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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Bill Gates on Software, Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Giving Back

Written in a very journalistic-notes format:

bill gates lecture - on software innovation entrepreneurship and giving back

really preppy background music before the start of the key note at the memorial auditorium

ladies and gentlemen - please welcome president john hennessy

President Hennessy -
"our students cannot imagine a world without pcs
about gates - he had a vision of building a stand alone software company

about stanford family - retail business and then rail roads

HP - first silicon valley start up

I served on the board of MSR (Microsoft Research)

dedication to serving the public good
find solutions to the worlds most challenging problems
research and teaching tha can make diff in the lives of people
mid-1990s - MS was taking all his time
at that point they didnt have the time
in 97 they started the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation

Please join me in welcoming Bill Gates to our camapus"

Gates -
"Its great to be back here at Stanford - MS CEO went to Stanford - though he never completed his degree!! We owe a lot to this school - and collaboratioon that is going on today - really are fantastic...I spent the afternoon talkin to the faculty and shring ideas -my optimism about tech is deeply underscored by these developments and research...

Now I am full time at the foundation and part time at MS - who knows what it will be like to make the change - i have been working on MS since i was 17 - every day i worked on it - so i thought it might be tough!

The video ended by describing Bill as a person "who just doesnt believe in paying more then 7 $ for a hair cut"!

what software will do in the future:

initially no one thought of software being important at all - it was mostly bundled with hardware- computers it self were more threatning - people thought punch cards to be stapled with bills to mess up the main frames - we had to believe that the cost of the hardware would go down - and volumes would go up and only then would software would become a gigantic industry. today this industry is gigantic and the range of solutions is incredible -

10 years ago i talked aobu the digital age - 10 years later many of those activities in the rich countries we take for granted - my daughter doesnt know what a record is - phone book or a print based encyclopedia would be equally antiquated.

the impact of this second digital decade will be far more dramatic - part of it coz the foundation we have - over a billion PCs - many billions of mobile fones - over 300 broadband connections - China has more broadband than America - its fantastic tha tthe internet has made the world a smaller place than it was - now almost everything should be digital - thats a big mindset change - even for education - test scores see correlations etc - education will split into different things - how many univs should give lectures on physics - very few coz who ever does that well should put it out on the internet and so - you have the best teachers of college curriculum - for now mostly MIT - but i expect something from Stanford soon.

for someone who works in an office - they are information starved - try to look at key indicators- to collaborate with people far off - these people are not yet fully impowered - shall i send email or instant messaging - its way better than it was 10-20 years ago but its nowhere close to where it could be. You are shortening design life cycle. Power of software will give them better tools - not only to model - but better understand what they are doing.

What Gordon moore said will remain true for the next 10 years - the bottle neck are seen only at a few places - brute force of clock speed is not going to help us - as we connect public data - we need privacy - security - proper controls - there are some fundamental advancements in CS that we need to drive - cameras that when combined with software to find who is where and so on -

natural user interface - like IPhone - MS Surface - i am a big believer in - and keep investing in - is the tablet device - cheap - eventual replacement for the paper based life -
now we are talking about not just computers on the desk but also computers in the desk which knows where you keep things and so on...we need a whole new generation of software who can use that...

dichotomy of video on TV and video on internet will be brought together - there is no dividing line between video games and TV - they are part of the same spectrum - today we are still very device centric and rely on the users to tranfer data from pc to mobile to pc - when we have the infinite power in the cloud - we can do that for the user -

failure of abstraction - image 2 banks with almost same product offerings but if you see their underlying systems you can find a million lines of code that is different - failure of abstraction - and so we should have the immense computation to get to better abstractions -

we spend a bit over $6B a year on long term research - its surprising to me how little research is funded by industry - now we see a range of cos like GE saying that this is an important thing - unfortunately what happened was that companies like Bell Labs, PARC etc who did spend money on research ended up not being able to gain the monetary benefits from it - as much as they would have liked to - this became a bad learning for other companies..

when we think about pure science the role of software is becoming important - back in the day when asked what is the language of science - it was math - today - its software like databases/analysis software for massive amount of data -

On giving back---
ratio of the money spent on baldness compared to malaria is 50 to 1. we have this disparity - as great as our system is - it doesnt encourage an indsutry if there is not a market for it - we need to have univs and industry to work on stuff whos' success is measured by not the market forces but other sources - we have one group in MSR India which is a group of social scientists who go out there into the rural areas with TV and DVDs to help the people there and how technology can work.

One of the things i will be spending time on is reaching out to univs and companies - to try to make them do more - univs have a big role to play here - students should not be allowed to graduate without having had a first hand experience to what is going on in other parts of the world -

its a wonderful time to be a student and see the great work you can do.


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