more progress in the next 30 years than ever,” he told the audience. “Even in the next 10 problems like vision and speech understanding and translation will be very good. Mechanical robot tasks like picking fruit or moving a hospital patient will be solved.”

Once robots can move and “see” easily, he added, “They will be used very extensively.”

On Microsoft:

“One project I am working on with Microsoft is the Personal Agent which will remember everything and help you go back and find things and help you pick what things to pay attention to. The idea that you have to find applications and pick them and they each are trying to tell you what is new is just not the efficient model—the agent will help you solve this. It will work across all your devices.”

On His Biggest Regret:

“I feel pretty stupid that I don’t know any foreign languages. I took Latin and Greek in High School and got A’s and I guess it helps my vocabulary but I wish I knew French or Arabic or Chinese. I keep hoping to get time to study one of these – probably French because it is the easiest. I did Duolingo for awhile but didn’t keep it up. Mark Zuckerberg amazingly learned Mandarin and did a Q&A with Chinese students—incredible.”

On What’s Improved Life Most in Developing Countries:

“Vaccines make the top of the list. Being able to grow up healthy is the most basic thing. So many kids get infectious diseases and don’t develop mentally and physically. I was in Berlin yesterday helping raise $7.5B for vaccines for kids in poor countries. We barely made it but we did which is so exciting to me!”

On Living the Billionaire Life:

“I am pretty basic when it comes to clothes and food. My big splurge is having a plane to fly around in. I play tennis so I invest in shoes and racquets to help but they don’t make a big difference.”

On His Machine That Converts Sewage to Drinkable Water:

“Sewage is a problem. Since it costs money to process it just gets dumped in slums in poor countries. The system the rich world uses of pumping in clean water and pumping it to a processing plant is too expensive. I challenged engineers to create a processor of sewage where the costs could be covered by the energy and water (clean water) that it outputs. We have made progress on that. One team, Janicki, which was written up in Wired, is send a prototype machine to Senegal later this year. Getting rid of sewage helps a lot to reduce disease and improve living conditions.”

There’s much more over on Reddit.

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Image: Bill Gates