Once upon a time, before anyone outside of technology trade publications cared about Microsoft and what it did, I scored an hour-long interview with its founder, Bill Gates, for a profile I was writing. It was the singlemost intense and exhilirating interview I've ever had. I walked away knowing that the entire world would one day know his name. My brain hurt.
Now that Mr. Gates is no longer inspiring innovation at Microsoft, of course, he's been traipsing around the world with his intellectual partner and soulmate Melinda Gates, who is, incidentally, probably the most down-to-earth person I ever met at Microsoft and the person who helps Bill figure out how to spend all those Microsoft billions for good. He is at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting this week, where this morning he and Melinda pledged to donate an unbelievable $10 billion to research and deliver vaccines for children in "the world's poorest countries."
Mr. Gates actually got my attention earlier this week because of some comments he has made about our collective responsibility to address climate change and well as for a $5.4 million investment he personally has put toward addressing geoengineering technology that could combat the problem.
If you read the Wikipedia entry I've referenced, you'll see that this geoengineering stuff isn't exactly clean energy technology, it is technology that essentially is designed to step in and provide an assist to the stuff we've been compromising in the earth's climate immune system. Think of geoengineering as an innoculation against climate change. Interesting investment, this, although I'd love to see Mr. Gates say and do more in future entries about renewable energy technology.
Love his notion that this is our COLLECTIVE responsibility, regardless of how much the government can get its act together.
Being that the Gates climate philosophy falls into the zone of my current interests, I took a peek at his new Web site and was thrilled to read his thoughts on several other issues that I really feel passionately about, such as the sorry state of the U.S. educational system.
He is going to Sundance, for example, explicitly to see the new documentary, Waiting for Superman. Reforming education is a big deal, readers, and one where every single one of us could do something real. Here. On our own turf. Can't wait to watch this one myself.
Love the fact that someone who probably earned more Twitter followers in the past month than I have in two years is writing about this issue. I can't think of anything that will more significantly impact all of our futures domestically than education. Can you? Of course, that $10 billion for the basic health needs of emerging nations is definitely nothing to sneeze at either.
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com