Before Amazon (and it’s founder, Jeff Bezos) went from an online book store to an online/offline store that sells… Everything, Bill Gates was the world’s richest man (a title he held for a really long time thanks to the fact that he was the founder of Microsoft, the most successful computer software company in the history of the world). While he’s mostly retired and because of that is now only one of the richest people in the world, he has done a lot of admirable things with his money (including pledging to give away 50% of it when he dies and giving away tons and tons more through his Gates Foundation while still alive) in the hopes that he can solve all sorts of problems that the world has dealt with forever (from disease to access to clean water and more). So, let’s take a look at the top 15 ways that Bill Gates is attempting to save/change the world!
15. Worldwide Internet Access
Because the internet is basically part of human life these days, a lot of people believe that access to the internet is a human right. Gates seems to be in the same boat as those who believe that and is doing his part to ensure that people all over the world will be able to access the internet regardless of their incomes or location. One of the reasons that people believe that the internet is a human right is that it is great at providing information to people and that’s something that most dictators want to eliminate or at least control, which is why countries like North Korea heavily restrict access to the internet, as people in the Northern Korea are indoctrinated from birth to believe that their leader(s) is a God and that the world, especially the United States, is constantly out to get them (which is kinda maybe sort of true). So, by providing internet to everyone, the ability of people to create a cult of personality or a state run media industry will be lessened and that could lead to individuals in countries like North Korea to overthrow their leaders (as opposed to creating extremely expensive and human casualty heavy wars). Considering Gates’ background in software, it shouldn’t be surprising that he’s one of the many famous people who are advocating for worldwide internet coverage (along with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and U2’s Bono). On the subject he said “The internet is critical to fighting injustice, sharing new ideas and helping entrepreneurs create more jobs, but right now half the people on the planet don’t have access, especially women and girls”. Well said, Mr. Gates.
14. He Wants to Solve Global Warming
It’s hard to believe that there are still people (mostly in the United States, for obvious reasons) that still debate whether or not global warming exists (let alone the cause of it). There is clear evidence that people can see with their own two eyes (or feel with their own … millions of sweat glands) that the climate is changing and that cities like Miami are literally drowning thanks to the rising sea levels that Al Gore (and company) predicted a little over 10 years ago (and were widely mocked for). Unlike most people, though, Gates actually has a solution to the problem that can happen right now (even though renewables are becoming as cost effective as fossil fuels when it comes to providing power for the grid), especially in emerging markets like China and India, areas with massive populations and exploding economies. Since overhauling their economy China’s GDP has grown at a massive clip but with that has come a ton of pollution that has made some cities uninhabitable, mostly due to their lax regulations and heavy reliance on coal. One way that Gates is working with China, for example, is by working on a new type of nuclear reactor called the Travelling Wave Reactor (TWR). Cheaper and cleaner than other reactors, the TWR will be the first of it’s kind and could completely revolutionize the way that countries create power in the 21st century by really either eliminating or lessening the negatives that come from nuclear power like safety, price and environmental cost.
13. He’s Pro-Carbon Tax as Well
If there’s anything that Bill Gates knows how to do, outside of really, really piss off Steve Jobs, it’s make money so when it comes to saving the environment he may be the best person for the job as he wants to basically implement market principals when it comes to giving companies incentives to limit their production of carbon dioxide. That’s really the most ingenious way to handle the problem of the amount of carbon dioxide that companies are filling the atmosphere with on a daily basis, as the environmental movement still has a reputation as a job killer, a growth killer and really even a future killer. So, by combining the type of logic that goes into creating any sort of market, like a stock market or the market for really any commodity, people like Gates who support a carbon tax would essentially give a lot of the people in the business world (who might otherwise loath any attempt by “hippies” to make drastic changes to the way things are produced and manufactured in the United States, including energy). Carbon taxes would create a massive amount of wealth that could be funnelled back into clean energy programs while really also ensuring that every companies carbon footprint is measured and compared against one another to also find opportunities for improvements across multiple industries. On the subject Gates said; “Without a substantial carbon tax, there’s no incentive for innovators or plant buyers to switch [to renewable energy]”, he’s right… Of course.
12. He’s Working on Gender Equality in the Workplace
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has nearly 1,400 employees across the world, most of which are located at their headquarters in Seattle, Washington. As of the writing of this article Seattle happens to be in the United States, which means that if you’re a pregnant woman you’d typically get anywhere between 12 to 20 weeks of Maternity Leave once your baby is born. Before 1993 there was no Federally mandated Maternity Leave in the United States, but even the minimum of 12 weeks that was instituted then was a drop in the bucket compared to other industrialized nations (especially those in Western Europe, where most Mothers have the option of a full 52-weeks of Maternity Leave at 100% their salary and the option for a second full-year of Leave at 75% their pay). Beyond that, a lot of countries in Western Europe also allow for Paternity Leave, allowing the father to get time off to you know, raise the baby as well. While Paternity Leave is a pretty foreign concept in the United States, Gates wants to lead by example and actually does offer both Maternity and Paternity leave for his 1,383 employees for a lot longer than the Federally mandated 12 weeks. Regardless of whether or not you’re the Mother or the Father, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation offers a full-year of Paternity/Maternity leave, which is something that every company should provide in the United States but instead of waiting for things to catch up to their beliefs the Gates were proactive in offering something that is pretty commonplace outside of the US.
11. He Wants to Change Food
One of the largest unforeseen consequences of the exploding population of meat eating human beings is the fact that perhaps more than any other industry, including the Oil and Gas industries, the meat industry is responsible for the unsustainable addition of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere and the degradation of the environment. While it may sound funny, the fact is that it takes millions of cows to create the sheer amount of beef it takes to feed the world (or pigs and pork, or chickens and… Chicken) and those cows require a lot of land, a lot of feed and also both burp and fart A LOT. That gas passing is a tangible amount of gas that happens to also be the worst kind of greenhouse gas, methane. Methane is a lot more dense than carbon dioxide and is anywhere from five-to-twenty times as bad in terms of trapping heat than carbon dioxide. So, obviously, finding a way to provide beef without all the cows is something that is going to become increasingly important as the population grows and people continue to enter the middle class in countries like India and China (Okay, perhaps just China). Part of what Bill Gates does is invest in companies that he believes in, as well, and one of the more interesting companies that he’s done just that with is called Impossible Foods. That’s not just a catchy name, as the company was founded by a biochemistry professor from Stanford who is essentially attempting to make meat and cheese that looks and tastes just like real meat and cheese without using any actual animal products to do so.
10. Better Vaccine Storage
In an article for Time Magazine that he wrote himself (is there anything this man can’t do?), Gates identified what he believed to be the top six innovations that could change the world. The first was the ability to keep vaccines viable for longer and regardless of things like temperature for storage. As this list will show, perhaps more than anything the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is known for it’s work with vaccines around the world and so it only makes sense that Bill, a problem solver, would be looking for ways to not only create vaccines at a more cost effective clip but also to keep as many vaccines as possible, as viable for as long as possible. He’s put his mind to it and talks about a company called Global Good which is from (surprise, surprise) Seattle and that invented a new fridge called the MetaFridge. Between that and a portable cooler, that company should be able to keep vaccines safe even in areas where power can come and go, thus making it less likely that vaccines will expire before their due date and possible for the cost per vaccine to get to an even lower level than the Gates Foundation has made it. This is extremely important when it comes to vaccinating people in remote areas.
9. Gene Editing
It’s been said by many that since really the dawn of man that man has attempted to become God. While this may sound hyperbolic, the truth is that man is closer than ever to achieving that goal and really creating immortal beings as advances in both medicine and technology could theoretically increase the lifespan of someone born today to limits previously thought impossible (either by curing disease or implanting someone’s consciousness onto a computer, or both). A large part of that comes from the mapping of the human genome, or more particularly the genome of each individual person and then editing it. Genes are the building blocks of life and determine basically everything about a person, from their height, weight, chances of eventually getting certain diseases and more, so it’s obviously super advantageous for someone to be able to either select certain traits before they have a child (especially if a couple has had other children with genetic diseases) or even someone who has a genetic disease but can then turn off (or on) a gene that is causing the disease or disorder. With the Gates Foundation focusing heavily on healthcare it only makes sense that they’d want to look into gene editing and on the subject Gates said that he was cautiously optimistic about the idea of gene editing (despite some of the fears from naysayers who believe that it’ll lead to store bought babies) when it came to the example of the transmission of malaria from mosquitoes to people. You’d think that if gene editing received Gates’ full backing that it’d quickly make it so everyone reading this article could live forever, so, let’s hopefully nudge him in that right direction!
8. Solar Fuel
Above we talked about Gates’ support for not only a Carbon Tax but also a new sort of Nuclear Reactor in China that’d alleviate basically all the concerns that people have about Nuclear Reactors (or energy), in terms of safety, cost and longevity. But perhaps the most innovative and amazing thing that Gates has put his money and mind behind is something called solar fuel. While that may just sound like another way to explain solar power, it’s not, as solar power is the act of instantly converting energy (that’s absorbed from the sun by a solar panel, typically) or converting some energy and saving some for later where as solar fuel is the act of collecting that solar power and converting it into fuel for future use (either to power a home or even a vehicle). The hope is that one day you’ll be able to fill your car up with solar fuel, and while it’s still decades away the fact that Gates believes in it means a lot for the industry from a legitimacy perspective which is worth about as much as his billions and billions of dollars, almost. Gates visited the lab that’s at the forefront of the solar fuel movement and posted an article about it on his site, GateNotes.com. In that piece he explains just how powerful the sun is, which may seem pretty obvious but when it’s put this way it really shows you just how untapped the power of the sun is, even by a planet that’s entire existence is contingent on it. In one hour on any day, the amount of sun that hits the earth is enough to power the entire planets’ power needs for a YEAR. So the goal is finding a way to tap into that power that can be used to do just that, not solely via solar panels but again with actual, tangible fuel that can be bought, sold, transported and applied to the multitude of ways that people use fuel in the 21st century.
7. mRNA Vaccines
As stated above, Bill Gates really believes in vaccines. While that may sound controversial in today’s world where science is loathed by the fringe elements of both sides of the political spectrum, it’s something that has essentially saved a truly countless amount of children over the past century or so. Before then, families (especially poorer families) would have as many children as possible in the hopes that some would survive into adulthood, because the rate of infant and childhood mortality was incredibly high considering all of the diseases that one could catch really since the dawn of civilization up until recently. More vaccines are and were pretty simple, as they take either a weakened or inactivated form of a virus that is injected into a patient so the patient’s immune system can create the antibodies needed to prevent the virus from taking hold in the future. While there’s been a ton of innovation in the field of vaccines that have made them less expensive than they once were, they’re still a lot more expensive and time consuming than they need to be and that’s where mRNA vaccines come in. Instead of relying on a shell of the virus, mRNA vaccines rely on the body itself to create defenses against a disease created by a virus. The ‘m’ stands for messenger (RNA) and beyond creating vaccines the goal is also to work on immunotherapies for cancer as well.
6. Forget to Take Your Medication?
Not only is Gates looking to save your life from pretty much every disease known to man, but it appears that he’s attempting to make it more convenient for you in the process! That may be a gross oversimplification for the sake of comedic relief, but as they say there’s truth in jest and that’s the case here as Gates has been an advocate for a company named Intarcia Therapeutics, which is an American biopharmaceutical company that focuses on “Biomedicines”. The goal of Intarcia is to create time-release medication that can be injected under the skin to alleviate the need for people to take medication multiple times a day by allowing them to be injected with the full dosage amount all-at-once, where it would then be released over time until it was depleted. While it may seem like the ultimate solution to a non-existant problem (or an issue of laziness), there is actually a lot of harm that can be done by someone who stops taking their medication early or at all. The main reason that we have super-bacteria these days is because people tend to stop taking their anti-bacterial medication too early, which allows for the surviving bacteria to survive, create some resistance to the medication and multiply. By injecting people with the full amount of an antibiotic would ensure that this wouldn’t happen, which would’ve been huge in the 20th century before people reached this point in the first place (but that’s not to say that it wouldn’t help). Beyond that there’s the amount of people with mental illnesses who stop taking their medication once they feel better, or because it makes them feel crummy, only to relapse with a serious mental disorder that can lead to them harming themselves or others.
5. Artificial Intelligence
With more and more frequency and intensity, it seems like the world’s most famous thinkers are all talking about artificial intelligence and what it means for the future (or perhaps the end) of mankind (at least as we know it). One of the more public beefs (of sorts) between nerds in 2017 was the disagreement between Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg over the fears that Musk has or had about artificial intelligence and it’s ability to really detrimentally affect mankind. It all started when Musk was speaking at the National Governors Association (As in the Governors of each state), where he said that artificial intelligence posed a “fundamental risk to the existence of human civilization”. Zuckerberg seemingly disagreed with that sentiment (even after noted physicist Stephen Hawking stated that AI could prove to be the “worst event in the history of civilization”) by saying that that sort of talk was “irresponsible”. So, where does Gates fall on this spectrum between doomsday and elation? It seems like he’s at least more optimistic than Musk and Hawking as he said that he believes that AI will make people’s lives more “productive, more efficient and easier overall” while also cautioning that it could have a negative impact on people’s lives as well in terms of the jobs that it’ll essentially erase from the marketplace. That’s an impact that people really have been dealing with since the advent of the industrial revolution and as machines and computers become more dexterous and intelligent, it’ll only increase really at the same rate as Moore’s law. So Gates is putting the cart before the horse, thankfully.
4. The Giving Pledge
They say there’s nothing more difficult than getting a rich person to part with their money (which people also say is why they’re rich), but astoundingly Bill Gates, who was once the richest man in the entire history of the world (before inflation), pledged to give away half of his tens of billions of dollars away during his lifetime to countless charities and causes (which all lead to this list! Which means it was the worst investment of money in the history of the world). Perhaps even more impressively was the fact that he also convinced other billionaires to follow suit in what was dubbed the “Giving Pledge”. The Pledge was/is a campaign that asked that those who agreed would give away at least 50 percent of their wealth to charitable causes either during their lifetime or in their will. It’s not a legal agreement, per se, as no one signs anything, rather it’s more of a moral pledge from those involved who have all seemingly kept their word and have donated tons of money to causes around the world that either mean something to them personally or is something that they work on with other pledgers (See #2). In the first two months of the campaign there was over $125 billion dollars pledged between only 40 people (all of which were on the Forbes list of the 400 richest Americans), which means that really these 40 people may be responsible for saving the lives of tens of millions of people around the world (considering the money that’s gone into healthcare causes around the world) and that’s why this is so high on the list as really without the Pledge most of the entries on this list wouldn’t exist. It’s really unprecedented and amazing and also, I’m sure, a pretty sweet write-off come tax time!
3. The Breakthrough Energy Coalition
During what was at the time the most encouraging piece of international environmental news perhaps ever during the Paris Climate Summit in which essentially every country in the world agreed to limit their carbon emissions eventually, Bill Gates didn’t want to be upstaged by the … World and thus also announced another new initiative which was named the Breakthrough Energy Coalition which would basically be the private sector’s response to what was the public sectors promise towards the environment (until President Trump pulled the United States out of the agreement as one of his first actions as President). The coalition of private investors (including Virgin’s Richard Branson, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Alibaba’s Jack Ma and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos) committed to help clean-energy organizations bring their innovations from the lab to the marketplace without really worrying so much about the return on their investment, at least from a financial point of view. Gates summed things up by saying: “The renewable technologies we have today, like wind and solar, have made a lot of progress and could be one path to a zero-carbon energy future. But given the scale of the challenge, we need to be exploring many different paths — and that means we also need to invent new approaches,” Gates says in the video in the blog post announcing the coalition. “Private companies will ultimately develop these energy breakthroughs, but their work will rely on the kind of basic research that only governments can fund. Both have a role to play.”
2. The Malaria Vaccine
Beyond all of the futuristic ideas and initiatives that Gates has his money behind, he’s done his best work attempting to solve a disease that has plagued mankind forever. Malaria has killed so many people in the history of the world that it’s numbers end up in the percentages of causes of death all-time, and that’s why the work that he’s doing to create an actual vaccine for the mosquito-spread disease is one of the most important medical discoveries of all-time. Through his foundation (see #1) Gates had already helped lower the impact of malaria by spreading insecticide and mosquito nets to poorer communities, but the nearly $170 million dollars that he’s infused into the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative (through the UN) could end taking the already historically low numbers for Malaria related death (especially when it comes to children, and especially when it comes to the poorest communities in the world) could end up landing him the Nobel Peace Prize. So, while they’re still working on the first vaccine for Malaria, Gates is actually already thinking beyond that, saying: “I’m very hopeful that the malaria vaccine currently in advanced testing will be proven effective, but that will just be the first step,” said Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation. “Now it’s time to develop a new generation of vaccines that are even more effective, and could someday help eradicate malaria altogether.”
1. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
As this list has shown, basically every great thing Bill Gates has done, is thinking about doing and will do flows through his foundation which he started with his wife back in 2000. With assets of $38 billion dollars, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the largest foundation in the United States. Based in Seattle, Washington, the Foundation clearly has lofty goals which include things like enhancing healthcare, reducing poverty (including or most importantly extreme poverty) around the world and focusing on education and access to information technology in the United States. The Foundation is looking to solve most of the worlds old and new problems and as this list has broken down the majority of their accomplishments or goals, there’s not much more that can be said. Outside of the fact that Bill Gates easily could’ve kept his billions for himself and his family but instead has decided to use his money and intelligence to benefit mankind and it’s because of that that lists like this will continue to be written about him. Our hats off to you, Bill. Keep up the good work.