Bill Gates

Forbes - - CONTENTS -

TECH TI­TAN (CO­FOUNDER, MI­CROSOFT); GLOBAL PHI­LAN­THROPIST (BILL & MELINDA GATES FOUN­DA­TION); RICH­EST PER­SON IN THE WORLD (FOR NOW)

In early 1975, when I was in col­lege, my friend Paul Allen showed me an is­sue of Pop­u­lar Elec­tron­ics fea­tur­ing the Al­tair 8800 com­puter, the first com­mer­cially suc­cess­ful per­sonal com­puter. We both had the same thought: “The rev­o­lu­tion is go­ing to hap­pen with­out us!” We were sure that soft­ware was go­ing to change the world, and we wor­ried that if we didn’t join the dig­i­tal rev­o­lu­tion soon, it would pass us by. That con­ver­sa­tion marked the end of my col­lege ca­reer and the be­gin­ning of Mi­crosoft.

The next 100 years will cre­ate even more op­por­tu­ni­ties like that. Be­cause it’s so easy for some­one with a great idea to share it with the world in an in­stant, the pace of in­no­va­tion is ac­cel­er­at­ing—and that opens up more ar­eas than ever for ex­plo­ration. We’ve just be­gun to tap ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence’s abil­ity to help peo­ple be more pro­duc­tive and cre­ative. The bio­sciences are filled with prospects for help­ing peo­ple live longer, health­ier lives. Big ad­vances in clean en­ergy will make it more af­ford­able and avail­able, which will fight poverty and help us avoid the worst ef­fects of cli­mate change.

The po­ten­tial for th­ese ad­vances is thrilling—they could save and im­prove the lives of mil­lions—but they’re not in­evitable. They will hap­pen only if peo­ple are will­ing to bet on a lot of crazy no­tions, know­ing that while some won’t work out, one break­through can change the world. Over the next 100 years, we need peo­ple to keep be­liev­ing in the power of in­no­va­tion and to take a risk on a few rev­o­lu­tion­ary ideas.

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