Cool to see he still tries to stay up to date on new technologies.
> I actually do use tabs. It is easy to convert tabs to spaces and vice-versa so we shouldn't waste too much time on this issue.
- He thought nuclear weapons, bioterrorism, and climate change were the biggest threats to humanity.
- He thought paying $10B in capital gains taxes was not enough and he should have paid more.
Maybe those are platitudes but it's real enough for me.
There was some book (The Cuckoo's Egg?) where a computer scientist and a biologist talk about the biggest threats to humanity. The computer scientist thought that biological viruses were the biggest threat, and the biologist thought that computer viruses were the biggest threat.
I've asked a few people about this, over the years, and the results are remarkably consistent. Everybody is much more scared of the other field where they're not an expert.
Gates could pay his entire net worth into the treasury and it does not fix a fundamentally broken system.
Gates is commenting on how the ultra rich like him make most of their money from capital gains, which are not taxed at normal income tax rates. If capital gains were simply taxed like income taxes, it would be a huge blow against income inequality this country is facing.
Because capital gains are taxed differently, the ultra rich will continue to have their compensation geared towards stock, and away from income.
Gates is looking to change an unfair system. He alone can't do that.
It is not hypocritical for Gates to ask for macro solutions to macro problems.
Same thing with your Al Gore example. Leading by example does not make systemic changes to huge, complex systems. That's never going to work.
Al Gore could be living homeless in a tent in a forest and take a vow of poverty. It wouldn't make a dent. Your Gore example is particularly egregious because the No. 1 source of CO2 emissions in the U.S. is from transportation, and the main culprit of that is the sprawl that everyday Americans insist on living in (that the government has subsidized for them).
It doesn't matter if you'll listen or not. Big problems like income inequality and catastrophic climate change need large, systemic changes. There is literally nothing you the individual could do that matters -- except supporting government and system changes that push us forward.
US GDP was $19.39 trillion in 2017. 0.01% is micro on any scale. He could write those checks again and again and it would never solve systemic problems.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, this is a platitude.
Great, but that does very little to solve the problem. Everyone needs to slow down, not just one car.
If you drive 35, and you're legally allowed to, all cars behind you will also drive 35 when they reach you. Unless they can and may pass you.
Like I said, leading by example. People copy other people's behavior.
"Worlds richest person" should actually be read "Worlds richest [publicly wealthy] person" I suppose.
From the exact same answer.
Big-G tells me that "platitude" means: a remark or statement, especially one with a moral content, that has been used too often to be interesting or thoughtful.
He was asked: What do you think the greatest threat to humanity is at this moment?
There are some things that aren't likely but we should worry about - nuclear bombs and bioterrorism (from nation states or terrorism), or a big pandemic. This is the 100th anniversary of the Spanish flu and if it came back the amount of travel would make it spread faster than it did last time.
Once you get past those threats then the biggest question is global cooperation to avoid climate change and reduce the risk of war. It is disconcerting to see a rise of countries turning inwards and not investing in alliances which have helped us avoid big wars since World War 2.
Climate change is a real test of how we can work together globally since it is a complex problem where major changes need to be done well in advance of the big harms.
With a link to: https://www.gatesnotes.com/2019-Annual-Letter?WT.mc_id=02_25... (a 431-word expansion on his thoughts on climate change)
I don't think any of his responses have fit the definition of "platitude".
I think an example of a "platitude" would have been the response: "War, we need to give peace a chance!"
There are a lot of very wealthy philanthropists, and I think that's because people seek meaning in their life once they no longer get benefit from earning more.
Conversely I could name on famous multimillionaire frequently in the news these days, that has a track record of treating charitable foundations as tax dodging piggy banks. So there are all sorts.
I'm always annoyed when rich people say things like this. I had one say almost this exact thing to me in an elevator once.
There's nothing stopping him from paying more. He just writes a check to "Department of the Treasury" and sends it off to D.C. Problem solved.
But then he doesn't get to passive-aggressively whine about all of his piles of money that the government won't take from him.
We've had to ask you repeatedly not to violate the site guidelines with uncivil and/or unsubstantive comments. Continuing to post them will eventually get you banned, and I don't want to ban you, so could you please fix this?
Bill Gates is willing to pay more taxes if other billionaires pay more taxes. If they don't, he isn't.
Just like I think my taxes should be higher, but I'm not going to voluntarily pay higher taxes, unless others in my tax bracket also pay them.
Even chimpanzees would probably understand and disagree with you .
I think it's important to stress the practical side of the argument too, rather than just appealing to intuitions of fairness.
Bill Gates probably believes (and is probably correct) that for any sum of money he is willing to part with, he could do more good by directing it toward carefully selected philanthropic causes than by donating it to the government. So when acting alone, there's no reason for him to unilaterally pay extra tax, unless he believes it will have very good indirect effects and/or is just seeking a PR boost.
He also believes that if people in his class (including him) paid much more in taxes than they currently do, the world would be a better place than it is now.
These two beliefs are entirely consistent, for at least two reasons:
* For a lot of people in his class, the likely alternatives are not philanthropy vs. taxes, but non-altruistic spending vs. taxes.
* There are, at least arguably, some things that government is better suited to doing than private charities are. Perhaps these tend to be the kind of large-scale projects that could be funded by higher taxes on all super-rich people, rather than anything that would result from a donation to the government by a single billionaire.
Even if your opinion of government is very low and you disagree with the second point, the first should be enough to show that his position is perfectly consistent, and would be even for someone unrealistically altruistic and willing to be on the wrong end of an unfair situation.
As a philanthropist, I'm sure he personally feels that he's able to direct his money to more useful causes than the government does, just as many rich people who give nothing also make the empty claim that the government would just 'waste' their money. The difference is, in his case, he might well be right. But that still doesn't mean that a structure that taxes him and others like him at a higher rate wouldn't have a net social benefit.
It's not as if they personally manage every penny— and they tend to optimize for the highest return as a default.
Seems like he's saying the default should change. Makes sense to me.
I interpret "I should have paid more" as I should be compelled to pay more, not "I wish I could pay more". The distinction being they'd rather not pay additional tax, but they probably should have to. I think the language is just somewhat ambiguous (specifically the word 'should').
Either he has a much higher opinion of his personal judgement in allocating his money (which is likely) than other people who he also thinks should be paying more tax or he should turn over the BMGF to the government.
well Bill Gates personally does which is why he is giving almost all of his wealth away. (The giving pledge exists for this reason, and I would assume that most billionaires who agree to higher taxation also are significant personal givers).
This criticism fails on two fronts. People who are in favour of increased tax redistribution generally also support voluntary giving. (Most of the effective altruist people I think would fall into this group), and even if they didn't it would be nothing more than a cheap personal attack, because one can hold positions in favour of tax redistribution and against charity at the same time.
So he's saying, his class of wealth should pay more. If it's just him who does it, it doesn't solve the government's problems, and he's better off spending the money himself directly on the things he cares about. But if everyone at his scale paid more, that _would_ help.
If you doubled the amount of taxes Bill has personally paid over his lifetime, it would amount to a few tenths of a percent of a SINGLE YEAR of US government tax revenue.
I suspect Bill is saying that he-- and other very top earners-- should have paid more.
Suppose you are right that he is being passive agressive. I strongly disagree with this assessment but let’s for the sake of argument agree that he is being passive aggressive. Why is his right to be passive-aggressive diminished? Is he not allowed to be passive-aggressive or hypocritical or any other negative view you have about him?
The correctness of his view that people like him ought to be taxed at a higher rate is not dependent upon his character flaws or lack thereof. The belief ought to be judged on its own merits and not analyzed based on whether or not his character passes muster.
The money is required to go toward paying down public debt, but I'd say that's worthwhile.
My accountant says otherwise. She was the one who told me all that rich people have to do is break out their checkbooks to put their money where their mouths are.
Why? Surely it's better than the alternative of them not supporting progressive taxation?
If the problem were "if only we had $2B more we could solve so many system problems." Of course, it's not, so no, no problems were solved even hypothetically.
What an awful way to look at the world.
And then some pr*ck in the Senate decides that 3 times as much as Bill Gates paid goes to a pork barrel project to create 25 jobs in his district? The best use of his money?
Bill Gates and all with the Bill Gates' mindset should pay the minimum required and invest the rest to better the world privately.
Edit: I mean, look at this answer: https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/aunv58/im_bill_gates_...
Seems solidly real to me.
Seems super valuable and interesting to me to have Reddit AMAs, and I'm just not seeing this "platitudes" thing or "just another media outlet" attitude. Sure, he's on a talking tour or whatever, but he's on reddit answering real questions with real answers not seen elsewhere.
Seems interesting enough to me, and not at all like what OP is decrying here for being "platitudes"/"non-answers".
Doesn't feel like a non-answer as well.
It would have appeared crass of him to say, 'yeah i love living in a $200 million 66,000 sq ft mansion and having the world's biggest foundation named after me. Having a such a legacy produces genuine happiness.' But he played the false modesty card.
He talked about the trampoline on the Ellen Show, so yes, it still counts as a PR-y answer.
> 'The other thing is that I sometimes use a private jet. It does help me do my foundation work but again it is a very privileged thing to have.'
He inserts the word 'sometimes' to lessen the impact of 'private jet'. He adds that it helps him do foundation work implying that that should make it ok in normal people's eyes.  He doesn't mention that it's actually importantly needed for security purposes he is obviously a target and not flying like the general public. He then acknowledges that it's a privileged thing to have.
 Remember the movie "An Officer and a Gentlement" when Lou Gosset character fights Richard Gear character? And Gosset character replies (something like) 'oh I see you've had some training!'. Well Bill Gates has had training.
 Which is should be anyway. Without saying that.
That is a technique that is often used to impose frugality and get savings  out of the rest of the execs by setting an example. If he flies coach well then so do a hundred others.
 I knew a guy who owned a small company and bought a low end car until he had locked up his union contract. He knew if he was seen with a nice car it was going to cost him a boat load.
Likewise in my old school company years ago I never even drove up to the business in my nice car and I went out of my way to hide it's existence. It goes along with staying late and arriving early to set an example.
I'll take Uber pools, walk, or take public transit even though I'm technically no restriction on my transportation spending. Likewise, unless I'm taking my team out to dinner, I'll usually grab a $10 gyro or something instead of going to a nice restaurant.
There's something about this guy that seems 'off' to me. I should assume it's because he's a tech guy originally and not a politician.
Is it just me or do other people see the convoluted logic that links 'lack of money' with disease and therefore unhealthy kids?
If so, then all that needs to be done is for Mr Gates to give all his money to those poor countries, ipso facto disease is gone and kids are healthy.
I'd love to see him try it this out!
A later quote:
> However if I had one wish to make a new technology it would be a solution to malnutrition. Almost half the kids in poor countries grow up without their body or brain developing fully so they miss most of their potential.
From "How much would it cost to end hunger?" , the answer is $160 pp in poverty.
Or from Quora :
"With say 2.5 billion people short of food, $166 billions per year would "theoretically" eliminate hunger. Just as a comparison, "During FY 2013, the federal government spent $3.45 trillion on a budget or cash basis, down $84 billion or 2.4% vs. FY 2012 ", or about 20 times as much"
Now, the US military budget was $637 billion in 2015 , which is enough to feed the poor several times over.
To me, it sounds like he should turn his Foundation into a lobbying group to end all war (or greatly reduce the military industrial complex) and use that money to reach his goals. Just sayin'. (This is why his words keep seeming 'off' to me)
When the reckoning of history books happens, I could see him in the running for “most positive social influence of anyone 1800-2100”.
His humanitarian work is second to none and we can expect 20+ more years of his direct influence on global policy. The world is a better place thanks to Mr and Mrs Gates.
Artists even more than scientists. When the Italian comedian Totò died in the late '60s this happened :
> Totò died at the age of 69 on 15 April 1967 in Rome after a series of heart attacks. Due to overwhelming demand, there were no fewer than three funeral services: the first in Rome, a second in his birth city of Naples—and a few days later, in a third one by the local Camorra boss, an empty casket was carried along the packed streets of the popular Rione Sanità quarter where he was born
A similar thing happened when the Russian folk singer Vysotsky died in 1980 :
> After a mourning ceremony involving an unauthorized mass gathering of unprecedented scale, Vysotsky was buried at the Vagankovskoye Cemetery in Moscow. The attendance at the Olympic events dropped noticeably on that day, as scores of spectators left to attend the funeral. Tens of thousands of people lined the streets to catch a glimpse of his coffin.
I'm pretty sure no businessman on this planet would have his/her funeral attended by tens of thousands of people nor will they be interred thrice "by popular demand", so to speak.
So, the question with Gates is whether he manages to fund something that materially changes the world in a way people in the future will remember.
Saving some lives? Probably not that meaningful 100 years from now. Funding a technology that solves climate change and/or provides cheap clean energy? People will probably remember.
So it's hard to tell. Gates has funding in both areas of potential, and he's taking a very hands on approach to his philanthropy so he's more liable to get some credit, in the same way library afficionados do remember Carnegie.
History books will probably talk just a bit about his wealth, maybe about his humanitarian actions, but he'll definitely be remembered as the person who made personal computing a thing.
If you actually do the math based on an inflation calculator, you find $5 billion: https://www.forbes.com/sites/chloesorvino/2014/07/08/whats-b...
Afterwards, Gates went on to create the most effective and well-funded philanthropy since the Carnegie Foundation, eradicated Malaria, etc. While his former competitors spent their riches on superyachts and the like.
Edit: took out some things about Gates and the dual nature of his work at Microsoft and the Gates Foundation.
I think trying to point to something "solved" is not the right approach. The goal of the foundation is to solve through research. While it's impossible to say that his funding of these goals will actually solve them, because the solution may come on a different grant from another source but where a scientist learned something from one of the scientists on a gates funded project. I feel that's a reasonable situation where complexity makes it impossible to directly attribute a solution to Mr. Gate.
Instead I'd look at the social impact of someone in the 0.1% looking to the poorest in the world with empathy (whether genuine or not) and how that's changed how we look at philanthropy.
Malaria is a bitch. It's one of the worst things about going to many countries out there and Dengue is even worse in many cases. While survivable as an adult, it is no joke, and the idea that solving this should be something we focus on even though people (for practical purposes) can't get malaria in the USA is awesome.
Anecdotal evidence inbound => As someone who has prepared for an extended stay in South America, this was 100% the worst thing to focus on. I got Salmonella in Haiti and shit man that was rough. I can't even imagine Malaria.
Anyway, back to the point. The fact that he's focusing on this is the important thing. Investigating results of his 50bn dollars would require it's own research with a ton of nuance and assumptions.
a) The impact his wife Melinda had on his worldview;
b) That people are nuanced and full of contradictions;
c) The person you are at 30 and the person you are at 60 is defined by the accumulation of experiences, not the accumulation of wealth.
Yes, I have read none of the annual reports. I did pop over to the site and found this for 2017:
Maybe the site's layout is just hiding the actual report, but this just looks like an executive summary, and enumerates no solved problems.
Either way, I'd like to get something that would span multiple years of effort and billions spent. It would talk about the specific problems the Gates Foundation has solved through its efforts.
Does something like that exist?
Bill likes to do his AmA's as "surprises", though, so we don't usually schedule those!
I may disapprove of users not updating their systems, but I'll defend to the death their right to not do so.
For the millions of others people who don't know how to find facebook without putting it into google search... yeah the automatic updates are good for them, and I'm tired of power users thinking their opinions are the only ones that matter.
I recently purchased a Pro license and couldn't find this "LTSB" (I believe it's called) version.
We cannot rely on people to keep their systems updated, and this behavior costs society billions of dollars annually. Because of this people need to either accept automated patching, or stay off of the public internet.
This is an entrenched aspect of our society: you're free to do what you want, until your behavior causes negative ramifications to the rest of us, at which point, we as a society reserve the right to regulate poor behavior.
While Microsoft's QA leaves much to be desired, there are plenty of instances where non-updated machines have had adverse effects on other people's systems.
This feels a little like if you are going to attend a public school, you need to be vaccinated.
Microsoft is doing what Facebook is doing. You either 'shut up' and accept the T&C, or go your merry way and use Fedora and SMS.
They don't do it for the fun of it, they do it for the $$$ of it. And since both they got greedy shareholders to keep happy, there is only one way forward (for these/such companies).
For this AMA he self-identified as "co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation", and I have to admit that as a syst-admin 'some time ago', I made my living with Microsoft products.
And now as a 'wiser' (snicker) human being, I appreciate his efforts to improve Humanity via his dedication and actions.
I hardly find credible a "documentary" wherein multiple scientists interviewed complained to regulators that they were misrepresented.
Of course, many other scientists complained about the film as well . One stated that "First, let's deal with the main thesis: that the presence or absence of cosmic rays in Earth's atmosphere is a better explanation for temperature variation than the concentration of CO2 and other gases. This is not a new assertion and it is patently wrong: there is no credible evidence that cosmic rays play a significant role...Let scepticism reign, but let's not play games with the evidence"
The the regulators found partially in favor of the scientists and further sanctioned the film  for not presenting an objective outlook on the politics surrounding global warming. The regulators only declined to take a position on the science of the piece as it was beyond their regulatory scope.
It seems as though that film is misinformation propaganda that doesn't belong on HN. Am I missing something?
The main, central, key point I was passing to Gates is that we don't have anything like enough solid evidence to spend $trillions to stop human sources of CO2 to stop its effects on climate change. Or, to spend $trillions, we need some biggie evidence, and we don't have that. I don't believe we have good enough evidence to spend 10 cents, but the $trillions are a huge issue.
To spend $trillions, we need some good evidence. The claim is CO2 is and will cause harmful climate change. Well, we could claim the short skirts of young women cause climate change. For any claim for spending $trillions, CO2 or short skirts, we need some good evidence. Well, we are without good evidence.
For CO2, sure, it absorbs infrared -- and gets warm -- in three narrow bands from bending, stretching, and twisting of the molecule with the infrared from Planck black body radiation from the surface of the earth heated by the sun, and without the CO2, e.g., from humans, some of that infrared, not absorbed by, e.g., water vapor, would escape into outer space and not warm the atmosphere. Okay, all true enough.
But, how much warming from how much CO2? Well, there were computer models from whatever, the Navier-Stokes equations, diffusion calculations, physical chemistry, flows in the atmosphere, effects of water vapor, the seasons, asphalt, etc. Lots of models. As in the graph I referenced, dozens of models. So the models made predictions. The time of the predictions has passed, and the predictions are seen to have been wildly wrong. So, in science, we have to junk the models. CO2 still heats the atmosphere, but we are now without any good evidence for how much or that it will be dangerous.
It's tough to prove that the CO2 won't be dangerous, but it's the job of the people wanting to spend $trillions to give solid evidence that CO2 is dangerous, not the job of skeptics to prove it is not. If the alarmists can win on CO2 without solid evidence, then they can win on short skirts also.
Net, on CO2, we are, in the words of Groucho Marx, stuck-o.
For the movie, it seemed to show lots of ways that CO2 changes didn't fit the temperature changes but some sun spot data did. Net, in the competition for what causes climate change, so far, the sun spots win.
I have yet to go to outer space and count solar wind particles hitting cosmic rays or go to the upper atmosphere and watch cosmic rays form water droplets, but, still, so far, from just relatively crude evidence from some simple graphs (where the movie didn't give good references to the original data), still so far the sun spots win. Since we can't do anything about sun spots, we can save our $trillions.
Not only do the sun spots win, the CO2 claims quite broadly fail badly to fit the climate data. About the only evidence for danger from CO2 is my little explanation of narrow bands in the infrared.
For your , Wunsch is angry, as far as I can tell he is angry over nothing.
There Wunsch says:
"In the part of The Great Climate Change Swindle where I am describing the fact that the ocean tends to expel carbon dioxide where it is warm, and to absorb it where it is cold, my intent was to explain that warming the ocean could be dangerous—because it is such a gigantic reservoir of carbon. By its placement in the film, it appears that I am saying that since carbon dioxide exists in the ocean in such large quantities, human influence must not be very important—diametrically opposite to the point I was making—which is that global warming is both real and threatening."
He should calm down: His point about the oceans was nice. Another result of what he said, that seems correct, is that as ocean surface temperatures change, atmospheric CO2 levels can change. Still, the CO2 changes seem harmless and didn't cause the changes in the ocean temperatures. I.e., from what Wunsch explained, from a tiny bit of temperature change in the surface of the oceans, the oceans will go "SLURP" or "BURP" and suck up or blow out CO2, maybe a surprisingly large amount of CO2. I.e., from whatever changes in ocean surface temperatures, we can expect some maybe surprisingly large CO2 concentration changes. Okay. Good to know. But, still, no threats in sight.
To me the movie is fine, tiny flaws and objections aside -- much better explanation of the situation than from the alarmists fears of CO2 and their many $trillion dollar schemes against CO2.
A $trillion here and a $trillion there, after a while it adds up to real money. For that, we will need a lot of solid evidence, and so far we don't have any, and the attempts so far flopped. Sun spots are MUCH better evidence.
What very clearly WOULD be very dangerous to nearly everyone on earth would be the efforts of the alarmists to spend $trillions fighting CO2. If Gates contributed to this effort, he would seriously damage civilization and do much more damage than all the good he has done and is doing.
For me, Gates should drop the push against CO2.
He gets so much exposure I imagine because he’s a “good billionaire trying to fix the world.” I guess it’s the most we can hope for these days from our growing class of ultra wealthy, but I really don’t think that means they should get the right to shout their opinions at us from every corner of the web.
It turns out a lot of people are interested in the thoughts of a prolific philanthropist and founding father of the modern software industry. He’s not “deserving” of anything, there’s just an n >> 0 market demand for, well, his ideas and opinions.
this is not really much of a market, free or otherwise. Public philanthropy, which is highly managed and personalised has more to do with gilded age ventures than with markets.
And you are starting to see this lack of distribution and local management when you look at some of the larger missteps in philanthropy, for example Zuckerbergs 100 million Newark school project.
Right from the start experts and local leaders were arguing that it wasn't going to be effective, but billionaire philanthropy crowds out local decision-making in favour of often emotional decisions of single individuals.
If you want a market don't have celebrities distribute money in activist fashion, but redistribute it and move it to more institutions and individuals.Billionaires with committees and boards and agendas resemble the proverbial soviet planner with a clipoard more than they do ... actual markets.
Everybody has the "right to shout their opinions at us from every corner of the web." That's one of the incredible things about the web.
And of course being a successful, well-liked billionaire buys you privilege and a greater audience!
Why is any of this considered shouting? It's certainly not being shoved down your throat. You're not being harassed by a constant barrage of "Bill Gates" ads on every site you visit, or spam emails promoting his AMA. What made you take it as an affront?
Who would you rather fill the Internet with content than a billionaire who is trying to fix the world?
Should Gates just stop producing content now that he's a billionaire simply because it might annoy a few people?
I’m sure other people were involved but I have no clue who because the media loves focusing on one face for an effort because it’s easier than representing the diverse group required to tackle such an issue.