Bill Gates recently partook in a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" session, where he tackled questions about water shortages, the takeover of machines, worldwide poverty, population issues, education, who he thinks will win the Super Bowl and more.
Through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Gates, his wife and fellow trustees like billionaire Warren Buffet are endeavoring to solve the world's biggest issues, one brilliant step at a time.
Let's take a look at Gates' 9 best answers in the "AMA" session to find out more about his endeavours, what he hopes to achieve and the obstacles he is facing.
1. The biggest game-changer for life in developing countries
"What do you think has improved life the most in poor countries in the last 5 years?"
"Vaccines make the top of the list. Being able to grow up healthy is the most basic thing. So many kids get infectious diseases and don't develop mentally and physically. I was in Berlin yesterday helping raise $7.5B for vaccines for kids in poor countries. We barely made it but we did which is so exciting to me!"
"What do you think about life-extending and immortality research?"
"It seems pretty egocentric while we still have malaria and TB for rich people to fund things so they can live longer. It would be nice to live longer though I admit."
3. Poop water
"Hello Mr. Gates, what is in your opinion the main obstacle to the success to poop water machine? and how can we overcome that obstacle?"
"Sewage is a problem. Since it costs money to process it just gets dumped in slums in poor countries. The system the rich world uses of pumping in clean water and pumping it to a processing plant is too expensive. I challenged engineers to create a processor of sewage where the costs could be covered by the energy and water (clean water) that it outputs. We have made progress on that. One team, Janicki, which was written up in Wired, is send a prototype machine to Senegal later this year. Getting rid of sewage helps a lot to reduce disease and improve living conditions."
Gates even got Jimmy Fallon to drink a glass of "poop water" unkowingly. You can check that out on A Plus here.
If you want to see how the process works, you can check out a video below about the "Janicki Omniprocessor".
4. Further exploration of poop water
"Regarding the video of you drinking the ... uh.... poop water, how long will it take to put something like that into a community where they can start seeing immediate results? And if I totally missed it, where are they currently setup and what kind of benefits has it already provided. Besides clean drinking water, that is."
"The timeframe is longer than I would like. Probably 5 years before we have hundreds of them out in dozens of cities but we can scale up fast after that."
"Hi Mr. Gates! Thanks so much for coming back again, I missed your last 2 AMAs.
What do you think is the hardest challenge that the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation is currently facing?"
"We have some tough scientific challenges like an HIV cure.
However the toughest thing is helping teachers learn from the best teachers. There are great teachers and the kids who get them are lucky. We should be able to spread those skills but the current system doesn't do it very well."
5: Cryptocurrency and bitcoins
"What is your opinion on bitcoins or cyptocurency as a whole? Also do you own any yourself?"
"Bitcoin is an exciting new technology. For our Foundation work we are doing digital currency to help the poor get banking services. We don't use bitcoin specifically for two reasons. One is that the poor shouldn't have a currency whose value goes up and down a lot compared to their local currency. Second is that if a mistake is made in who you pay then you need to be able to reverse it so anonymity wouldn't work.
Overall financial transactions will get cheaper using the work we do and Bitcoin related approaches.
Making sure that it doesn't help terrorists is a challenge for all new technology."
6: African agriculture
"One of the themes in this year's Gates letter is helping to improve agricultural practices in Africa. As a person who was raised in an agricultural community in Canada, the ideas you presented really resonated with me. As individuals, is there anything we can do to help Africa achieve food security?"
"Government aid funding from rich countries to develop new seeds and help the countries educate their farmers and provide credit to them can make a huge difference. Canada does some of this like the United States. We need to raise African productivity by 1.5 to 2x in order for them to avoid malnutrition and be able to lift themselves out of poverty. It is strange a continent with 70% adults as farmers imports food from countries like the US with 2% farmers. Africa spends $50B net buying food today. With productivity improvement they can offset the weather getting worse and feed their children enough to thrive.
EDIT: You can read our letter here: www.gatesletter.com"
7: Machine super intelligence
"How much of an existential threat do you think machine superintelligence will be?"
"I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence. First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don't understand why some people are not concerned."
"Mr Gates, Do you feel that we are facing an overpopulation problem on this planet? If so, what do you think needs to be done about it?"
"Fortunately as people get healthy they choose to have less kids. We have already had the maximum number of births - that number is starting to go down. We still need to help provide health and contraception in poor countries but all of the global population growth is coming from people living longer. Hans Rosling talks about this in the clearest way."
You can watch the video above.
9: And finally: who is Gates' pick for the Super Bowl?
"Who are you rooting for in the Super Bowl?"
"This is an easy question. I am good friends with Paul Allen who owns the Seahawks and I live in Seattle. The playoff game was amazing to watch. Go Seahawks!"