Geek Life: Fun stories, memes, rants, humor and other random items at the intersection of tech, science, business and pop culture. SEE MORE
Bill Gates entered Clubhouse for the first time on Wednesday night, taking his ongoing book tour to the popular invite-only conversation app to discuss everything from climate change to what he’s binging on Netflix.
The Microsoft co-founder, promoting his new book “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster,” chatted with journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin for about an hour, fielding questions on the COVID-19 pandemic, his thoughts on bitcoin’s connection to climate change, why he uses an Android smartphone, and what he’s watching on television while stuck at home like the rest of us.
Since the Clubhouse app is only on iOS right now, many were curious as to whether the Microsoft co-founder had moved to the long-dreaded competition and gotten himself an iPhone. But Gates said that wasn’t the case, his carry-around phone is definitely not made by Apple.
“Some of the Android manufacturers pre-install Microsoft software in a way that makes it easy for me,” Gates said. “They’re more flexible about how the software connects up with the operating system. So that’s what I ended up getting used to … a lot of my friends have iPhone, so there’s no purity.”
Clubhouse co-founder Paul Davison was in the room briefly, and told Gates and Sorkin that an Android version of the app is a top priority.
Sorkin asked Gates for his take on the “climate argument” around bitcoin — the notion that the mining of cryptocurrency demands a great deal of computational power and electricity consumption. Gates has made it known he’s not a fan.
“Bitcoin uses more electricity per transaction than any other method known to mankind. So it’s not like a great climate thing,” Gates said. “If it’s green electricity and it’s not crowding out other uses, eventually maybe that’s OK. I don’t see the topics as deeply related, even though you might label me a Bitcoin skeptic — that is, I haven’t chosen to invest money. I buy malaria vaccines. I buy measles vaccines. I invest in companies that make products. It’s not a, ‘Hey, somebody’s going to buy this for more money than I paid for it.’ But if other people find their fortune that way, I applaud them.”
Gates added that there are “other ways of doing digital currency” that are not secret transactions, and that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is invested in making those services available to uplift the poorest in India and Africa.
Gates received his second vaccination shot a week ago, about a month after tweeting about his first — “It’s the only time I’ve ever been thankful to be such an old person, 65 years old,” he said.
“I want to set a good example. If you’re vaccinated, you can still transmit,” Gates said. “I’m not going to stop wearing masks or being careful, particularly around older people who haven’t been vaccinated. It’s only by late spring or summer that we’re going to get to numbers where you can look at changing your behavior in a significant way.”
Gates reiterated his point that getting the vaccine distributed in all countries, not just rich ones, is critical for global travel. He expects things will feel very different in the U.S. by summer and all schools should be open in the fall — with kids wearing masks.
“Wearing masks isn’t some huge disastrous thing. It’s not expensive, we’re kind of used to it,” he said. “I would continue to model that behavior throughout the fall until we’re absolutely sure of the numbers are very, very small.”
As to whether society has learned anything throughout the pandemic about trusting science and expertise, Gates said the quality of leadership is key during a crisis and that a leader has to be willing to share bad news, set up a proper testing system and more.
“The number of mistakes were pretty unbelievable,” Gates said. “We are lucky this thing wasn’t more fatal than it ended up being. But still, half a million Americans, that’s an unbelievable toll. I do think that for at least a generation people will have this threat model in mind and that the government will take the right steps, even though maybe 10 or 20% of the people will never believe it — apparently that’s true for the election also — but this is serious stuff. Most people know somebody who died.”
Like the rest of us, Gates has spent a portion of the pandemic binging on his fair share of Netflix and more. He called it mind-blowing how good the content has gotten compared to 10 years ago, and that there is so much content to choose from these days you worry about what you might be missing.
“The complex plots, the choices, even just in the documentary area, it’s quite phenomenal,” Gates said, adding that he planned to finish a book one night this week and instead got sucked into “Lupin,” a French mystery thriller on Netflix.
“Next thing I knew four hours have gone by. I really let myself go to seed that night and I was kind of laughing at myself, I don’t usually do that, but they sure make it easy. You just sit there and the next episode is up and running.”
Gates also uses The Great Courses to take college courses, because he can’t stop learning — when he’s not binging “The Americans” or “Modern Family” with his own family.
First Tech Federal Credit Union is a not-for-profit, member-owned financial institution serving over 600,000 members nationwide. First Tech invests in members with great rates, individualized tools for financial wellness, and convenient banking solutions. As the nation’s premier credit union, First Tech offers a strong and lasting financial partnership for the world’s most innovative companies and their employees. Discover First Tech.
Seattle startup founder lobbies for seat on SpaceX craft that will take civilian crew to orbit
In ‘How to Avoid a Climate Disaster,’ Bill Gates charts a difficult course that might just be doable
GeekWire Summit: Bill Gates says world can avoid climate ‘disaster,’ if we learn lesson from pandemic
What gives Bill Gates hope about the world, and one thing he says we should all do right now
Fry’s Electronics shutting down all stores, ending 36 years as a big-box stop for tech enthusiasts
First Mode building hydrogen fuel cell to power one of the biggest zero-emission vehicles on Earth
News – In Clubhouse chat, Bill Gates talks bitcoin, iPhone, the pandemic and what he’s binging on Netflix