Soon-to-be grandfather Bill Gates bets on AI, gene therapy and other new technologies to solve global problems

Despite all the problems facing the world today — Russia’s war in Ukraine, the coronavirus pandemic, extreme weather — Bill Gates is optimistic about the future. main reason? The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is adopting and supporting new technologies such as artificial intelligence and gene therapy to address global challenges such as child mortality and diseases such as AIDS.

gates with Forbes It’s a tradition he started in 2009, just before his annual letter was published on his blog Gates Notes. He and his ex-wife, Melinda France Gates — who co-chair the Gates Foundation — recently wrapped up a series of strategy meetings and planning the foundation’s 2023 budget. Gates said the foundation’s budget will be its largest ever, fueled by the biggest one-year increase in the foundation’s 22-year history. Now that he will be a grandfather for the first time next year, he’s thinking more specifically about offspring; his oldest daughter, Jennifer, married last year and is expected to have a baby in February.

The famous Microsoft co-founder is currently the sixth richest person in the world, Forbes‘counting. He’s worth at least $162 billion — and number one. Third in the world — if he hadn’t donated $59 billion to the Gates Foundation, most of it a gift of Microsoft stock. But his plan is that in the future, his ranking among the richest people in the world will drop. Gates said he expects to eventually fall off the billionaire list entirely.The reason is related to his promise to donate almost all of his property to the Gates Foundation, the largest charitable foundation in the United States

“While I don’t care where I rank on the list of the world’s richest people, I know that if I make a successful donation, I will descend and eventually drop off the list entirely,” Gates wrote when he turned 67 in October. in his newly released annual letter.

Gates took a big step in July, moving his $20 billion fortune to the Gates Foundation, dragging himself down even further. He explained that he made the shift so the foundation could increase its annual spending and grants by 50 percent to $9 billion a year by 2026.

“$9 billion [in annual distributions] Not one of those things where you can stay steady and be the foundation of ‘forever,'” Gates said. To continue giving at this rate, even as his friend and billionaire Warren Buffett gives billions of dollars to the foundation every year stock, Gates says he will continue to move some of his wealth—currently estimated Forbes $103 billion — also donated to foundations. “I’ll get more money.” Gates estimates the foundation could wind down its activities in 25 or 30 years.

In the meantime, here are some of the efforts of foundations that Gates is passionate about:

Developing Mathematics Education in the United States. Participate tomorrow

While the Gates Foundation may be best known for its health care work in the world’s poorest countries, it has also devoted resources over the years to improving public education in the United States — with mixed results. The latest effort is to kickstart math education for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. As Gates noted in his letter, those students who pass Algebra I in ninth grade are twice as likely to graduate from high school and more likely to go to college, earn a bachelor’s degree and find a good career. But the pandemic has dealt a blow. According to a new U.S. education report card — the National Assessment of Economic Progress — only 26 percent of eighth graders are proficient in math, down 9 percentage points from 2019 and the lowest in nearly two decades, Gates said in the letter. Level. In October, the foundation announced it would spend $1.1 billion over four years to help improve the way math is taught. “Teachers have told us repeatedly that their students find math classes boring,” Gates wrote in the letter. “The idea is to make the best use of a teacher’s time and skills.” The foundation is supporting nonprofit partners such as Khan Academy, Zearn and Mastory, online tools that are interactive and dedicated to making math more engaging. Gates told me that he is optimistic about the use of AI in such tools: “AI can figure out what attracts you—whether it’s an example of exercise or an example of health, what you know and what you don’t.” Software is better able to tune it.”

Reducing Child Mortality Using AI-Driven Ultrasound

Gates points out that while child mortality has halved since 2000, the number of babies dying in their first 30 days of life (the neonatal period) has not dropped as much. In fact, 1.9 million newborns died in 2019. To try to reduce these deaths, the Gates Foundation, working with partners, has come up with a small ultrasound tool that could be used in the developing world: one that plugs into a phone or tablet. Wave the probe several times over the pregnant mother’s belly. “The software itself can detect all normal problems – whether it’s in the breech position or [umbilical] The wires are in the wrong place,” Gates said. And the software can indicate whether the pregnancy is high-risk and whether the mother may need a C-section. Gates points out that most births in developing countries go without a doctor.

Gates told me that the Gates Foundation is working with Google as partners and Philips, which makes traditional ultrasound machines, to develop artificial intelligence software. The technology is currently being tested in Kenya and South Africa; if it proves to have a positive impact, it will be another two to three years before it is ready for wider use.

Cure HIV Using Gene Therapy

Finding a cure for HIV has always been a goal — and it’s still far in the future. But Gates is hopeful that advances in gene therapy — making small edits to part of a person’s genetic makeup — could bear fruitful results. The foundation has funded the work of several academic centers and startups, and has collaborated with Novartis and the National Institutes of Health on gene therapy. The hope is that a single injection will give the body a way to fight off the virus. “Many years of work remain before any of these approaches can be proven safe and effective,” Gates wrote in the letter.

Nuclear Power and Low Carbon Innovation

Outside of the Gates Foundation, Bill Gates spends a lot of time focusing on his nuclear energy startup TerraPower, which aims to use depleted uranium as fuel. Gates said he has poured more than $1 billion into the company over the past decade, which is developing a demonstration plant in Wyoming, funded in part by the U.S. Department of Energy. Gates said it won’t be known until 2030 whether the new reactor design will actually succeed.

He’s also passionate about his Breakthrough Energy low- and zero-carbon investments – now with more than 100 companies in the portfolio and backed by Jeff Bezos, Vinod Khosla and John Doerr among other billionaires. Millionaire backing. Gates cited two companies of interest: Redwood Materials, a lithium-ion battery maker led by Tesla co-founder JB Straubel, and Form, a low-cost energy storage maker that raised $450 million from investors in October.能源. Any profits from these companies will be repurposed into climate investments or the Gates Foundation, Gates said.

Source link