Friday, June 26, 2015

Follow-up--Q&A With Bill Gates: Robots, Uber and the Role of Government

Following up on yesterday's "Bill Gates On Innovation".
From the Financial Times:
Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, was interviewed by Lionel Barber, the editor of the Financial Times, in front of a live audience. Here is an edited transcript of their conversation.

Why do you believe the rate of innovation is accelerating?
The magic of software is we can take something and figure it out and replicate it for very little cost. The kind of change we’ve had over the past 250 years, we’ll get more than that in the next 50 years.

Can you assure us that the world of Blade Runner, where the robots will take over, that’s some time away, we don’t have to worry about that?
They will be benign for quite some time.

You’re talking about a world of serious labour substitution. What areas of the labour market are most at risk?
For those high-school-educated or below is where there will be substitution. We’ve been destroying manufacturing jobs at quite a rate, and that’s good. It makes things cheaper. People demand more things.
It does mean that if you’re not educating your population very well, you’re going to have a segment of it that if you want to create jobs, those will be almost entirely subsidised activities.

Subsided by who?
By the government, by society, if there is desire to have those people have employment.

In this Uber economy, do you have a message for the London taxi driver?
The real Rubicon there is the self-driving car. Uber is just a reorganisation of the labour pool into a more dynamic form. The serious revolution is when that capability is machine-based.

Are today’s tech companies overreaching?
The guys who invented the steam engine, if you met them you might say they were a bunch of arrogant assholes. But the steam engine still changed the world. It doesn’t matter.

Are these tech companies overvalued?
I wouldn’t go long on a basket of pre-IPO tech companies. I don’t think I’d go short either. Yes, a lot of them are overvalued. But the fact that they are a significant change agent that is changing the rules of the game for everything from drug discovery, agriculture, communications, media and entertainment....MUCH MORE, including video.
Q&A: Robots, Uber and the role of government -