Microsoft Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates answered questions on Reddit’s Ask Me Anything on Monday, revealing that he likes to wash the dishes because he doesn’t like the way others clean them, is looking forward to working with new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on developing cloud services and new devices, and says government should be more open about surveillance and privacy issues if they want to gain citizens’ trust.
Gates, also co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, also answered questions about the importance of education and vaccines, and said the “greatest tragedy is kids who die or never get enough food to develop physically or mentally to achieve their potential.”
It’s the second time that Gates has taken to Reddit’s forum, and he promoted the session by posting a video anticipating a few questions from readers. One played off an old joke that he’s so rich it wouldn’t be worth his time to stop and pick up a $100 bill off the ground. Gates, the world’s richest man with a fortune estimated at $75 billion by Forbes, said he would. “I would pick it up and give it to the foundation because there $100 actually buys quite a bit.”
Gates, who last week announced he was stepping down as chairman of Microsoft and will serve as a technical advisor to Nadella, talked about everything from his hobbies and guilty pleasures to his favorite project at Microsoft (Windows) to cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. He also revealed that he can no longer jump over garbage can or a chair, a move he showed off to interviewer Connie Chung in 1994
Here are a few of his answers.
Q: What do you do at Microsoft?
I make sure we pick ambitious scenarios and that we have a strong architecture to deliver on them. I encourage good work (hopefully).
Q: Can you describe your new role at Microsoft?
I am excited about how the cloud and new devices can help us communicate and collaborate in new ways. The OS won’t just be on one device and the information won’t just be files – it will be your history including being able to review memories of things like kids growing up. I was thrilled [New Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella] Satya asked me to pitch in to make sure Microsoft is ambitious with its innovation. Even in Office there is a lot more than can be done.
Q: What is your favorite project you have ever worked on at Microsoft?
The Windows project which required a lot of patience was great. Office was also great. Together they defined the big success of the 1990s for Microsoft. Office connected to the cloud has a LOT of potential and we are off to a good start. Cloud Storage needs to be a lot richer though.
Q: How do you feel about the NSA and its oversight of computer usage?
This is a complex issue. Privacy will be increasingly important as cameras and GPS sensors are gathering information to try and be helpful. We need to have trust in the way information is protected and gathered. There is a role for the government to try and stop crime and terrorism but it will have to be more open. I do think terrorism with biological or nuclear weapons is something we want to minimize the chance of.
Q: What are your thoughts about cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin?
The foundation is involved in digital money but unlike Bitcoin it would not be anonymous digital money. In Kenya M-pesa is being used for almost half of all transactions. Digital money has low transaction costs which is great for the poor because they need to do financial transactions with small amounts of money. Over the next 5 years I think digital money will catch on in India and parts of Africa and help the poorest a lot. http://www.impatientoptimists.org/posts/2011/01/mobile-phones-savings-a-powerful-pair
Q: Any advice on how entrepreneurs of today and tomorrow should go about balancing business and philanthropy… or do they have to succeed first in order to give later?