"Vaccines make the top of the list": The most interesting bits from Bill Gates' Reddit AMA

Bill Gates participated in a Reddit AMA, here are his fascinating responses

Published January 28, 2015 11:28PM (EST)

  (AP/John Minchillo)
(AP/John Minchillo)

On Wednesday Bill Gates participated in a Reddit AMA (or "ask me anything"), for the third consecutive year. The former Microsoft CEO and co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation answered questions across a variety of topics -- many of them centering on Gates' philanthropic efforts.

The AMA was so overrun with questions (more than 5,000) that, according to Yahoo, Reddit servers went down twice. Of the questions Gates did answer, I've curated some of the most interesting answers:

In response to what has made the greatest impact on poor countries in the last five years:

"Vaccines make the top of the list. Being able to grow up healthy is the most basic thing. So many kids get infectious diseases and don't develop mentally and physically. I was in Berlin yesterday helping raise $7.5B for vaccines for kids in poor countries. We barely made it but we did which is so exciting to me!"

Gates explains how long it will take to expand production of the waste to water machine, which converts human waste in to drinkable water. (A video and a more detailed explanation can be seen here):

"The timeframe is longer than I would like. Probably 5 years before we have hundreds of them out in dozens of cities but we can scale up fast after that."

On how to eradicate diseases like polio:

"Polio eradication is a big focus for me. Our last case in Africa was 6 months ago and we are hoping no more show up. It takes over a year to be sure. We still have cases in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Until we get rid of it there it can spread back to other countries. Pakistan is starting to take this seriously including the army and the government. They need to do the same things that were done in Nigeria. The Taliban makes it very difficult. They have killed women going to vaccinate kids many times."

Gates' thoughts on artificial intelligence, and if we should be worried:

"I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence. First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don't understand why some people are not concerned."

Gates' thoughts on funding for medicine, education and climate change:

"Research is very underfunded compared to the ideal. Society captures so much benefit from innovation that inventors don't so there is not enough risk taking. Government (and Foundation) funding of research helps but it still should be more. The United States funds a lot more than any other country even relative to its success. It should do more medical and energy and educational and other research. Politicians often think short term unless the voters tell them to avoid that. Perhaps the most outrageous thing is we have not raised Energy research funding to help solve climate change!"

What spread Gates prefers on bread:

"Butter? Peanut butter? Cheese spread? Any of these."

By Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on innovation. Follow @sarahhhgray or email sgray@salon.com.

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Bill Gates Innovation Microsoft Reddit Ama Vaccines