Sunday, October 5, 2008

Bill Gates Interviewed by Fareed Zakaria

I just saw Bill Gates interviewed by Fareed Zakaria on his new CNN Sunday show.

I've always been a supporter of Gates and how he changed America and the world with his vision. Indeed, I opposed the U.S. government's anti-monopoly campaign against Microsoft to the point of publishing "Leave Microsoft Alone" in the June 8, 1998 issue of The Industry Standard. (See my Digital McLuhan: A Guide to the Information Millennium, pp. 88-91, if you have difficulty locating that article.) My view, which hasn't changed, is that the very nature of the Internet, in which anyone can become a star, a millionaire, make an important contribution to the growth of knowledge, means that no corporation, however powerful, can really dominate it. Gates through Windows and the Internet gave everyone the best means of competing with him. Even if he had had a monopoly on the medium (which he did not), that medium made it utterly impossible for anyone to monopolize thoughts and ideas.

Zakaria's talk with Gates today is the longest and best I have ever seen Gates interviewed.

Among the points Gates covered:

.The US is not in such bad shape in our current credit meltdown and bailout crisis. We are still and will very likely continue to be leaders in information technology innovation - and in the higher education that makes that possible. (Gates is famously a Harvard dropout, but that doesn't stop him from seeing the value of education where needed.)

.Gates does not believe in leaving huge sums of money to his descendants - in fact, where philanthropy doesn't work, he's in favor of greatly increasing inheritance taxes. (I'm in favor of no taxes to anyone making less than a million dollars a year, but increased taxes for everyone making more - see I'm A Progressive Libertarian.)

.Gates was delighted to discover from his worldwide charitable work that when child mortality is reduced, the population does not increase. This is because parents in poor countries are likely to have fewer children when they know their kids will survive.

.Gates welcomes the competition of Google and Apple, and any one else who can come along with new ideas and alternatives to our current world of new media (which I call new new media). He talked about smart walls and cellphones you could use to make digital copies of receipts.

All in all, a fine 30-minute interview on Fareed Zakaria, GPS (Global Public Square). I've seen Tony Blair, Henry Kissinger, Condoleezza Rice, Barack Obama, and now Bill Gates on the show since it debuted in June. It's become one of my favorite interview shows, and I'd say Zakaria is becoming the Charlie Rose and the Mark Molaro of cable.

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