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tv   Bill Gates at Economic Club of Washington DC  CSPAN  July 7, 2019 4:42am-5:39am EDT

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about guns, is that not relevant to the homicide rate in this country? onwatch afterwards tonight c-span2. surveys taken between 2000 and 2017, andrew jackson drops from 13th to 18th place. dwight eisenhower rises from the ninth two the fifth spot. where does your favorite president rank? learn more about the lives and leadership skills of the presidents. it is great vacation reading. available wherever oaks are books are sold. guestl gates was a recent of the economic club of washington, d.c.. he discussed a wide range of topics, including the importance of addressing climate change,
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technological innovation and philanthropy. this is just under an hour. >> thank you. so, we have bill gates. thank you very much for coming. [laughter] [applause] you have years or so, been the wealthiest man in the world. because you have given so much money away recently, jeff bezos became wealthier. d think if you had stayed in college and gotten your college degree, you don't feel inadequate now, is that right? >> it is a sign that i have not given the money away fast enough to drop out of the top 10. >> the market has been strong.
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year.oft is up 35% this to what do you attribute that? bill: the company is doing well. we have a great ceo. the importance of software has really come true. the five most valuable companies are technology companies. microsoft has a good share of that. i get to spend 1/6 of my time at microsoft. host: you said the biggest mistake you made professionally was that microsoft should have the android technology. why was that the biggest mistake? bill: when you are in a field -- we were in the field of doing operating systems for personal computers. we new mobile phones would be popular. we were doing windows mobile. we missed being the dominant mobile operator by a tiny amount.
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we didn't assign the best people to do the work. this is the biggest mistake i made in terms of something that was clearly within our skill set. we were clearly the company that should have achieved that. we didn't. we allowed the motorola design to go to android. so it became the dominant non-apple system. host: today, you're the only company over a trillion dollars. how much better could you have been? [laughter] bill: market cap is only an indirect thing. in an imperfect way it will reflect what the company is doing. microsoft would be more valuable if we had one the mobile operating system competition. android is a huge asset for google. host: i had a chance to
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interview melinda, the cochair of the foundation. she described how you met. you approached her in a parking lot. you asked her for a date. you said, in three weeks, we could have a date. she said, not spontaneous enough. she gave you her number and you called her right away and said, dinner tonight, is that spontaneous enough? is that true? bill: that is close to the truth. i had a dinner that night that got done at about 10:00. i called her up and said let's meet after 10:00. which apparently, that was spontaneous enough. host: it worked out. bill: it did. host: let's talk about what you most want to focus on today, which is breakthrough energy and what you are doing in climate change. you have set up a foundation. we will talk about it later. your two main areas of focus are
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k-12 education and recently you have decided to make another effort, through breakthrough energy, to do something about climate change. why are you so worried about it? bill: climate change gets worse every year. what you have to do on a global basis is dramatic in reshaping the entire physical economy that we have. the greatest is suffering from climate change would be farmers in poor countries. drought and heat will cause problems we already have, malnutrition. and deprivation to get substantially worse. it is a complex problem. it's a problem where i see my lu
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value added. i see myself as looking at something through the lens of innovation, the creation and deployment of products, helping to educate people about, what are the sources of these greenhouse gases? how do you get on a path of innovation, so that you can get global adoption and bring emissions down dramatically. i have that as a priority, particularly, along with the other two. host: are you doing this as a part of your foundation? bill: the part where you help the poor countries with c and policies through development aid is part of the foundation, the development part. the part where you invent new ways of making fuel is done
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directly by me, with a lot of investments, including the funds that you mentioned, the breakthrough energy ventures, which is a fund -- i assembled a group of 22 people to put money into companies that are trying to commercialize the breakthroughs. host: that is a fund of $1 billion. you put in $250 million. can $1 billion make that much of a difference? bill: $1 billion? we so far have 20 investments. next year we will raise about $1 billion. it is all about innovation, broadly defined. we need to make these dramatic changes. right now, the premium -- if you said, we have to make steel with no emissions, it would cost you
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four times what it does today. your electric bill would more than double if we just take the technology we have today. supporting those companies and drawing other investors in -- green investing didn't go very well in the first round. it looked like a field that might evaporate. we've gotten other investors. that has gone quite well. they only invest in companies who have a chance of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by half a percent. they have found 20 and i'm sure they will find another 20.
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host: i am the smallest investor in that fund. am i going to get my money back? [laughter] bill: of the things you invest in, it is probably one of the higher risk things. it is being done on a commercial basis. it is not philanthropic in the sense you can deduct it, but the timeframe of the return is fairly high. we expect to make a profit. host: why do you think some people don't believe there is such a thing as climate change? what is propelling them to say there is no climate change? it is scientific evidence or some other reason? i won't mention anyone, but some people don't think there is climate change. bill: they must not have taken enough science courses. i don't know.
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[applause] bill: the claimant is a complex issue. -- the climate is a complex issue. just understanding how you do it requires a lot of in-depth study. in the united states, it has become somewhat of a part of the -- partisan issue. which is unfortunate. it might make it harder to achieve this type of agreement that we need. here in the united states. we have two problems. we have the people who denied climate. then, we have the people who think it is easy to solve. we need to educate both those groups. host: on climate change, it used to be called global warming. why was it changed? bill: the problems caused by the greenhouse gases is worse than just the average temperature going up. it causes there to be extreme
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precipitation. more floods and more droughts. people thought just got warming piece, it is too easy to think two degrees centigrade, big deal, i will turn up my air conditioner. the idea that sea level rise. it is heat waves. these things -- climate change probably is a better term to capture the breadth of problems. host: in history, is there any evidence that would affect their great grandchildren but they will not see the benefit from? if you try to eliminate carbon in the atmosphere you cannot do it in your lifetime, because the carbon is trapped there. maybe if we change our policies 100 just now, there may be a reduction. very rarely do people want to help the great unborn grandchildren. how will you motivate people to do something. bill: the united states has been willing to take on very difficult problems like cancer
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and make gigantic investments. knowing that the real payoff would be many decades down the road. when that was first being pushed, people were saying that was important. climate change is like that. you have got to take a long-term perspective. government at its best is what it is taking that long-term perspective. funding the basic r&d and the policies that lead to deployment. host: today, if we do nothing, will the oceans rise up? if you have oceanfront land is it going to be under water in 20 or 30 years? bill: the uncertainties in these models are still very high.
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for example, by 2100, the question of if we have one meter or two meters. that is within the level of uncertainty. those numbers, as it has been studied more and more have gone up. before they only took the most conservative view which was one half meter. now, the understanding is that is at least a meter. significant possibilities that is two meters. host: a large part of the carbon is caused by the electricity grid. which is about 25% or so. 24% comes from agriculture. why is that causing such a big increase in carbon? bill: the math category is a variety of things. you are taking the carbon stored. you are releasing all of that. burning command in indonesia for -- burning the land in indonesia
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for palm oil plantations. another thing, the grass eating species have a digestion system that emits methane. methane is a very powerful greenhouse gas. cows alone account for about six -- account for about 6% of global emissions. we need to change. >> cows? bill: just cows alone. [laughter] host: how do we change that? bill: of all the categories, the one that has gone better than i would have expected is this work to make artificial meat. you have people like impossible. or beyond meat, both of which i invested in. host: do you eat it as well? bill: absolutely. you go to burger king and by the impossible burger. host: is it healthier for you?
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bill: it is slightly healthier for you. in terms of less cholesterol. it is a dramatic reduction in methane emissions. animal cruelty. manure management. and, the pressure that meat consumption puts on land use. the main reason we need to increase the agricultural output of the rest of this entry is not the population increase. it is that as countries get richer, they eat more meat. meat is a very inefficient way of creating calories. it is super helpful. host: with respect to solar, is it a solution for our problems? bill: it is part of a solution. if the sun would shine at 24 -- host: it does. bill: somewhere. that 25%, you would have a solution.
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wind and solar are useful. the price the comedown of that. people may think it is a total solution to the electric sector. unfortunately, it has to be reliable. it has to work during the 10 day period that tokyo, where you might have no solar or no wind for 10 days. so, the need to have baseload generations. like nuclear or others or to have a miracle in storage 20 can say that energy is very hard. -- hi. gh. the final solution to climate change, when we really get to zero, a lot of things that use hydrocarbons will shift over to use electricity. one of the necessary elements is to get electricity to zero. the electric sector will have to more than double in size. transportation and buildings and
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industrial applications that have used hydrocarbons directly will shift over to electricity. host: electric grids have been in the news lately. with respect to what we may have done in russia. are you worried that the united states could be subject to being locked up by some type of cyber terrorism? bill: that is even true today. there are things like the internet and the electric good -- grid that modern society is very dependent on. as we grow the electric sector, will have to take that very seriously. the u.s. is not built to substantial new transmission. even some very obvious projects for high-voltage lines. that was going to take power out of oklahoma into tennessee, even that did not get built. there is a real policy problem there is a real policy problem with transmission.
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which is a necessary piece of the solution. >> you have been an investor in new technology. better nuclear plants? >> it is in many locations an important part of the solution. to have energy that is available on demand. today's nuclear plants, the safety characteristics. they just do not make them competitive. the two being built, that would be a very expensive third-generation is way too expensive. the question is, can we create a new generation of advanced nuclear whose economics are twice as good. waste is one tenth.
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safety is much better. the answer is, yes we can. we do not have a new generation. a much better understanding of how to do that. it is a question. >> what about fusion? is that an answer? >> fusion is very exciting. it is very difficult to do. there are about seven companies that are messing around with fusion. breakthrough ones put money into the mit. that technologically is very difficult. no one has gotten to the energy break even when you have to create 10 million degrees of temperature. to do that and get net power output is a huge scientific challenge.
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it should be funded. fusion requires a lot of invention. >> what about electric cars? >> if you look at the transfer sector, passenger cars with about two or three in battery improvement which is possible, the mainstream capacitor cars can become electric. you have to make that transition. you have to make sure electricity is zero mission. for trucks and planes, there is almost no chance the batteries will be good enough. there you will still need to create liquid fuel. the energy density of gasoline is 30 times the energy density
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of the best better we can make. -- battery we can make. if you look at a container ship, crosses the ocean, having your fuel be 30 times less efficient would mean that 90 percent of the weight you're carrying would be the batteries instead of the cargo. it is unlikely to work in those cases. >> when you talk to heads of state about this, do they say we were happy to meet you? do they really do anything? missionance,
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innovation, that idea, the governments to0 r&d was air milestone. i had to make a commitment there will be breakthrough energy. it would help get them into the marketplace. there has been some progress. it is complicated enough. you want a broad set of people to understand the complexities. in terms of the work that needs to be done, unless the u.s. is engaged, it is unlikely to happen. so much of the world's capacity to do that innovation is here in the united states.
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>> the u.s. pulled out of the climate accord. is that a concern to you? you think this is going to hurt the effort? >> it is a huge step backwards. if you meet all the current commitments, you are still warming. degrees of in that climate accord, you are still over two degrees. most countries are behind the commitments they made. those were a set of reductions. 2030 omissions to 2005 emissions. there is a little bit of that that is easy. it is a one-time thing. it is a lot of that. yet, the world is falling short. to have people like the united states say that it is even unimportant. it shows you how daunting this is going to be.
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there is no way will get there without them coming back. >> is that beyond your somebody else should do that. >> somebody else should do that. [laughter] >> let me go back for a moment. you famously dropped out of harvard. you then started your company. i think you said that you thought the computer revolution was occurring. you actually were wrong. if you had stayed at harvard, it wouldn't have made a big difference. >> the urgency that i felt. that somebody would do a great job. that ended up not being true. i could have waited two or three years. anyway, i felt a sense of urgency. i still get to take courses and learn things.
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things like the learning company. it is not like i missed some part of my education. >> your father and mother said are you sure you know what you want to do? children wanted to drop out of college, what would you say? >> i would have to say yes. the dropping out is not a decision. if you start a company and it does well. if you do not have kids that you need to support, it is a very low risk thing. particularly in the culture of the united states. black is not a mark for the rest of your life. >> when you are starting microsoft there was a lot of other software companies. you are not number 1 at the beginning. what was it that enabled you to beat everyone else in the software business?
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bill gates or something else? what was the main factor that made you the most successful? >> we were actually the first. there were companies. they were all single product companies who got ahead of us in terms of sales. by about 1991, we did become the largest. we were an engineering company. we were about how you use tools to develop properly. we were not about a single product. word perfect was a word processor. they did so well with the salest, their gross rivaled ours.
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as soon as the graphical interface caught on, it was windows, we became far larger than the other software company. subsequently, google and apple, amazon had become also extremely successful. in the 1990s, we were the strongest by far. >> the largest companies in the united states technology companies. do you worry there is too much power and too much data in the hands of these? are you surprised the government has not done more about this? >> technology has become so central. government has to think, what is that mean about elections?
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what does it mean about wiretapping? yes, the government needs to get involved. eventually i came to regret that statement. it was kind of almost like taunting washington, d.c. partly due to the lesson of verysoft, they are engaged. there will be more regulation of the tech sector. there should be some sort of regulations that relate to that. we need to separate so the
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benefits outweigh the negative. >> when facebook was coming along, you tried to buy facebook. do you regret not paying a higher price? >> we bought a small part of facebook. that was a super successful investment. what mark did was not within our ambit. unlike mobile operating systems, that absolutely was because of our engineering culture, we were not destined to be a leader in that. startedas a comapnpany in seattle near you. amazon.
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there were supposed to be selling books. they started web services cloud business. how did microsoft miss that business? were you surprised that you were kind of beaten to that game by a company that was not really a software company? >> the natural companies to do the cloud would have been the classic enterprise vendors. ibm, oracle, sap. all.eally aren't there at it is a surprise. it is a huge credit to jeff bezos and his team that they got out in front. they did the best product. today, microsoft is a strong number 2 and a huge distance to number 3. it is a source of strength for microsoft. there are many companies
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including microsoft who should feel bad that the did not get ahead of that work. >> if you were 28 years old today and you want to start a new company today. what area would you want to in? >> this is a great time to be doing innovation. there are lots of things in biology that are very interesting. there are lots of things in energy that are interesting. given my background, i would start an ai company whose goal would be to teach computers how to read so they can absorb and understand all of the written knowledge of the world. that is an area where they have yet to make progress. it will be quite profound when we achieve that goal. >> are you worried about the
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power to disrupt our civilization? >> the increased productivity that will come will create dilemmas. about what should people do with that extra time. you have to consider that a good thing. even though it will be interesting set of adjustments have to take place. >> most people over the last 200 years. they do not usually work that hard when they got to be 60 or so. you sent to be working pretty hard. what motivates you to work so hard? >> i love my work. i get to meet scientists. i get to go out in the field. i do think your habits are sort of set in your 20s or 30s.
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i did not believe in weekends back then. not to mention vacations. i am very lazy compared to myself in my 20s. i was a true fanatic. all i believed in was working on software. night and day. for my 20s that was perfect. i do not have a wife or family at all. i am very lucky that my foundation or the part-time work i do, i see that extending for decades into the future. have a good understanding of innovation, i think shaping innovation in many of these areas. there is a unique role that i help play. >> pretty famous over the last quarter of a century. can you go to a restaurant and people not bother you? >> people are pretty nice about that. especially if i'm with my family. >> do people stare at you? >> sure. that is ok. >> your sport now is tennis. you play with some of the best
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players, roger federer. do you get a lot of points off those players? >> not if they give it their all. >> you have given up golf. that is one of your other sports. are you still a big bridge player? >> i love playing bridge. it is a game that the players are aging quite a bit. it has not caught on. it is unfortunate. since it is a great game. >> when you want to go purchase something. do you go to a department store and purchase anything? >> for a while, i did not do that much. it is something one of my daughters enjoys doing. helping pick clothes for me. we go out and go shopping together. she has good taste. it is a neat father-daughter activity.
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your wife told me when you dropped you daughter off at college, she is graduating now. the roommate did not know that she was going to be the roommate. you went to lowe's to purchase things. was it unusual for you to going to lowe's? people stare at you? >> it was kind of hard to assemble some of the stuff. i wanted augmented reality to help show me how to put the pieces together properly. people are very nice. >> when you are relaxing today, is it to go on a trip with your family? what is the best way you relax? >> you know, traveling, and i get to do quite a bit of reading. >> how many books do you read?
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>> 50/ >> do you comment on those books? >> probably 15 per year under i do serious reviews of. there are so many fantastic books. >> i have one coming out, would you review that? >> i will. >> let's go back to your foundation. i ask people all the time. i say, suppose you have the problem of bill gates. you have $100 billion. then you say i give you $100 billion and go purchase a yacht or plane. you have $99.5 billion left. you have that problem. you assess the two most urgent issues. k-12 education in the u.s. and global health. how did you pick those 2? >> global health is our
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biggest area. it has been really unbelievable. not just because of our work. our partners. the u.s. government spending. the european donors. they really stepped up on this issue. one of the metrics of importance is the number of children in the world who die before the age of five. when we got started in 2000, that was over 10 million per year. now it is about 5 million per year. it is just mind blowing. people are not as aware of that as you would like them to be. because of giving out vaccines and understanding a bit more about nutrition. those deaths have been cut half. now it is to cut them in half again by 2030. we do have a pipeline of new vaccines. new tools. particularly nutrition.
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because of the partnerships we have had, because of the innovation, they have been more successful than we expected. our u.s. educational work, it is not just k-12, it includes higher education as well. the key metrics, dropout rates, math and reading, have moved essentially not at all. even if the u.s. is spending more resources on education. we spent far more than any country in the world. yet they are quite a bit worse. than almost all the rich countries. even some middle income countries. even vietnam is passing us in terms of their math results. ried to of what you tire
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do was have something called common core. that was controversial, but has now been adopted. >> in the united states, there were some very strange things. our textbooks were twice the size of the other countries. three times the size of singapore. that came about because of this process where the company's always wanted adoption of new textbooks. anyway, they just got thicker and thicker. the u.s. would tend to try to teach too much instead of really cementing the basic knowledge. the idea of the common core was to say what math should you learn in which various grades. you have reasonable math skills.
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it became very rigorous. toolsnt all the online and between states would become aligned. the world's most logical thing. it was attacked. buffett, can you describe your relationship? he is a little older than you and ultimately gave you a large part of his fortune. how did that come about? >> i was lucky enough to meet him in 1991. >> reluctantly. >> i do not think i wanted to meet him.
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i did not think of buying and selling of stocks as a value-added part of society. i am more involved in the innovation. when i met him, the fact that he had this model of how the world work. he just asked me, why can't ibm put you out of business. it was a very smart question. because at the time ibm was 10,000 times our size. yet, we would go on the software to surpass ibm. it was the dominant computer company. >> when you develop the software, they should have bought it from you as opposed to license it.
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>> that would have helped them. it would not have really changed things. what has happened in computing work are really thinking about the microprocessor. very different ways they did with the mainframe. it is kind of innovative. looking at computing personal computing. technologies that came out of that now dominate everything. he developed a relationship. he became a bridge player. i have an extra hundred billion dollars. i don't know what to do with. i'm going to give it to you. >> it was unbelievable that he chose a substantial part. he created five foundations that he is giving substantial money to. a high percentage went to our foundation.
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it basically doubled our ambition. going after malaria eradication, new seeds. we added sanitation. because of the incredible resources. we asked them. he said no. unbelievable person. i have learned immense amount from him. >> people come to you all the time for money. by the way i have this thing you should invest in. a couple things you should invest in. how do you resist? do you have a person that say no for you? do you do that? >> many people. once you pick what you care about, somebody has something that can make a difference, we are super interested. we have staff of 1500 people. some of those people come out and talk to see what those innovations are and how we can partner with you on that.
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that is clearly in our area. if it is something that can improve education. we are going to be very interested. if people are asking outside those things, you can say no. jackie kennedy famously said if you mess up raising your children, nothing else matters. you have three children. you have kept them out of newspapers and so forth. how do you do that? >> i think that's a huge problem. obviously our kids have benefitted from a great education and opportunity to travel. they are lucky.
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that should be achievable i'm assuming melinda is going to live another 40 years. that gives us 60 years to solve those problems. that is doable. we should take all of our money and put it against u.s. education and global health. there will be problems in the future that for my grave i will not understand very well. there will be rich people in the future. more rich people than there are today. they should use their intelligence and understanding to go after those problems. having a pile of my money left problemso after those does not make any sense.
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money does your foundation have? >> $40 billion. giving $6up to billion a year. >> i think you did not retire from microsoft to about 50 or so. >> until the year 2000, i had not done significant philanthropy. i had given a few $100 million. in the year 2000, i put $20 billion into the foundation. that is when we got serious. >> i would say so. >> i was part-time on the foundation work from 2000 to 2009. 2008 when i retired from microsoft. then i flipped when i was full-time at the foundation and
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part-time at microsoft. that has worked out well for me. some of these issues. hiv vaccine we had started sooner. the timing has worked out well. >> do you have any regrets? you have a happy family, great marriage, foundation, business success. can you make us feel good, say something has not worked out? tell us something bad that you have done that has not worked out. >> i am super lucky. the experiencea, at microsoft. it has had its ups and downs. phenomenal. the work at the foundation. >> no regrets about anything? >> i would not go back and change anything. for example, the antitrust lawsuit against microsoft was
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bad for the company. it created a lot of distraction. we would have done a lot of things better if it had been that. in a way it was a lesson for me. it probably accelerated my retirement by five or six years. which overall for me probably was a good thing. i do not think it was a principled set of activities. that is another story. >> the greatest pleasure of your life is when you are doing what? other than being interviewed by me. the greatest pleasure of your life. >> time with kids. time with scientists. time when i am reading, and things are making sense. going out and seeing the impact of the foundation's work. meeting with scientists who think we can make breakthroughs to help solve climate.
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these are super interesting problems. having a broad set of system thinking applied to these problems is going to be necessary to orchestrate the resources and policies behind them. i love my work. >> your children are not married, i think. >> not yet. >> do you look forward to having grand children? >> absolutely. >> will you teach them software? >> i do not think of microsoft as a dynastic organization. >> if people are watching now and they say i want to do something about climate change, but i am one person and don't have the resources. what can any average person do to have some impact on climate change in your view? >> certainly, they as a consumer can take things like these new meat products or how they buy
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electricity, and they can help drive up the scale of the green solutions. the most important thing at this stage is their political voice. there is going to be a need to put substantial resources into this effort. we will need a bipartisan solution. and to send the right signal to the market, if you just win one year and it gets repealed, that does not help at all. the key is let people see the policies will be over the next 30 years on a consistent basis. that means it's a higher bar than just a one-time victory. >> you started the giving pledge with melinda and warren buffett. right now, if you were to convey one message to people about philanthropy, what would you ask the average person to do?
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>> the best thing is to pick a couple of causes that you believe in deeply and find organizations that you can get involved in. the social services in local communities. charter schools in local communities. a host of high impact things. the dollars you give to global needs actually will have substantially more impact per dollar because you can save a life for $1000. if you just fund measles vaccination or polio eradication, those things are pretty mind blowing in terms of the difference they can make. philanthropy is not based on comparing every cause and picking the most impactful. it has to be something that connects with you personally. even the climate area, whether
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it's advocacy or high risk investing, there is lots that people can do. that will increase the chances of success. >> i want to thank you for taking time. we have two gifts. one is this. we know you are a puzzle fan. we had a puzzle made up of washington, d.c. you can say. >> fantastic. [applause] thank you very much. >> thanks. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] >> washington journal, live
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every day with news and policy issues that impact you. coming up this morning, daryl kimball talks about the news limitran has exceeded its on stockpiling uranium. kimberly bailey talks about her new book, how to read the constitution and why. be sure to watch "washington journal," live at 7:00 eastern this morning. join the discussion. q& on c-span's last 1962, after nixon's 10 yearsference, later, he would win a 49-state landslide. >> pat buchanan, who served as a speechwriter to richard nixon discusses his book, white house
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wars. >> i wrote in the memo saying i think you're going to have to fivethe dean tapes, the tapes with dean and keep the zhnev,with bre and take the rest out and burn it. shut down the special prosecutor before this grows into a monster. i did not know it at the time, but nixon had called in hague thatntertained this idea he should burn the tapes. obstruction of justice. burnnot suggest he should subpoenaed tapes.
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i think if he had said impeach and be damned, he would have moved through it. his biography, if he tapes, he would have survived, and i think that is right. >> connor o'brien is a defense reporter for politico. he joins us for a look ahead at 2020eek ahead and the defense bill. remind us of what that means and why it is important. >> it is an authorization or policy bill. it does not spend any money, but it is one of the really big bills, one of the few major bills that passes congress reliably each year.


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