The rapid developments may be overwhelming, but Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates believes that the best is yet to come even though “modernity comes with some risks.”
“Zoom out and say, “OK, where were we 300 years ago?” Gates said during an interview at Sydney’s Lowy Institute in January, according to Tom Huddleston Jr. of CNBC. “It didn’t matter if you were a king or a pauper. You were subject to huge infant mortality and extremely low levels of literacy. So, the scope of human innovation over time … is a phenomenal story.”
As Gates noted, however, innovation doesn’t guarantee hope for the future, highlighting in part that the global community was unable to meet its goal of limiting rising global temperatures by 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit compared to preindustrial levels.
The Second Industrial Revolution — a period of development and economic growth beginning in the late 1800s that brought us advancements like the electric light and the tech for car engines — created tech that has made our day-to-day life easier but has also directly contributed to the overheating of our planet.
Thankfully, the use of technology doesn’t need to be a one-way road to destruction.
“The amount of IQ in the world that’s being educated, the quality of the tools we have to drive forward our innovation … those are fantastic things,” Gates said, referencing energy initiatives that reduce the amount of harmful carbon pollution and new medical advancements.
Gates, who has invested in plant-based food companies to help create a delicious, climate-friendly alternative to meat for consumers, emphasized that he is hopeful despite the challenges ahead.
“I’m still very optimistic that it’d be much better to be born 20 years from now, 40 years from now, 60 years from now than any time in the past,” he said.
Commenters on Reddit took a measured approach and agreed with the need to actively work toward a better future.
“We’re going in the right direction. Maybe too slow. … but it’s progress. Even with all that is wrong in the world, more is right than has been in a long time,” one commenter wrote.
“We can get there, but we can’t stop fighting for the future we want,” wrote another.
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