“We’ve all been spoiled and deeply confused by the IT model,” Gates said, answering an audience question at last week’s Techonomy conference. “Exponential improvement–that is rare.”
Gates said that there are isolated segments of technology that do produce that rate of improvement.
“We do see it,” Gates said. “We see it in hard disk storage, fiber capacity, gene-sequencing rates, biological databases, improvements in modeling software. There are some things where exponential improvement is there.”
But other areas, particularly around energy, haven’t always produced that kind of change. In particular batteries and energy storage have seen little improvement.
Gates said that the political process hasn’t shown itself to be very good at handling issues that “are complex enough that even the average elite voter has a hard time getting their mind around things”–issues like tax code, controlling medical costs, improving education or relations with China.
As for how he spends his time, Gates said he reads two to three hours a day, but is also up for spending an hour or two watching video, particularly online classes. “There are dozens and dozens of mind-blowing courses you can buy from Teach12,” he said. There are plenty of free options too, he said, but it is often hard to find the ones that match one’s interests and for which they have the right background.
“There’s a lot of dead-ends where a course might not give you what you want,” he said. Gates also said that he hopes that eventually the best online courses will start to get significant funding to get even better, not unlike concert videos and other entertainment.
Gates calls college education “increasingly hard to get” and says that “place-based” traditional college studies will be “five times less important than it is today.” He argues, “The self-motivated learner will be on the web. And there will be far less place-based [college] things…College — except for the parties — needs to be less place based.”
Bill Gates Speaking about Tablets and Software Modelling