World History Project - 1750 to the Present
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- READ: The Flower Industry in Colombia — The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Globalization
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- WATCH: Jacqueline Howard — A Day on Mars
- WATCH: Bill Gates — Visions of the Future
- READ: Non-State Terrorism
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WATCH: Bill Gates — Visions of the Future
Businessman and philanthropist Bill Gates looks towards a future of sustainable energy and worldwide education. Created by Big History Project.
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BILL GATES: I'm very optimistic about where the world will be 50 years from now. I hope I'm around to see it but I think we can already see the shape of things in some ways. The human population, which was growing at a very rapid rate, is now growing at a slower rate because, as we become successful, families have chosen to have less children and so we can see a peak population that makes it possible to think about living within the resource constraints that we have. We can also see a decline in violence. It's amazing now because we hear about all the violent things around the world but every century the world has had a lot less war, a lot less violent deaths. And we've come to value the work that's being done in other countries, making great products and really think together about humanity's common future. The pace of innovation will need to surprise us in some ways of what form this great energy source will be that... will avoid us destroying the environment. That's an invention that's very, very important. How much care will we give towards making sure that the poorest several billion are not completely left out. You know, there've been a little bit of progress there but the inequity levels still should concern us quite a bit. And then there are things that are harder to predict for example how important will robots be in 50 years. Maybe 20 years ago people, when they first heard about robots, thought, "Wow, that's pretty scary. What does it mean?" But then when it didn't really happen they, you know, stopped thinking about it. It's almost like a... only a curiosity in the movies or toys and yet clearly in the decades ahead, the cost, the capabilities will mimic what we've seen in science fiction. And so we'll have to see how do we take advantage of that? Because as we're living longer, how do we find fulfillment? What does a working career look like in terms of timing-- the world will have aged on average and that brings with it very interesting problems. And so there's... it's not without challenges but the path of extended lifespan, more science, more global understanding, sense of our common humanity, more education, more ability to watch a great course, and not give up the curiosity that you're born with but try to think about the world and where it can go and how you can contribute to it. I think all of these things are taking more advantage of our innate capabilities and will allow us to make 50 years from now a far better place than even what we have today.