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:
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 :).