January 31st, 2013
03:19 PM ET

Bill Gates: We're underestimating progress

Fareed speaks with Bill Gates about innovation – and how we underestimate progress. For the full interview watch "Fareed Zakaria GPS" this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN.

You think that because of technology and that kind of thing, Americans today have many more opportunities in some sense than they've had before?

That's right. If you just take median income and say, “Oh, that means that we haven't had this big improvement,” that really understates what's happened. That is, you wouldn't want to go back in time because the way they do GDP deflators, a lot of this type of innovation doesn't get into that.

I mean, would you rather be, you know, a gay man 20 years ago, 50 years ago? In Africa…GDP didn't go up, but lifespan has almost doubled.  Literacy went from 20 percent to 60 percent.

And so we don't capture all the wonderful things…I can use Wikipedia for free. I can sit there with my son and explore new things. And so innovation has been underestimated today more than any time in history.

I mean, we had the Internet bubble, where it was actually briefly overestimated.  That was kind of uncomfortable, I think.  But it's strange to be in such a funk because people look at political roadblocks and some of them, the way these numbers measure things, they aren’t getting a sense of the progress in the rich world and in the developing world.

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soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Or

    Or how about a gay man in Africa in a country ruled by towel heads?

    January 31, 2013 at 4:08 pm | Reply
  2. JAL

    A simplified success indicator is needed. A comprehensive global poverty index for example, would be a good way to understand enablers with respect to benefits. Tech is an enabler.

    January 31, 2013 at 4:09 pm | Reply
    • JAL

      There are 2 types of gravity in my opinion, good gravity and bad gravity. Good gravity is fun, worthy and honorable. Scientists take notice, as we begin to discuss the planning of moving massive economic infrastructure to the Arab world coupled to celebration, you will see the true action of gravity, good gravity.

      February 1, 2013 at 8:26 am | Reply
  3. Timmy Suckle

    How's this for progress Billy?........I kissed my way up to VP at a health insurance company. Now I take over $600,000 of your health care dollars for NO VALUE ADDED to your health care. And that’s just me. Now think about how many other VPs, Directors, Managers, etc. are at my company alone. Now multiply that by thousands of others at hundreds of other health insurance companies. From 10 to 25% of your health care dollars go towards administration that adds NO VALUE to your health care. But my company’s PAC dollars will continue to fool you little people into thinking that a single payer system will be bad. Little people like you are so easy to fool. Little people also don’t realize that a single payer system is the ONLY system that would allow little people (as an entire country) to negotiate better health care prices. Little people don’t realize that the Medical Cartels already know that. And that is the reason why the Medical Cartels spend so much PAC money from the hospitals and doctors lobbying against a single payer system. Some little people say that a single payer system would cost you little people more. But if that were true, then wouldn’t the hospitals and doctors WANT that extra money? Yes they would. So why do the Medical Cartels lobby against a single payer system? It’s because the Medical Cartels know it would allow little people to negotiate better health care prices. And that’s what the Medical Cartels are afraid of. Period.
    But us big wigs at insurance companies, hospitals, and pharmacy companies don’t ever need to worry about health care no matter what it costs. We get our health care paid for one way or another by you little people. And we get the little people that work at our companies to contribute to our PACs. And us big wigs say it’s to protect the little peoples’ jobs. But in reality it would be in the little peoples’ best interest to NOT contribute to the PAC. Again, little people are so easy to be fooled. I won’t ever have to worry about losing my job with so many little people being brain washed by the Medical Cartels’ PAC money. Not only that, the Medical Cartels’ PAC money is used to elect so many republicans that will never allow a single payer system. Republicans have always fought against any meaningful health care reform. But that’s what our Medical Cartels’ PACs pay them for. Politicians can be bought so easily.
    Pretty soon the only people that will be able to afford health care is us big wigs. And that’s the way it should be. We don’t want you little people using up the resources when we need them. And once again, I thank you little people for capping my SS tax at the $113,700 level. Now I only pay 1.2% SS tax and you little people pay 6.2%. Also, thank you for extending my tax breaks. I’m using the extra money on my vacation houses.

    January 31, 2013 at 4:11 pm | Reply
  4. rightospeak

    Bill Gates is a rich Globalist who likes monopoly as the Europeans pointed out. He maybe brilliant in computers, but has little clue, particularly about life outside of computers and that is why he is trying to save the world-not from hunger but from their own culture.. Going back to 60's would seem now like going into the land of plenty and bright future. Jobs were plentiful, a man could support his whole family. There was less violence and depravity than today. We progressed very little since then and went backwards in many ways. What progress ? Barbarity of endless wars, brainwashing of our children in Globalist Agenda , drug culture, violence on TV and video games, lack of care for our mentally ill ( which was much better before 1970 ), bankrupt country -he calls this progress ?????

    January 31, 2013 at 6:17 pm | Reply
  5. Tchrpeg

    Bill Gates packed a huge amount of disinformation on education into a few minutes. 95% of teachers receive no feedback? Seriously? We spend years in school, perfect our craft with professional development, and constantly reflect on what works, yet we supposedly don't know what we are supposed to do unless under-informed philanthropists and politicians give us our marching orders? Gates touts student engagement, yet somehow thinks online courses can do this better than an actual caring human?Kids need relationships with caring adults, not the destruction of their communities by closing local public schools in favor of charters and vouchers. Please interview an actual educator on these issues. Gates has an agenda, not a clue.

    February 3, 2013 at 1:47 pm | Reply
  6. Muin

    Really? You guys see progress everywhere. Most of our professors told us that our generation would be worse off than previous generations and they can not be more right. You guys are talking about lifting people out of abject poverty and giving more people access to quality education, medicine for deadly diseases which is great. However, many places in the world are still under developed and human potential are under utilized in both developed and under developed ccountries and capitalists are probably the only people who are the most happiest in this world. U.S started this by electing a guy whose sole focus was tax cut. Where do you guys see progress? I don't see it.

    February 4, 2013 at 1:01 am | Reply

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