Bill Gates: The Rolling Stone Interview – The richest man in the world explains how to save the planet

At 58, Bill Gates is not only the richest man in the world, with a fortune that now exceeds $76 billion, but he may also be the most optimistic. In his view, the world is a giant operating system that just needs to be debugged. Gates’ driving idea – the idea that animates his life, that guides his philanthropy, that keeps him late in his sleek book-lined office overlooking Lake Washington, outside Seattle – is the hacker’s notion that the code for these problems can be rewritten, that errors can be fixed, that huge systems – whether it’s Windows 8, global poverty or climate change – can be improved if you have the right tools and the right skills. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the philanthropic organization with a $36 billion endowment that he runs with his wife, is like a giant startup whose target market is human civilization.Personally, Gates has very little Master of the Universe swagger and, given the scale of his wealth, his possessions are modest: three houses, one plane, no yachts. He wears loafers and khakis and V-neck sweaters. He often needs a haircut. His glasses haven’t changed much in 40 years. For fun, he attends bridge tournaments.But if his social ambitions are modest, his intellectual scope is mind-boggling: climate, energy, agriculture, infectious diseases and education reform, to name a few. He has former nuclear physicists helping cook up nutritional cookies to feed the developing world. A polio SWAT team has already spent $1.5 billion (and is committed to another $1.8 billion through 2018) to eradicate the virus. He’s engineering better toilets and funding research into condoms made of carbon nanotubes.It’s a long way from the early days of the digital revolution, when Gates was almost a caricature of a greedy monopolist hell-bent on installing Windows on every computer in the galaxy (“The trouble with Bill,” Steve Jobs once told me, “is that he wants to take a nickel for himself out of every dollar that passes through his hands”). But when Gates stepped down as Microsoft CEO in 2000, he found a way to transform his aggressive drive to conquer the desktop into an aggressive drive to conquer poverty and disease.To read the interview, go to:
http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/bill-gates-the-rolling-stone-interview-20140313

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