Zillionaire Bill Gates did an AMA on Reddit and, while mostly using it to talk about the incredible philanthropic work the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation does (they have saved the lives of over 122 million children and counting, they’re sort of objectively the greatest people to have ever lived, and yet they’re still dorks, what’s going on there?), he also answered a question that has plagued the world for two decades.
Redditor jutah1983 got the answer to a question that we knew the answer to, but didn’t know know it, you know?
He asked Gates, “Is it true that if I forward the email in my inbox to 100 people you will give me money?”
And Gates replied, “No.”
Closure, at last! We also learned a lot of interesting stuff about the man himself, and where he’s currently at.
- He has a pretty nice attitude towards success
Asked when he first considered himself successful, Gates had a very nice answer rather than a terrifying, impossible-to-emulate “only when I hit the first hundred mill, I was a loser until then” kind of one. “There are many domains to be successful in,” he said. “I was a success in getting good grades and test scores in high school. I was a success at writing good code by my early 20s. The dream of the PC being an enabling tool came true by the 1990s. Now I am working on being a good father and the ambitious goals of the Foundation.” That seems like a good approach, setting difficult but attainable goals and, when attaining them, enjoying your success while at the same time setting yourself new, harder ones.
- He’s still very ambitious
122 million lives saved – honestly, just think about that for a few seconds, it’s incredible, he could murder 100 million people and on aggregate he’d still be the greatest person alive – and he’s still going. The foundation has massive aims like entirely eradicating polio and further reducing childhood malnutrition, as well as education reform and technological breakthroughs in energy production. Big, enormous, massive, global aims. But there are human-sized ones in there too: “Making sure the kids are ready to go to college and have a great experience there”.
- He’s still excited about computers
Gates recently spent a month trying to get to grips with quantum computing, which is fucking absurdly baffling and insanely hard to understand unless you’re already really good at maths. “It’s amazing how the matrix math with complex numbers works,” he says. Yeah, probably. He’s also excited about the future of machine comprehension – as computers go beyond here recognition and start understanding concepts – and the possibility of robots that can move with the same versatility as humans. Computers that can understand concepts is an idea that feels as though it’s probably the beginning of the end of the world, but, like, maybe in a nice way?
- He’s realistic about the opportunities afforded him
Asked if he would have enjoyed the same success had he come from a low-income background, Gates was refreshingly realistic about it. “I benefited from having a great education at public schools and then a great private school,” he said. “There is a good chance [if I was from a low-income background] I would never have gotten turned on to software and math the way I did and therefore not been as successful.”
- He thinks there’s a global financial crisis on the horizon
“It is hard to say when, but this is a certainty,” he said. “Fortunately we got through the 2008 one reasonably well. Despite this prediction of bumps ahead I am quite optimistic about how innovation and capitalism will improve the situation for humans everywhere.”
- He’s ultimately optimistic
Most topics Gates discussed, he was pretty optimistic about, like improving Alzheimer’s treatment within in the next 20 years, using drone technology and autonomous vehicles to deliver medical supplies, and figuring out a way to reduce consumption of the Earth’s resources to manageable, sustainable levels. “I’m optimistic we’ll figure out how to avoid destroying the planet,” he said.
- He’s up for answering stupid questions
The most-upvoted question anyone had was the straightforward and stupid (yet excellent and compelling): “How different do you think your life would be if your name was Gill Bates?” The unexciting but friendly answer: “Hello to all the Gills out there. You probably run into someone with the same name less than I do. I don’t think my name has affected me much. My formal name is William.”