CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

Christmas Gift Guide
Culture

Bill Gates says Donald Trump has chance to inspire like JFK

Commentary: But is innovation in clean energy as sexy a quest as putting a man on the moon?

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


Gates and Trump had a chat about energy innovation, among other things.

Getty Images

"The president-elect is very sophisticated."

These are just some of the words Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates used to describe Donald Trump and his forthcoming presidency.

Speaking to CNBC, Gates said the Trump administration offers grounds for optimism.

"You know, a lot of his message has been about things where he sees things not as good as he'd like," Gates said.

I suppose all presidents mention the things they don't like. Perhaps the problem, for some critics of the president-elect, is the way in which Trump goes about mentioning the things he doesn't like -- and what those things are.

Gates, though, sees a man who has the opportunity to rise to greatness, to bring people together around certain scientific goals -- like a very famous and much revered president of the past.

"In the same way that President Kennedy talked about the space mission and got the country behind that -- I think that whether it's education or stopping epidemics, other health breakthroughs, finishing polio, and in this energy space, there can be a very upbeat message that his administration is going to organize things, get rid of regulatory barriers, and have American leadership through innovation be one of the things that he gets behind," said Gates, who's just helped launch a billion-dollar investment initiative around developing cheap, clean energy.

Currently, the impression Trump gives is that this energy space is most interesting to him. Proposing the CEO of Exxon, Rex Tillerson, as his secretary of state suggests a direction that perhaps not the whole country can immediately get behind.

Oil isn't quite as sexy an industry as the space industry. It engenders as many negative emotions as positive, whereas everyone marvels at trips to the moon. Perhaps it's Hollywood's fault for not making the oil industry, and the energy industry in general, more heroic.

Still, Gates said he'd spoken to Trump -- they apparently have mutual friends -- and believes that he won because of the "kind of leadership" he offers, rather than specific policies.

One policy that troubles many is Trump's apparent disdain for China. Gates seems not in favor of a trade war.

"I hope he's thought through how he's going to get some adjustment there without that typical sort of a tariff tit for tat," he said.

You see, this is a time for change. It's also a time for hope.

Wait, haven't we been here before?