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I often have this kind of fun debate. Like if you were entering any field Now you have your choice of going into any field. What field would you go in? And he and I both would go into the cross between biology and computer science.
Ezra Kline show on the Box Media Podcast Network.
This is an episode recorded live at South by Southwest in Austin.
My guest is Melinda Gates.
You have probably heard of her from such foundations as the Gates Foundation,
which is the largest foundation United States,
with more than 40 billion in assets.
They've done work on a dizzying array of issues.
how we feed the world,
unbelievable science initiatives.
We talk about that and diversity intact.
And a 1,000,000 other things I've got in feedback for me.
All that. You would like these introductions to be shorter, so I'll make this one shorter. Er, I began by asking Melinda Gates unusual question, Which is how did we end up having the font comic sands?
product that I was working on called Microsoft Bob.
It's one of the biggest failures at Microsoft and it was a really innovative product was just ahead of its time.
We didn't have enough computing power to put more graphics on the home screen,
but the thing that survived from that was the font,
and none of us would have ever predicted that.
But that's the fun comic sans a lot of people use now.
And it was made just for that just for that product.
Do you ever look at signs and regret what you've unleashed upon the world every now and then?
When you were there,
you also ran in Carta.
What was it like trying to reconstruct an encyclopedia?
It was really tricky at the time,
because again we were constrained by CD ROM's and we knew people wouldn't wantto buy too many of those disks. Um, and yet we wanted to get all this information digitized. So that was a really tricky project. And actually one sweet story, and they're one of the most infamous demos I did in a very small room. Much smaller than this smaller crowd was to Warren Buffett and his friends and he owned at the Time World Book. And as soon as I demo of the product. His eyes got about this big egos. My business is dead. It's always good to be able to admit that forthright like Yeah, definitely. So one of the things that I read in an interview you did with the Atlantic when you're reflecting on your time at Microsoft is you talked about how, after a couple of years, or you thought about leaving because the culture itself was so off putting Lee argumentative. I'm an argumentative person on DSO.
This is sometimes a spectrum. I don't see that. Well, I'd love to hear you talk a little bit about how cultures like that can put people off, can become exclusionary. Yeah, and just so nobody's confused. I love love an intellectual debate, and I have a lot of intellectual debates at home. As you can imagine, I have a spouse who's quite intellectual. Um, what I don't like or what I got uncomfortable. So I have a computer science degree. I was used to in university, working around mostly men,
and then I got an MBA. I got recruited by Microsoft love the job. I mean, it was everything I wanted to do. The super innovative disrupt industries but the combative culture I didn't really like and it felt like the arguments weren't just about that intellectual thing. They felt personal sometimes. And so I actually thought about quitting. I have this dream job I loved, but I thought, Gosh, I'm gonna just I tried for a while to change and to be more like that. And I just was so unhappy. It was so not me. And I finally realized that know what I needed to do was to be myself and be who I was. And as I rose up in the ranks that Microsoft I ended up running a team of over 1800 people. When you all the products of under me,
I could end up getting people say, How in the world did you get that amazing developer off the operating system work on your product? Or that you know, that amazing, talented woman or man and say, Well, we must have created a culture that people just like to work in, and I supported people in very tough meetings. I mean, we were I was preparing teams to go present to build and to Steve Bomber, right and I had a very bright line. I didn't talk outside of work about what I was doing the work. But, you know, I just I felt like we could do it differently. And so I have to be honest at the foundation.
The culture that we have created their extraordinarily purposely has just a CZ much innovation, amazing scientists like best in class, best in field. We have unbelievable, you know, tough intellectual debates. But they're not personal, and they're they're supportive of people and their careers. And I think you can nuance that right so that you get the best out of people and you get all the best ideas on the table. Because if you don't do that, you actually leave innovative ideas off the table because people get afraid and they don't want to put their idea out there because they might be criticized. Help me draw that nuance because this is a place where I think very well, meaning people end up creating very tricky cultures. When do you know that you've got a culture that is argumentative for the sake of being argumentative versus argumentative, for the sake of raising opinions for the sake of making sure voices are heard. How do you create a culture there where people can speak up as opposed to the other version of too far,
which is a culture of conformity culture where people feel will be punished if they say something contrary? Because that's another thing people fear. And that's one reason I think they end up thinking when they have a very argumentative culture. That probably they have, is very open culture when it may not yet be that, Yeah, so well, the first way you could know whether you have the right culture to begin with is to measure it. I mean, data tells us everything. You just got him. You got to do these pulse surveys of your employees and you do them over and over again. There quick surveys. But did your best ideas get out on the table? Did you feel safe in that meeting? Bringing your best ideas up?
What happened when you brought that best idea? People feel fine if they get a no. If they feel like they got to push their idea forward, they brought it forward, but and then management explains it. Hey, doesn't work for these reasons, but you'll hear from your employees, you know, And And to be frank, I don't actually think there's a leader in a room man or woman who doesn't know when they've taken one of those arguments too far. They're honest with themselves in those quiet moments afterwards, instead of just kind of brushing it aside. I mean, you know, when you write the combative email that's just combative for the sake of being combative or just a little too far,
you feel bad for a slight moment after Senate, I sent some of those. I have done those things in meeting, but I have to be honest with myself. And you have to have people around you where you set it up that they will give you feedback, whether if you're a person who takes feedback better 24 hours of 48 hours later, great, set that up. If you're a person, takes feedback better right after you get out of the meeting. Set that up, but make sure you have honest voices around you who will be honest with you, and you can be honest with them. So you've been writing on a related point in speaking a lot about women in technology and what the culture is like there. And you've made an argument here that I think is an interesting one. You you,
I said, I think in a speech who's gonna be taking care of our elderly two generations from now? It's going to be a I. But do you want all males in their early twenties and thirties creating the Aye Aye, that's gonna take care of you when you're older. What would happen if that I was created by all males in the twenties and thirties? I Well, first of all, I don't think they'd fully understand what the needs of older people. I mean, you have to spend time in that community to understand what their needs are. I think you would miss a big part of the empathy, Gene. Just like young Children. The way you treat a young child versus an 18 year old you know, 22 year old 30 year old versus an elderly person is pretty different.
I hope you always use some compassion, but you use a lot of empathy when you're trying to bring a child up and teach them and you and it's tricky because you have to use a lot of positivity, even when what you're trying to do is correct behavior. But the same thing with an elderly person when it's a horrible thing, when you start to lose a little bit of your side or you can't drive anymore. And that was your rite of passage when you were younger. And so I think if you if you have these products that are created by white guys in their twenties, you're just gonna miss the mark on both empathy and the actual needs of the elderly and what they're facing because of this idea that me, it strikes at the heart of this debate. The counter
argument to the extent
there's a counter argument on caring about diversity in hiring
Valley and in other places,
what we want to do,
is hire the best people,
and there's an idea there that is often,
un interrogated of what the best people are.
But what seems to me to be embedded in your argument is that to create the best products,
you need a diversity of people that the way you have to think about the best people is more than just I don't know how they performed in your interview or whether or not you connect to them quickly.
And that feels to me like a riel point of cultural friction in the Valley right now.
This question it is diversity,
something people are going for because they're politically correct,
Or is it actually something they need to do to build the products that they should be building?
They're leaving opportunities off the table so we know there's good research now that shows your products are better and you're gonna reach more markets if you have diversity at the table.
think about think about the way that women use certain tools online versus men.
They're often very, very different. So if you don't have a woman at the table saying, Well, we have to have this social component in ER no, I wouldn't connect with my friends or Wow, um, here's a great example. You know, if you want to connect people to nannies and baby sitters, that's an idea that came from a female founder. She ran across Sand Hill Road. Nobody understood it right. Here's another one that's actually been extraordinarily successful. That Ben Horowitz has invested in hair weaves for black women. It's an enormous market.
When that Fallon Derwent and he ran it across Sand Hill Road, the guy's totally didn't get it. They went home and ask their wives. High income lives weren't quite yet using extensions. They didn't understand the enormity of that market. Well, Ben Horvitz did, and he invested in it. Well, guess where he grew up? I mean, he went to Berkeley is an African American life. It's an enormous opportunity. So when you think about the changing demographics that are happening to this nation, when you think about the workforce today and dual income families now 63% the man and the woman is working completely different than when I grew up right back in the 19 sixties, when 20% of families were dueling Come.
But you think of the women are entering the workforce. They're doing all this unpaid labor at home, and so they're amazing opportunities to create efficiencies with that unpaid labor, right? And you think about the changing demographic by 2044 what we call minorities today in our country. When you add them all up, they will be the majority. So think of all the business that's left aside. And yet, if you don't have diversity of the table, there's no chance you're going to see it. You're just not. And if you're a deal, if you're if you're a VC and you're about deal flow, you're missing all kind of deals because the deals you're investing in are the same ones of like what you've known before. Because it's easy. You've seen those before You keep investing in the same thing.
So one of the things that you've spoken about in this space is that when you went to school in the eighties, women got about 37% of computer science degrees and 37%
of law degrees.
law women get now 47% of the degrees,
but computer science it's gone down to 18%.
What do you think is behind the divergence?
so it was both law and medicine were right around where we were in computer science.
as you know,
law and medicine have gone like this.
As you say,
computer science went like that.
I dug through the data.
I've looked with a lot of different institutions that hold the data.
Nobody actually knows the answer,
but the thesis is that right at the time.
So when I was coming for the computer science industry when I was a kid, all the games were pretty gender neutral. I played Pong. I played breakout. I played the adventure games. But when gaining became very combative and it became about guns and fighting. And in all of those combative things, girls weren't interested in them and women were interested them. And so the people who were interested in creating them. We're men. So more men port in more games came out like that. And women what? Who? So many men in this industry not interested. And we know that women, even today,
who make it through computer science undergraduate degrees and then go into work, say, for one of the big companies Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft. They will tell you through serving. They are. If they join a team that's all male. They're just not as comfortable. So they will seek out the teams that have two or three women because it makes an enormous difference into how they feel and how they perform. And again we know at the low end, so I'll use another worldwide example used the low in the grass roots in a village level. I see this and I have data from all over the world when women band together in groups. When anybody bands together in groups, that's the only way you create societal changes to have transparency and band together.
We see in the village level with women. When 10 women get together and start, they start to get their voice. They start to demand their rights. They start to band together to save her, to get loans. We see it at the CEO and board level in the United States. You put one woman on a board, nothing is going to change. She assimilates. You put two or three women on a board, they start asking the hard questions. Why is it like this? Why aren't we creating more of this? You know what is going on? What's the latest culture survey? What is the day to say? I think you don't unpack that gaming
idea for because I haven't
heard this before.
And I think the counter argument somebody would naturally come up with is Well,
was that because men just like video games more.
There's this idea that men are object oriented and women are people oriented and that what you're seeing there is a reflection of somehow biological or or maybe bio cultural differences within the genders that led to this divergence.
these were very These were also,
in many ways,
The culture of surgeons could be a tough culture to break into the culture of law and office is not a great culture,
And yet there was some critical mass that happened there.
So so I think about how welcoming there.
So even if you look at us surgeons,
women's still there just now.
Breaking that glass ceiling.
If you look at law partners, women are just now. But it's because we have this preponderance of women coming up. So to your question, what causes that? We also have to look at pathways in right. So, for instance, you have the self fulfilling prophecy now in the on call, get you get the fly wheel spinning. But for instance, if you are Google, Amazon, Microsoft Facebook, you're hiring from the Ivy leagues, you're hiring white guys from a particular kind of school because that's what you know.
And that's what you see now. Luckily, those companies now finally have some of them have it more true than others. They're looking for good women, but they have this problem because women haven't wanted to come. More women don't want to go there, but they're there now, competing for that talent. But we have to open up more pathways. There were more pathways into biology at all kinds of universities. It wasn't just that you got to go to Harvard Medical School. If you on Lee came out of an Ivy League, you could go to Harvard Medical School even if you went to University of Georgia. So we have to create pathways that is, we have to do make sure that colleges have that first course, so it's welcoming to women.
So in in math, we know, for instance, or in the sciences and in computer science, that women don't like just three of theoretical problems. But if you open up that first computer science course and it has really world problems, more women both sign up and stay in computer science afterwards, say they had a good experience. If you also take a college like Northeastern, they're doing some really interesting things where they're saying, You know what? For our computer science graduate degree, we're taking liberal arts kids. Well, you don't have to have a had computer science before or a lot of people here. Somebody of color.
Your chance of taking a unpaid summer internship is zero. You can't afford to do that. If you're a white guy from a high income you can take. My kids could take an unpaid summer internship. So you create internships, which is what Sunni is doing in New York so that their win turn ships they're actually paid and they work over a series of trimesters. You both go to college and you get an internship. And so we have to create these ways that people can come into this field that aren't your traditional ways. What did you make of the Jamie? The more memo Google, Um, I don't think it was accurate at all. In fact, the women inside of Google will tell you that it was a false statement, but yes, will we ever get to 50 50 women and computer science and men maybe not,
we might. It might be that women preferentially you might get to 40% but that's if we get that far. It will be better off than we are. But you can't be where we are today. That just makes no sense. And I will tell you one of the few hopeful signs now that we are actually talking about this, a society, we're pushing on all of these things. For the first time, we've seen the uptick in AP computer science classes and scores for girls coming out of high school. So that's actually pretty hopeful sign. And what we're trying to do is not just the Stanford's in the University of Washington has. That's very welcoming incoming class for computer science. We're now trying to spread that all the state schools around. So you are in, you know, Florida State University. You have access to a great opening computer science course for men or women.
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one of the things that I've been tracking in Silicon Valley as this conversation is moved on as the after the dome or thing,
but But but along other lines to Sam Altman wrote an interesting piece about this.
There's a feeling among many folks in the Valley and the technology industry that there is a stultifying political correctness descending that there was an ability to understand,
to bat around,
almost any idea that was part of what made the American technology sector so great and that now,
as people move into this space,
is people try to diversify it as people try to make.
It reflected the country better that there is a boundary on the conversation that is dangerous.
But what is your response when you hear that?
That's called an old boy's network.
That's a club.
I don't like clubs.
you take the walls down,
you democratize something.
It's better for everybody. So we know that. I mean, if you take any societal issue, people who are in power will hold on to their power. So I am not about political correctness. I'm not about window dressing. None of those things were gonna work, and they're not gonna solve anything. I'm about how do we take the tools we have and create leverage? So one of the things I'm doing. For instance, I look at okay, what the pathways in what's the environment? Terms of bias. And then I look at innovations and I say,
Okay, less than 2% of VC funding goes to women. 20.2% of VC funding goes to women of color. Is there a problem there? Yes. So what I'm doing is not just used my voice. I'm moving my money and I'm moving my money to investing in great investors who absolutely, I want to return on my money. I'm not doing this for social impact for my investment dollars. I want to return, but we're over indexing for women and people of color and let's see what happens.
So you said something and then you go. I think it's super
important about that.
These changes can benefit everyone.
There is a feeling it's true intact,
But it's true,
in the country more broadly right now.
Zero sum thinking that society's resource is and capacities are zero sum is very intuitive to people.
There's a feeling of it in foreign aid.
That the money were sending overseas is money that we could be spending on our problems here a feeling of it on immigration that the jobs people are coming to take our jobs,
that we could be giving to native born Americans a feeling of it in the technology sector that if you're gonna have more folks from nontraditional backgrounds in these jobs,
will be fewer for the current slate of engineers.
And that thinking,
particularly as a country goes,
who's period of demographic change feels like it's shaping a lot of what we do off where our politics are going,
where our conversation is going,
What is your approach to those fears?
Because they're really deeply held fears.
They are. They're very dangerous, and they're also not true. I mean, if you think about how society has changed because of innovation, their innovations, we could not have dreamt up in the 19 sixties. I mean, Bill and I talked about this, a ho I say to him, I was there when the dream that Microsoft was a computer on every desk, and then they modified it while I was there in the early 19 nineties and in every home they were dreaming about a computer in our pockets, right? And so when you think about like okay, when I think about the world at large thing about South Korea, they were a low income country today because investments the United States and UK and others made in helping them get their infrastructure going.
Foreign aid investments there now not only a middle income country, and not only that, they host the Olympics, but they're also giving foreign aid to other countries because they know the difference. So we're opening up whole markets when I see what's going on in Nairobi, Kenya. I was just there in January and their own innovation hubs. They're creating products that not only serve Kenyans that served 10 other countries on the continent of Africa. We look at the billionaires, we're just starting to come out in Africa. It's because they've created markets. So how could we begin to say, Oh, well, we should just look at this. Look, we want markets. Let's not just think about the United States. Let's let's create markets and make the world better for other people and sell our products out
there. So then, is
there a self interested case for American foreign aid?
Is that part of the way that conversation should be held,
and it is the way we help.
We have it.
If you want peace and security in the world,
you don't want a bomb showing up on our doorstep or bioterrorism event.
You don't Ebola on our doorstep,
which we have dealt with.
We got lucky to be frank on Ebola.
It broke out in Lagos,
but we were able to actually contain it because of a polio clinic.
And the CDC was there.
we would still be sitting here with Ebola in our country had it broke out in Lagos,
most populous country in Africa, most populous city in Africa. So peace and security, we want that I think is the world for the whole world and for herself. But you wanna create markets for yourselves in places that you can create more jobs? Yeah, And our voice in the world as a nation holds an outsized impact, and we need to step up and recognize that and take responsibility for that and then take the right action. So this is a way in which I think the American conversation about what is possible has become narrowed over time. You go back 50 years, and there was his dream of what if the American vision liberal democracy could defeat communism. Right? That was organizing precept. And I don't think when we imagine our role in the world now, I don't think there's a really clear shared vision of what world we're trying to help create. So here's my question for you,
and you can answer it. However you hear it, What world is possible in 2030? What world should we defined broadly, be working towards in 2030? How will we know if we have succeeded? Well, to be frank, all the member countries of the United Nations set out the goals they have for 2030 which is to try and imagine what is actually possible, whether it's climate change, whether it's fewer deaths for women. If you were just for kids, less disease, better forests mean that that is the vision they set out. But, you know,
like Bill and I, we have absolute goals that we think are achievable. We want child mortality has been cut in half since 1999 and 1/2 that is a phenomenal number is gonna get cut in 1/2 again by 2030. It's actually harder now because we've actually cleaned up the low hanging fruit. So we have some hard, innovative stuff that has to happen. Maternal deaths. They can get cut by substantially. So to me, I see a world in 2030 that if we make the right investments as a nation and is a world, I mean it takes the other takes both the developing country to make certain investments, and that takes the developed world to make certain investments. We can have a much more peaceful and prosperous world in 2030 no doubt, but it's to give me some some possible metrics here. This stuff that you all use a lot is the infant mortality one. And I think that is one of the most remarkable statistics of our age.
What do the other things like that are there? Are there other things that when we look back from 2030 or 2040 it is possible that we will be able to say this thing that humankind struggled with forever is now no longer the threat at once? Waas. If you get rid of another metric ISS stunting because Children who are stunted in the world. If you look back, I want to say what stunting stunting is when you're not the right height for your age and we have metrics from all over the world Were stunting is still happening like Ethiopia. You get out of your car and Ethiopia outside of Addis and I mean you don't have to get the data. You you can see the stunting. These kids just aren't nearly as tall as they should be. Um, when you and stunting it means that we're able to feed the world and feed it properly. And so you go back to statistics in London closer the turn of the century People were much, much shorter because they didn't have all the right nutrition. Today in the United States, you see very little stunting because people, by and large now am obesity problem have the right nutrition.
So the world absolutely feed itself, but it's gonna come down to innovations. And so, you know, one of things we're working on as a foundation is drought resistant seeds and flood resistant seeds, because who's gonna be most affected by climate change? It's the poor farmers around the world. And when you're out in the fields. They'll talk to you about the rain's coming later, coming less often and when they come flooding instead of just the right amount. So I think infant mortality, maternal mortality Can the world feed itself? And are we getting down the emissions that lead up to climate change? Are we seeing a good downward trajectory on that? I think those air for the big metrics.
So when we were talking backstage and I asked you, you know, what do you want? To make sure we covered
something you said to me is that I want to make sure we talk about why I'm optimistic.
when I hear people make the case for pessimism,
that case really resolves down to climate change that there is this big problem.
It's planetary scale problem,
and we're not doing enough to fix it.
given the trans on climate change,
are you optimistic?
look at what just happened a couple of months ago were finally cos consumer companies in the United States and other places,
are committing to having putting no more plastic in the environment by 2030 using some of them have much more thank God nearer term goals,
but they basically all had to sign up for some something around plastic and renewables,
And why is that happening?
Because their consumers air pushing them and maybe even more importantly,
their employees. They're pushing them. And I go into these large companies now, and they are paying attention to their employees because people are, as you well know, are not believing in institutions as much anymore. But they're putting demands on their employers and the employers because they want a good work force and they, when they train somebody, they spent two years training that person, getting them up to speed. They want to keep them. They don't want them. So in a way, But this generation cares a lot about social change. It's the younger millennials, and even that Gen Z,
the group that's 22 below coming up behind them care Ah lot about social change. Is that fast enough for us to have the kind of global action we need to keep warming under? Let's say, under three degrees Celsius. Yeah, that's gonna be up to innovation. I mean, one of things. Bill and I talk about our annual letter outside of the foundation that we do is he's started a fun breakthrough. Energy Ventures. It's $100 million fund because they're trying to fund inventions. There just wasn't enough money going in there. So that's really gonna come down to do we get inventions that we can invent our way out of some of those things that Warren Buffett always likes to remind us in a You know, again, he's 87. At this point,
he's still if he's a huge font of wisdom. But he said, You know, back in the time when it was the course and buggy and we started having cities, he said, you would have thought we were all gonna drown in shit and we invented our way out of that problem. And when I think about what's coming with autonomous vehicles and it's already starting to be on the road and you think about kids, not even they're saying that kindergartners today just will never drive. So think about if those are all electric cars were not gonna be putting at least that part out and just having a conversation with someone backstage because he's deeply invested in clean cook stoves around the world. You know, those cold cook stoves, and we're doing the measurement on those to see do they make an enormous difference and you can switch families over. It's not very expensive from coal burning to cook. So I didn't think back the first time I went to Beijing. Let me think about this. Bill and I were married.
It was 1997 went to Beijing. Oh, my gosh. The smog in Beijing from not just the factories, but the cook stoves, the coal in the city. They've completely got rid of coal in the city. And now they're starting to work on their factories, right, and their seeding the clouds and doing other things. So again, having these goals, people will start to work on them and measure them. I mean, look at Beijing now that because of actual, what was going on in the U.
S. Embassy and there was a measurement device up there and it got reported out the citizens are putting pressure on the government, and the government is seeing what they're doing to their own country. And so they're very incentive to start cleaning up their act. So I struggle with this on on almost like characterological level. I tend to have a lot of faith when I look back over the past couple of 100 years that we will innovate our way out of central problems. I mean, you hear about this with whale, you know, whale fat, candles and kerosene. And there's the famous story about the horse and buggies. And then sometimes I think is that just the short span of time in which I have been alive is that letting hope stand in for a plan. How do you know when betting on innovation is a bet that is realistic versus just a way to talk yourself out of being afraid of the problem? Well, I guess.
And I can speak personally about this Bill and I have been at this work now in the foundation for 17 years and you know, I c. The number's in child mortality. I see it when I go out to the developing world. The difference in Arusha, Tanzania versus life first started traveling there. But then I also see we're working on this science inside the foundation with some of the very best minds. When you think about what kind of corn used to be grown in the United States and the little tiny stocks and what you could get on it right many years ago. And now you and the number of people that were farming in our country versus the percentage that our farming today right? It's what freed us up to have extra labor to do other things. So when I think of the modifications that came in Maze, it's one of the most modified plants in the world. Well, I said in a meeting on Thursday, where these scientists have hit on something where it looks like in probably seven years, we won't have to fertilize plants anymore.
They're figuring out What is it about lagoons that do nitrogen fixing in the soil? So for the developing world, where most people in Africa are still subsistence farmers, holy smokes being fertilizer, is it? In the developing world, in many times the market price crashes or they don't have access. But if we can nitrogen fix a week and genetically modify a cereal crop, which looks like we're gonna be able to amaze crop to nitrogen, fix from the atmosphere back into the soil, Wow, then they will start to be able to grow up. And when you couldn't grow 30% more food, think about training. China wasn't able to feed itself. Why in the U.
N talk about the fact that your poverty has been cut by so much in half? Well, it's because China figured out with the Green Revolution how to feed themselves. Now they overdid it. Something's like fertilizer. But if we can get rid of fertilizer, we can nitrogen fix the plants, they can fix themselves. Holy smokes, that is, That's a game changer. That's just one little tiny thing. I mean, if I told you what I see that's coming in HIV or malaria, the mathematical modeling in malaria and how we're applying different tools and where we might be able to go Malaria has been around since the time of the Egyptians. Okay, it's been with us forever on, and it's a parasitic disease. It's very hard we actually have a chance of getting malaria in my lifetime. Are you talking here about the crisper gene drive?
Approach her when you see what you're seeing. Coming. What are you seeing? Coming. How are we going to destroy
the way that we can. We're modifying mosquitoes, right? So they will in one or two generations, not
carry malaria. Do you
want to talk a bit about how this works?
Because it is mind blowing.
a Knauss Dralion.
Scientists figured out,
it's very complicated,
but how to basically changed something inside of a mosquito so that they basically the females are all the ones that carry malaria.
They males don't carry malaria,
so a female carries malaria because they go and get a blood meal off of a human.
They put a pair of sight in your body,
your liver works on it,
Eventually you have malaria.
Many days later,
we can modify the males who made with females to become sterile,
and over a couple of generations, they're not enough males to mate with females. And so you killed. You crash the population, those technologies, the crisper gene, editing all of that. There are days when I wonder if when this period in history will not be remembered for Donald Trump or whatever else is going on, This will be the period in which we figured out how to take control of the genome. This will be a period in which human kind began to drive its own evolution, for better or maybe for worse. Is that me having too much Gatica in the back of my head? No. I mean what we're gonna be able to do with the genome and then with precision medicine and artificial intelligence. I mean, we're only on the were on the tip of the custom of where we might go.
And that's why the ethics pieces in this are deeply important ability. I often have this kind of fun debate like we have fun debate about. Well, if you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live? We also have the fun debate of if you were entering any field. Now you have your choice of going and any field. What field would you go in? And he and I both would go into the cross between biology and computer science. Huh? What is gonna happen in those fields? We're only beginning. Tell me a little about that. Well, because what you can do with computational models,
do very much with them at all to see spread of disease around the world.
But people don't even realize that we're taking the data off their phones.
So we're seeing if you're in Africa,
we're seeing if you're a worker,
how often you're leaving Nairobi to go out and work on a field and maybe your or in a forest,
case of malaria People go work in a forest somewhere.
We couldn't find out why the malaria kept coming back in the village after we'd eliminate it.
there's a forest kind of malaria,
so now we can do modeling of the mosquitoes and how they move around what distance they go.
We can look at GPS data to see how people are moving around,
and then you can apply very specific tools bed nets in a certain area,
malaria medicines in a certain area eventually,
hopefully a vaccine.
Eventually you'll be able to release genetically modified mosquitoes.
So just what we can do with that that's just mathematically modeling.
We haven't even done the machine learning piece on that yet, and then you cross that with the biology of what we're learning about the human body. I mean, what we don't know yet about our guts is mind blowing. What we're just learning about the gut microbiome. And to be frank, Sorry, but the vaginal microbiome. We don't know why certain people in the world uptake HIV quicker. Certain women than others contracted more from men. It's not just about the population. The amount of sex that's happening actually has something to do with their vaginal microbiome. We just recently learned. So what we're learning about that and is just breast milk. No one has ever really done a full scale study of breast milk. One of the things we just hit on that we're learning is that you not only we know you passed nutrients.
Your best book, we human body sends messages to the child's immune system. Through there are messaging cells through breast milk. Who knew that? What kind of messages are we talking about? You don't know? Yeah, way. Think it has to do with the mechanism of how it turns on the child's immune system, right? And it's one of the reasons we, you know, like they're certain cultures where they extract the colostomy because they think it's dirty milks of the first. You know, the first feeding terrible idea because we've known for a long time that is one of the key nutrients kids need. But,
you know, we don't even know why it makes a difference for for kids stunting their growth, whether the mom breast feeds and how often she breast feeds for how many months were just learning about these things and the quality of breast milk, like if somebody is, we know if a woman's more nutritionally fed the quality of her best, milk is better. So we're thinking, Gosh, there may be some interventions there that might be ableto happen.
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That's t r E l l o dot com hello dot com We are living through historic times. It's hard to understand what's going on in Washington and across the country, and the whirlwind news cycle often leaves you with more questions than answers. Stay tuned with Pre is a podcast and make sense of what's happening. It's about issues of justice, power, law and democracy. The host is Preet Bharara, who led the Seven District of New York, the most storied federal prosecutor's office in the country. With signature, calm and wait, Creed answers audience questions and speaks with people shaping history. Previous guests include people to judge Sally Yates and Bryan Stevenson, unless now to stay tuned to preach. Wherever you get your podcasts, let me ask you about a place where some of these trends converge.
You've done a lot of writing in your annual letters about the ways in which overpopulation fears are overblown.
How if you reduce infant mortality,
you overtime also reduce birth rates.
But there's another dimension to this particular and climate change.
Whereas we do pull people in poor countries out of poverty.
I'm or cars,
they eat a lot more meat.
How do you keep rising prosperity globally,
which hopefully we will continue to see or Seymour off from becoming a runaway climatological problem?
the biggest problem is if you get over population because if you have overpopulation,
then anything you sell whether it's a car,
they want to eat meat,
you're you're gonna have enormous problem hen just to clarify for everybody because a lot of people don't know this.
And I said,
Bill and I have this false assumption. We thought that as more Children survived, that is, a parent has their see their Children surviving. We thought, Oh my gosh, we help parents keep their kids alive, they're gonna have more of them. Luckily, the converse is true. So when parents see that two of their Children will survive in the developing world and grow up to be healthy, they naturally bring down the number of Children they have, they're basically they will tell you I'm having Children. I may have to have 67 or eight because if I don't, they won't all survive into adulthood because most of them don't. In fact,
if I sat in a room like this with a group of women, which I often do on a map and I'll say, how many of you lot know somebody? It's lost child childbirth. All hands go up. You say How many of you have lost a child in childbirth? More than 7/8 of the hands go up. So I think if we bring the population down, we make it voluntary. So women have knowledge and access about the tools. Then, to be honest, it's not gonna matter what car you sell them. In 10 years, you're gonna be selling them a car that doesn't have a motor, right?
You're gonna be selling them an electric car. So okay, then you don't get that environmental problems. So again, if we keep innovating on our products what, you saw them? I mean, one of things Bill's been very vocal about is he's working with some VC companies on meatless meat right. It's all plant based, right? And so eventually I think we will get tased in meat down to a point where people will eat a plant based meat and feel like, Hey, this is just a good as the meat. I mean, I currently get a lot of plant based meets. There you go.
I think most of it is going to be people reading. So I'm in the news for better and for worse. I think a lot about the ways in which what we cover does not necessarily track on what is most important in our age. What we cover day today is not what they're gonna write about in history books. A lot of the time, if we covered what you think to be the most important stories in marriage, what would get more coverage than it does? And I don't just mean trendlines. I mean topics. What topics don't get enough coverage compared to their importance? Women, entrepreneurs, women, farmers, you're doing incredible things, none of whom look like one another.
Um, we don't write about amazing African American businesses that are coming up in the founders and what they're doing and how they're thinking about their businesses. We write about the 123 heroes there, but we don't go out and write about. Wow, look at this amazing thing this person is doing in their community and how they're changing their community. Like I think about the national discourse because we're involved in this of the at the national level, the national discourse on education. And then I go out and talk to teachers and I said, Well, why don't you participate in that? They said, Because it's not, it's not helpful. And it's not instructive, like what I'm doing here in my classroom or in my school building or in my community.
That's what's changing lives. And I think we don't get enough of those community stories out there. Let me ask you the other side of it, what are the biggest global risks in the next 10 years? If we were, we spend a lot of time covering what's going wrong or what you should be afraid off. What are the things that you are afraid off a bioterrorism event? Definitely. Most definitely. Why is that at the top of your list compared to a dirty bomb? I mean, they're a lot of ways of it. Yeah, but a bio terrorist event could spread so quickly, and we're so I'm prepared for it. So it even now?
Yeah, I think about how global us is. Just say you brought one into New York, and if you had something fast spread how many people? Especially if it's what we call latent. You didn't see whatever the disease was for even 24 48 hours. I think of the number of people that leave New York every day and go all over the world. We're an interconnected world. What would being prepared me? It would be knowing, uh, what our safety standards are what to look for, what the reporting network looks like. I mean, you basically have the equivalent of CDC for disease. I mean,
CDC is the gold standard, the Centers for Disease Control in the United States. It is the gold standard for the world. You have one of those for bioterrorism event now that they don't monitor that. But I think we would we would make more investments in that. That is a genuinely scary answer to that question. I don't like to answer it. I when you've done the amount of travel, and it spent the amount of time that you have over the past two decades in other countries. What if you come to believe is culturally distinct about America? I don't really think the U. S Is this culturally distinct as we think we are. Honestly, I think we think more of ourselves. Then we should, when I travel around the world,
the thing that struck me time and time and time again, how similar we are and how the same. Um, I meet people of all income levels in countries all over the world. We are so the same. We care about many of the same things we care about our Children. We care about our safety. We care about having some economic opportunity s so that we can rise to our fullest potential, as can our kids. It's the same anywhere I go, if I ask a man or a woman farmer, you know, lives a mile and 1/2 out on a dirt road and I say to them, Okay, what are your hopes and dreams for your family? They always talk about education for their kids always.
And I think God That's the same thing my parents wanted for me. It's the same thing I want for my kids. It's the same thing most people in the South wants. So I think we think we're so unique and we're not. I mean, to be Frank. We're lucky we're lucky if you grew up in this country to have the road infrastructure that we have to have. The money that flows, you know, have our health system, which is in perfect. But for the most part, most people have access to decent health. Here. We're lucky. And so we think of ourselves is so unique because we've gotten to this point.
But you have to forget that all of these pieces came together and so part of what I am out in the developing world. But I'm looking at is where are the breakdowns that happened in their system? And if you could get those going, how could they then be like us? Let
me then ask you about a way
in which your experience has been unique.
You are one of the richest human beings who has ever left on DDE.
That happened at a certain moment in your life that you're not always as you've gone through that experience.
What problems in your life have you found that money can solve?
And what problems can it not solve?
So just so everyone knows,
I grew up in a very middle income family in Dallas,
and I have three siblings.
Four kids would be very difficult for my parents to put us through college.
We could see that,
but they were insistent that all four of us would go to college and they would figure out a way to pay for it.
Which is a very powerful message from your parents,
all of us,
two girls and two boys.
As I've come into this situation that I can't believe I find myself in,
well, let me just tell. It's a first thing that I always come back to. It's about your values, values, values, values. Everything that I am about is about trying to live out my values and trying to teach. My kids are values and to question, you know, do we have the right values? Are are we living up to those? So I don't think that changes. I don't think you're low middle of high income if you have good values and you live and teach those, you're gonna get off track here and they're your kids are gonna get off track here and there. But you're gonna be basically okay.
You know, it's interesting. I was sitting. It was probably nine years ago with a group of kids in East L. A very difficult neighborhood. Many had been in, not prison, hear gunshots at night and stuff. And they were saying, If we could just be like you, we wouldn't and your your kids and your families, you know, these high income families, we wouldn't have so much alcoholism or this with that problem. There are absolutely Maur issues in those neighborhoods. You bet,
because of all kinds of things going on and and the infrastructures that's not there and the crime. But I said to them We have the same alcohol problems. We have the same drug addiction problems. We face a lot of the same social issues what week had have access. When we need to reach that golden ring and say, I need to find the best therapist for my kid, I need to go and help this, you know, person with drug addiction, I could reach and find some of the best care. And I think the two of the best things people can have access, no matter what. Your level of income here is good health care and a great education. You get those two things, you can be on your way, and you could do pretty well in life.
And I think in in high income families, you do face and things of your families where you see some of your kidsfriends who because their parents are wealthy, they don't tend to the kids. They have lots of choices in life. One thing when you're wealthy, you have lots of choices in life about who will serve up, what do you, how you spend your time. And so you see, some of those kids are actually very unhealthy because the parents aren't home and they're very busy. And so we face that in some of our school communities. I really try to make sure our kids have a diverse set of friends, and we're lucky enough to be able to travel when we go out on. They have gotten to go on safari in Kenya, but boy, have they spent a lot of time in poverty in Kenya,
in South Africa, in Tanzania. To me, it's important they see the whole world, not this little just pinprick of where they live in Seattle.
And so I know we need to be respectful of your time.
So let me ask you the question we always used to end the podcast,
which is order three books.
Over the years that have influenced you that have moved your mind that you would recommend the others read,
I would say Homo SAPIENs for sure.
That was just in last few years.
I read that you've all no hurry,
I love that book.
I would say it will change my view on Africa,
which is Cry The Beloved Country by Alan Peyton.
That definitely changed some of my views about the world.
And then the other one,
I would say I want to recommend it,
but I'm only quarter way in,
so that's a little dangerous. But so my husband, I often read books and then pass them to each other or read the same book at the same time. But it's currently his favorite book, so I'm reading it, and I'm loving it. But I'm only quarter way through enlightenment now By Steven Pinker It's already changing my view about
some things well in the gates.
Thank you very much.
To Melinda Gates.
toe everybody at Fox Media who made our South by Southwest event happen.
And all of you,
we find listeners of the Ezra Kline show to whom I am always eternally grateful.
If there was a spreadable Kuk Herbal Bay Kable plant face butter that was better for your body and the planet.
What would you make with it?
That's a thing,
by the way, whatever it is, country crock plant butter makes it happen and bakes it. Delicious country cross plant butter is so tasty, even butter lovers love it. You can use it as a 1 to 1 substitute for dairy butter in all of your favorite recipes and enjoy it knowing it has 25% less saturated fat than regular old dairy butter. To try it for yourself, use the store locator at country crock dot com slash plant dash butter today. Hey, everyone, this is Cara Swisher, editor at large at Recode, and I'm Scott Galloway. And why, you business school professor, And we want to tell you about Pivot.
Our twice weekly podcast is right. It's a chance for the jungle cat and the Big dog to break down all things happening. Attack, business, politics and among our canine friends. Oh, my God, Scott. This is where, like, basically, where I keep you in check so people can make it through each episode, which one of our fans calls the yelling podcast unleashed The Hound. Release the Hound, Kara, Release the Hound.
Scott and I spent a week in the trenches, holding business leaders feet to the fire, fearlessly tweeting at the sucker birds of the world. And then we come in. The student argue about which one of us knows more about what happened that week. Typically, it's me, but not for lack of trying on Scott's part, if typically means 1 to 2% of the time. Yes, typically, every Tuesday and Friday morning, we drop a new episode about some of the biggest stories that have happened to give you context or how those stories affect your life. Your portfolio your personal well being and your landscaping. Oh, my God.
We're on top of the big stories had capped Facebook his monitor or not, monitoring misleading political ads, including Corona virus ads were watching the big companies like Airbnb tragic battle with cities over renting rules. We talk about how ride sharing companies air, navigating the gig, economy, you name it, and we will walk you through the story. Also, we like to pick apart the winners and losers of the week. We talked to experts smarter than we are pretty low bar there about important issues. And we take your listener questions to provide nuance, care we nuance you want you will on Anyone ever accused us of being nuance, that copy they gave us. So my God and Scott, even though I gave him a hard time,
is, in fact, a prediction machine. How many things have you gotten right, Scott? Do you keep a tally? I think I've gotten exactly 50% right? I'm almost sure that Okay, exactly. 50% player that, by the way, I'm on a prediction machine. I'm just a machine. Oh, my God. And I don't dance for nobody but the jungle cat.
Oh, that was good. Oh, my God was good. That is disturbing and every format. So if it sounds good to you, how could it not subscribe to pivot with Cara Swisher and Scott Kelly for free on apple podcasts or in your favorite app?