Bill Gates: Software Isn’t Going Anywhere

I attended Bill Gate’s talk entitled “Software, Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Giving Back” last week at the University of Washington, and I must admit that this talk was not nearly as interesting or enlightening as the Dalai Lama’s talk a few weeks ago.

The talk began with the showing of a video depicting his last day at Microsoft.  Take a look:

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After the video Bill went on to discuss his view of the future of software.  He foresees technology surfacing in our day-to-day life even more.  He believes that one day all of television will be interactive and targeted.  You will be recommended different TV shows to watch, and you’ll have the opportunity to see what your friends are watching, rate shows and movies, etc.  He also said that television advertisements will one day be targeted just as Google’s text ads are targeted.  He also claimed that one day we’ll no longer have normal mirrors, whiteboards, or desks.  Instead we’ll have computer screens in place of these things that are interactive and customized.  He said the rise of these items will also make us think differently about user experience and interaction in a similar way that the iPhone has.

This portion of his talk was rather interesting.  He commented on Bubble 1.0 and 2.0 and wasn’t worried at all about Burst 2.0.  He claimed that new technology will always create bubbles and that new bubbles will be created shortly after the burst of another.  He said, and I quote, “Software is the most interesting thing in the world.”  This made me really happy, though I suppose it wasn’t too surprising.  I definitely agree that software is an incredibly creative and exciting intellectual practice, and it makes me happy to hear others who are also as passionate about the field as I am.

The remainder of his talk focussed on his foundation and social issues.  He said that large foundations must partner with foreign goverments of the developing world to ensure progress is made in healthcare, environmental sustainability, education, and vaccination.  He claimed that having a healthier society decreases the birth rate.  His reasoning for this was that parents will have less children if they know their children have a high chance of survival.  He claimed that foundations need to think critically about incentives, because the incentive system of a particular project will determine its success.

I’m again grateful to have been given to opportunity to listen to such an influential person.  This talk convinced me that worrying about computer science jobs in the short term isn’t worth it and that the software industry has plenty of growing to do.  It’s rather exciting, actually :).

“Compassion and Wisdom” – Words of the Dalai Lama

Today I was one of a few thousand who was fortunate enough to hear the Dalai Lama speak. He visited the University of Washington to receive an honorary doctorate degree and graced the audience, mostly composed of students and faculty, with advise and wisdom.

Applaud started right as the marshal welcomed His Holiness into the arena. Everyone was clapping and happy. Then suddenly when he finished climbing the stairs onto the stage, the applaud escalated to a level that I’ve only heard at sports arenas. Students were hooting and yelling, clapping and whistling. It was almost as though the room had been filled by hundreds of thousands of new people, when really only His Holiness and a few apprentices had entered.

My first impression of the Dalai Lama was that of a humble and grateful man. He bowed and smiled as he entered the room and insisted that people sit down, for he was of no importance. He walked slowly with his hands together in the prayer position, smiling all the while. President Emmert and other high educators said a few short words and eventually gave the Dalai Lama a purple graduation gown and a large plaque. Everyone was applauding, but really they were waiting for him to speak.

He began by speaking his native tongue to ensure that his gratitude was accurately communicated. His translator said how grateful he was to be given this degree and to be given the opportunity to speak in front of a crowd of students. After his thanks he told a few jokes about his poor English and his degree for which he didn’t study at all for. He spoke slowly and carefully, and his English was broken but understandable.

He started by explaining that peace does not depend on the sky but instead on ourselves. Violence, hatred, and war are human inventions, and only compassion and wisdom can be the basis for peace. One must be truly at peace with oneself before sharing peace with others, and to be at peace with oneself, you have to be able to use your mind to expel violent and angry thoughts, which come naturally to anyone included His Holiness. Conflict is also natural and unavoidable, and his hope was that dialog would be used to unite conflicting opinions instead of war being used to destroy them.

The talk was absolutely wonderful and enlightening, and though I could put more detail into my story I chose not to. Instead of supplying more detail I want to share one of the stories he told, which touched me the most of anything he said. He was telling a story about enemies and people who do not have compassion or internal peace. One of the students who was elected to ask him a question asked him, “How do you share your compassion with your enemies and with those who do not have compassion?” He answered, and I paraphrase, “I do not know (chuckling). When in the presence of such people I try to smile, tell jokes, and be as happy as possible.” I can’t help but smile and feel totally happy when I envision his kind, loving, welcoming face say these words.

There is more that I’d like to say, but I don’t think my small blog post would do his message any justice at all. I instead plan to try and be good to my neighbors and respect those around me as est I can. I will try to not let anger, greed, or jealousy affect me, and I will try to smile as much as I can. I’m very grateful I was given this opportunity to be in his presence, and I hope that you too will be given an opportunity to see the Dalai Lama speak.

Photo credit: here and Jeff Prouty.

HST Gaper Day

What’s a gaper, you ask? A gaper by definition is someone who dresses for looks. What that means in snowboard speak is someone who dresses strait ’70s, ’80s, and maybe even early ’90s. The colorful Husky Snowboard Team tore through Stevens yesterday, hooting and stretching. We BBQed in the parking lot and celebrated the last weekend of the snow season.

Here’s the team (minus a few people):

I can’t wait for gaper day next season.