"I am innocent! The whole thing about 5G and microchips is pretty crazy. Why would I want to do that?", Bill Gates said addressing a question regarding conspiracy theories revolving around himself and vaccines.
In his 9th "Ask me Anything" session on Reddit, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and author of “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, Gates rubbished rumors linking him to coronavirus vaccine conspiracy theories. He also spoke about the damaging impact of misinformation, switching to synthetic meat, and what more can be done to combat climate change.
Gates took to the online platform to announce the launch of his much-awaited book called “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster”. The book took him 15 years to complete after conducting extensive research about energy and climate change.
Alongside the announcement, he took the opportunity to connect with the public by answering questions.
Gates and coronavirus conspiracy theories
How do you cope with hate, theories, and conspiracies about you?
“Intelligent criticism is helpful. If people have ideas about how to solve climate that are different from mine or better solutions for global health I want to hear about. Just personal attacks don’t move things forward as much but I don’t let it stop me.”
Any comment on the opinions of r/conspiracy about you and vaccines?
“I am innocent! The whole thing about 5G and microchips is pretty crazy. Why would I want to do that?
“I do believe in vaccines which have performed miracles.”
“My 2015 Ted talk was more viewed after the pandemic than before which is too bad.”
“I hope my 2010 Ted talk is viewed more before the problem gets bad...”
Gates advocates the use of synthetic meat to control greenhouse gas emissions. He is also an investor for Lab-grown meat producer Memphis Meats.
Do you think lab-grown meat will become widespread and replace livestock? Do you have experience with lab-grown meat?
“If the cost of making synthetic meat comes down it might be competitive even without considering climate or animal welfare. There are 2 approaches - one is growing the meat in the lab (cells), the other is using plant material to make the meat. Right now the plant approach used by Beyond and Impossible is cheaper.”
“I hope we can reduce emissions from cattle also since a lot of people depend on the value of their livestock. There is some research on this.”
Since the pandemic began a year ago, the internet was flooded with misinformation about the coronavirus. There were claims that Fauci and Gates created the pandemic to try and control people, that they want to profit from the virus’ spread, and that they want to use vaccines to insert trackable microchips into people.
How do you think misinformation plays a role in difficulting the battle against climate change? Do you think it has a meaningful impact or is it minimal?
"The damage in the past was huge. Now the oil companies have stopped funding these things so I think climate denial will go down. There are issues about how we go about reducing emissions but I hope all young people agree that is a critical goal."
How misinformation, disinformation, and fake news can do damage to society?
"This is a huge issue. Some false information is more interesting than the truth so digital channels seem to magnify echo chambers with bad facts. I haven't seen as much creativity on how we solve this as we need."
Will climate change make future pandemics more common or more severe and how?
“I wouldn't tie them directly. Pandemic risk is hard to compute but with humans invading nature more and more it has gone up. Travel causes fast spread which makes respiratory diseases very scary. We can prepare for the next pandemic with tens of billions in investments. I will be talking about this more this year to make sure we do the right things while people still remember how bad this pandemic was.”
What is something alarming about Climate Change that most people don’t know about?
“I didn't spend time going through all the bad things climate will do if we don't solve it. However the list is very long and some things could accelerate as we heat up. The damage to nature is going to be massive. David Attenborough has a movie that isn't really about climate but more about the beauty of nature and what we are losing that is very good.”
What niche technology do you believe could play a significant role in the future in the battle against climate change?
"We need a lot of technologies - synthetic meat, energy storage, new ways of making building materials..."
Gates also answered questions about his book reading habit, coding and also recommended the best burger place in Seattle.
Best burger in Seattle?
“I am eclectic. Dicks, Burgermaster, etc. Seattle has a lot of good choices. I encourage people to offer synthetic beef as a choice.”
It's well established that you bring a large tote bag of books on trips and usually finish them all prior to returning home. How are you able to focus and absorb so much information, especially when (I assume) the main purpose of these trips isn't usually reading?
"On vacation I get to read about 3 hours a day so I get through a lot of books."
"I only take notes on about 20% of the books I read. It takes me at least 2x as much time when I write notes but for a lot of books that is key to my learning."
Do you still code on your computer? If so, how often? If not, have you gotten rusty? Thanks!
"My code no longer goes into shipping products so I am rusty. I do like to try the new tools to understand how they help. I just did a review of the low-code tools where there is a lot of great innovation."