He’s predicted to become the world’s first trillionaire — yep, trillionaire, with a T — within 25 years. But what will the world look like when the Microsoft tsar has 13 figures in his bank balance?
Robots will steal our jobs
It’s unclear to what extent Gates imagines this AI-fuelled world to devolve into a Blade Runner-esque dystopia, but as outlined in a 2017 interview with Quartz, at least he’s got a plan for all those people who lose their jobs to Wall-E: tax the robots (or at least the companies who employ them) to make up for all that lost income tax and extra dole payments.
Thirty-three million people could be wiped out by bio-terrorism
Gates told a security conference in Germany in February that it’s not the garden variety terrorists we see on the news every night that we need to be worrying about — it’s the clever ones readying a synthetic smallpox virus or a super-flu that could tear through as many people as live in Canada. But at least we’ll have all those new robot doctors, right?
Poor countries will disappear
After the super-bugs and genius-robots, time for some good news: Gates wrote in 2014 that if foreign aid continues on the same trajectory, the 35 countries the World Bank considers ‘poor’ — where the average person has a budget of just US$1.90 a day — will all haul themselves out of poverty thanks to new technology, medicine, and farming techniques. He’s also predicted that polio will be eradicated by 2019 and Africa’s food supply will soon be self-sufficient.
We’re on the cusp of a clean energy breakthrough
Another key to that development, according to the tech billionaire, is discovering a form of clean, cheap energy. Gates is no big fan of existing renewables — he once dismissed wind and solar power as “cute” — but he’s pumped more than US$2 billion into the development of new technologies that could power the planet without destroying either the environment or the economy of those poorer countries.
Mobile banking will change the world
While having your bank’s app on your iPhone is just a handy way to split the bill for many people in the first world, mobile banking means way more to developing countries, where access to secure financial infrastructure changes lives. “By 2030, two billion people who don’t have a bank account today will be storing money and making payment with their phones,” Gates wrote in 2015. “And by then, mobile money providers will be offering the full range of financial services, from interest-bearing savings accounts to credit to insurance.”