With a net worth of over $79 billion, Bill Gates is the most wealthiest man in the world right now. Most people know three things about Bill Gates. He’s the richest man in America and in the world. He co-founded one of the most successful tech companies of all time in Microsoft. He’s an extremely generous philanthropist through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Earlier this year, Bill made time for his third AMA on reddit. If you missed it, here is a reminder of his response to some of the most important questions redditors asked him. They are mostly questions on his current philanthropy work, thoughts about some global issues and his predictions on the future of technology. 

Is there anything in life that you regret doing or not doing?

I feel pretty stupid that I don’t know any foreign languages. I took Latin and Greek in High School and got A’s and I guess it helps my vocabulary but I wish I knew French or Arabic or Chinese. I keep hoping to get time to study one of these – probably French because it is the easiest. I did Duolingo for a while but didn’t keep it up. Mark Zuckerberg amazingly learned Mandarin and did a Q&A with Chinese students – incredible.

What do you think the next 30 years holds in terms of technology? What will personal computing will look like in 2045?

There will be more progress in the next 30 years than ever. Even in the next 10 problems like vision and speech understanding and translation will be very good. Mechanical robot tasks like picking fruit or moving a hospital patient will be solved. Once computers/robots get to a level of capability where seeing and moving is easy for them then they will be used very extensively.

One project I am working on with Microsoft is the Personal Agent which will remember everything and help you go back and find things and help you pick what things to pay attention to. The idea that you have to find applications and pick them and they each are trying to tell you what is new is just not the efficient model – the agent will help solve this. It will work across all your devices.

What is in your opinion the main obstacle to the success to poop water machine? and how can we overcome that obstacle?

Sewage is a problem. Since it costs money to process it just gets dumped in slums in poor countries. The system the rich world uses of pumping in clean water and pumping it to a processing plant is too expensive. I challenged engineers to create a processor of sewage where the costs could be covered by the energy and water (clean water) that it outputs.

We have made progress on that. One team, Janicki, which was written up in Wired, is send a prototype machine to Senegal later this year. Getting rid of sewage helps a lot to reduce disease and improve living conditions.

How did you and Melinda decided on the causes that you wanted to put the majority of your effort?

There are a lot of great causes. It is important not to be frozen trying to pick since it is important to specialize and really learn the area you are trying to help. We picked health inequity as our global thing and educational inequity as our national thing and most of our projects fit into these areas. Part of the beauty of philanthropy is the diversity of causes and approaches that get tried. It is far more risk oriented than government or private sector spending which makes it special when it is done right.

Is it safe to choose a career in programming or will most coders below the expert level be replaced by automation solutions in the next decade?

It is safe for now! It is also a lot of fun and helps shape your thinking on all issues to be more logical. There is a prospect for change in this area for the next generation but that is true for most fields and understanding how to program will always be useful.

How much of an existential threat do you think machine super intelligence will be?

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.

What is your opinion on bitcoins or cyptocurency as a whole?

Bitcoin is an exciting new technology. For our Foundation work we are doing digital currency to help the poor get banking services. We don’t use bitcoin specifically for two reasons. One is that the poor shouldn’t have a currency whose value goes up and down a lot compared to their local currency.

Second is that if a mistake is made in who you pay then you need to be able to reverse it so anonymity wouldn’t work. Overall financial transactions will get cheaper using the work we do and Bitcoin related approaches. Making sure that it doesn’t help terrorists is a challenge for all new technology.

As individuals, is there anything we can do to help Africa achieve food security?

Government aid funding from rich countries to develop new seeds and help the countries educate their farmers and provide credit to them can make a huge difference. Canada does some of this like the United States. We need to raise African productivity by 1.5 to 2x in order for them to avoid malnutrition and be able to lift themselves out of poverty.

It is strange a continent with 70% adults as farmers imports food from countries like the US with 2% farmers. Africa spends $50B net buying food today. With productivity improvement they can offset the weather getting worse and feed their children enough to thrive.

Do you feel that we are facing an overpopulation problem on this planet? If so, what do you think needs to be done about it?

Fortunately as people get healthy they choose to have less kids. We have already had the maximum number of births – that number is starting to go down. We still need to help provide health and contraception in poor countries but all of the global population growth is coming from people living longer. Hans Rosling talks about this in the clearest way at Vimeo.

Image courtesy Forbes.