Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates still serves as his former company’s chairman, but much of his current work involves philanthropy. (In case you hadn’t heard, he has a lot of money, which he’s using to try to wipe out polio. He’ll then set his sights on malaria and measles.)
In an AMA (Ask Me Anything) session on social news site, Reddit, Gates answered questions about his foundation’s work and, of course, technology.
Here are some of Gates’ more interesting answers to various tech-related questions posed to him.
On the next big thing to shake up consumer tech as deeply as the home PC did:
Robots, pervasive screens, speech interaction will all change the way we look at “computers”. Once seeing, hearing, and reading (including handwriting) work very well you will interact in new ways..
He and I respected each other. Our biggest joint project was the Mac where Microsoft had more people on the project than Apple did as we wrote a lot of applications. I saw Steve regularly over the years including spending an afternoon with him a few months before he tragically passed away…
I just got my Surface Pro a week ago and it is very nice.
I am using a Perceptive Pixel display right now – huge Windows 8 touch whiteboard. These will come down in price over time and be pervasive… (http://i.imgur.com/1JqrLVc.jpg)
Microsoft does a lot of software for the Mac. I mostly use Windows machines but from time to time I have tried all of Apple products.
On how well Anthony Michael Hall portrayed him in Pirates of Silicon Valley:
That portrayal was reasonably accurate….
On what he likes to do outside of tech and philanthropy:
I love playing tennis. I am an avid bridge player (a card game if you have not heard of it – it was more popular in the past!). I like to tour interesting things with my kids like power plants, garbage dumps, the Large Hadron Collider, Antarctica, missile Silos (Arizona),… I read a lot and watch courses (online or the Learning Company)..
On how tech can enhance math education without replacing it:
The ability to test your knowledge and get refreshed on a topic you are making mistakes on will personalize a lot of the learning experience. People like Sal Khan are out in front figuring out how to do this well. My foundation has funded a lot of MOOCs focused on community college kids or kids who have to take remedial math. I am optimistic these will make a big difference.
On whether or not he still programs:
Not as much as I would like to. I write some C, C# and some Basic. I am surprised new languages have not made more progress in simplifying programming. It would be great if most high school kids were exposed to programming…
You can read the entire AMA session here, which includes insight into Gates’ philanthropic work and other topics.