Like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Al Gore, and even Barack Obama before him, Microsoft founder and chairman Bill Gates participated in one of Reddit's famously casual-but-informative open interview sessions. One of the richest people in the world, Gates has an estimated net worth of $65 billion, but he's donated more than $28 billion to various causes through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Though many users' questions focused on tech, philanthropy and his considerable wealth, Gates also spoke about his favorite band (Weezer), his hobbies and Anthony Michael Hall's portrayal of him in "Pirates of Silicon Valley."
Gates also answered a few questions ahead of the session's official start time -- in adorably animated video format.
He finished with one final request:
Some highlights below. Visit Reddit.com to read the whole thread.
From Zexyterrestrial: What emerging technology today do you think will cause another big stir for the average consumer in the same way that the home computer did years ago?
Gates: 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..
From dylanstalker: What do you do for fun? I find it hard to fathom how someone like you can just disconnect. Disconnect from the emails, calls ,the media. All of it. What would be your definition of a chill and fun day?
Gates: 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)..
From juturn4: Windows 7 or Windows 8? Be honest Bill.
Gates: Higher is better.
Gates: That portrayal was reasonably accurate....
From parkerjh: Which world-wide health cause are we perfectly capable of easily solving and on the cusp of achieving but just need to put it over the top with a little more attention or resources to actually solve?
Gates: Polio is the first thing to get done since we are close. Within 6 years we will have the last case. After that we will go after malaria and measles. Malaria kills over 500,000 kids every year mostly in Africa and did not get enough attention until the last decade. We also need vaccines to prevent HIV and TB which are making progress...
From falter: Since becoming wealthy, what's the cheapest thing that gives you the most pleasure?
Gates: Kids. Cheap cheeseburgers. Open Course Ware courses...
falter: Where are you acquiring these cheap kids from?
Gates: The stork.
From cyberbemon: Do you still code ?, if so which language ? :)
Gates: 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...
From indrora: What's your worst fear for the future of the world? (edit: I terms of policy/politics/etc -- e.g. SOPA/ITU)
Gates: Hopefully we won't have terrorists using nuclear weapons or biological weapons. We should make sure that stays hard. I am disappointed more isn't being done to reduce carbon emissions. Governments need to spend more on basic energy R&D to make sure we get cheap non-CO2 emitting sources as soon as possible.
Overall I am pretty optimistic. Things are a lot better than they were 200 years ago..
From idancer: I'm not Bill Gates, but he has made a huge positive influence. Many wealthy people I know point to Bill Gates as their idol. Not for his Microsoft days, but for his philanthropy. He also simultaneously killed many of my friend's hundred million dollar trust funds after their parents discovered that Bill was only leaving $10 million for his children.
Gates: I definitely think leaving kids massive amounts of money is not a favor to them. Warren Buffett was part of an article in Fortune talking about this in 1986 before I met him and it made me think about it and decide he was right. Some people disagree with this but Melinda and I feel good about it.
From Sindi182: Is Weezer still your favorite band?
Gates: Weezer.... Actually U2 is a favorite.. I keep waiting for Spinal Tap to go back on tour...
From U_Cant_Touch_This: How was your relationship with Steve jobs? I always hoped that y'all were really good friends and competitors.
Gates: 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...