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Bill Gates on why he's 'fired up'In the first part of a wide-ranging interview with CNET's Ina Fried, the philanthropist and Microsoft chairman talks about innovation and how the future is bleak without it.
[ Music ] ^M00:00:04 >> I'm Ina Fried with CNET. I'm here with Bill Gates in his office. We're talking about his annual foundation letter. Each year, Bill writes a letter talking about some of the success of his foundation, some of the challenges he sees ahead. Bill thanks so much for taking the time. >> Great to be here. >> In one interview, I heard that Melinda said that "Bill's on fire." What are some of the things that have really ignited your passion further in this past year? >> Well, the opportunity to go into the field and see both the need and the progress makes this a really fun job. I was in Kenya and South Africa in December, and you know, saw the AIDS epidemic, which is still really awful in both those countries. But I saw a lot of hope. You know, male circumcision, which I thought wouldn't be a big effect because I didn't think adults would be that interested, and it looks like that's really going to help slow the disease. So I'm excited that I get to take my belief in science, you know, backing scientists doing great work, and the practical notions of how things get organized, how they get done, and do my best to apply them to the needs of the poorest. >> I hear that one way that you approached this year's letter was to look at what it might be like to write that letter in 10 years if there weren't any innovation. What were some of the things that went through your mind as you started thinking about it that way? >> Well, innovation is often this hidden thing because we can't put numbers to it, and yet it's the thing that defines the way we live and the things we'd like to have for everyone, whether it's health or education. And, you know, I recognize that in terms of explaining why the foundation does what it does, I have to get them to, you know, either agree or disagree about the importance of innovation, and then talk about how do you encourage it? Where does the marketplace fall short, and therefore our foundation can have a catalytic effect? You know, I'm an optimist about those things, but I really like that framework that I laid out to show what we back and the different risk levels, the different categories we put things into. >> When you think about it tangibly, what types of things are innovation critical to solving? What types of things, without innovation, would we, 10 years from now, not be in a very good position on? >> Well, there's great examples from both the United States and from Africa. If we don't innovate in education, the budget cuts and increasing expense of a really great university education is literally gonna mean less people get to go have that education at a time when more people are going to want it, and the country needs more people to get those educations. I call it the $200,000.00 education because if you, you know, pay the full amount to a private university, that's what it costs. So how could you get that to be available to lots more people? How could you avoid that kind of bleak, you know, 10 years ago things were better type outcome? Well, the answer is that we've got to innovate. We've got to put courses out on the web. We've got to put interactive learning out on the web. Likewise, for some of these health problems, if we don't solve them, then the population growth that comes with bad health will overwhelm what Africa will be able to do in terms of jobs and education and just feeding people. And so we've got to make progress now in order to not just straight line that population growth, which would make Africa far worse than it has been, and not something we want to see. And yet, I do think we can avoid a lot of it. ^M00:03:57 [ Music ]