Sunday, August 2, 2020

Philanthropy and the wisdom of Bill Gates

Growing up (especially during my Engineering days and the early part of my career), I was a big believer in the Open Source Software philosophy. In the late 90s and early 2000s the biggest perceived enemy of Open Source was Microsoft and by association Bill Gates. I was not very fond of him as a starry eyed under-graduate student.

Post my MBA, I wanted to work for an Open Source software company and change the world. Given the circumstances, that never happened and I went into (or rather continued) in commercial closed-source software.

Anyway, over the last decade, I have been passively following (online), listening and reading about Bill Gates and the Gates Foundation and my opinion about him has changed leaps and bounds. I have come to respect and admire him for the work he is doing globally on things that most Governments and Corporations are turning a blind eye towards. I feel like, he stepped away from the corporate world at the right time, and decided to change the world.

He has shot to prominence in this pandemic. One of the reasons being - his ominous TED talk in April 2015 where he spoke about such a pandemic coming in our lifetime and the deadly consequences of it.

Flash forward to 2020, with all the negativity and uncertainty around us it's refreshing to hear Bill Gates' views on the potentially positive outcomes we might have "after" this pandemic, on the world order.

If we stop being so toxic with each other on social media and so divisive about all our ideas (us vs. them thinking) we can sit back and look at the last 100 years of human progress and see that humanity has stepped up to any challenge always and worked to solve it together. For e.g. we have not had a catastrophic world war after 1945, we managed to not annihilate the planet through a nuclear war, we almost eradicated a lot of common diseases and infant mortality has been all time low. Now, if we put all our creative brains together and work towards solving problems of today - climate change, COVID-19 etc. we can leave this world a better place for future generations.

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